Transformers: Cybertron Director on Pleasing Fans (Not Like That)

Transformers: War for Cybertron is one of those few and far between licensed titles that does its original property justice. Reviews have been mostly positive, and Kombo’s own take on the game called it “a franchise that has been reborn.” The idea of not butchering a franchise once the license has been acquired seems to be getting more and more popular, as other recent licensed titles like Batman Arkham Asylum may indicate, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting any easier. Crave Online recently spoke with the game’s director, Matt Tieger, about the challenges involved in its development.

“There was a huge amount of expectation from the fans, and we felt and still feel a great responsibility to them. They’re a very passionate group and we wanted to create something very special for them,” Tieger said. “We didn’t put things in the game if we couldn’t do them right.” Indeed, Kombo’s own review notes that “Transformers has always been about the fans, something High Moon has not forgotten.”

The idea of creating a prequel to the original first generation Transformers wan’t brought up in a board meeting or as a result of focus group testing. Rather, the developers at High Moon are huge Transformers fans themselves, and Tieger admitted that he’s wanted to create the game for a long time. “Selfishly, this is a game I have wanted to play for 25 years,” he said. “It has been a perfect fit for our gameplay tastes and expertise.”

Tieger also admitted that the team had trouble perfecting the controls, though they eventually succeeded. “Was this one of the hardest phases of development, finding a practical balance for gameplay between the two transformation forms–robot and vehicle?” asked Crave. “It is kinda mushy, but the hardest part is the ‘feel’ of the controls,” replied Tieger. “Everyone brings expectations of what big robots should feel like, but nobody can really articulate the subtleties of it. Thus, we spend a lot of time on the ‘feel’.”

The studio also kept their collective heads down, “focused on the gameplay, and just plain tried not to get distracted,” according to Tieger, in order to not get roped into a dicey cross-promotion campaign with the second Transformers film. The Michael Bay blockbuster hit theaters over a year ago, so fans should shudder to think what might have happened to War for Cybertron had High Moon been forced to rush development for a coincident release, especially considering that the film bombed critically.

As for the future, Tieger was reluctant to divulge details. “I would very much like to do a sequel. We will have to see how War for Cybertron does first!” he said. When asked whether any planned DLC might include the various retailer pre-order bonus characters, which differed depending on where the game was bought, Tieger remarked, “We will be announcing our DLC strategy very soon, but until then i’ll have to keep my lips sealed,” followed by a quite ambivalent “:)”. For fans of the series, that news can’t come soon enough.