Dream of Pixels, a puzzler that reverses the classic gameplay of Tetris, is an Android game we covered a couple of times. After receiving an almost flawless score of 4.5 Woofs in our review, it prompted us to get to know this Slovenia-based developer better. I had a chance to chat with Žiga Hajduković (@zigah111), co-founder and game designer at Dawn of Play where we talked about their history, other games that served as inspiration, their experience porting their game, and their future plans.
GameWoof sat down with Xavier Liard (@xld) and Romain Tisserand (@RomainTisserand), co-founders of DotEmu, developer of The Last Express to talk more about their point-and-click adventure game. We recently reviewed their Android game where we gave it an almost perfect score of 4.5 Woofs. This made us want to know more about this French developer. We discussed the origin of their name, the challenging gaming business, the difference of PC and mobile gaming, their favorite retro games, and what’s next for DotEmu.
Comic ConQuest is a game we’ve talked about a couple of times here at Gamewoof. This game is a squad based combat experience where players inhabit con-goers at a comic convention who discover they’ve been gifted the powers of the characters they’ve dressed up as. Along the way they must defeat villains, and eventually other players. I got a chance to chat with two of the team members working on this game, Daniel Witenberg, Product Development Director and Fred White, Director of Tactics.
GW: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to talk with us at Gamewoof about your exciting new project, Comic ConQuest. First off, tell us a little about the game and specifically, what inspired the creation of a squad-based game based around a Comic Con?
Daniel: Comic cons are the ultimate destinations for pop culture fans, and we’re all pop culture junkies here at Sleepy Giant, in our own ways, of course. We’ve always thought that a fan base that appreciates games made out of their favorite properties would really appreciate the humor of becoming the protagonists in a similar treatment. It’s exactly the kind of meta-humor that we see as universally appealing, and gives a lot of fertile ground to work with.
GW: Will this game have any tie-ins with any specific Cons, such as SDCC or New York Comic Con?
Daniel: Perhaps one day. For the time being this is an independent effort.
Fred: We are definitely interested in that kind of engagement with the cons. I can say we’ve had discussions with a couple of the larger ones, but we aren’t yet at a place where we can give any details.
GW: One of the big features in this title is character customization. Just how far will players be able to take this? Will they be able to, say, create a Space Viking, like in Metalocalypse?
Daniel: We will be building a lot of content that allows for a wide variety of fun costuming possibilities, and costumes will definitely affect how a player progresses through the world, so finding interesting combos will be half the fun. A space viking? Yup, that will be totally possible, along with pretty much anything else you can imagine.
GW: There are also characters based off of well-known cosplayers in Comic ConQuest. How did that come to be and how were the specific individuals involved chosen? Also, did they have any input on the characters they are “playing” in this game?
Fred: The game itself casts the players as costumed combatants, so cosplay itself is woven in the game’s fabric. When we first started talking about how to embrace the awesome comic con experience and portray it in the game, the very first thing we thought of was incorporating some actual cosplayers. We decided that we would include some of the most well known and well loved, but then we took it a step further. Jeff Matsuda met with them (mostly online) and co-designed all new characters with them. Their characters featured in the game are a result of that collaboration, which was heavily influenced by the input that the cosplayers provided.
GW: How will these cosplay celebrities be used in the game? As NPCs, boss fights, playable characters?
Daniel: The cosplayers will be in-game characters that players can add to their battle squad. These premium characters will have a higher cost to use, but will offer the squad a lot more firepower.
GW: Will this game be an open world real time type thing or will it be just a selection of maps with one on one battles?
Daniel: This isn’t a real-time game; we’re talking lots of quick and light turn-by-turn battles, with the player taking their squad into battles with enemy groupings of a variety of sizes and configurations. Players will be pitted against the AI, and will only compete with each other indirectly, but we are planning some PvP action for future a future release.
GW: Regarding the Kickstarter, what are the funds that are being raised going towards?
Fred: All of us being long-time gamers, we have been regularly coming up with cool ideas (at least in our minds!) and features in the game that weren’t part of the original scope and budget. As the development has been progressing, we’ve been getting fantastic input from not only the internal team but also from others who we show it to. Player feedback is important to us and we got to a point where we just couldn’t include all of the extras that we wanted under the current budget constraints. Kickstarter allows us to try to make it happen. All of the funds will be going towards further development of the game.
