Eurogamer: You include in your press release a quote from Mark Coates from Microsoft. How did your relationship evolve after the game launched?
Deborah Jones: I don't think it's changed. Our relationship with Microsoft is excellent and they've been brilliant. I must say they've been absolutely superb throughout the whole process.
Pete Jones: These comments are not comments because we happen to be in a conference call with Eurogamer. We couldn't have done what we've done without the implicit and close cooperation of Microsoft. They've been bloody superb in every quarter. That's not a lithe comment, either. We really mean that.
They took our vision of what we wanted to create. They've run with it and they've facilitated a very swift turnaround. And here we are with this quite remarkable title update. There hasn't been any change. They've always been supportive and they've remained so after the game launched.
Deborah Jones: If you ask us, would we have liked to have had this title update out at launch, the answer is obviously yes, but we didn't know at that point. In hindsight it would have been a wonderful thing to have had done all these things initially.
Pete Jones: In many ways it's changed the way we look at our game and our studio and the way we do things. We hired a suite in the big shopping mall that sits in the middle of Manchester, the Manchester Arndale, to interview gamers. We bribed, cajoled and persuaded gamers to come in to a suite we booked. We had a prepared questionnaire for after they'd played through the game, which went into all the areas we'd received feedback on from the community. That was a huge document. We did that over a hundred respondents.
We also booked rooms in Bolton University – they were most helpful. We even did a control group to research what the public thought independently, how their results stacked up against the professional reviewers results. We honestly have done our homework and we've continued to do that.
Deborah Jones: We did get a few things wrong, but we have listened. We hope the community will appreciate the changes.
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Eurogamer: First impressions are very important in gaming. If you have one message for Xbox 360 gamers about Hydrophobia, what is it?
Pete Jones: The first thing you have to bear in mind is the majority of reviews were positive. The majority were over 70 per cent, statistically. The majority of 360 gamers who downloaded the game, their experience was a good one. To them, we're rewarding them with the title update because it works on a game that's already been purchased and updates it in the same way any title would. It provides them with a new experience.
If people had a frustrating element of the game, that's been turned around and corrected and it will give them the experience we wanted to.
Otherwise, frankly, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. The argument is, if you know there's an element of the game that produced frustration among a proportion of gamers, the opposite argument is, is it the right thing to leave it there and not address it and listen to the community?
We feel, rightly or wrongly, that the right answer is to listen to the community and give the community what it wants, to give something back.
Perhaps other people ought to listen to the community more. There are a lot of games I've played where I've had frustrations with an element of the game, and none of those were ever fixed. Now, in an age where you can download a product so quickly, and we have a technology that uniquely allows us to provide this level of change, it would be inherently wrong if we just sat back and said, "Well that's it. You've got to enjoy what we've produced."
It would be better, frankly, if more games took the same attitude.
Rob Hewson: That's something that will continue as well. For future projects, gamers know we're going to be listening to their input for sequels and other projects.
Deborah Jones: When you get positive reviews, obviously you're elated. When they're negative you do feel it quite personally. Everybody on the team wanted to give something back and say, "Look, here we are guys, we've listened to you, we wanted to improve it for you."
That's for us as well, for our own satisfaction, because you feel for everything you do.
Free title update Hydrophobia Pure will release tomorrow on XBLA.