Eurogamer: It sounds like you've put in a lot of time and energy into this update. When did you begin work on it?
Deborah Jones: We were looking at the game as soon as it was signed off. We were looking at various things we wanted to improve. We're not a big team. We wanted to listen. We wanted to see what was out there. As soon as we could get some balance on the issues people had, we started to address them. We've been addressing certain things in the background, but then obviously the key points that people raised.
Pete Jones: When we started getting the bulk of the reviews in – because like any game, the reviews come in quite quickly after launch – what we needed was a means of examining all those reviews and clarifying them into a single vision. Otherwise, you read one review, you read a second review and a third and so on, you don't get a coherent picture. You get the highs and the lows and the points that are made, but you don't get them in a systematic way.
We started right from the beginning, right from the first reviews, particularly some of the negative reviews. We took them apart. We started to analyse them, and as soon as we got a critical mass of reviews, which for us was probably around the 50 review mark, we started to break it down into the areas of the game people found frustrating in terms of the feedback. Also we looked at blogs people had put up on the game, and started rectifying it.
We set about it at a very early stage, and it's been a single-minded pursuit ever since.
Eurogamer: Would you agree that early you were angry about how the game had been received, and perhaps now the dust has settled you're more considered and philosophical about the experience?
Deborah Jones: Definitely philosophical. Honestly, we weren't actually angry, even at... Obviously you're disappointed. You can't help but be disappointed. But when you look at it and people have a valid point then you can't possibly be angry about someone's opinion.
Pete Jones: I don't think anger is the right sentiment. We were perhaps on occasion a little too defensive and disappointed. Pride can be a big virtue as well because you need to be intensely proud of something you're creating in any endeavour. And we were proud of it. And we still are proud of the game. Immensely proud of it.
From the start we wanted to make a game that gamers really loved. That was our passion. That's what we wanted to do. And that's still our passion. That's why we created and spent so much time listening to what people wanted.
Deborah Jones: When you play the title update, the camera has seen a lot of work. The camera takes you in so much closer to the screen. Being so far away in the original one caused quite a lot of issues. The camera change, the control mapping, the fact you can get into cover so easily, just makes the game much more pleasurably to play.
We loved it as it was, but in fairness, we were probably too close.
Pete Jones: To just underline the point about getting too close, when we finished it we happened to be playing another game, which will remain nameless, at home, and I kept dying. The reason I was dying was because I'd remapped my brain to the control system in Hydrophobia and kept pressing the wrong damn button all the time.
Deborah Jones: The damage feedback is one very important area we picked up on. Originally you could die from fire in the area and not know why you'd died or what the cause was. Now that doesn't happen. You know where the damage is coming from and it's more balanced. We used to quite enjoy that, but that was because we were, again, too close.
Pete Jones: The fact we've managed to do all of this within a title update is almost voodoo. It's down to the fact the game is created with InfiniteWorlds. It allows us to do huge amounts within an impossibly small memory amount. It really is a huge technical achievement.
Eurogamer: Why are you dropping the price of the game to 800 MS Points?
Pete Jones: We were really hard-nosed about it. Every decision we've taken on Hydrophobia Pure was based on feedback. Part of the feedback, if you look at the stats, there was a desire for the game to be at 800 rather than 1200.
Eurogamer: So you had always wanted it to be at 800?
Deborah Jones: It's not our pricing structure. It's Microsoft's pricing structure and it's not our decision at the end of the day. It has to fit in with Microsoft's vision. It was Microsoft's vision to have it at 1200 Points, well joint vision, really. 800 Points is a fair price for a great product.
Pete Jones: We've looked at the feedback and we've responded to the feedback. Our line to our programmers, artists and designers has been, the defining factor on what happens in this update is the feedback from the community. We've followed that on every single line: on the graphics, animation, camera and damage. And we took exactly the same line on value for money.
The balance of feedback was that it should be 800 Points and we've made it 800 Points.