GW: Let’s say the Kickstarter isn’t successful, would we still see Comic ConQuest?
Fred: If the Kickstarter campaign does not fund, we will have to take an introspective look and determine why. We really believe in this project and have dedicated quite a lot of man-hours to its development and success. We think that this game will resonate with the comic con fans and we hope it’s well received.
GW: What will the IAP structure be like in Comic ConQuest?
Fred: We’re still in early development so we haven’t yet locked down the business model. We are considering a number of them at this point. We’re committed to making this a fun gaming experience, and staying flexible during the development stage enables us to make the best design choices based on player feedback.
GW: This game is set to come to the web, iOS and Android. Why mobile, and specifically, why Android?
Daniel: Sleepy Giant is in the business of servicing the mobile market space and Android is easily the OS with the highest market share right now. It’s also rapidly gaining ground in terms of market share of app store revenue. For us, Android is fast becoming a market that can’t, and shouldn’t, be ignored; Android players shouldn’t be viewed as second class citizens. On top of this, the technologies we’re using to develop and deploy on multiple platforms makes porting an achievable and affordable task, so our opportunity cost for going to Android, and therefore our risk level, is relatively low.
GW: Did you encounter any difficulties working with the Android platform as opposed to iOS?
Daniel: Well, we’re not done with this yet, ask me in three months!
GW: Will this game be cross platform? As in, can we crush our iOS counterparts at a rousing game of Comic ConQuest?
Daniel: Yup, it will be totally platform agnostic and you can take your account from device to device. So, yes, go forth and conquer!
GW: Awesome guys, thanks for your time!
Daniel: And thank you for taking the time with us!
Fred: Yes thank you, and keep up the good work on your site!
During the times I have been writing about Kickstarters for my weekly column, Death Road to Canada is easily one of my favorites. Calling itself a “Permadeath Road Trip Simulator” Death Road to Canada has players controlling a group of survivors attempting to travel from Florida to Canada in order to find safe haven from a Zombie Apocalypse. The retro 8-bit style hides a deeper complexity, as the randomized cities will be filled with, other than zombies, various characters that can be recruited to your team, including pets. At least as important as the survivors will be the interactions of the group. The randomly generated characters will have their own traits. Beyond the obvious, like accuracy with guns, come more subtle but nevertheless crucial characteristics like loyalty, aggression and intelligence. Characters that aren’t compatible will have a harder time getting along, and it can even result in a character leaving the group altogether.
With Death Road to Canada having hit its funding goal back on September 10th and its funding period ending tomorrow, Kepa Auwae, one third of the three man studio that makes up Rocketcat Games took some time to answer a few questions about the game, Kickstarter and their future plans. While Rocketcat Games already has a few hits out on mobile devices (including Punch Quest, which received an impressive 4.5 from our own Patrick Garde) Death Road to Canada represents their largest game yet, and their first foray into the PC market.
GameWoof: Without spoiling too much of the story, why are the survivors trying to reach Canada? Is it simply because they feel the cold might offer some rest from the zombies?
RocketCat Games: There’s various rumors you can hear in the game, and they that Canada is a safe place to be. The reasons differ.
GameWoof: You mentioned it in your kickstarter and a ton of your backers have asked for it, so is it a pretty sure bet at this point that local multiplayer will come out at sometime post release?
RC: We made some extra money from the Kickstarter, so we’ll be able to give local multiplayer a shot. We’ll do a survey after the campaign ends, to make sure that’s the top feature people want. Shouldn’t be too much trouble to do, since the game is arranged to support it. Just not exactly sure when it would come out.
GameWoof: You have mentioned same screen multiplayer but what about Bluetooth for Android users?
RC: Not sure, we don’t really have experience with this. Our plans are for same-screen local at this point, not online or wifi or LAN play.
GameWoof: You have said that the current plan is to have a successful play through last an hour to an hour and a half, have you considered multiple options players could choose from? (Like, have them start in New York for an hour-ish long campaign, Virginia for a three hour campaign and Florida for an extremely long one?)
RC: If possible I think I’d like to avoid really different modes, as that would clutter up the design. The less modes the better. Though right now, we’re considering a “start with a car of friends” mode in addition to the normal “random survivors” mode.
