PAX East 2013: Q&A with Twisted Pixel’s Michael Wilford on LocoCycle


Pretty much every game at Penny Arcade Expo can be clumped into one of two categories: big budget blockbusters from AAA developers, and stuff from smaller developers that’s usually a little bit different from the norm. Any guesses as to which are usually more interesting?

Twisted Pixel is one such small developer. Their upcoming game is called LocoCycle and the premise goes something like this: it stars IRIS, a sentient motorcycle that’s along the lines of KITT from “Knight Rider.” Except it looks like the Light Cycle from TRON and is voiced by a woman, in this case Lisa Foiles.

Details are sparse at the moment, but lighting apparently strikes IRIS, which makes her go haywire or something. For whatever reason, she decides to make a run for it, and is thusly pursued by men in black, presumably her creators. So you control IRIS in a motorcycle combat setting, though her mechanic is along for the ride, though not willingly; he’s some poor Hispanic fellow who is being dragged by the foot the entire time. He’s voiced by Freddy Rodriquez, by the way.

You’re mostly speeding down the road, shooting bad guys in their vehicles, though occasionally men on jet packs will fly up. For those occasions, and others, IRIS can jump up and beat the crap out of them, since she’s also proficient in various forms of martial arts. As noted, indie games are usually “different.” And while stuff like “Call of Duty” is nice and all, when was the last time you saw a super smart motorbike that can deliver round house kicks in mid air? Exactly. got the chance to ask Michael Wilford, CEO of Twisted Pixel, a few questions about his studio’s upcoming game…. For starters, where LocoCycle draws its inspiration from?
Michael Wilford:
That’s easy to answer. Remember the movie Torque? There’s this awesomely stupid part, in which two women engage in kung fu with their bikes. LocoCycle is basically a tribute to that scene. I remember when one of our guys got that DVD as a gag gift, and that scene… it just stuck with us, and thus the game we have today.

CS: And this whole time I thought it was just a tribute to Knight Rider…
Oh, there’s that too, obviously. Plus Short Circuit. Like how IRIS gets struck by lighting, just like Johnny Five.

CS: I have to ask, why drag a poor Mexican guy around?
Well, we needed a human character to act as foil. His ethnicity, first off, is just a given, considering where we’re from. Twisted Pixel is located in Austin, Texas, so we’re located very close to border. There’s Hispanic/Latino elements in almost all of our games. Though storyline wise, we also needed a justification for IRIS not being able to understand the other character. She thinks she can understand Spanish, but she can’t, due to the lighting strike. As for the fellow, Pablo, he’s actually her mechanic so they share a special bond. Initially, all he does is yell at her to stop, but…

CS: Eventually they fall in love with each other?
You got it.

CS: Are you controlling IRIS the entire time or just shooting?
Wilford: Nope, you’re doing everything, both driving and shooting. And don’t forget kicking too.

CS: What has been the biggest challenge thus far?
Pacing? We watched a LOT of chase scenes from all kinds of movies, not only to come up with great set pieces, but to have the perfect ebb and flow. And not just the stunts themselves, but to figure out the camerawork.

CS: I have to say, I’m normally not a fan of QuickTime Events, but the way that they’re used is simply brilliant. They do a lot to help break up the action, so the racing and the shooting is not overwhelming. Anyhow, is there an evil bike? Kinda like how KITT had KARR?
Yup. It’s Robert Patrick, the voice of the T-1000. We call him SPIKE.

Otherwise, Wilford has been mum on most other details, like platform and release date. Though LocoCycle should hopefully arrive sometime this year.