Pac-Man creator in warning against ‘easy games’

PAC-MAN

The creator of Pac-Man believes Game Design in the industry today is more focused on quick, simple games than more substantial, memorable titles.

“When you look at games coming out today, it’s doubtful that any of us will be talking about them in ten years’ time,” Industry veteran Toru Iwatani said in a recent interview.

“We have to focus on making games that people will remember a decade from now, or else we’ll lose our audience, probably.”

He warned that social media titles in particular are becoming too easy to produce.

“You’ve had this flood of very simple games on the iPhone and social networks. They’re very ‘easy’ games, and by easy I mean easy to design and to pump out by the dozen,” he explained.

“I think more thought needs to go toward how games present themselves to the user, to how they can be made more fun.”

iPhone games are getting easier and easier to make, and as the Train2Game blog reported earlier this month, they can also be developed using an iPad app.

As Train2Game students will know, there’s a huge market for iPhone games, so it’s almost inevitable that some developers want to get simple games out there as quickly as possible.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Iwatani’s comments? Are developers trying to churn out simple games more regularly? Or will there always be room for deep, complex titles?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Game Career Guide via GamesIndustry.biz]

Train2Game course providers DR Studios release Bug Wings

Bug Wings – the game which Train2Game students on work placement at DR Studios helped develop – is now available for iPhone and iPad. You can support the work of fellow Train2Game students by buying it from the iTunes App store for just £1.19!

Taking control of your colourful bug, you must glide and guide your tiny winged steed across the skies above the Great Pond locating the missing pollen, trying to land safely on the flowers and lily pads with your precious cargo intact and not end up in the water! Accumulate the big points by collecting as much pollen as possible while aiming at the stars which multiply your landing tally for those ultimate high scores.

Unlock new levels and bonuses as you progress and then return to previous levels to try and beat your high scores. With both single player story mode and multiplayer mode for up to four players, Bug Wings is a game with bugs in that you’ll love!

For more information on Bug Wings visit the official website at www.bugwings.net or follow the game on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BugWings

FEATURES

·         24 exciting levels across 4 unique Ponds, with more coming soon

·         Simple, intuitive touch&tilt game controls

·         Solo or Party modes with up to 4 players

·         Rich, colourful game world and lovable characters

·         Hundreds of points, stars and power-ups to collect

·         Addictively fun game play and scoring

·         Risky flying rewarded with high scores

You can leave your comments about Bug Wings here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game blog interview with Dragons’ Den: The Official Game Lead Designer Mete Djemal (Part 1 of 2)

Dragons’ Den: The Official Game from DR Studios – under license from 2waytraffic, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company, for iPhone and iPad is released just days away on Thursday 21st April. In the run up to its release, The Train2Game blog caught up with Lead Designer Mete Djemal to discuss features of Dragons’ Den: The Official Game, and give us an insight into the Game Development process behind the title.  Below is part one of a two part interview.

Can you begin by telling us some basic information about the Dragons Den: The Official Game project and the challenges behind its production?

With Dragons Den: The Official Video Game, DR Studios were given the opportunity to take the Dragons’ Den License and create a video game. I think the main challenge was how we’d make a game out of a TV show that offered little in the way of an interactive experience on the face of it. But as we looked into it we actually thought it was a pretty good concept because you could actually play as a Dragon and be an investor; make money, lose money so it has that strategy element to it.

The first challenge developing Dragons Den: The Official Video Game was to create a realistic looking environment and the Dragons. We weren’t allowed to use the real likenesses of the Dragons so we had to create characters and we wanted the player to feel as if they were actually in the Den, so we studied a lot of footage of Dragons’ Den. The final result of Dragons Den: The Official Video Game was the creation of a full 3D Den. At first, it was going to be a 2D environment, with static characters and no 3D models, but after looking at it we decided we want to make the most real looking experience so we decided to go full 3D models and it really came from there.

What were the initial concepts behind Dragons Den: The Official Game and how did they develop during the course of the development?

The initial concept of Dragons Den: The Official Game was to create a game in which you play as a Dragon. As with the TV show, you’re presented with various inventions and crazy business ideas, and as a Dragon you choose to invest your money in some of these ideas.  We also decided it’d be better to use real world inventions rather than make believe ones so it’d keep Dragons Den: The Official Game more in fitting with the actual TV show and realistic.

So, one of the biggest challenges during the development of the game was to find enough real world inventions which required a lot of background research. We looked at all sorts of things with some of the inventions being over 100 years old before deciding on the best ones to include in Dragons Den: The Official Game.  We then had to write concepts and short descriptions of the inventions. The idea being we wanted to keep these vague, we didn’t want the player to know what the inventions actually were as that’d make the game too easy.

We therefore had to present these inventions in a way that kept the concept real so you could believe in the invention then at the same time keep it quite vague in terms of what it actually was. For example, the names of the inventions; we had to rename all of the inventions to keep it realistic but not give away the actual real concept, the real name of the actual invention. Dragons Den: The Official Game contains 120 inventions – more than originally planned.

