It was, as Trials 2: Second Edition, released early 2008, had Eurogamer enraptured. Media reaction to Trials 2 was one of two "eye-opening" moments for Virtala, the other being, naturally, consumer reaction on Steam, a platform to which RedLynx attributes a large portion of its independent success. Trials 2 has sold over 130,000 copies to date. "Trials 2 was a success," states Virtala, "and publishers wanted to take it elsewhere."
Xbox Live Arcade was picked for two reasons: the partner and the feature-set. Virtala looks back on the decision as "an excellent choice", as was my reindeer carpaccio and smoked salmon fillet later in the day. Taking Trials to console would involve a lot of self-inflicted work, though, as Ilvessuo hates ports and requires every RedLynx game to "fit" with a platform. Virtala agrees: "We are small and whatever game we do for whatever platform, it has to be an excellent game - it has to be something that the players find exceptionally good. We only need one or two or three flops and it's really a radical situation for us. And that's not where we're going."
"Trials HD took the next big step as a completely new game," Virtala explains, onto a platform the audience for which RedLynx wasn't sure about. Would they understand the game? Would they even understand what something called Trials was about? He admits there were "uncertainties", but RedLynx was confident by now that Trials had a core that worked.
"We have a really good team that knows the game. And we have always known that if we keep the focus clear on the core things, then the game will be really good. We have been quite confident all the time that Trials HD will be a really good game." Ilvessuo tells us his "click moment" making Trials HD came when Xbox Live Friends functionality went in, as aliases were swapped in a heartbeat and the inter-office competition began. In the end, 10 people made Trials HD in one year, and half of that, Virtala says, was spent tweaking how riders and bikes behaved in the "totally new" engine (read more about the technology behind Trials HD in our Trials HD tech interview on Digital Foundry). "It might be a small thing, but if something doesn't feel right for the player, the fun factor would be gone."
Trials HD was released during the Summer of Arcade campaign in August and Eurogamer awarded it 9/10. Ilvessuo and Virtala recall how, one week after launch, fans sought them out at gamescom, Germany, to shake their hand and pat them on the back. Combined with promising early XBLA sales, these signs enabled RedLynx to breathe a well-earned sigh of relief. Eurogamer even went on to vote Trials 2/Trials HD as one of the top 10 games of the last decade.
RedLynx has had enough bad luck to understand good fortune, says Virtala, but he's still cautious, and hopes that background in misfortune will prevent the team getting "lost" in success. "We have been through the uphills and the downhills over 10 years. Being on N-Gage and expecting a lot and seeing it not succeed commercially, making interactive TV games - which was a really promising market - that were good but commercially didn't fly. So we know how to appreciate this success," he says.