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Piecing Together the Weird World of Tearaway

Fred Dutton's Avatar + Posted by Fred Dutton on Feb 06, 2013 // SCEE Blog Manager

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Hopefully you all took the time to enjoy the new trailer for Media Molecule’s forthcoming PS Vita adventure, Tearaway, last week. In the eyes of PlayStation.Blog, it’s one of the loveliest titles inbound for any platform, bursting at the seams with invention, wit and creativity.

We stopped by Mm’s Guildford HQ late last month to check up on progress, and grabbed director Rex Crowle for a quick chat about the game’s unusual inspirations and influences. Read on to find out more about the eccentric themes that the team are pulling in an effort to make a truly unique video game…

Paper

First things first: paper. The entire game world is built out of the stuff, and you’ll be manipulating it with your virtual fingers.

“I think it married together the main things I wanted to do with the game – of it just feeling very tactile and being something you really wanted to hold in your hands,” explains Rex.

“And then we also wanted to provide players an interesting way of taking stuff from inside the game, outside the game, so they can build their own version of the experience and expand it out into their own physical space.

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Surprisingly, Rex adds that he’s never had any particular interest in papercraft, per se.

“I’m a real doodler. I just can’t stop drawing all over it. It was quite an exciting change of direction for me to think about this surface that I’ve always treated as a totally 2D surface, and fold it so that it becomes a 3D object. It’s kind of like a drawing coming to life!”

Mother Nature

As you may have noticed in the two trailers released so far, Tearaway is a game that’s obsessed with nature and the great outdoors. The environments are lush and verdant, and populated by a colorful cast of woodland creatures, including elks, chipmunks, squirrels and mice.

“Some of the early stuff we were making from paper, we made it in quite a low poly way – that’s how you start making things in papercraft,” explains Rex. “But we soon realised that paper can actually be really high-poly. It’s incredibly curvaceous – it can bend and flex and do all this stuff.

“Our models actually became more interesting as the glue started to dry and the joins started to peel back. That started to show how paper is best-served dealing with quite organic shapes. It’s more interesting making a tree out of paper than it is an office block – that’s just a cube, y’know? So that ‘nature’ feel helped us best exploit the movement of paper.”

The Mail

Tearaway’s story revolves around the efforts of iota – or atoi – delivering a letter to the player. Yes, a letter. Remember those? Why did Rex choose to focus on such a seemingly archaic notion?

“I think maybe I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to paper and the various ways it’s been used in the past. It feels like it’s slowly disappearing so I’d like to celebrate it a bit before it goes completely.”

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Myths and Legends

Alongside all those familiar woodland critters, Tearaway’s universe is also inhabited by a colorful cast of beasts taken straight of popular folklore – including wendigos and mer-men. In general, the game seems to tip its hat to the folk-tale tradition at every turn.

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“I wanted to make sure that we didn’t just have a paper world – but we had our paper world,” says Rex.

“We’ve deliberately tried to avoid a lot of the big gaming conventions – the lava planet, the ice world and so on – in part because they don’t make any sense when you make them from paper anyway. So we tried to look at new themes that hadn’t been visited as much in the past.

“I really like Sogport because it’s this little island of paper surrounded by glue that’s getting smaller as its inhabitants rip up the land and use up the resources. It felt like we could get a really nice little ecosystem running on this island in how these creatures play together and fight together.”

Classic Adventure

Tearaway is an adventure in the truest sense of the term – a plucky young hero embarking on a noble quest in an unusual, dangerous world. Think H Rider Haggard or Conan Doyle, shot through with a healthy dose of Terry Gilliam…

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“To me ‘adventure’ means having a goal – the big quest of delivering this unique message – but it’s all the little surprises along the way that are really important,” says Rex.

“You’ll meet strange characters and learn about them. A whole mountain range folds up out of nowhere or a river appears – it’s slightly more like the old Odyssey-style stories, where someone is on a big quest and meeting all sorts of strange people along the way.”

Sailors and the Sea

Sogport, the region of the game shown off in the new trailer and the section we got to play through, is packed with nautical references and folk who clearly make their livelihood from the sea.

“I’m from a small little fishing town so maybe I’m channelling a bit of my upbringing into the game at the moment!” he explains.

“But Sogport is just one region in the game. The stuff we showed at Gamescom was a different slice of our paper world and we’ll be revealing more areas as we go on. But each one tries to have an interesting twist on the whole papery construction. In Sogport, it’s the glue – and wind is a big deal too.”

Folk Music

Just as it did in LittleBigPlanet, music and sound play a key role in building Tearaway’s quirky universe. In keeping with that aforementioned ‘folklore’ feel, the game’s soundtrack takes its cues from traditional folk music. Check out the ruthlessly catchy number in the new trailer for reference.

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“The thinking behind that is again trying to tie in with the whole forgotten folklore feel,” explains Rex.

“We wanted to create music that felt like it came up from the soil, almost. The kind of music that the characters in the game might have created themselves.

“And then we also juxtapose that with you playing the game as a ‘godly being’ – so when you get to have your big dramatic effects on the landscape of pushing your fingers into the game world, the audio ambience can be very ethereal and different from the more earthy music elsewhere in the game.”

