We recently brought news of the BulkyPix announcement that the much anticipated iOS port of Eric Chahi's Another World will be landing in the App Store on September 22nd. Xavier Liard of DotEmu, the studio developing the iOS version, put us in touch with the game's renowned author to discuss details of the upcoming release.
As we indicated yesterday, Another World for iOS will feature both the graphics of the original game as well as re-mastered "HD" graphics done specifically for this release. (A two-fingered swipe up the screen will toggle the visuals at any time.) In speaking with Chahi, I learned that this 20th Anniversary Edition of the game is running a tweaked version of the core script from acclaimed 15th Anniversary Edition, as executed by Chahi's own custom script interpreter that has been converted from 68000 assembly to C++. All of the sounds in the game have been re-mastered as well, to deliver an enhanced audio experience as compared to the original.
The preferred control method on the Amiga original was the keyboard. The iOS version brings two different methods of controlling our hero. The first and easiest to visualize is an on-screen virtual D-pad. The second method is a system that the developer refers to as "Touch Mode" and indicates that a great deal of time was put into it, to get things just right.
Touch Mode presents almost no visual control interface on screen. Lester's movement is controlled in this mode by tapping on, or dragging outwards to, the left or right side of the display. A double-tap sends him into a sprint, and sliding up or down initiates a jump or a duck. Chahi likens this control mode to the system used in Mirror's Edge. One difficulty the developers faced in engineering this mode was the number of simultaneous actions that Lester can perform, such as running and jumping. To make this work, once Lester is running, a swipe up the screen will send him into a long jump -- there's no need to sustain a touch to keep him running. Chahi indicates that this mode is particularly useful on the iPhone and iPod touch, where one's fingers obscure a much greater portion of the screen as compared to the iPad.
The developers demonstrate the game's controls and difficulty settings in a brief gameplay video.
I pressed Chahi to try and get a hint as to what we might have to look forward to in the way of future iOS projects like, oh...I dunno, From Dust, maybe… Well, it turns out that his excellent XBLA God game is not presently slated to make an App Store appearance (though he did speculate that the next iteration of the iPad's CPU might just be able to pull off such a game). But that's not to say that Another World is all we'll ever be seeing from this talented designer on our devices. In fact, during my conversation with Chahi, he expressed clear enthusiasm for the iOS platform and the flexibility that its multitouch interface and rich, sharp display bring to gaming. The generous physical display size of the iPad, in particular, excites him, making it the member of the iOS family that holds, for him, the most interest. Chahi tells me that the overall development opportunity that the iOS platform brings to gamemakers reminds him of the long-gone days of developing for the late '80s game consoles such as the Gameboy and the Atari Lynx.
It was a real pleasure to chat with the master about his masterpiece, and iOS gaming in general. Another World is an exquisite work and had a significant impact on me when I first experienced it 20 years ago. I am so very pleased to know that a new generation of gamers will soon have the opportunity to experience Another World for themselves. I encourage anyone familiar with the game or simply intrigued by what they've read here to watch Eric Chahi's excellent GDC 2011 presentation, Classic Game Postmortem: Another World / Out of this World, hosted at the GDC Vault.
You can count on our in-depth look at Another World as soon as the game arrives in the App Store on the 22nd of this month.