With the announcement of Coconut Dodge from FuturLab, I became aware that this studio was experienced Flash game makers. Being in the process of making my first Flash game myself I was very interested in how they made the jump from Flash to becoming licensed PSP mini developers.
Luckily James Marsden, FuturLab’s managing director, was just as interested in talking about their experience.
For a budding indie game developer planning to take the journey to becoming a published minis developer, what are the steps they need to take, and is there anything that can be done to increase the chances of a successful application?
James Marsden: Well, I can only speak from our experience, and we were licensed with Sony before minis were announced. However, I can give advice on how someone inexperienced can become licensed, not just for minis, but for regular PSP, PS3 and PS Home. However, the advice I can give only really applies to studios or individuals with new IP to offer, as Sony loves to foster new talent – LittleBigPlanet and Flower being recent examples.
Frima Studio’s Zombie Tycoon was one of the most popular minis released last year, remaining in the Top Ten Downloads chart on the PlayStation Store for several weeks, so we were very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to Martin Brouard, executive producer at Frima, about the studio’s experiences of working with the minis program so far, as well as their forthcoming minis releases.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about Frima Studio and what your role is there?
Frima is based in Quebec City and with over 250 artists and programmers we are considered one of the most important independent game developers in Canada. Since 2003, the company has been developing world-class products for the Web, console, handheld, TV and mobile markets. Our company is especially focused on building next-generation MMOs for children. Some examples are www.buildabearville.com, Littlest Petshop Online and our own GalaXseeds.com My role is executive producer of all of Frima’s own Intellectual properties. That means I am responsible for developing our own titles and brands on many different platforms and media.
With the announcement of StormBASIC game DynoGems coming to the PSP I was intrigued by the possibility of their platform being an option for other game developers looking to bring a minis to the PSP. Luckily, CEO of StormBASIC, Fernando Sanchez was also interested in this possibility and contacted us to have a chat.
Could you tell us a little about your company and what the StormBASIC platform is?
Fernando Sanchez: StormBASIC is a video game & mobile application development firm, with more than fifteen years experience in the videogame industry, coming from different functions (pure development, but also sales & marketing), from number one companies in this sector. We have developed a wide range of high quality titles & apps for smart portable devices (symbian, Windows Mobile , iPhone) & PC.
The brand “StormBASIC Games” is obtaining a huge repercussion in the media, as an example, on the Internet any search engine generates more than 500,000 entries from the brand. We are very proud of the recognition of both the specialized press and the gamers all over the world. We have many challenges coming in the future, are humble, and believe our base is very solid. We will continue investing in R & D as in the past we were one of the first ones integrating image recognition, accelerometers, augmented reality, connectivity or real 3D graphics in games for mobile devices.
In relation to the StormBASIC Platform, currently we have two versions, StormBASIC Platform 1 is oriented for independent or amateur developments. We started this platform almost 10 years ago. It is a full programming language with a user environment based on BASIC, very easy to use, and with the possibility to integrate different plug –ins, if you want to be sophisticated in your usage (image recognition, 3D, connectivity, etc). It is very oriented to Windows Mobile, Symbian & iPhone app´s development.
Everyone is chomping at the bit to get some multiplayer action from PSP minis. ICON Games is bringing out the first titles with confirmed multiplayer of any kind. Of course it’s ‘Hot Seat’ Multiplayer and will see you passing the PSP back and forth as you play darts and even bowling. We managed to track down Head of development at ICON Games Richard Hill-Whittall.
This is our first time interviewing you here at pspminis.com, could you tell our readers a little bit about Icon Games and what your role is there?
RH-W: We are a fairly small developer/digital publisher. In the past we have developed titles for retail – working with publishers, but are now moving into self-publishing our games for the foreseeable future. My role is head of the studio; overseeing the development of all the titles we are working on. I am also very hands-on with the art and design, which is great. A nice combination of roles that keeps me busy and very happy.
One of the PSP mini titles I’m most excited to get my hands on is BreakQuest. I originally played the game back in 2004 on the PC and had a blast with it. For an Arkanoid style game it was fresh and creative.
I was lucky enough to speak to Alexey Menshikov, the CEO of Beatshapers, about his experience of bringing the game to the PSP.
Who are you and what is Beatshapers?
Alexey Menshikov: My name is Alexey Menshikov, I’m Founder and CEO of Ukraine based Beatshapers. We started in 2006, as a console and casual game development label. We even won the PlayFirst Developer Dash award back in 2007, but now we are an independent company licensed to develop on all modern consoles. Our key team members recently worked on IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey (btw PSP digital version to be released tomorrow, so actually we have two PSPgo launch games) and IGF Mobile 2009 finalist Rhythm of War PSP. Our target is the rapidly growing digital downloadable market, so we starting with PSP minis platform.
I personally come from audio/game audio industry: worked as audio designer and producer for the past 12 years on more than 20 titles on various platforms (Canivores series, Vivisector: Beast Inside, EA’ Black, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason and more) and had my own audio software company, delaydots.com, which was sold in spring 2009. That’s probably explains our special interest to music related games perhaps =)
Flash games are all the rage these days, and Kahoots is no exception. The game is going to be a PSP Minis launch title on October 1st. I had a chance to talk with Honeyslug’s Lead Designer Nat Marco and the C.O.O. Mark Inman. October 1st is right around the corner, and Kahoots is one game to keep an eye on, so be sure to check back on the site for a review later in the week.
Kahoots started out as a flash game and is now coming out as a launch title for the PSP Minis. How was it moving a game that relies heavily on a mouse to a d-pad?
Mark Inman: It was reasonably painless, obviously one of the first things we had to get working was the d-pad mechanic as it was probably the biggest change in terms of how the game plays. Ricky, our coder and CEO, has worked on enough platforms in his time now that he can get stuff up and running pretty quickly, also we’ve benefitted from the quality of Sony’s example code and the tech support, so the transition to PSP as a whole has been pretty smooth. In terms of the control mechanic, we did look into keeping analogue mechanics early on, but nothing felt as satisfying as the block movement we settled on.