Today developers Media Molecule took to the stage at Eurogamer Expo 2013 with a hands-on presentation of the upcoming papercraft platformer; Tearaway. Media Molecule’s Graphic Designer Rex and Community Manager Spaff (we’re not joking here) played a designed demo for the game on stage which showed off some interesting elements, and moreover they themselves offered some unique insight.
The demo started by utilizing the PS Vita’s rear camera. Panning across the audience the developers were encouraged by the game to shake the device, after which a tear opened on the screen exposing the world of Tearaway through what seems like a portal. From there the player dives in, leaving the real world behind and surrounding himself in the game world.
After the player has crash landed into the paper world of Tearaway they must select a messenger. There are two choices of messengers presented to the player, a female named Atoi and a male with the title of Iota. The protagonist of the game is called a messenger because their head is literally made of a message.
Many may assume that when you’ve become part of the world of Tearaway that the real world is no longer relevant, which couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Rex and Spaff it is the ultimate goal of the player to guide the messenger into the real world via the tear that they arrived through. Labeled many times throughout the presentation as the “sun”, the tear sits idly in the sky. At almost any point in the journey players are able to look up at the tear and see their face in the center, a reminder that the world the player inhabits is not their own.
Additionally the tear also acts as a portal for scraps, the games enemies. Displayed in the demo as small “boxy” like creatures, scraps mean bad news for the world of Tearaway. Given the players powers as both the Messenger as well as being human; it is up to them to rid the world of this evil.
“What we really wanted to do was (to) capitalize on all the interesting inputs we could do with the Vita.
The whole kind of starting point for the project was just when I just heard about the back touch panel on the console, just thinking wouldn’t that be cool if you could just like touch the back of the screen and see your fingers like tear into the game world; and kind of thinking of what would that mean for gameplay and how would it look. That’s why we actually built a paper world because that felt like the sort of world that you want to like so tear your fingers through and see the outcomes of that.” – Rex
The demo showed multiple combat sequences, most of which were dealt with by pushing the players fingers against the rear touch and thus having their fingers tear through the ground of the game world and destroying the scraps. One point I found interesting to note was that the tears created by your fingers in the combat arenas were not permanent. Instead of ripping the paper as you think it instead acts out like a game of whack-a-mole where the holes seal up as the moles go down. During most of the demo scraps continued to pour in from the “sun”, which caused a plague for the citizens of the game and further reinforced the players goals to reach the tear in the sky.
After a few minutes wandering within the universe of the game it becomes obvious that quite literally everything is created from papercraft. As beautiful and imaginative as the world can be, even Media Molecule admitted that having all objects in the game created universally from the same material does pose some problems; such as what can the player interact with? The answer is a page seemingly out of another PlayStation exclusive, Uncharted. Much like Naughty Dog gave players clues in Uncharted as to what to transverse by painting objects a distinct yellow, Media Molecule displays manipulable items in Tearaway as a shimmering and reflective surface. These simple visual cues allow for players to easily differentiate objects in the game world.
While wandering around the games town, the developers stopped to show off a bit of Tearaway’s player customization. The customization in Tearaway works much different than the one found in Little Big Planet. Where in Little Big Planet you dress your Sackboy or Sackgirl from a select variety items from a range of categories based on parts of the characters anatomy, Tearaway works much like constructing an actual paper character. While you still have an array of items at your disposal, it is up to you to physically place them on your messenger. You are not given a hat, what you are given is the ability to make a hat.
After showing off some of the games town and customization features ,the developers then wandered further outside the game world in search of side quests. One side quest put the player to the task of creating a crown. Doing so meant manually cutting a yellow piece of fabric in the shape of a crown and adorning it with gems cut from yet more material. Clearly there is a true sense of DIY in the game, and nothing is quite just given to you.
The last side quest of the game introduced an interesting item and mechanic to the game; the camera. The inclusion of the camera alone is reason to celebrate, but it is the feature-set of the camera that makes it look like it will be a joy. Not only are you able to point and shoot photos, the camera comes complete with a host of filters and functions that make what could be a shallow tool look like a potential game changer. It was also noted that you could share the photos on “sharing like things”, like Twitter and your official online Tearaway profile. With a world as unique as the one that Tearaway presents to you, having a fully functional in-game camera is a godsend, and I personally foresee it being one of the more popular features of the game.
Also shown off was a small sequence about real life papercraft, but after a bit of Q&A with the audience Media Molecule closed up their short presentation. Short, sweet, and packed with info; the Tearaway presentation was charming and full of information.
If you missed the presentation Eurogamer have kindly provided the entire presentation for us to enjoy.
Tearaway is set for release on November 22nd in both North America and Europe.