Autotivity engineering a new gaming experience
Pubs are the birth place of lost nights, fights and stained shirts. Yet, Autotivity Entertainment Studios was also cradled in such an establishment.
“It happened the first day of University,” said Alexander Gessler of when he met Jonas Grunert, two of Autotivity’s founding members. “I guess we found each other much more amazing than we are. Then we thought about uniting our forces for greater glory and picked up that idea a few weeks later.” As for Leo Basov, the final leg of the studio, he just happened to be Gessler’s roommate.
Grunert, Basov and Gessler enjoy the studio’s founding myth, yet are even more excited for its premiere release, Entropy. Gessler described the game as a 3D puzzle platformer that “combines the effects of playing with gravity, temperature, weight and electricity and last but not least time to solve tricky mazes while exploring a mystic world.”
“It all started with a very rough concept of a maze-game in which changing gravity was trump,” Gessler said. “It grew out of a stupid idea and quickly became a monster.”
That monster game is among the nine titles highlighted in Uprising III and went through some interesting developments since its original basis on Portal. According to Gessler, the character in Entropy had carried a weapon similar to the Portal gun, but received a jesting but crucial comment.
“An early play tester joked ‘Why a weapon? Can it not be like magic? Just me throwing gravity balls?’” Gessler said. “One day later we got rid of that clumsy weapon thingy we had and never looked back.”
The various developments of the game took time and effort and the fact all three members of Autotivity reside in Stuttgart, Germany helped coordinate the development. Most of the team currently attend the University of Stuttgart, the alma mater of the inventor of the automobile, not Henry Ford (he perfected the assembly production line and helped make automobiles affordable) but, Gottlieb Daimler who also co-founded Mercedes-Benz.
Gessler said Entropy “puts the Xbox 360 to its resource limits – albeit somewhat imposed by XNA – native games have more freedom to achieve a smooth gameplay experience, the coding team spent the last weeks almost exclusively on low-level optimization.”
Although the game pushes the system to its limits, the studio needed to draw from its collective experience to make it work. Basov proved to be a great maze and puzzle designer. Grunert showed his aptitude in programming the game’s physics. Gessler programmed the 3D graphics.
“If you form a team to make a game, you will need strong software developers in there as well as talented artists and very good game designers,” Gessler said. “In my limited experience, most if not all people suck at least one of these categories, so pairing up with other people is probably a good idea.”
Gessler acknowledged the constraints of game developing, but said he enjoyed working with the team. He also had some words for future fans of Entropy.
“We have some other projects in the making or in early planning stage,” he said. “We will be back.”