Since a couple of days Toy Bot Diaries Entry 1 is available in the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game has been getting great reviews, and some people even say that Toy Bot is cuter than Wall-E! We wanted to know if IUGO agrees with that and fired some about Toy Bot, Re-Volt and Shaky Summit at Sarah Thomson, Business Development Executive at IUGO. One of the things she told us is that Toy Bot Diaries will be getting a demo very soon.
iPwnGames: What are your experiences with developing for the iPhone. Do you like developing for it so far?
Sarah Thomson: Yes, this device is a pleasure to work on. The iPhone is currently the number one mobile platform by a mile not just in gaming, but verticals, music, social networking and it is also catching up rapidly on corporate functionalities. John Carmack sums it up pretty well: “It is more powerful than the Nintendo DS and PSP combined.” The ARM11 processor and dedicated MBX-lite graphics core can work wonders, if you know how to push them. All that said, it is still a low-powered mobile device which presents several unique development challenges even for experienced mobile developers like IUGO. We suspect developers taking the leap from PC/console/handheld might be in for some surprises and may need to change the way they usually do things. Overall, we like how the device is pushing the envelope for gaming and IUGO’s immense mobile development experiences actually allow us to assimilate the iPhone platform painlessly.
iPwnGames: How many Toy Bot episodes are you planning to develop?
Sarah Thomson: Toy Bot Diaries is a trilogy. We really liked the idea of episodic content because it allowed us to get the first “entry” out onto the App Store relatively quickly without sacrificing on quality. Episodic content also tends to cultivate user loyalty and product longevity. On the design side, we are able to take more time in the development of the storyline which further bolsters the quality of the product over time.
iPwnGames: Would you like to develop an iPhone-version of EA’s Boom Blox?
Sarah Thomson: We’re really proud of our work on Boom Blox Mobile, but in the end, the IP belongs to EA. It’s totally EA’s call as to how they wish to continue with the Boom Blox brand. There are so many great ideas of our own we have for the iPhone that I think we rather focus on as opposed to the “what if”. If they approached us with the idea of Boom Blox on the iPhone, we’d be open to it.
iPwnGames: Could Toy Bot and Shaky Summit be ported to other mobile devices as well or would you rather have it to be an iPhone-exclusive?
Sarah Thomson: We work in a platform agnostic method with all of our own tools and libraries capable of producing a multi-platform game. We can put any or all of our games onto pretty much any mobile platform. That could be a possibility in the future for our own IP. We’ll most likely play that one by ear. The App Store makes it so accessible and easy for smaller developers like us to get out content out there. It’s not as easy for the traditional mobile platforms. But, I think this will start shifting, as we’ve already seen other companies and platforms do. They kind of have to if they want to compete with Apple.
iPwnGames: What’s the audience you’re trying to target with your iPhone games? Are you chasing the casual gamer like many other developers do nowadays or are you also thinking about the hardcore gamer?
Sarah Thomson: IUGO does not make one particular kind of mobile game. We’ve done everything from casual to sports to hardcore games. Shaky Summit is the epitome of casual gaming for the iPhone. It will appeal to a broad audience and both genders. There is virtually no learning curve for Summit which allows for players of all ages to instantly enjoy the gameplay.
TBD is an action puzzler that gamers of all experiences will get into. We took great care in making the controls intuitive, yet balanced with enough challenge to draw the player in and get hooked. TBD is great for both short bursts of play and longer, more intense sessions. We think once people get their hands on Entry 1, they’ll be salivating for Entry 2!
Now Re-Volt is an entirely different story. Re-Volt is going to be our high-impact, earth shattering FPS for the iPhone. This game is definitely geared towards the more experienced player. That’s not to say beginners won’t love this game too. The beauty of the iPhone is the simplistic and just plain fun controls that make a game like Re-Volt a real form of entertainment for a broader audience. Because it is an FPS, I think it will initially strike a chord with the hard core gamers. But, I think word will spread and its popularity will be wide spread.
iPwnGames: Will you release demo-versions of Toy Bot and Shaky Summit?
Sarah Thomson: Definitely there will be a free demo for TBD. It’ll be up soon actually. The free demo is a fantastic way to allow users to try the game before spending their hard-earned cash. We also believe once they’ve had a taste of the game through the demo, they’ll be rushing to buy the full game outright. We’re pretty confident with our product and its upcoming success. For Summit, I’m not sure about a demo, stay tuned on that one.
iPwnGames: Do you think the iPhone will kick mobile gaming to the next level?
Sarah Thomson: Yes, even if it is unintentional. We’re already seeing insane numbers coming back from the first month of the 3G and App Store. Sega’s Monkey Ball sold 300,000 units in 20 days? That’s amazing. It’s gotten us pretty excited about getting our games onto the platform. We truly feel the iPhone and the App Store will spark a shift in power from the big publishers to the independent game developer. This environment will spawn innovation and really, really cool games that no one has seen before in the mobile space. It’s an exciting time for us and the mobile gaming industry.
iPwnGames: So far we’ve seen a lot of pick-up-and-play games for the iPhone, but do you think iPhone games could keep someone busy longer than fifteen minutes?
Sarah Thomson: Absolutely! I’ve been playing TBD in hour increments easily. Summit will probably be more suited to shorter sessions, but Re-Volt will certainly consist of long-term game play. The iPhone is comparable to the DS or PSP; kids play on those handhelds for hours.
iPwnGames: Some people are saying that Toy Bot is even cuter than Wall-E. Do you agree with that?
Sarah Thomson: Hahaha!! Well I’m biased but heck yes TBD is cuter than Wall-E!! Toy Bot is a lovable character that has cuteness turned up to level 10. TBD the game as a whole is full of endearing details which is a big part of its appeal. It plays well into the comic book-inspired graphics that any age can connect with and enjoy.
iPwnGames: We would like to thank Sarah Thomson for this interview and wish them all the best with their upcoming titles for the iPhone!