GameWoof: You mentioned not wanting to include stretch goals in order to avoid over promising and hitting what you called “Kickstarter’s Folly” can you talk a little more about that? Do you feel that derails a lot of crowd funded games?
RC: There’s a some high profile examples now of stretch goals derailing projects. It’s just a really bad idea to have funding tied to an ever increasing scope for the project. Especially since we want to release the game before Fall’s over.
GameWoof: The end of Fall 2013 is listed as the game’s PC/Mac/Linux release, but that the mobile versions will take longer to port. Can you give us any kind of time frame (even a large or tentative one) of when we can see the game on mobile? Specifically Android?
RC: I’d say January. Though I have to check with our usual mobile porting company before I can be sure on that. We kept the Android release date a little vague for this reason.
GameWoof: Any plans for the Android Consoles? (OUYA, Gamestick, MOJO, etc.) Seems like that would be ideal for any eventual multiplayer release
RC: None right now, as our Android porting company would be handling that. Ouya was talked about at one point, they recently sent us a console.
GameWoof: Dogs are the only kind of pet shown, with kittens/cats also mentioned as backer rewards. You also mentioned in discussions with your backers that dogs aren’t the only kind of pet but that they “are the main ones” are there any others besides cats? How will the other pets differ, and if all your humans die, can several different kinds of animals co-exist in one group?
RC: We’re putting in various pets based on one of our backer tiers, and then we may add some more after that. Dogs are the main ones because they’re the most clearly defined as being “proper characters”, other pets being more for morale bonuses or humor value. Your group of non-humans can exist for as long as their morale holds up and their food supplies keep going, will see about inter-animal rivalries after we figure out how many animal types we’d need to keep track of.
GameWoof: What will the main goals be for each city you visit during the game?
RC: Survival, looting, finding survivors, finding things that trigger rare events, getting out before the zombie swarms get too bad, but not before you find as many supplies as you think you need.
GameWoof: Now that Death Road to Canada is successfully funded, how was your experience with Kickstarter? When you eventually move onto your next game, do you plan to use Kickstarter again, or do you hope to fund it using profits from Death Road to Canada and/or outside funding?
RC: Our experience with Kickstarter was great, we’ll definitely use it again. It just has to be for the right game, something new that we’re making that we think will have a wide crowd appeal. Other projects we do that are more niche, like our upcoming action-adventure game, will probably just be self-funded.
GameWoof: Earlier you mentioned some other projects you were working on. Anything you can tell us about them?
RC: We’re doing a couple.
GameWoof: Is there anything else you would like to let our readers know about?
Death Road to Canada is #30 on Steam Greenlight right now. If it gets a little bit higher, we’ll get on Steam. We could really use votes from anyone with a Steam account: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=173687938
We would like to thank Kepa Auwae for taking the time out of his busy day to answer our questions, and remember you can always keep up with Death Trip to Canada’s progress in GameWoof’s datapage. And please, don’t forget to vote for the game on Steam Greenlight, making it a success on PCs will only help ensure it gets to Android as quickly as possible.
GameWoof talked to Force of Habit’s Nick Dymond (@NEDymond) and Ashley Gwinnell (@ashleygwinnell), developer of Toast Time, to discuss their arcade game in detail. We got a chance to review their Android game recently where we rated it 4.5 Woofs. Hence, it made us want to know more about this indie developer based in the UK. We also had a chat on their decision to come over to the mobile platform, their favorite games, their thoughts on Android consoles, and their future plans.
GameWoof sat down with Jacob Koch, the developer of Squarescape, to talk about their puzzle game. We reviewed their puzzler and gave it an almost perfect score of 4.5 Woofs which made us want to know more about this 19-year-old student / independent video game developer. We also chatted about NES games which served as his inspiration, the seamless porting to Android by Noodlecake Studios, and the lessons he learned from his first Android game.
