Interview with NimbleBit’s David Marsh
NimbleBit, creators of smash hit mobile games like Tiny Tower, Pocket Planes and Pocket Frogs, have their brand new game, Nimble Quest available now for the Google Play marketplace. I got a chance to talk with one half of the sibling duo behind NimbleBit, David Marsh.
We talk about their new game as well as the life of a mobile developer and working with the Android OS. Watch for Gamewoof’s review of Nimble Quest and then go download the game from the Google Play store.
GW: So tell us a little bit about the origins of NimbleBit? What made you decide to get into mobile game development? And how was the relationship been working together as brothers as well as business partners and fellow developers?
DM: NimbleBit started around 2008, and after dabbling in PC games we quickly focused on making games for mobile. The (relatively) quick development time, and ability to reach so many people (even people like my parents!) really sold us on mobile very quickly. Our relationship as brothers is really what makes the whole thing work. I’m pretty sure we would be at each others throats pretty quickly if we didn’t have the experience of knowing how to work together for most of our lives.
GW: What games were your influence for getting into development and what have you looked at as inspiration for some of your titles?
DM: Half-Life and it’s thriving mod community is what got me into game development. For my brother I think flash development was his gateway into making interactive stuff and eventually games. The inspiration for our current games really come from all over the place. From new games we are playing, or old games from our childhood. Sometimes even just seeing an interesting piece of art will be enough to trigger a light bulb moment.
GW: Looking at your new game, Nimble Quest, this title seems to be a different take then what people know you for, a lot of simulation games like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes? What prompted the change?
DM: Nimble Quest was inspired by another mobile game called Call of Snakes, which took the idea of snake and added individual characters. We were really intrigued by the way it controlled, and how good it felt to steer around a party of guys. We kept brainstorming all these things we would add to such a game if we were making it. After a few weeks of thinking about it, we decided it would be really fun to just make the game we were talking about – so we did. It was a lot of fun to take a break from the simulation type games we have been known for lately and make something much more action oriented.
GW: Tell us what you can about this new title Nimble Quest? What can users expect from this game that will still have your mark?
DM: The character of the art style of Nimble Quest is definitely along the same lines as Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, even though it is a bit more high definition. The ability to pick up and play the game and stop and come back to it whenever you want is also something that I think is a hallmark of a NimbleBit game.
GW: Looking at this game, it looks like a combination of the old Snake/Tron type games meets dungeon crawler with an old school Final Fantasy twist. What games did you see as inspiration for it?
DM: Definitely the original “Snake” and Call of Snakes as I mentioned before, but also old jrpg games that had your party following the main character around the world. The inspiration for the hero characters really came from all over.
GW: A lot of your Android titles are sold under the Google Play market as Mobage, which is a Portal/Social network for games. Tell us about your relationship with them and what your involvement is versus their involvement when working with Android games? Will Nimble Quest also utilize Mobage?
DM: Mobage helped us bring Pocket Frogs, Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes to Android. We recently tested the waters with self publishing on Android with our game Sky Burger, and Nimble Quest will also be self published on Google Play.
GW: You guys use Unity to help solve a lot of the issues between coding for iOS and Android, but beyond that, what do you see from a developer standpoint as the differences between the two? What do you see in Android that makes it such an appealing OS to work with?
DM: The big difference between iOS and Android used to be a huge variation in hardware. The hardware specs for iOS were very well known, but Android had a much wider range of low-end and high-end hardware which made it more difficult to develop for (in our eyes). In the past few years though, the bar for Android hardware has really been raised and the differences in specifications between the two has really narrowed. One of the most appealing features of Android is the ease of deployment, so that it is very easy to test and release changes very quickly compared to iOS.
GW: In the past, you’ve had issues with rival developers copying your ideas. Is this a common problem you see in mobile development? What can you do to prevent this or deal with it? Rather, what have you done to deal with this?
DM: I think it’s common problem, but unless they are actually infringing on your trademarks or using your art assets there is not really much you can do about it. The best defense is a good offense, so I think it’s important to put your effort into becoming a well known brand and let your reputation rise above of any copycats.
GW: Many Android based consoles are set to be coming out in 2013, like the Nvidia Shield, GameStick and OUYA. Will NimbleBit’s games be operable on these devices? Any plans to develop or port titles to these consoles? Or are you more comfortable with phones and tablets.
DM: We think a game like Nimble Quest makes a lot of sense on any device with a physical controller. We are going to play with getting Nimble Quest running on an OUYA as soon as we get a device, and will probably take a look at any other platforms or devices that look like they have a shot at wide adoption.
GW: I’ve also noticed in this game, your characters never stop moving. Why did you choose to do that?
DM: Because it’s fun! Also that’s how Snake works.
GW: NimbleBit games have also used microtransactions in the past. How will they be implemented into Nimble Quest? What would a player spend real money on to further enhance their game play experience in Nimble Quest?
DM: They will be implemented similarly to our other games, where they are mostly optional. *Almost* all of the things in the game can be unlocked through normal play, and all of stuff you can buy in the game are there to help give you an edge quicker, if you so choose. It can help you earn currency faster, or upgrade your characters quicker, or use a certain buff when you are close to getting a high score. All that stuff is still possible without spending money though. We beta tested the game for many months without the ability to buy IAP, to make sure it would be fun without needing to slap down any cash.
GW: Your games are also known for their 8 bit sprites and low fi, but colorful graphics, but the graphics look more clean and defined in NimbleQuest, almost SNES/Genesis era. Will this style change be a new staple for NimbleBit games or was this a change you felt necessary for this game?
DM: I don’t think it will be a permanent change, it was mostly something that just felt right for Nimble Quest.
GW: What are the future plans for NimbleBit? Are there any tidbits you can give us as to anything else you’re developing?
DM: Sure, the next thing on our plate is a spin-off of Pocket Planes that is all about trains and railroads. Pocket Planes
actually started out as a game about trains, but evolved over time to be about planes instead. We have a lot of interesting ideas to take it back to it’s roots!
GW: Awesome! Thanks for your time!