• Quarter Circle Punch Game Works Interview (Part 2)

    In the second of our 2-part interview with the developers at Quarter Circle Punch Game Works we take a look at the wider state of the game industry and their plans for the future. If you've missed it you can also find the first part here.

    BD: What was the most rewarding thing to come out of Wonton 51 for you guys?

    Chopemon: Having a player duel me for the high score. Having a player care enough to go after a high score and send me their scores is one of the most worthwhile things Iíve achieved in my career as a designer. Wonton 51 was an important part of someoneís life for a while and that makes me so happy.

    Phil: I created a game I'm incredibly proud of. It's not to everyoneís taste but everything we did was done deliberately and with purpose. So many projects (games or otherwise) get warped and twisted where as I like to think Wonton 51 remained quite raw/pure and as such, ended up exactly as we intended.
    BD: How much of Wonton was planned from the outset and how much came out of the iterative cycle of development? Was the final result much like how you expected it to be?

    Chopemon: Ha! The final game was nothing like the initial idea. I originally designed a side on platformer where the player constantly ran and enemies emerged from doorways to shoot the player. The player would have to tap the enemies to initiate Matrix-like wall run over their heads. As they did this theyíd shoot the enemies and the goal was to chain amazingly long combos together. I had never done game art before so I grabbed some SNES sprite sheets of games like Aladdin to get a handle on the animation. Have you seen the Aladdin sprite sheet? It is a thing of beauty and it scared me. There was no way I could animate the game I wanted to make so we started redesigning it to make it something more manageable. A top down shooter was much more achievable!
    BD: You've tried a number of different pricing strategies, including the use of in application purchases, how would you say the business side of things is different within the mobile space and what have your experiences been with it?

    Chopemon: The app store is savage. People want things for free or dirt cheap and games that are worth a higher price often donít sell. You need to be in a position to experiment and adapt to the changing system. We put out the game and after issuing some updates we wanted to expand it with new play modes. We tried selling them as IAP but they hardly sold at all so we rolled them into the full game. When it comes to microtransactions people tend not to buy expansion pack style add ons. Iíve spoken to other iOS developers who say that releasing extra levels and game modes as IAP just doesnít work but consumables (gain extra coins for 48 hours etc) does.

    Phil: I think it's fairly well known now that developers make their money from In-App purchases. This isn't something we really wanted for Wonton 51. There are some games where IAP's are done really well nothing really felt like it would fit into Wonton 51 so we tried to keep it as simple as possible. We felt that adding new game modes / music / art etc were the only things we would want to pay for in a game like Wonton 51 so that's what we went with.

    Pricing was probably discussed more than anything else during development, because it's so unknown. You constantly hear stories of how someone made 100k on an app they made in a weekend (in fact, when setting up bank accounts etc the bank manager was telling me about his friend who made a rip-off of a game, published it and walked away with 20k), but there is very little guidance for indie developers. Do you charge a small amount and hope people will take the chance on it? Do you charge more and hope that people connect the higher price with higher quality? Does a lower price represent lower quality? It's really, really hard to make a decision and even when you do, I doubt you'll ever know if it was the "right" decision.
    BD: Besides Wonton 51, what other mobile games do you guys rate?

    Chopemon: I am a huge Kairosoft fan and I think Canabalt is close to game design perfection. I also totally dig Ziggurat; another short life time score based game.

    Phil: I'm going to sound pretty predicable here but....
    Canabalt is always fun. I've been playing less of it lately but that's probably because I discovered Super Hexagon. I bought Sword and Sorcery a while ago and for whatever reason only got about 30 minutes into it, however I went back to it a week or so ago and I'm really enjoying that.

    Game Dev story has sucked up large amounts of my time, as has Whale Trail / Tiny Wings etc.

    A few lesser known apps that are well worth looking at are Commander Pixman, Stay With Me and Ready, Steady Bang. That last one is a beautiful, 2 player "fastest reaction" style game which is probably better on an iPad than iPhone. It's super simple but whenever I play it I feel like I'm playing something which has a lot of love and care poured into it.

    I also really, really want to like Terror Rising but I'm just not sure I get it... I do go back to it every now and then.

    Dingle Dangles (obviously!)

    If we can count 3DS games then Liberty Maiden is my current game of choice.

    BD: How do you feel about the state of the 2D shooter genre at the moment?

    Chopemon: Part of the reason Wonton came about was my life being changed by reviewing Mushihime-sama for this very site. Iíd never played a bullet hell shmup before and I distinctly remember playing that on Christmas Eve one year and just being amazed by the game. It turned me on to challenging, perfectionist games and I couldnít believe I hadnít fallen in love with them before.

    I think 2d shooters are one of the most important and perfect genres but people donít realise this. People complain that they are too hard but the truth is that people are too weak. Cave make these superb, perfect shooters and I find it crazy that the whole world isnít celebrating them all the time. It really isnít an exaggeration to say Cave changed my life not just as a player but also as a designer and it really angers me that they are so niche. Everybody should be playing their games. They are fair and balanced and they make you understand yourself and your abilities more than any other game.

    Sadly though they produce very few new games, a lot of their output is rereleases and while a great game is timeless and always worth playing, I want them to be putting out hit after hit and exploring the genre. Thank God there are people out there triumphing games like this. Rising Star are putting stuff out and helping to get these games in front of people and should be commended.

    Phil: I'm in two minds really. When I was young I played a game called Menace on the Amiga A LOT. I loved that game and the whole family got involved and beating your Mums high score was a real cause for celebration. I could probably still play it with my eyes closed now.

    When I play a 2D shooter like one of the Cave games now, I just don't connect with it like I connected with Menace. That's not to say they're bad, there are some fantastic games out there but I would be very happy to see more of them coming out.
    BD: You also have the Cake Mix application available, how did that come into being?

    Phil: When Wonton 51 was finished I suddenly had a lot of free time. My wife had recently started her own business (CakesWithFaces.co.uk) and I thought I'd be fun to make a little app for her. It's totally different to Wonton and it's not really meant to be a game, more of a showcase of her art style which is why it is (and always will be) free.

    Again, it used Cocos-2d as its engine simple because I didn't want this to be a long project. I'd say that the whole thing was done within 10 evenings work and then we just spent a bit of time refining the UI.

    There was actually always a plan to update CakeMix to include a sort of 'build a cake challenge' mode but it never really came to anything.

    BD: Do you have any plans for follow ups or other titles?

    Chopemon: I want to do a new mode but we havenít had the time. I want to make a hell mode which spawns nothing but the last boss. I want play time to be measured in seconds and reaching a minute to be a real achievement. We should do it. Actually I want an all building mode (you have to avoid buildings as well as shooting enemies in the main game) as well.

    BD: And if you haven't already, why not hit up the iTunes shop and pick up a copy of Wonton 51 here.

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