Even before Angry Birds, the physics-based puzzler was a popular genre for mobile games. Now, however, it's becoming almost impossible to innovate in terms of such gameplay.
Water-based physics puzzler Sprinkle, from two-man Swedish developer Mediocre, has been lighting up our radar for a couple of months now, thanks in part to its promotion by Nvidia at shows like E3.
You can check out our Rob's hands-on preview here.
Sprinkle is due to be released this week for iOS and Android hardware running Nvidia's Tegra 2 chips. In the meantime, we caught up with the game's artist Henrik Johansson to find out more about the company and Sprinkle itself.
Pocket Gamer: Can you provide some background about Mediocre and why the name?
Henrik Johansson: Mediocre was founded during the fall of 2010 by Dennis Gustafsson and me. We've known each other for a long time: as teenagers, we spent a lot of time experimenting with game development, but this is the first time that we've worked together professionally.
Previously, Dennis has worked with game physics middleware (Meqon), and I'm an experienced art director and web designer.
As for the company name, there is a lot of attitude in the games industry, and more often that not, studios try their best to raise expectations, but frequently fail to deliver what they promise.
We thought it would be fun to go in the opposite direction - to surprise people with excellent games, but in a humble way. Our games are mediocre simply because our own standards are very high. We'd like to raise the bar if we can.
What was the inspiration behind Sprinkle?
Neither of us has much time to play games any more, so we find a lot of inspiration from the games we enjoyed when we were kids. Titles such as Lemmings, Bubble Bobble, North & South, etc.
There was a wave of creativity in the early '90s that produced some truly unique ideas. Perhaps the current state of mobile devices reflects what was going on 20 years ago, with just the right mix of possibilities and limitations.
I've started calling Sprinkle Angry Water. Is that a good name for it?
Not bad! It's funny and it's definitely flattering to have our product compared to such an enormous hit. We're hoping Sprinkle will appeal to the same broad audience.
Why do you think physics simulation is so interesting for games?
Games are all about entertainment, and in many cases that entertainment comes from the challenge posed by the game. We think it's a really good sign when you can entertain yourself in a game just playing with the game, not necessarily playing the game.
Tinkering with something that behaves realistically is fascinating and fun. We are hardwired to recognise natural motion, and there is something very appealing about being able to play with natural objects and liquids without having to clean up the mess afterwards.
What do you think are Sprinkle's unique elements?
Besides our fluid simulation, perhaps the mix of action and puzzle elements. It's a casual game for sure, but perhaps less static or confined than most such games. We'd also like to highlight the story line.
Should we expect it to come to any other platforms?
The game already runs on Windows and Mac OS X, since we use them both for development, but we currently have no plans to release it for desktop machines.
As for other handheld devices and consoles, we're considering our options, but it's a little early to say.
Sprinkle is a game that's been highlighted by Nvidia, so you can explain how that came about?
We started out working on iOS only, but after sending a blurry screen capture video to a friend at Nvidia, it offered to help us out with hardware and testing on the Android platform. This allowed us to do a simultaneous iOS and Android release.
Some people suggest we get heaps of cash from Nvidia to block this title from other Android devices. This is simply not true, and we will support other Android platforms at some point in the future.
Ensuring a good experience across all different devices is a big challenge for a small studio like us.
What's next for Mediocre?
We have many more ideas that we're working on, but right now we're eagerly waiting to see how our first title will be received.
The potential success of Sprinkle will have a lot of effect on our way forward. We have many ideas for Sprinkle updates, but also for other games.
Thanks to Henrik for his time.
Sprinkle is due out for iOS and Android Tegra hardware on Thursday 25th August.
You can see how it plays in the following video.