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iOS The Drowning släpps i Norden i morgon till iPad

Det plus en intervju med Ben om spelet, studion och framtiden

iPhone / Spel

I morgon släpps alltså The Drowning här i Norden. Spelet är utvecklat av DeNAs studio Scattered Entertainment i Stockholm och av folk som tidigare jobbat med spelserier som Halo, Crysis, Far Cry och Battlefield. GM för denna studio är ju Ben Cousins och vi fick en intervju med honom som du kan läsa efter hoppet.

I denna intervju berättar Ben om de största utmaningarna att göra spel till mobiler, lite om den nya tvåfingersstyrningen och om spelet är planerat till Android eller inte.

Om The Drowning, som släpps i morgon, kan vi säga att det är en FPS som utspelar sig i en postapokalyptisk värld där det gäller att överleva trots att det finns miljoner varelser som inte tycker det är en bra idé och inget hellre vill än att... game over. [iPad (gratis)]

What is the biggest challenge with bringing classic gaming genres to new platforms. Also, pitfalls, that you believe you avoided with The Drowning?

In the case of bringing the FPS to mobile devices, there are three main challenges.

Firstly, finding a control system for an FPS that works on a touchscreen. There have been several attempts, the most prevalent being the 'virtual stick' system. Our research showed us that while a small number of users like virtual sticks, the vast majority of people find them extremely unpleasant. We decided that in order to do the FPS genre justice we needed to create a new control system that was closer to the types of input people use when navigating the OS and native apps on these devices. We came up with something pretty cool – a control system for an FPS on touchscreen that offers basically the same level of control as a mouse/keyboard or console controller, but that uses only two fingers on one hand.

The second challenge is creating a game loop or gameplay pattern that works on mobile. People don't sit down at a phone or tablet and play for hours and hours, they tend to play in shorter sessions. This meant we had to create a single-player mode that was divided up into more shorter chunks, so players could sit down and make progress quickly without having to spend a long time finding a save point before quitting the session.

The final challenge is getting high-end graphics on these devices. When we compare an iPhone 5 or iPad 4 to an Xbox 360 or PS3, they are very different in terms of strengths and weaknesses. For instance an iPad 4 has a much weaker CPU and GPU than an Xbox 360, but it actually has much more ram. This meant spending a lot of time creating environments and enemies that worked to the strengths of the mobile devices, creating amazing graphics, but still maintaining the frame rate gamers demand for action games.


Was there a game that inspired you to start developing Drowning? Why a FPS?

There were two main influences. Firstly Infinity Blade proved that high-end graphics were possible on mobile if you are smart about the type of game you make.

Secondly, Gameloft's NOVA 2 showed me that tablets are great devices to play FPS games on. They have a high-resolution screen that you hold close to your face. In many ways this reminded me of playing an FPS on a PC monitor. NOVA 2 has horrible controls, but I felt like this was a solvable problem.

I chose an FPS because it's my favourite genre. I felt it hadn't been quite yet cracked on mobile and because I believe a tablet specifically is a great device to play FPS games.

How did you manage to “drag” developers who worked on games like Far Cry, Halo and Crysis to come to Sweden to work on a mobile game?

There was no dragging. :) We've been very lucky to attract great developers to approach us. They tend to join the team because they are interested in mobile as a platform, they want to work on a smaller team, and because our studio has no management structure of defined hours or place of work, and because we allow employees to retain the IP for any side projects they create.

About this soft launch. Why release it in some countries before others? Pros & Cons? Will the “final product” be much different from what you have released so far? I guess you gathered a lot of response from the players which might change things in the game.

We soft launched in some far-eastern countries so we could make sure the game was perfect before we launched it in bigger territories. We gather a huge amount of data about our players and it's easy to see what they like and don’t like, and to tailor and tweak the game once it’s live. We are already working on the fourth full update to the game since the soft launch.

What can you tell us about the new innovative two-finger control scheme used in The Drowning? What is the response from the users so far?

It's really simple. To shoot you tap the screen with two fingers and we fire the bullet to the center point of the fingers. This means you can shoot any pixel on screen without moving the camera. It sounds easy, but there is a much higher degree of skill in getting a headshot in The Drowning that there is in console shooters with their sticky and auto-aim.

To move, it works like Diablo or LoL. You tap the location in the world you want to go to and we auto-move your character to that location. You can move anywhere in the world and like Diablo or LoL, you have a very high degree of control over your movement.

Zooming weapons is a pinch, strafing is a two-finger swipe, and looking is a single finger swipe. You can check out this video to see it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAKdyxIB1cE


About the gameplay. There are missions in the game, or? Is it a “long” game, meaning can you spend many hours in it before you finalize it? Any game modes? Is the game hard or will it attract casual players as well?

Completing the main single player campaign, or at least the first episode of it will take 8-10 hours. Collecting and leveling up all the weapons in the game will take considerably longer. There are two main game modes in the single player campaign - attack and defend, and there is also our asynchronous co-op multiplayer mode called Boss Hunt, so there's always something to do.

The game starts out fairly easy but the later levels will definitely keep the hardcore player happy. :)

The game is free to play. Will it be possible to avoid IAPs or will you finally reach the so called paywall?

You can play the entire single player campaign and the Boss Hunt mode without spending any money. Spending players might precede faster or collect cooler weapons in the process.

Will the game be released globally next time or when can we download it here in Sweden?

We are happy to announce that the first countries to get the first real launch version of the game are in the Nordics - Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. We are releasing in these countries on iPad (2,3,4 and mini) on June 5th. The worldwide release will follow later.

Also, I have to ask. Is there a planned Android release of the Drowning?

Yes! Once we release the game for iPhones the team will move onto Android.

You’ve been in the games business a while now, what lessons from the games from these early Ben Cousins years can be applied to the games in the modern mobile market?

The most important thing is to create a fun game that engages and appeals to gamers. This is true whether it’s a game for a mainframe in the 60s, an arcade cabinet in the 70s or 80s, a console in the 90s and 00s or a mobile device today.

The future for your studio? Keep doing fps-like experiences or try something different? Have you any ongoing projects you would like to give us a “hint” about?

We have a few ideas in the works, but nothing to announce yet. I think we'd be silly not to pick a genre that we could apply learnings from The Drowning.


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