Exclusive Interview with Schizoid Creator Jamie Fristrom

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November 28, 2012 by khrisgolder

Jamie Fristrom, Creator of Schizoid — and one of the lead developers of the critically acclaimed Spider-Man 2 — stopped by GamerCheese to give us an inside look into his exciting new project, the likelihood of Schizoid 2, and the thing he hated most about Spider-Man 2.

Khris Golder: You recently wrote on your website, Gamedevblog.com, “In one day on Playstation Mobile, Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe has made more money than the original did in its year-long lifetime on the Chrome Web Store.” Congratulations, by the way! I know you mentioned the Chrome Web Store as “a ghetto” and an “embarrassment to Google.” I was just wondering which you felt more passionate about: your satisfaction with PlayStation Mobile, or your disappointment with the Chrome Web store?

Jamie Fristrom: Don’t make me choose! I think I loved working with Sony as much as I hated working with Google.

Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe recently released on PSM

KG: You also created Schizoid, which received decent reviews from the likes of IGN and GameSpot. Many gamers liked it, but felt more could have been done with it. You recently asked, “Is it possible Schizoid was a good idea that just needed another revision, and a different platform?”

I ask, then, could we see a spiritual successor for Schizoid (or a sequel, if rights are procured) wind up on PlayStation Mobile?

Jamie Fristrom: It’s possible! Although the rights to Schizoid are tied up in Torpex, my previous partnership, I did this game – We’re No Angels – where you’re a rockstar angel escaping from Heaven with Steven Manale for a game jam – it later occurred to me I could have mixed Schizoid-like mechanics in there, with angels and devils. I’ve got a list of things to Kickstart after Energy Hook, and that’s near the top. We’d have to wait for PSM to have network play, though, since it’s all about the co-op.

KG: Are you even allowed to export to Sony?

Jamie Fristrom: IANAL – but I don’t see why not. That’s probably going to be PSM’s biggest source of games in the near future, in fact: titles that were originally on XBLIG.

Could Schizoid 2 happen in the future?

KG: Would Torpex even be interested in developing a sequel to a game with mixed reviews and mediocre sales?

Jamie Fristrom: We never were, no. It seemed like just the effort to port it to other platforms would have been…

KG: Costly and time consuming? Sequels can go either way, I suppose. Personally, I would love to see another Schizoid. What do you think about the newest Spider-Man game?

Jamie Fristrom: I haven’t played it. It doesn’t sound like it would be my kind of thing. Though, I should download a demo before I open my mouth.

Jamie created the swinging mechanics of Spider-Man 2, which was used in several other Spider-Man games

KG: Spider-Man 2 is a solid game (one of my personal favorites), revered as one of the best Spider-Man games to date, and a large part of it attributed to the unrivaled swinging mechanics that you created. Do you ever find yourself chasing that level of critical acclaim with any of your other endeavors?

Jamie Fristrom: I was about to say “Always” – but lately I’ve found that the games that get high Metacritic or Gamerankings scores don’t do it for me. (I think the last 90+ game I liked was Braid?) So I guess what I’m chasing is individual reviewers of refined taste gushing over my games, but I don’t want everybody to like me. I’ll leave that for the Bee Gees.

Also, getting bent out of shape when a reviewer says something negative about your work – that road leads to unhappiness. I sometimes do anyway, but have a whole suite of happion-inducing, bogon-reducing technology to help.

KG: Sounds like a good mantra for any artist to live by. Your next project in development, Energy Hook, is about a gal with mad parkour skills and a futuristic energy hook shot. In the next few weeks, you plan to campaign this project on KickStarter. GamerCheese wants to know what sort of neat concepts we can look forward to in the game.

Jamie Fristrom: I’ll tell you what won’t be in there: wall-crawling. That was never that fun, and making a camera work okay with it was an enormous pain.

KG: You mean you didn’t like moving an inch and barrel rolling the camera? How do you think game play will change with the freedom of working on your original characters?

Early rendering of Energy Hook

Jamie Fristrom: Now, because we’re not tied to a specific character, fun trumps everything, and we can do all kinds of cool stuff. Along with your energy hook, you can have a jetpack. You can zipline. You can wear gravity boots that let you run on walls, and on ceilings. As a stretch goal we want to do a hoverboard as well, that lets you glide and rail slide. There’ll be score-attack modes and straight up best-time challenges, where doing tricks will earn you kudos that unlock speed boosts, a bit like SSX. The conceit there is that you’re doing all this performing live on video, and people watching give you Likes and +1’s and up-votes (I’m imagining those showing up on your HUD as flying particles around your character) and that unlocks your specials.

KG: That sounds pretty awesome! I know you probably get a lot of your ideas from games, but what are some of your primary hobbies outside of gaming? I could imagine between kids and programming, it might be nearly impossible to do anything else.

Jamie Fristrom: Outside of videogames, my primary hobby is tabletop roleplaying. Oh wait, that’s gaming also…

KG: Gamer through and through. I know a lot of gamer parents out there want to know if you’d ever create some more awesome E-Rated titles. In fact, with the Wii U rolling out their Miiverse and online game selections, it could be an awesome venture, especially for a group called Happion Labs! (Ha)

Jamie Fristrom: Not sure where Energy Hook will fall – we may want to have some pretty brutal bails when you eat it. It’s pretty tame now – my daughters love it. Even the three year old. Even though they suck at it.

KG: Only a true gamer would call out his kids like that! Over twenty years in the industry, and you’re still running strong. What keeps you going?

Jamie Fristrom: I was making RPGs for DOS machines back in the day. I don’t know. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

KG: We’re certainly glad you chose gaming. Thank you for stopping by, Jamie. I’m sure we’ll see much more of Energy Hook soon.

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