Published on February 12th, 2010 | by Brian Browne
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom Interview
Silent films and pie. While to the outside world, this might not be your first choice for a game, to Matt Korba this came second nature.
What started a graduation thesis, has now developed into an intriguing puzzle title produced by 2KPlay. After picking up the title as IGF Showcase winner in 2008, the game has picked up steam to become a title that will be available on XBLA. Releasing February 17, you will be able to manipulate time in order to achieve your goal in each stage.
I was lucky to be able to ask Matt a few questions about the game.
I know that you were a film student at USC. But, the silent film genre hasn’t been done in gaming, what made you take the risk in developing a title such as this one?
Matt: When we started Winterbottom we were students who just wanted to make a good game. We cared not for such things like marketing research or sales numbers. We thought it was a cool game idea and we were tired of Space Marines. Plus, we like pie.
Winterbottom is a odd name, catchy, but odd. Where did you get the idea for the name of the character?
Matt: I just thought it was a hilarious name. It turns out there are some real people unfortunate enough to have the last name Winterbottom… whom are none too pleased with how we have made a mockery of their ancestry. Originally, the character’s name was B.P. Winterbottom. B.P. is a reference to the character Billy Pilgrim from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughter House Five. At some point in the early days of the project, we accidently switched the name up in a presentation and P.B. Winterbottom is what appeared on screen. P.B. Winterbottom rolled of the tongue a bit easier than B.P. Winterbottom and thus the name stuck.
This title has been referred to as a “thinking man’s video game”. Do you think that will be your niche in the industry?
Matt: I think our niche will be our characters and our worlds. The next one will definitely have some of the elements of Winterbottom, but it will not be a puzzle game. I think our style is very “Gentlemanly” and “thinking man” like. We want to bring some class back into video games.
I have heard about this game for a while. What is different about when you first started the title, to the finished product?
Matt: Beside the obvious raise on production values, the student game was more of a presentation of game concepts than a cohesive experience. We used some of the puzzles from the flash game but we have built 75 additional levels from the ground up. We had to build our own engine and our own tools. The core recording system and mechanic remains the same, but we streamlined it a bit. In fact, the process to create the core recording system was difficult and rewarding, once we got it figured out. Instead of allowing gamers to figure out how to solve a particular puzzle the way the developer wants it solved, we create a process that allows gamers to devise a solution in a manner they prefer which means there is more than one way to solve or puzzle, or eat a slice of pie. The XBLA version of the game in 3.14159 is way more awesome than the student version.
For more info on the game, check out the site