(Thanks to Adam Coate for the tip)
We’ve had a lot of information on the blog about the recent arcade-only release of BATMAN by Specular Interactive and Raw Thrills but fortunately we are not the only site to take interest in a new arcade release. Granted that is a tough thing to see out in the mainstream, where most new games we discuss here rarely get press otherwise. For my interview with Steve Ranck of Specular which had some details on the development of the game, you can find that here in case you missed it.
EDGE Online has published an article entitled “The Making Of: Batman – the design, coding and branding of a modern arcade game”. Starting off with a graphic showing a UNIS production facility where the games are being built, they chat with Specular Interactive’s Creative Director Brian Silva about what it is about modern arcade games that is different from video games in other sectors. A little excerpt:
With home gaming, you’re given a lot more freedom to gradually introduce the player to the game and the concepts, but in the arcade the player needs to get it in five seconds. You can’t stop the game, you can’t pause the game, you can’t do a tutorial system in the arcade; if they don’t get it on their own, you’ve failed.
From there it gets into the trials of developing a AAA game on a relatively shoe-string budget which includes everyone putting in very long hours day-in and day-out to create something that works. It’s an interesting glimpse into the life of a video game developer. There is also discussion about the “skill kills” mentality, which also leads into the mobile app discussion. I have to imagine that it is pretty tempting for developers to go that route when you see simple games that are about as deep as a title from the early 70s or clones of other ideas rake in the dough. But the article quotes Specular head Steve Ranck in making a good point – the mobile space is very crowded and that they are comfortable (and profitable) working where they are at. Check out the article here which is great except for their strange claim of ” Specular Interactive has made a game we’ll never officially review and only a few readers will play”. Really? You guys can’t leave the home/office to find a venue with the game? Why is that, exactly?
Personally I think a lot of this mobile stuff is fake and a bubble. It certainly can end up being similar to the market as seen in 1982 since there is a sea of crap to wade through on AppStores. Sure there are a few decent titles but finding those is easier said than done. I know even big companies are putting a lot of stock into making it big there but I have noticed that for all of the focus shifting to mobile, it is still the no-name developers which seem to make bigger waves than anyone else. Just about everyone with a name in the industry have been releasing games to mobile but have any even reached the interest that titles like Flappy Bird did? Not that I’ve heard of, although admittedly I do not have access to balance sheets for these companies, I just have to go off of what shows up as being popular in the market / what people (not game media) are talking about. Still with companies like Sega, Atari, Taito or CAVE getting more involved with mobile, none have generated that breakout hit by re-releasing one of their old titles with touchscreen controls or something new based on one of those IPs. This is also where I think that all the pressure put towards Nintendo to release their games on mobile is foolish – I don’t really get where this mentality comes from that ALL games translate well into touchscreen controls because they DON’T. Platformers and scrolling shooters are consistently horrible on mobile from what I have tried out – a touchscreen with a virtual joystick/button layout is not a good substitute for real joystick/buttons. It’s more a platform for puzzle games and auto-runners but is not a magic bullet that can be all things to all types of games like some investor “experts” seem to think. Often I have found that a mobile game with a real controller plays better – that was the case with Temple Run Arcade, which played better using a trackball than the tilt controls on mobile. One of the few decent mobile games I’ve played, one called Solar Warfare I imagine would play even better with a yoke controller. Of course we have seen a greater push to port mobile games to the arcade space, from the aforementioned Temple Run Arcade to Doodle Jump Arcade, Fruit Ninja FX, Infinity Blade FX, Rail Rush Arcade and so on. Titles like ReRave and soon NEON FM will have both mobile and arcade sides. So there are some areas for overlap with our industry but I think it is easier for an existing mobile app to make the jump to the arcade, not the other way around. Overall, it is good to hear an arcade developer resist the temptation of embracing the mobile sirens.