Lumi Games Interview Part One: Starting Out and Building Up
Is that a bear or a game developer? Lumi Games, forged in the wilds of Norway, is an indie development studio in its nascent phase. With a couple titles under their belt and a development strategy in revision, Alexander Presthus and Erik Bratil, Dungeonmasters at Lumi Games are frank about the learning curve and realities of starting out with an idea and seeing it through to the finish. They spoke with Cat about their background, founding Lumi, and their strong commitment to charity.
CAT: Who is Lumi Games and how did you all come together? What is your background in game design?
ALEX & ERIK: Lumi Games consists of two people, Alexander Presthus and Erik Bratli Skjoldhaug. We met while studying 3D Design and 3D Animation at Idefagskolen in Tønsberg, Norway.
After finishing our education we only sporadically kept in touch until we one day decided to meet up and watch a football/soccer game. During the match we started to talk about developing mobile games and software, and later that day we started our first prototype of a game called "Polly the bird" - a flappy bird-like game long before that ever saw the light of day.
The same day Lumi Games was born.
At this point in time Erik worked full time in a kindergarten, and Alexander worked as an IT-Technician for the municipality, but was heading off to England to study Forensic Science and Criminology.
ALEX & ERIK: In addition to the aforementioned education at Idefagskolen, Erik has studied Multimedia Design and worked as a Texture artist, compositor and render artist at Filmkameratene in Oslo, Norway.
We have both always had a passion and interest for video games and games in general. Not just playing games, but also looking at the mechanics of what makes a game great, entertaining and challenging. We had both dreamt of working within the games industry in some way, as we feel it is a platform and a medium where we can develop our ideas and share them with others in a fun, exciting and challenging way.
CAT: With a background in kindergarten education and Forensics and Criminology, the game design options seem both varied and a little terrifying. Do you see using your professional and educational background as inspiration? The next Forensic edu-app, maybe? :)
ERIK: When working at a kindergarten for 5 years one gets a lot of inspiration and ideas that can be used both to make games or write books. :)
I actually worked on a children’s book before starting Lumi Games, and that may be a project for the future, maybe as a digital e-book with animations and interactive storyline. I also got the kids to help me write stories, so we often had sessions together where we told a little bit of a story each, to get our imagination going, and it clearly worked, hehe.
We have about 15 different game ideas that we really want to create, everyone unique and original, no clones. ;)
And who knows, maybe we will make a game where you play as a Forensic detective or something in the future.
CAT: What is the process of choosing a game concept?
ALEX & ERIK: We start by coming up with a basic idea of what we want to create, in the beginning this was rather challenging since we were both new to the process and the field in general. We had little practical knowledge and experience when it came to going from an idea to a finished product, and we also had very little concept of how much time the process would take. Like many others before us, we went into the trap of starting projects that were simply too ambitious and advanced for us at the time instead of starting with a simple and small idea. We started ParticleBOOM! approximate ly 2 years ago, and we are STILL not finished! :)
We realized as time went on that we had to also start some small projects in the meantime, while we worked on a larger project, so that we could both develop and release games faster, but this also prevented us from being ineffective if we were stuck on a problem in one of the projects, as we would just work on another in the meantime.
When we start new projects now we try to base them if possible in something we have already made, be it a mechanic or an entire concept. This allows us to reuse parts of our code so that we can save time and resources; we are only two/three people after all.
When starting a project we ask ourselves some of the following things:
• Which elements are there in ParticleBOOM!, PAX HD or TETRA which we can reuse?
• How can we make this project unique and explore new possibilities?
• What would we like to play?
• How long will this take to finish?
• Is there some idea, mechanic or game concept that we feel are currently not used in games today or that we feel have not been utilized to their full potential?
As mentioned we have a large main project and up to two smaller ones going on at the same time. We have called this workflow "The 80% 20% method". We spend approximately 80% of our time on the large project, whilst spending 20% of our time on the smaller projects. Sometimes we flip this around and concentrate on the smaller projects more as they near completion.
This is our production pipeline when developing a game:
• Idea / Concept phase
• Sketching and draw ups
• Figuring out which elements we need for a basic prototype of the game and which components or chunks of code we can reuse.
• When the prototype contains all the basic elements we start by implementing some graphical features and fine tune the experience more.
• Optimize the code for performance, this is especially critical in mobile games development, as memory on such devices are a precious thing.
• Add animation, effects, sound and music to add further polish.
• Send the game to HAVA media for testing and feedback during the entire phase of development.
CAT: Tell us about ParticleBOOM!
ALEX & ERIK: ParticleBOOM! is a chain reaction game, in which the player taps the screen to detonate an explosion, which impacts particles on the screen and starts a chain reaction.
We have implemented power-ups, awards and a in-game currency system, 100 levels or waves and 33 bonus levels/waves, not to mention 40 different particles to unlock!
We want ParticleBOOM! to be a pleasant game to pay and experience, we don´t want the player to feel forced into buying their way to victory in the game, but instead the idea is that you should be able to earn up enough in-game currency by simply playing the game. We have structured the game so that there are many factors that can contribute to your survival or demise in the game. What style you choose to play is up to you. We are also critical of the trend we see in many mobile games now a days where the game holds your hand through the entire game, and makes you feel less empowered and gives the entire game a feeling of simply being a drawn out tutorial. To go against this we have tried to design the game such that it will trigger the players curiosity an d make them want to explore all the possibilities in ParticleBOOM! For example to ask themselves "How can i play to earn the most time" or "What is it that gives me the most bonuses?".
ParticleBOOM! is at its a core a relaxing gameplay experience, but we try to give the players a feeling of constantly having to watch out for the time running out, creating a element of stress in an otherwise serene game. It is also important to us that our games can be played by all sorts of people, in all ages and regardless of gender. We also want to a create a distinctive and visually appealing look to all our games to hopefully set us apart from the fray.
CAT: Why mobile?
ALEX & ERIK:
• Since we are only two to three people at Lumi Games working on each project, we have to limit the scope and size of our projects somewhat. Mobile is a platform we feel lends itself well to smaller and more concentrated gameplay experiences.
• We have to be able to go from idea to finished product in a relatively small amount of time.
• The process of releasing a game is generally easier on mobile platforms than it would be on for example PlayStation or XBOX.
• Our current concepts work best with a touch interface and controls rather than a traditional game controller.
• The market is quite large and diverse, and you are able to reach a wide demographic of people, and not just hardcore gamers.
CAT: What are the challenges of developing for iOS and Android devices? and the current app market?
ALEX & ERIK: There are many challenges involved in developing for Android, as there are almost 5000 different models of phones and tablets. Which is why we have decided to mainly focus on iOS in the near future, and look to port only the projects that do well over to Android.
Another challenge is to compete with the thousands of apps and games developed for iOS and Android each day, so you need contacts and to be smart about your marketing, and of course have a good and solid product to release which people actually want to play. Unfortunately getting noticed in todays market is not an easy task, and there are many good games that go unnoticed and gets swallowed in the sea of games and apps in the App Store, so getting noticed is paramount. We try to combine making a game that we would enjoy playing ourselves with looking at and researching what is currently in demand in the market space. There is a reason other companies have been quite successful at creating clones of other popular games. We try to always stay original and innovative and not be too much like Zynga or even King, but then again, you can compare their profits with ours. :)
Continue reading Part Two... http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
Day 13 | Lumi Games