Train2Game interview: Jonny Robinson of Train2Game & Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live team Commando Kiwi

Train2Game  students are launching four new development studios in 2012 as part of ‘Make Something Unreal Live,’ a competitive process designed to accelerate their careers by giving them the tools and resources needed to release games for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this spring.

The studios are Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam.

The first titles released by the studios will be based on the Fighting Fantasy series of books created by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.

We caught up with Commando Kiwi’s Jonny Robinson to find out how the road to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show has gone so far. Listen via Train2Game Radio or read it here on The Train2Game Blog.

Hi Jonny. Your team for Make Something Unreal Live is called Commando Kiwi, what made you decide on that name?

There wasn’t really any decision on the name, it was just a case of asking ourselves what sounded cool, what sounded indie and we just chose Commando Kiwi. Someone on the team just said ‘Commando Kiwi sounds cool’ so we decided to roll with it. It wasn’t a real decision, because we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously as a team, we just want to have as much fun as possible.

And you had a bit of fun making the Commando Kiwi logo as well.

Oh yes. If you didn’t know, we hosted a little competition, a little social media pump if anything. We asked our Facebook fans to make us a logo, and the best one, a team decision, was made our actual logo, and thanks to Dave Higgins, we have a cool little logo. So that’s going to be representing us for the Make Something Unreal Live event.

You’ll be working with the prestigious Fighting Fantasy IP, which book in particular is your game going to be based on?

We’ve got The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the iconic one…unfortunately. Well, it’s not unfortunate but it’s just more pressure compared, I think, to the other teams.

And which genre of game have you been assigned to make?

We were given the third person style. At the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam, I read out ‘third’ at the presentation, so we’ve taken on the assumption of third person.

Does that mean the game is Fable-esque, perhaps?

No…I’d like to think our game has taken the course of Final Fantasy meets Infinity Blade. We’d like to say it’s a good looking game, really lush, with this kind of strategy element, making sure you pick the right moves at the right time like you’d see in a normal Final Fantasy. We’ve designed it that way so it has simple controls and not too thumbs heavy; it’s the same as another touch and play game.

How have you found working with UDK in the run up to Make Something Unreal Live?

It’s a great piece of kit. It’s been stressful at times, but it’s just like with any piece of software, there have been builds that have gone down and we’ve had to rebuild, luckily I’ve got an amazing team. We’ve tackled some hard problems on the UDK, we’ve bent the engine to our will, but it’s looking really cool and hopefully we’ll be delivering an awesome game.

And how have you found the transition from being a team at the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam, to being a fully functioning team going forward to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show?

One word? Nervous, just so nervous; the pressure is on, especially if you’ve got a big name like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I’ve read about it, I’ve read the books. I only first read the books two years back, but what I read was really cool because Train2Game actually talked about it (in the course books) which is why I was surprised when we got the IP of it! This is big.

How much are you looking forward to taking part in the event? How does the prospect of being there in Birmingham at the NEC while making a game make you feel?

Er, scared…Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be an amazing experience. The reason I’m so scared is because it could change our life, and if anything there’s more pressure to get it right. If anything, these shots don’t happen very often, and we want to deliver as best as we can for this opportunity we’ve been given.

But the skills you’ve learned through the Train2Game course will help you throughout the process.

Oh yes, they’ve helped tremendously, especially for team management and project management for game design. It’s really opened a lot of the team’s eyes for what we’ve had to do. If anything, we’ve learned a lot more for this little development, and the Train2Game course helped.

What are the contact details of the Commando Kiwi social media pages?

It’s and for Twitter it’s @CommandoKiwi We’re more than happy to engage with our fans.

Thanks for your time Jonny, and good luck.

Thanks Danny.

Keep up to date with the latest news from Make Something Unreal Live here on The Train2Game Blog.

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