LittleBigPlanet

Media Molecule’s last title was, of course, LittleBigPlanet. Do the two games share any common themes?

“We’re a small team and we all put a lot of our own personality into our games. The biggest link is that a large amount of the LBP team are working on Tearaway, so you will see inevitable stylistic similarities,” confirms Rex.

“But I think the main similarity is a general playfulness in the world, and wanting to play with conventions by breaking the fourth wall all the time and actually referring to you, the player, as a character outside the game.”

//Add Your Own

25 Comments

1

+ G-Force08 on February 6th, 2013 at 8:05 am said:

I’m really looking forward to this game. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some hands on time at E3. :D


2

+ remanutd5 on February 6th, 2013 at 8:10 am said:

uh, you guys forgot one last detail: Release date!!!!!
seriously i hope this game comes out between Soul Sacrifice and Killzone Mercenary because we have nothing to look forward to between april and september, i hope when you guys said “See the Future” you include the psvita in there as well and announce new psvita games at the show.


3

+ Folkenhellfang on February 6th, 2013 at 8:11 am said:

This game looks great, and the music used promoting it has been been spectacular! I hope these songs end up in the final game. I also like the idea of paper craft models generated from the game. Having them connected to the trophies, ie unlock a trophy get the papercraft plans, would be really cool.

Good luck, and looking forward to playing the game day one!


4

+ MarcoRelius on February 6th, 2013 at 8:25 am said:

Awesome trailer!! So hyped for this


5

+ MakoSOLIDER on February 6th, 2013 at 8:25 am said:

Should I make the assumption that since SOul Sacrifice and Killzone Mercenary have release dates, this is probably coming out after KZ?


6

+ snakeeyes211 on February 6th, 2013 at 8:28 am said:

Release date!!?


7

+ TomHoang on February 6th, 2013 at 8:43 am said:

This game looks great! And I agree with remanutd5, a summer release would be excellent. I would not want this game to get lost in the Fall.


8

+ boboMELOSHE on February 6th, 2013 at 9:06 am said:

Looks interesting, ill more than likely get it eventually. Just so many other games out that catch my attention more, I have yet to see the wow factor from this game.


9

+ Shadowbhiemes on February 6th, 2013 at 9:14 am said:

This game is a must-buy for me. It looks spectacular in every way.


10

+ GhostMachine1 on February 6th, 2013 at 9:15 am said:

The more I learn the more I want it. :)


11

+ saskamazon on February 6th, 2013 at 9:22 am said:

looking very good … we’ll be getting it …. hope the release date is set soon. :-) preorder bonus ? always so nice to have …


12

+ TomatoDragon on February 6th, 2013 at 9:29 am said:

Media Molecule are some talented folks.


13

+ SolduNuts on February 6th, 2013 at 9:35 am said:

This game is looking fantastic. Great job MM. I like that you guys seem to make good use of the Vita’s unique features. Being able to interact with the environment is one thing but you guys seemed to have made it a requirement without it looking gimmicky. This is just another great looking game in the already fantastic Vita lineup for 2013. Thanks a million MM.

Sold.


14

+ WHITE_PR on February 6th, 2013 at 9:37 am said:

I want a PS Vita, thanks Media Molecule. Im just waiting to 2/20/2013 #playstation2013 to see what the future brings. :)


15

+ Elvick_ on February 6th, 2013 at 10:44 am said:

Going to be my favorite Vita game this year. I just know it. Hopefully it releases this year anyway.

Props to you guys for being so amazingly talented.


16

+ boxmyth on February 6th, 2013 at 10:44 am said:

Awhile back I needed to print out a boarding pass for a flight and spent half an hour looking for a single piece of paper to use. Seems Rex might be onto something by saying it seems like paper is “slowly disappearing” (that’s a good thing for the planet, though. Save those rain forests).
I really like everything about this game.


17

+ Metalsonic_69 on February 6th, 2013 at 11:54 am said:

Will this game have any “Play, Create, Share” elements like LBP and Modnation?


18

+ Elvick_ on February 6th, 2013 at 11:55 am said:

@17: According to Kotaku, there isn’t.


19

+ jts2082 on February 6th, 2013 at 12:25 pm said:

Please be a beta access for ps plus,this looks great and i cannot wait to get my hands on it!


20

+ tusunami on February 6th, 2013 at 12:34 pm said:

Now this is originality at it’s best. If Sony doesn’t want to keep losing money the PS Vita neeeds more original titles, it’s that simple.


21

+ bestjump on February 6th, 2013 at 3:40 pm said:

One of the most creative games I’ve seen in a while! I’ll be definitely picking this one up the moment it comes out!


22

+ mariogash on February 6th, 2013 at 7:04 pm said:

…and ironically this game will probably not come with a paper manual.


23

+ xClayMeow on February 6th, 2013 at 7:09 pm said:

Summer release, please!


24

+ DelicaGunz on February 6th, 2013 at 10:38 pm said:

Please take my money. Will be pre-ordering this game!!!!!


25

+ ProfessorGerbik on February 12th, 2013 at 5:20 am said:

My PS Vita is ready.


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