The Vikings are coming to PS3 and PlayStation Vita – make sure you're ready with these fantastic factoids from developer Clever Beans.
1. Helmet hogwash
Real Vikings didn't wear horns on their helmets, but they do in When Vikings Attack. Apologies to any Viking fans, Scandinavians, historians or anyone else who feels we have unfairly tainted the reputation of Vikings or taken liberties with historical accuracy.
The game is deliberately based only on vague, half-remembered half-truths from our school days. Real Vikings are indeed a fascinating subject, but this game is about the Vikings of common mythology, rather than history. Also, Vikings did not really invade 1970s Britain. We made that bit up too.
2. Sound effects and stolen biscuits
Many of the sound effects for the game were recorded by our sound designer Jamie Finlay during a session in an abandoned warehouse full of stolen biscuits. The warehouse was actually demolished the next day.
When Vikings Attack probably has the largest sound budget of any game that we have worked on. Almost everything in the game has a customised smashing or throwing sound, or both; many of which will make you laugh out loud. There are also countless funny vocal exclamations in various accents from all over the UK; at Clever Beans we call these "Ey-Ups".
Jamie is a real perfectionist, and even took his laptop on holiday to Spain so that he could do some last-minute voice-over editing for us. We can only apologise to his girlfriend for this.
3. Horses are all talk
An early storyline for the game involved a talking horse with a colander on his head. We will definitely include a talking horse in one of our games, in the future. There are clearly nowhere near enough games about talking horses.
4. When Vikings evolve
In a much earlier version of the game, the player could punch, kick and jump, and also throw other characters around just like objects. The game started out as a massive bar brawl style beat 'em up. Although we couldn't figure out how to make this seem like a convincing fight; there were a lot of characters wandering around doing nothing, and it wasn't clear how the player could control more than one character at once.
So we decided to have friendly characters follow the player character around. We had the idea that they were your "lives", waiting to step in and take over when needed. From there it was only a small step to make them all controllable at once, as a team.
5. The house of ideas
In one prototype level that we built, player teams could walk on walls. It all got a bit too confusing, both to play and to design. The game feels a little bit like an iceberg sometimes: a little pile of fun sitting on top of a much larger mountain of submerged, discarded gameplay ideas.
6. Stick with it...
The characters that you see in the game are the third or fourth iteration character models. An early prototype stick man character is unlockable in the game; see if you can find him! Producers at Sony Computer Entertainment liked this little guy so much that they asked for him to be put back in, even though he was only a graphic made by one of our programmers. We got an artist to remake him with a nice smiley face, though. A later, equally defunct character model can be found near the town hall in the game, as a statue.
7. Animal magic
No penguins were harmed during the making of the Zoo level. The donkey, however, was completely bent out of shape over the course of the project. Originally built for our first prototype world, he was reused in the Sorting Office world, the Pier world and then transformed into a zebra for the Zoo. Finally, after a lot of stretching and another new paint job, he put in a stint as a giraffe, also in the Zoo. Such is the nature of indie game development - we all have to wear a lot of hats. Even donkeys have to wear a lot of hats.
8. Let's dance
The most time-consuming special animation was the mime artist - although he was the quickest to make sound effects for. The robot is another favourite animation of ours. The track that he is breakdancing to is actually I'm in the Mood for Dancing by the Nolan Sisters. So he's not quite as cool as you might think.
9. Duck and cover
The inspiration for the Public Information films that punctuate the game came from a series of 1970s Cold War films called Protect and Survive. These were made in case of a nuclear attack on Britain, but never broadcast - perhaps because they are so terrifying. We substituted the Cold War terror of a nuclear invasion for a load of daft Vikings. Another inspiration was a British comedy series called Look Around You. This is a brilliant spoof of 1970s educational programmes, which has excellent period sound and music effects.
10. Credit where credit's due
When Vikings Attack has the longest credits list in the history of gaming. When you reach the end of the game, you will unlock the enhanced credits. These really are worth watching, and listening to.
Want to find out more about When Vikings Attack? Keep reading playstation.co.nz and PlayStation.Blog for all the latest on this hilarious action title.