Interview: Impressionware on PSP Mini Development and Launch Title Vempire

Vempire 1

The PSP Minis launch is nearly upon us. With 15 launch titles there is a lot to be excited about. While about half of the titles are ports form other systems there are some original and fresh games coming our way. One such game is Impressionware’s Vempire. After getting the chance to talk to Impressionware’s  managing director Luigi Fumero I’m even more excited to get this game into my hands.

Could you tell us a little bit about Impressionware and what your job is there?

Luigi Fumero: Impressionware is a small independent games developer based in Italy. We started in 2003 by developing mobile games for some of the best mobile games publishers. In 2006 we moved into games for Sony PSP, Nintendo Wii and DS. We mostly work as a “work for hire” company but we are now starting to develop our own titles in between publisher’s funded projects. Vempire is our first venture into the digital delivery world and we are pretty excited. I am the managing director and producer on all our titles. On Vempire I was the designer and I did some coding as well.

Were you already working on Vempire before PSP minis was announced?

LF: Vempire has been a concept we have been throwing around for some quite time. I think the very first prototype of a puzzle game with rotating blocks was made on PC in 2003. A lot of things changed since then and Vempire became one of our DS demos we used to show around to publishers. When Sony talked to us about the minis channel Vempire was the first thing we thought about. : Can you tell our readers a little bit about Vempire

LF: Vempire is a casual puzzle game where the player has to rotate blocks to create rows or columns of 4 or more blocks of the same colour to destroy them. The player needs to destroy enough blocks before the time runs out. As you can imagine there are different types of blocks, some cannot be rotated, other cannot be matched, others explode etc.

Destroying blocks the player will gain gold or mana. Mana is used to summon helpful minions that will cast spells that help the player complete the level. Gold is used between levels to buy/unlock the minions. Each of the 10 game worlds is ruled by a monster lord. This monster appears during the level to cast nasty spells against the player.

Every 4 levels (there are 40 in total) the player can win a magical artifact. There are 9 artifacts in the game, the player can equip up to 4 at once. Strategy is needed to decide which artifact to equip knowing which type of blocks are in a level and which nasty spell the monster lord casts.

Vempire 2

Does the game lend itself to multiplayer and is that something you might be interested in adding later?

LF: Yes, multiplayer could be added in a future update. One idea we might implement is a two player version of the game where each player can summon not only the good minions but also the nasty monsters and send them to the other player.

You have released a game on the PSP before. Is developing for PSP minis any different from developing for the full retail PSP game? Are there any additional rules that you have to apply outside of the file size?

LF: It is basically the same. The main difference is that you only need to submit the game to Sony at the end, while for “normal” games you have to pass more than one approval stages. On minis game you have the file size restriction as well as restrictions on the libraries you can use. As you know at the moment you are not allowed to do any multiplayer, hence the multiplayer libraries are prohibited.

Overall what has been your experience developing Vempire as a PSP mini.

LF: It has been a very good experience. The PSP is a very nice machine to program for and a casual game like Vempire can be developed quite quickly. It took us a little bit more than a month to write the game starting from the DS version we had, which was not complete.

Do you have high hopes for PSP minis and do you have any future plans to develop any more.

LF: Sure, we have high hopes for the game. It is a very enjoyable game, it will be a launch title almost everywhere and it will not cost much. I hope a lot of people with an old PSP or a new PSP go will get it. We definitely want to develop more. The plan is to release games on PSP minis, iPhone and DSiWare on a regular basis. Vempire will be a sort of benchmark for us to decide how much effort to dedicate to the digital distribution channels.

PSP minis will be launching October 1st, can we expect Vempire at launch?

LF: Yes, Vempire will be a launch title in Europe, Oceania and Asia (except Korea where it will be released a couple of weeks later as we are waiting for the age rating). In the US it will come out hopefully on the 22nd of October, it’s the perfect title for Halloween.

What will make your game stand out amongst the rest of the PSP minis?

LF: The gameplay is very immediate and easy to pick up, but has enough little touches to make it interesting. The style of the graphics is also quite original and I think it is a big part of the appeal of the game. It is also an original title that has not been released on any platform before.

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6 Responses to “Interview: Impressionware on PSP Mini Development and Launch Title Vempire”
  1. Katherine Taylor says:

    Thanks for the great interview. I wasn’t quite sure about making this purchase, but now that I’ve been able to read about it I will want to buy it.

  2. Count says:

    Ahhhh now THIS is the kind of game that I love.

  3. Sylin says:

    Excellent interview! Back in the 90’s I was an entertainment journalist and covered video games, so I have some perspective here, and you hit on all the relevant points.

    Game developers are some of the most passionate people I ever encountered, much more so than many musicians or even actors. They’re like modern poets, pouring their heart and soul into a project… especially the smaller developers without the huge budgets and marketing muscle of a major publisher behind them.

    Great job!

  4. Paul Convery says:

    Very nice interview. Sounds like its taking a fairly common style of puzzel game but adding some extra elements to give some added depth to the gameplay. Rather interesting to see how alot of launch Minis are taking classic gameplay and adding to it.

  5. David Black says:

    Very well done interview. Sounds similar to Puzzle Quest, which is a complement. I’ll probably be picking this up when it launches here in the US.


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