Wenn man an Italien denkt, denkt man eigentlich an Pizza, Pasta und Ferraris; weniger an Computerspiele und noch viel weniger an Entwicklerstudios. Das könnte sich schon bald ändern, wenn MixedBags Shooter Futuridium sowie das atmosphärische forma.8 für dieund PS4 erscheint. Das Zwei-Mann/Frau starke Studio aus Italien will nämlich groß auf der Playstation-Plattform durchstarten. Wir haben uns Mitbegründer Mauro Fanelli geschnappt und ihn mit allerlei Fragen bombardiert, die er mit großer Offenheit und Ehrlichkeit beantwortet hat. Welche zum Teil neuen Infos er für uns parat hat, lest ihr hier.
Hinweins: Beachtet, dass der deutsche Text frei übersetzt wurde und nicht zu 100% dem Original entspricht. Aus diesem Grund stellen wir euch das englische Interview vor. Die deutsche Übersetzung findet ihr im Anschluss im Spoiler!
Hi Mauro! Thank you very much for your willingness to do an interview with us. It’s our first one in our 2-years-history, so I am quite nervous and excited.
We’re going to talk about your Indie-Dev-Studio MixedBag and your games. You announced them in a very short time. Tell us, how did you survive this eventful week?
It was awesome, and very scary at the same time. We planned the announcement carefully, trying to have the maximum impact with our limited, indie resources. It went very well, thankfully!
Since then you made some contacts in the game industry, didn’t you?
We’ve got some contacts, yes. But we actually started getting in touch with various people from the industry over the years, a lot before announcing both games.
For how long do you work on both games?
We started working in forma.8 in late 2011, so it’s a lot of time ago, and in the meantime we’re working in Futuridium. We started on Futuridium in December 2012.
And MixedBag consists of only two persons, right? Isn’t it a bunch of work?
That’s right! Two full time staff, me and the other MixedBag co-founder Andrea Gellato. For all the music and sound effects stuff we have a collaboration with two very talented musicians: Omar Ferrero and Luca Gasperoni.
And yes: it’s an incredible amount of work, but we wanted to keep the team very small in the beginning.
Can you disclose something of your schedule?
Futuridium EP Deluxe is finally almost ready: it’ll be out very soon on PS4 and PSVita. For forma.8, we’re aiming for a late 2014.
How did you come to Sony Playstation?
We’ve met the first time with Sony in London, at the ETOO in June 2013. We were there showing the PC version of Futuridium and the iPad version of forma.8, and two persons from SCEE, Alessandro Bovenzi and Guy Richards, came to the event to try out some indie games. They enjoyed our games and we continued to talk in the following months on how to port both games on PlayStation.
They’ve been incredibly helpful: they perfectly understood what our needs were and helped us in any possible way to make it happen.
At which point can you say your work was successful.
When it puts a smile on the face of the player playing it. Sure, we also need the games to sell well, or we won’t be able to make more of them!
Let’s talk about Futuridium EP. Where did the idea come from?
Futuridium was made initially for a contest in Italy: the contest theme was ‚make a game inspired by one or more classics‘. We already had the idea of doing a 3d, low poly shoot’em up with a StarFox vibe and we were huge fans of the classic C64 shooter Uridium. So mixing them together was just natural!
I can imagine that many people are going to panic if they do not have any control over speed – and be smashed. The ship’s speed is going to increase from level to level, isn’t it?
In the Deluxe version you have limited control on speed: you can just go faster using a turbo! In what we now call Classic, the good old Futuridium included as an extra mode in the PlayStation version it works the same as in the computer and iOS edition: when you finish a round, the speed increases a bit.
The Game is already available on iOS and PC/Mac for quite a while. The letter even for free! What are the differences in the development between the platforms? Do they have any similarities? Which part takes Unity?
The base is the same, but for the PlayStation version we almost rewrote all the code of the game! It was not necessary, but since the original version was done in a very limited time there were a ton of things that could be done better and be better optimised.