Once in awhile software comes along that has a chance to be a game changer. Despite their Kickstarter ending unsuccessfully, Musical DNA has a chance to be a major game changer. Musical DNA breaks down all of the world’s sounds and gives them a value and color on a spectrum. It all connects together and builds a spiral puzzle that looks more than a bit like a strand of DNA (hence the name). Every sound or piece of compositional art can be converted and visualized in Musical DNA’s software. If that doesn’t sound like a game changer to you, it is simply because of my inability to use the English language to explain it properly. I highly suggest you watch the introductory video below to let Ken Lemons, the founder and CEO of Musical DNA Software LLC explain it in a way mere words cannot.
There are more videos available on youtube and their official site.
Ken Lemons took some time to answer a few questions for us about Musical DNA, their Musical game app Centerfire and their Kickstarter experience.
GameWoof: Can you give my readers a little overview of what Musical DNA is and what makes it different from other Sound recognition software?
Ken Lemons: Musical DNA [MDNA] uses rainbow-colored geometry, in a mathematically precise manner, to visualize music and sound. The language of music can be described, most aptly, as shapes fitting together like pieces of a puzzle. Musical DNA reveals this puzzle to the world– empowering things like Music Playing Video Games and making them REAL.
MDNA also serves as a new ‘user interface’ for computers– for music and sound related tasks.
We have a lot of patents in the music and sound analysis realm: composition, editing, speech, sound, etc.
But today, I’ll be talking mostly about music gaming!
GameWoof: When you first launched the Musical DNA Kickstarter you already had the Musical DNA software (and a working demo of Centerfire) how long did that take to develop, what inspired you to start working on musical recognition software and when did you realize that you had something special?
We’ve been working for about seven years– though much of our work has been behind the scenes. When I started the company, there was no such thing as a smartphone– so the software world has changed, remarkably. CenterFire (our music gaming concept) came about, a couple of years ago, in our attempt to create a product that people would instantly like and understand.
We knew we had something special with the core Musical DNA concept, at the very beginning– especially when we were looking at the first, beta version of our software, and it was something we could then share with others. (The patent attorneys thought so, too. . .)
GameWoof: You mentioned when I was working on the Kickstarter Wrapup on unsuccessful Kickstarters that Musical DNA was in the process of being licensed out to outside companies. Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect to come from that?
Most companies build a product, first. . . And if that product proves successful, the company will then attempt to protect that product with some form of IP (Intellectual Property) protection. Our path was different. We knew that our concept was so potentially ‘disruptive,’ that it had to be protected, first and foremost. And I’m happy to say that we succeeded. But we now have a pretty huge ‘ocean’ of potential markets and products, and business experts are quick to point out that it is difficult to ‘boil the ocean.’
Because of this, we will need to continue to find ways partner with the various industry experts, as our brand awareness grows, and as our first products begin to hit the market.
For CenterFire (our music-playing video game), we are currently looking for a publisher– as that would be one of the potential avenues that would help us get our game out sooner.
GameWoof: I imagine you are getting a fair amount of emails with suggestions on what you should do with the software, besides the ones that you are doing and have licensed out, and the medical possibilities you mention in your video, what are some of the more novel ideas you have heard?
Drawing images of animal sounds and other natures sounds: Bird calls. . . Dolphins. . . Whales. . .
I read, the other day, that they are thinking about putting tiny ‘backpacks’ on birds, to help track them and collect data.
Wouldn’t it be cool, to be able to know that a particular bird popped up on the grid, simply because its individual sound signature was archived and recognized?
Of course. . . the same thing could then happen for a human. . . : )
We always liked the basic idea, as well, of having an infant stare at the MDNA visualization of the music of Mozart. Our first idea was to have a projector mounted to a crib. Now, it can just be your tablet.
GameWoof: Centerfire was the star of your Kickstarter, do you wish you focused more on the Musical DNA portion of things?
A little bit. Some background activities kept us from focusing on our core Musical DNA concept, at that moment. I definitely think it’s an easier sell, to simply show a musical instrument connected to our patented visualizations and then ask people to help us ‘turn this on’ for the world. It’s a much smaller Kickstarter campaign, for one; but, I also think it’s a more universal pitch.
GameWoof: What is the process of bringing a song into Musical DNA like? Is it seamless or is there a lot of work? Could a musician with little to no technical expertise plug his instrument into the device and then create a lesson on how to play his song using any other instrument or say, create a Centerfire level?
The music-related Musical DNA technology (visualizing songs) is driven by MIDI — which is a 30-year old, standard technology– created to help musicians interact with a computer.
