The words ‘rotating platformer’ were enough to pique our interests with the announcement of Exception for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch. And then when we discovered that the debut console title from Traxmaster Software also combined a unique level shifting mechanic along with two-dimensional action in a three-dimensional world, those interest levels rose even more. In fact, we just had to know more about it and so we reached out to the one-man developer, Will Traxler, in order to discover more about Exception. He was more than happy to chat…
Hi. Please could you introduce yourself – what is your role at Traxmaster Software and in the creation of Exception?
I’m Will Traxler, developer of Exception. I’m responsible for putting this game together so you can blame me for pretty much anything that you don’t like about it.
So, sell it to us… what is Exception all about and why should we get excited to tackle this rotating platform adventure?
Exception is a game set inside an old woman’s laptop computer that has been taken over by a virus. You are a program inside the computer system that must destroy the virus it takes over.
What inspired you to create a three-dimensional world rather than an expanded 2D offering like many others, and did you face any major difficulties in ensuring that each transition feels smooth?
The whole transformation thing happened by accident. I initially set out to make a standard platformer with a few tweaks. One day I was playing with the game in the development editor and started rotating objects. Eventually I figured out that rotating an entire level wasn’t too difficult. From that point forward the focal point for the game became transforming levels.
There are a ton of platformers already available on Xbox One, so, other than that rotation vibe, what makes Exception such a unique experience?
It seems like platformers have been around since the dawn of humanity so lots of people roll their eyes when a new one pops up. This is a totally understandable reaction. What I’m trying to present with Exception is a series of departures from the old formulas while retaining a couple of the familiar elements. So, we end up with a game that combines bits of speedrunning with bits of combat with bits of precision platforming with bits of 3D graphics.
Speed seems to play a big part in keeping things fluid throughout the game, are you looking at Exception to become a speedrunnning favourite?
I would love for speedrunners to get something from the game and I did design some features with that in mind. Having said that, I’m not much of a speedrunner myself, so I’m just guessing at what they’d find interesting. During a short beta test I did get some excellent feedback from a few speedrunner enthusiasts. I hope it’s something they can enjoy.
The story is told through illustrated cutscenes, does the narrative tell us everything, or is there room for interpretation as progress is made?
The story is pretty straightforward but there are a few curveballs thrown in here and there. I think people will have a different perspective on the story once they’ve completed the game, so in that sense there is room for interpretation.
With some of the best synthwave artists providing music for Exception, what challenges have you faced to ensure the gameplay fits the fast-paced lively nature of the audio?
I have to say that all of the music in the game is great. I found a great group of artists and their music really resonates when presented through the game. The biggest challenge was to create an aesthetic that matches the mood created by the music. I think the neon drenched levels do a nice job of complementing the music.
There are multiple obstacles to attack as you find the fastest path to the end of each level. How important is combat to the game?
Combat is critically important from a competitive standpoint. Every level has a leaderboard which ranks players based on their completion times. Players can earn time bonuses for using certain attacks or performing specific feats. The mechanic allows players to apply some creativity to their runs. How they select attacks plays a large role in that.
Platformers can often be challenging to the casual gamer, have you got anything in place to help Exception be accessible to all, or is this a title intended for the hardcore faithful?
That’s a great question! The game has features that will please both casual fans and hardcore types. For the hardcore player, Exception offers competitive leaderboards and precision gameplay. For the more casual players, there’s an assist mode which can raise the character’s ability to absorb damage. I wanted to make sure a wide range of players could enjoy the game.
With 128 levels, 16 worlds and 15 enemy bosses to conquer, Exception is hardly short of content. Are there any plans for future DLC for those that manage to master it all?
I’d love to have the opportunity to expand the title somehow. If the economics make sense I could imagine working up a new set of levels and possibly adding a new chapter to the story.
Exception is your first outing on Xbox One, what challenges have you had to overcome to bring this exciting experience to life?
Finding time to add platforms like Xbox One has been the biggest challenge. I started Xbox development after meeting some of the [email protected] team members at PAX West. Prior to that, the notion of publishing on console hadn’t entered my mind. Xbox was the first console build that I developed so it was enormously important. From a technical standpoint, there were a number of hurdles that had to be cleared, and these took quite a bit of time. That said, I think Exception benefited enormously for the extra development. I’m grateful to the [email protected] team for their assistance and encouragement.
And finally, what one thing do you hope gamers will take away from playing Exception?
I hope that players simply enjoy the game. I really don’t have any lofty aspirations or goals beyond that.
Huge thanks go out to Will for taking the time out of what is obviously a hugely busy schedule in the lead up to seeing Exception launch on Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch. Depending on when you are reading this, you may well already be able to grab yourself a download of this intriguing platformer as it releases on Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch on the 13th August. Priced up at £11.99, surely it’s worth a punt? Our full review will be able to sort you out with even finer details soon too.