Unity is an essential tools for us, and the only way for a small developer as MixedBag to ship a multiplatform and console game with a two persons team. Without Unity there’ll be no PlayStation version of Futuridium.
Futuridium EP Deluxe is coming with a ton of new features especially a new game mode. Can you tell us something about it? Or anything about the other new things?
Sure. Futuridium EP Deluxe is a totally new game, and maybe it was an error on our part to not call it Futuridium 2 or something like it! The only thing in common with a Futuridium EP on computers/iOS is the Classic mode, that is now an extra unlockable mode.
The new Deluxe mode sports 50 brand new levels, with 5 special bonus stages, 5 bosses, and the ability to control your speed a bit, flying faster using the turbo button. The Deluxe mode also offers a ton of new enemies and new gameplay twist I won’t spoil now. It takes quite a lot of time to finish all the levels and then… Every level offer three different medals to collect: one for not dying, one for finishing the level in a certain amount of time, and one for chaining together a minimum number of cubes. I can assure you that collecting all the 150 medals in the game is a very difficult task to accomplish, so it warrants a Gold trophy!
Also, there are some surprises and more unlockable gameplay modes and minigame…
It’s a pretty dense package: initially we didn’t expect the game to grow this big but now we are very excited by the results!
It’s going to be your first game for the. In your opinion, what is the best part on the handheld? Let me guess: the OLED.
The OLED for sure, it’s such an amazing display! But I love the whole package, I’m a huge fan of portable consoles and I play on them since the first Game Boy (and Game and Watch!) was released, and the Vita gets everything right: the battery life too is quite amazing considering all the horsepower under the hood.
What is your standing to Sony’s strategy to bloom the Indie scene on the? Will it be successful?
It is already successful! Indies love the PSVita. For us it was an awesome platform to start our console developer life, less intimidating than the PS4 but plenty powerful. I love working on PSVita.
I would now like to turn to your personal jewel: forma.8. The game caught much attention even from established magazines. How do you handle this?
We’re trying to keep all the contact with the press as personal as possible. For now we do everything in house, so is basically me speaking with everyone, while developing the game. No filters!
When I saw the trailer I was a bit hyped: atmospheric, varied and special. But I had to think of Double11’s PixelJunk Shooter which was recently announced for the, too. Where are the differences between these two games?
We are huge PixelJunk/Q-Games games fans, and we loved Shooter. The main inspiration for the graphic style in forma.8 is actually the classic Another World, but the game graphic also has a strong Shooter vibe.
The two games are very different though: forma.8 is a more slow paced experience, and the control system is very different. As soon as you try out the game it’s apparent it’s a very peculiar experience, and is not in direct competition with Shooter.
It seems that you already have a fully functional prototype. What was your biggest challenge in the development till now?
We have a good chunk of the game already completed. Luckily we solved the trickiest problem in the game early in the development cycle. Forma.8 originally started as an iPad 1 game, with the focus on having the game running at 60fps on the very first, and very underpowered iPad. From a technical standpoint it was very difficult, but we made it so from a performance standpoint it’s now not a problem to have the game running at 60fps on all the other platforms.
Can you give us a hint, how long will the game tie us down to the consoles?
We’re aiming for a 5-6 hours experience, but if you want to see everything in the game and unlock all the secrets it’ll be quite a lot more…
Now a foresight: Where is MixedBag going to be in ten years and how will change the game industry in this period?
Ruling the world! Just joking, we hope in ten years to still be able to do the games we want to do.
For the game industry, I think a lot will change: more focus on smaller games made by smaller team. Also, I think virtual reality will be huge.
Last question: Square, Triangle, Circle or Cross?
Up up down down left right A B Start!
But if I have to choose… Cross, it’s the shoot button in Futuridium!
Thank you very much! I wish you good luck and lots of fun with your games. Till next time!