Another challenge in the development of Dragons Den: The Official Game was designing the interactive experience in a way which it was fun for the user and made them want to come back and keep playing.  We went through various designs before deciding on the idea in which you as a player had a certain amount of money to invest in inventions and ideas.  The original idea was for the Dragons Den: The Official Game player to have an unlimited amount of money, but we wanted  a bit of jeopardy in there, so we decided to limit the amount of money the player would have so they’d have to think about which investments you want to invest in without blowing their money away on an invention that could be a complete disaster.

Dragons’ Den: The Official Game has a multiplayer mode, can you explain how that works?

When it comes to the social side, the multiplayer side, we felt that Dragons Den: The Official Game would be even more fun to play as a multiplayer game. As we have five Dragons in the game – like in the actual TV show – it can support up to five players in a turn based game. How this works is that each player takes it in turns to invest or not invest in an invention. The idea is that the players hide from the other players whether or not they’ve invested to keep other players guessing.

In Dragons Den: The Official Game – as in the TV show – you can also share the investment. So we decided that as a player, even in single player mode, if you don’t want to invest the full amount you can actually go in with another Dragon and invest a smaller percentage of the money.

Part 2 of the interview will be published later this week.

Dragons’ Den: The Official Game is a DR Studios/2Way Traffic production and is released for the iPhone and iPad on Thursday 21st April. For more information visit www.dragonsdengame.co.uk 

iPhone game Angry Birds merchandise heading to High Street

Angry Birds Train2Game blog image

In recent weeks the Train2Game blog has been reporting on the rise of social media and casual games, and all evidence does point to the genre becoming more and more successful in future.

When it comes to the realm of Facebook, Cityville is currently the most popular standalone game with over 100 million users playing in the less than two months since it was released. However, when it comes to casual games for mobile phones Angry Birds is King.

Angry Birds is the most popular game on the iPhone, with over 50 million downloads and is an almost permanent fixture in the top paid software chart in the Apple App store. Now this success looks like it could lead to even more revenue for developers Rovio, with Angry Birds merchandise now seemingly set to invade the High Street. It’s something that Train2Game students may dream of seeing happen with their own games!

Speaking to MCV, Rovio spokesperson Ville Heijari said:

“We have licensing agents in North America and Europe going through various opportunities. We want to address fans of all ages with fun and inspiring Angry Birds merchandise – solid products that will contribute to building a strong brand.”

“The full console games will be available later in 2011. We’re looking at digital distribution as our main channel at the moment, but have not ruled out boxed games.”

Yes, you read that correctly Train2Game blog reader, later this year it may be entirely possible to walk into a High Street retailer and buy a game that first appeared on the iPhone.

Cuddly toys and mobile phone covers are already available, while Rovio say stationary, board games and clothing are also on the way.

Game PR boss Neil Ashurst says Angry Birds “will become like Harry Potter in terms of the enthusiasm around it.”

There is certainly a lot of enthusiasm around the casual mobile game, with the New York Post reporting that a TV series could be on the way! Would any Train2Game students like to see games they create made into a broadcast series?

Whatever happens with Angry Birds in future, it’s already clear that mobile gaming could be a very lucrative market for a Train2Game student development team.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the ever rising success of Angry Birds? Have you played it? Is it worth the hype? And would you like to see games you develop end up with merchandise including pencil cases and board games!?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Souce: MCV Online]

Jackson estate forces changes to ‘Dancing Zombie’

RIP Dancing Zombie...again.

The Michael Jackson inspired Dancing Zombie is to be pulled from the delightful Plants vs. Zombies.

Popcap told MTV that the move comes after a request made by lawyers representing the late King of Pop.

“The Estate of Michael Jackson objected to our use of the ‘dancing zombie’ in Plants vs. Zombies based on its view that the zombie too closely resembled Michael Jackson.

After receiving this objection, PopCap made a business decision to retire the original ‘dancing zombie’ and replace it with a different ‘dancing zombie’ character for future builds of Plants vs. Zombies on all platforms. The phase-out and replacement process is underway.”

Interestingly, Dancing Zombie’s character description says “Any resemblance between Dancing Zombie and persons living or dead is purely coincidental”

Plants vs. Zombies was released on the PC in May 2009 – two months before Michael Jackson’s death – and reached the iPhone earlier this year. The tower defence game will hit Xbox Live in September.

Dancing Zombie will be ditching the ‘Thriller’ look in favour of a disco inspired outfit. What are the odds on influence from Disco Stu?

So, Train2Game universe, what do you think of the move? Do you think the Jackson estate was justified to call for Dancing Zombie to be changed? Or is it a mountain out of a molehill? And here’s an interesting one, what would you do if your independent title was threatened with legal action for one reason or another? Is it something you’ve even considered?

As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.