The Misadventures of some Odd Gentlemen

The Misadventures of some Odd Gentlemen

Feature

We sit down with lead designer Matt Korba and producer/janitor Paul Bellezza who have lived with silent films, clones, and pie for the past three years while developing The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom.

From Students to Professionals


The Misadventures of some Odd Gentlemen
The first step for the professional partners was to build a completely new team, under the recently formed Odd Gentlemen studio, that could develop the game for its new platform. “When we had to go professional, we had to hire outside engineers and artists… cause half the student team was either still in school or didn’t have the skill sets we needed to actually build the Xbox version,” said Bellezza.

Korba continued, “As a student, in Flash, it’s so easy to just get things up and running. We didn’t really need a team of engineers. But obviously that’s not the case with C++ and harder code.”

The Odd Gentlemen then began the arduous task of reimagining Winterbottom. “Everything that was on the student game was just a prototype. We had to flesh it out and fully redesign the game. There was no magical way to take the student game and push it to the Xbox.”

“I remember one day on the whiteboard, we had this crazy flowchart about what happens if you pull the trap but another clone is standing on top of the clone [that pulled the trap]. Does the clone fall down? Does he poof and disappear?” said Korba. “We were trying to figure out these paradoxical equations to make… sure we had all those edge cases covered.”

Despite having had to essentially start from scratch on Winterbottom’s professional counterpart, Korba maintains an attachment to the original bare-bones student version. “One day I want to just put it out there so people can see where we started from.”

Looking Back


The Misadventures of some Odd Gentlemen
Both Korba and Bellezza took a moment to appreciate their tumultuous journey into the videogame industry when I asked them if they ever considered dropping Winterbottom to pursue something else.

“We’ve been moving so fast we really haven’t had any time to think about anything. Making a game in a year has been pretty hectic. It’s not really a road I want to walk down again, trying to do a brand new IP in a year. It’s just been really crazy,” said Korba.

Bellezza expressed more awe than fatigue. “It’s surreal that the game’s coming out because we’ve literally been working non-stop since March 2007. That’s almost three years now, and we’re finally at a point where… the game is coming out. I’m three years older. It’s been a whirlwind.”

I also asked Winterbottom’s designer and producer if they had any advice for current students trying to develop and sell their own games. Both were very forthcoming.

Korba began, “I think the best advice is just do something personal that means a lot to you and worry about the game… I think one of the things we did right is, even though we had all this crazy stuff going on, we always focused on the game first. No matter what, it was always about the actual game.”

“And I would say if you can’t code… if you don’t have engineers or you don’t have artists or whatever, just do whatever you can do. Do it in Flash. Do it in Game Maker. It doesn’t have to be this huge thing.”

Bellezza echoed his partner’s sentiments. “A lot of students talk huge ideas, like Halo-scope ideas. And you, as a student, will never be able to make a Halo. You might one day in your career, how many years off, but as a student, you’ve got to keep it in scope for what you can do… Don’t design this grandiose design document and think ‘this is what is could be if I had unlimited resources.’ You’ve got to look at your resources and see if you can make something that speaks to you out of it.”

“If you can demonstrate some core nugget of fun, even if it’s the worst possible art… you’ve got something and that’s what you should invest your time in.”

The Possibilities


So what’s next for these odd gentlemen?

“Anything’s a possibility right now… We’re excited to obviously work on something new, but we are excited too about the possibilities of what else we can do with Winterbottom and his universe.”

Given their seemingly meteoric rise from students to indie game rockstars, it really does seem like anything is possible.

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is available on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points.