So, the simple way of saying it is that we can basically visualize any MIDI file on the planet, and each one of those files can then become our video game. But the process is still human (musician) driven, for the moment.
We will definitely find a way empower users to create and share their own music ‘games’ with one another, perhaps by leveraging our already-existing, Musical DNA composition app that is in the Apple app store. Nice question. . .
GameWoof: You mentioned that Centerfire was being developed by a “professional game studio” can you tell us who that is and how the app is coming along?
I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. We are researching professional studios that could help us finish the game. So, we are still in beta, at the moment.
GameWoof: What kind of Music is planned for launch with Centerfire? Any licensed music you can tell us about?
I hope to have a dozen (or two dozen) songs come with the game, in the beginning. And the game will be free. Over time, we will be adding hundreds and thousands of songs to an ever-increasing database of MDNA visualizations. We will be working out the licensing with the various publishers, and we will certainly take advantage of the bulk libraries like iTunes and some of the streaming services. I literally hope that some day we will ‘light up’ all of the world’s music.
GameWoof: When will Android gamers get to play around with the Musical DNA Software?
Very soon, I hope.
GameWoof: Is there anything I didn’t touch on that you would like to tell our audience about?
Don’t stand at the outside of the forest, hoping to see the path! You have to jump in, and only then will the path materialize!
Take a risk.
We want to give a heartfelt thank you to Ken Lemons for taking time out of his busy schedule to give us a deeper look into Musical DNA. We will be sure to keep you up to date on everything and anything that happens with Musical DNA, you can check out their official site for more videos and information.
Vertigo Gaming and David Galindo have been making games for over 10 years. However, the restaurant sim Cook Serve Delicious is his first to appear on the Google Play store. I got a chance to chat with David Galindo about his latest game Cook Serve Delicious, the development process and the differences in working with PCs and consoles versus mobile gaming.
Joyful Executions is perhaps the most controversial game to grace mobile devices in a while. Focusing on a little North Korean girl who has been promoted to the job of Kommissar and tasked with killing everyone “The Divine Leader” determines to be a traitor. The kicker is, despite the subject matter, the creator’s modesty and a few bumps in the mechanics, the game is actually a lot of fun. The censored version of the game was banned from iTunes, but the complete uncensored version is avaliable for Android tablets right now on Google Play. (It may work with some phones, but was designed to be played on tablets and has some issues with a lot of devices.) Fredrik Nordstrom, the founder and sole employee of 8-bit Underpants took some time to talk to us about Joyful Executions, art and messages in gaming, censorship by governments and corporations and where he goes from here.
Destructamobile Talks A Thug in Time, IAPs, Struggles of Being a New Developer, and Their Next Titles
Destructamobile is a relative unknown. While trying to do some research before this interview I found their About page empty and their Facebook profile all but empty. What is known is that their first game, A Thug in Time, is one of the best games of its kind available on Android. I talked to Athanasios Ikonomou the CEO and Lead Engineer of Destructamobile to get some answers. We talked about their debut game, monetization strategy and the struggles of being a new developer.
GameWoof: First, for the benefit of our readers can you give us a quick overview of A Thug in Time?
Destructamobile: A Thug In Time is a dual stick top down shooter. Its the story of a former thug (Kai) who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. Kai must collect crystals from different time periods that will then help power a device that will save humanity. Players have access to over 35 different weapons and must travel through over 65 different levels that span over 4 time periods which include: Viking Age, Wild West, Mob Chicago, Present Day NY.
GameWoof: A Thug in Time is Destructamobile’s first title, what were some of the challenges you encountered during the development phase that caught you by surprised?
Destructamobile: Dealing with our contractors was rather challenging. We really had a hard time finding quality studios and individuals that were reliable with art content since we chose to contract out all of our artwork.
GameWoof: As a brand new developer how difficult or easy was it to get A Thug in Time released on the Google Play Store? How did it compare to getting it onto iTunes?
Destructamobile: While we are a new studio, our team is not new to mobile development. The iTunes store was pretty painless as it usually is. However, this is the first time for us experiencing Google Play. We had some pretty major install issues due to the expansion pack format from the beginning. It was something we thought we had prepared for but unfortunately not thoroughly enough.
