Twisted Pixel Games

Come watch the weapons-grade WTF that led to the development of LocoCycle

Come watch the weapons-grade WTF that led to the development of LocoCycle

LocoCycle is a game about a sentient motorcycle that drags her mechanic around by the pants leg. It's also one of the more serious ideas cooked up by Twisted Pixel Games, the now-Microsoft owned studio behind The Maw, Comic Jumper, and 'Splosion Man.

“We just want to make different shit, all the time,” Michael Wilford, the studio director of Twisted Pixel told me. He walked me through all the different genres they’ve hit in the studio’s history, including the motion controls of The Gunstringer. They knew they wanted to make a combat game, but how do you make it weird?

“We wanted to challenge ourselves, and make a combat game that’s always moving at 200 miles an hour, and shit’s coming at you all over the place,” Wilford explained.

They also have a bad habit of watching incredibly crappy movies at the office, and the team has developed the enviable skill of finding films that are so bad they cross because over into the “wicked” category. This is an phenomena I myself have witnessed, and that my friends have dubbed the “Roadhouse effect.” One day the art director brought in a film called Torque.

“You should check it out, it’s a good Roadhouse-effect movie. It’s like a ripoff of The Fast and the Furious but with motorcycles, and much worse. At the end there are two girls and they’re squaring off on their motorcycles, and they’re literally like… they pop a wheelie and literally start fucking fighting each other with their tires and shit! It’s the most unbelievable thing, and Josh was watching that, and he said we have to make a game about fighting with your motorcycle.”

Ladies and gentleman, prepare yourself for the scene that started it all. I wish there was something I could say to warn you, but it's best you just see it for yourself.

Still with us? My favorite part is the exquisitely framed advertisements for soda, as well as the utter disregard for logic, or the laws of physics. Most people wouldn't have finished the movie, most people would have started retching when the women slammed their two front wheels into each other. But Twisted Pixel is not made up of most people. They saw that and immediately knew they had a few ideas for their next game.

The path to an Xbox One launch title

The game had already in development for around a year and a half when Microsoft showed them the information on the Xbox One and gave Twisted Pixel some dev kits.

“It’s pretty much we want everyone to play it, and we also wanted to geek out over it, it’s fucking cool to have a launch title,” Wilford said. “We’ve never done that before. It’s pretty badass. A lot of the guys in the office are excited about that.”

Double Helix, the team developing the new Killer Instinct title, is helping them create some more graphical bells and whistles for the game. “Microsoft, that’s what they do, they make developer tools, so their tools are always very good,” Wilford stated. Of course the XBox One required DirectX 11, as does Windows 8, so they had to update their custom engine.

“It’s pretty different. Every developer that has their own engine is going to have to re-engineer their graphics pipeline for DirectX 11, and that took about a month of work,” Wilford said. “But it’s better, a lot of the things you’re doing to your engine to support DirectX 11 are going to give you benefits you’ve always wanted in your engine anyway.”

The final game is a combination of Knight Rider and Short Circuit, sprinkled with Spy Hunter and brawling. “The funniest thing is that we’re making this game about a living motorcycle that knows karate, and when we’re showing the game to people, their first question is all about why [the mechanic] is not dead? And how does he still have clothes on?” Wilford said. “That’s always their first question.”