We had the privilege to speak with Peter Meldahl from Rain Games about their imminent Wii U eShop title, Teslagrad. Read about the Nicola Tesla-inspired game, featuring an whole hand drawn fictional universe full of electrifying history.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): Teslagrad is an exploration platformer, correct? What exactly is the game about?
Peter Meldahl (PM): As a story, Teslagrad is about discovering and overcoming your past. It is a game about exploration. Troughout the world there are both usable items of ancient technology and clues about what happened long ago.
NWR: And what's the etymology of Teslagrad? Has it something to do with Nikola Tesla himself? If so, is that who the main character is based on?
PM: There is a lot of inspiration both from Tesla's work and his character in the game. Teslagrad is set in a fictional universe, so the actual person Nicola Tesla does not exist. Yet there is a parallel to his ideas in our world.
In the world of Teslagrad, the Tesla family name saw several geniuses. All who brought great new insights into the powers of electricity and magnetism. In the technology of the world, there are a lot of designs taken from inventions like the Tesla Coil, Plasma Lamp, and Wardenclyffe Tower (The original Tesla Tower). Both the young protagonist and his father bear a resemblance to Tesla's traits, and the look of the King who is the game's villain was taken from Nikola Tesla's Death Mask. To be clear, ours is a work of fantasy. We imagine a place like Europe with four great nations, each with their own flavour of technology. The nation where Teslagrad takes place is the nation of Electropia–a place that is a blend between the Nordic region and the Russian territories. Teslagrad is the nation's capital and the game is about the nation's history.
NWR: So Teslagrad has already been released on PC. What, if any, are the differences between the PC and Wii U versions?
PM: In the Wii U version we have put the map and the list of collectibles over to the GamePad. A better set of accessible buttons have also allowed our default controller settings to be somewhat better. The game is clearly a lot more at home with the D-Pad family of controllers than with a keyboard. There is also the option of off-screen play. I must say that, for myself, this was the most comfortable way of playing Teslagrad. We didn't have to cut back on graphics or anything else for this version either, something that we are really proud of.
NWR: Were there any abilities that you wanted to put in the game, but just somehow couldn't get them in there?
PM: There are always ideas that don't make it into the game, but perhaps this is for the best. We thought about letting the character be able to slide, but then the "Blink" boots serve a lot of the same function. We also thought about magnetic rails that would attract you and then drag you along. However, in the end, it turned out that the magnetic mechanics that are already in the game had more than enough possibilities for gameplay, and there are already sufficient mechanics in the game for the player to learn and master.
NWR: And I see the world in non-linear. Just how expansive is it?
PM: Teslagrad is not as sprawling as a game like Super Metroid, but there are some alternative routes and secret rooms. There are over 100 rooms in total. It is [when] you have the heart to start exploring for the extra bits of the game that Teslagrad becomes a truly non-linear experience.
NWR: These environments are hand-drawn too, right? How long did it take to do all that?
PM: It took us two and a half years to do the game. Doing classical animation for the characters too was a lot of work. Petter Amland did the backgrounds, Aslak did a lot of the animation, and Ole Ivar Drudi blended it all together with spot details and a brilliant sense of ambiance and lighting. Compared to all that, it only took us a half year to change everything so that it could work on the Wii U.
NWR: Can you clue us in on an ETA or price or any kind?
PM: The ETA is really close. The game is in Nintendo's hands, and we are just waiting for the green light. However this is our first console release ever, so we have been loath to give a date. It is always so hard to guess how much time different things will end up taking. It seems that there will be a date real soon, and that the game will be out shortly after.
Many thanks to Peter Meldahl for the interview!