GameWoof: This being Destructamobile’s first title people know very little about you, your site and facebook page have little to no information on who you are. Can you give us a little insight into who makes up the Destructamobile team? Where are you guys(and gals) from and how did Destructamobile come to be?
Destructamobile: Destructamobile is comprised of a few console veterans and a very talented writer/creative director. We are all from the west coast and combine for over 30 years of industry experience. I am the CEO/face of our company. I have worked in the industry for about 12 years now, from console companies to startup mobile companies. My main trade is that of an engineer. On A Thug In Time I served as the Lead Engineer as well as the only engineer, our assets were all contracted out and our core team helped with all of the writing, game design, game direction as well as hours and hours of game testing.
GameWoof: There have been multiple updates for A Thug in Time, many of them adjusting the difficulty. How surprised were you to find gamers having trouble with early levels and do you think you have hit the sweet spot now?
Destructamobile: We were a little surprised by this as we had over 20 beta testers and their main focus was the difficulty/pacing. Our goal was for people to be able to finish the game without forcing them to purchase anything. However, it became apparent after release that it was a bit too difficult. The difficulty here is that when you have one of the more powerful weapons such as the ‘Antimatter Rifle’ the game is extremely easy, so we fought hard to properly set the difficulty with more standard weapons while making sure that if you did have one of the more powerful weapons it was still somewhat challenging. We’ve since made the first 15 levels continue “free”, refined the difficulty as well as added some in game powerups to help players to stay alive. We feel as it is right in the sweet spot now.
GameWoof: In my review I praised your IAP system for keeping the purchases really inexpensive, but also mentioned that I felt like it was hard to progress without buying at least 1 package. This wasn’t really a criticism, but I compared it to another dual-stick shooter, Zombiewood, that had the opposite approach: an easy enough difficulty curve to get through without buying anything but if you did decide to buy something it was really expensive, with packages going up to 100 dollars. Ultimately, I said it came down to person preference because for a few bucks I got to enjoy all the weapons in A Thug in Time, while in ZombieWood a few bucks wouldn’t open nearly as much. What are your thoughts on this and what kind of factors did you consider when developing A Thug in Time’s monetization strategy?
Destructamobile: When we created this company one of our goals was to deliver great games that everyday people could actually afford. As I mentioned in the last question, our goal was to have players be able to finish the game without having to purchase any items. We have made a promise to ourselves that we will always commit to making any IAP’s resonable and affordable. We feel very strongly that having IAP’s that go up to 100.00 is not only the wrong approach, but a shady approach. Destructamobile is about delivering the best content we can possibly deliver at prices that are affordable and not ridiculous.
GameWoof: I know the storyline had an explanation, but one of my few criticisms of the game was that there didn’t seem to be time period weapons, even the Vikings had guns. Did you ever consider giving them more time appropriate weapons, like maybe bows and arrows?
Destructamobile: In our very early builds we actually had the Vikings wielding swords and spear type weapons. During all the playthroughs they just didn’t feel as well as we had hoped and ultimately we ended up taking them out. Each time period does have some uniqueness to the weapons that they have though. Mobsters favor dual tommy guns, while present day thugs favor uzi’s.
GameWoof: Are there any plans too add more features to A Thug in Time, like leaderboards or dare I say, Cooperative multiplayer?
Destructamobile: We absolutely are talking about co-op multiplayer and some other things as well.
GameWoof: Now that you have shipped A Thug in Time, what are Destructamobile’s plans for the future? Any hints on what we can expect from you guys next?
Destructamobile: Currently we have 3 Titles in development. The next one that we’re really excited about is a physics based puzzler. It combines aspects of ‘Cut the Rope’ along with ‘Wheres my Water’ with a mix of ‘Fruit Ninja’ rolled in. The art style will be very stylish and cartoony. That one is scheduled for a Dec. 25 release date. After that we have another cartoony time management game in the works. Once those are out we will then turn our attention to a title that I have had in my hip pocket for 8 years. Its one of the real reasons why I chose to be a part of the creation of this company. It will be a FPS that we plan on being EPIC from start to finish.
GameWoof: Lastly, is there anything else you wanted to let our readers know about?
Destructamobile: We really appreciate all the support and feedback. Stay tuned because we really are just getting started.