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Media Molecule’s Rex Crowle on Tearaway Unfolded, the DualShock 4 and creating new experiences

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Recently Stevivor had the chance to chat with Media Molecule’s Rex Crowle, Designer of Tearaway Unfolded, who revealed some of what went into the development of the title. He gave an insight into Unfolded and dispelled some misconceptions about the remake.

Crowle said that Unfolded had actually began its life as an experiment by Media Molecule just to see if it would work. Rather than any command coming down from Sony to the studio, Crowle and his team were just goofing around when they realised that the power and the features of the PS4 would allow them to recreate Unfolded in a brand new and interesting way.

Unfolded was about seeing what could we do with the console and whether there would be any interest in bringing that about. Whether it excited us as a team was also a concern. We don’t want to simply port a game when we could be creating new stuff so it had to fire the whole team up. At MM we work in a very ‘Game Jam’ style where everybody is free to create anything and experiment with ideas,” Crowle explained. Unfolded could never have worked on the PS3 according to Crowle though as the DualShock 3 simply didn’t have enough features.

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“If we were trying to do it on PS3, I think we would have just given up because there just wasn’t enough on the game pad. The DualShock 4 has the Touch Pad, the light bar on the back and the speaker. There are a lot of things that we could think about and wonder how we could use them creatively. How could we give the controller a character, so you feel like a little bit of the world is in your hands? Everyone’s really keen at MM to bring out the personality in hardware.”

When we asked him whether he thought Unfolded was the definitive version of the title Crowle said he didn’t see the two titles as one and the same, but that both were alternate versions of each other. “Unfolded is like the big screen adaptation,” he joked, “I try and think of the two games as two separate versions. In one direction it’s gone to Vita and that game is all about the features of the handheld. Some players will play it first on PS4 and then go to play it on Vita and enjoy it for seeing that alternate version because it does differ so much. I don’t think of the PS4 as being the definitive version, just another version.” Unfolded includes elements that were never able to be included in the original due to hardware and time constraints like the Paper Plane, which Crowle explained was very exciting to bring back.

“[It] was a thing that one of our level designers desperately wanted to get into the Vita version, but it just didn’t work. So it was great to add it back into Unfolded.”

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Re-enforcing this idea of alternate versions is the philosophy behind the narrative which Crowle says comes from folklore. “I wanted to make it feel like a story that’s told and re-told. Whenever someone tells or re-tells a story they exaggerate certain sections and forget about others altogether. You end up with the same story, but it has a very different focus. It’s like they’ve misremembered and created their own version.”

While Media Molecule is busy working on Dreams at the moment, Crowle wouldn’t rule out a follow-up to Tearaway as he and his team simply love the world, the characters and the stories they’ve created.

Tearaway and Tearaway Unfolded are available for PS Vita and PS4 respectively and are available now.