There's always a bigger fish – or in Guzu's case, dragon. In developer Intersog's latest title you play as Guzu, a dragon situated somewhere in the middle of the food chain.
You are constantly on the hunt for prey, but should also be well aware of the threat of several sizeable predators that lurk in the skies.
Guzu may have a simple survival focus then, but Intersog believe that enough work has gone into its core mechanics to make it well worth investigating.
Igor Fedulov, President of Intersog, spoke to us about how Guzu has been designed to help maintain a player's attention as well as the work that went into its aesthetics and online features.
Pocket Gamer: Can you explain how Guzu works, and what the main aims of the game are?
Igor Fedulov: The idea behind Guzu is very simple: eat or be eaten. Though it may sound simple, it's a much more difficult task than it sounds.
In addition to edible creatures, the game features predators that would gladly turn Guzu into a tasty snack - let down your guard for even a moment, and you risk turning into somebody's dinner.
To boot, Guzu suffers from hunger if it doesn't eat regularly, and death from starvation is a real threat. The player needs to catch enough edible creatures to keep Guzu full, and everything in the game depends on the player's reaction speed, hand-eye coordination, and attention span.
Eating other creatures is the main driving force behind Guzu then, but are there enough types of prey to stop the game from getting too repetitive?
Plenty of different predators exist to ensure that players don't get too relaxed or bored while playing.
They’ll appear at random times throughout the game, and players need to quickly fly away or attack them in time, depending on whether they have power-ups or not. Predators are clever and follow Guzu on purpose.
We've also added several types of bonuses into the game, which are intended to keep the game exciting. Items such as power-ups and bonuses only affect players temporarily, and need to be picked up in the right time to prove most effective.
Which part of the game are you and your team the most proud of, and why?
We are very content with the game we've created, especially in the quality of our map and character designs. Guzu is a well designed character in our opinion, and the music we've added works with the tone of the game as well.
All the game maps were our original creations. We wanted to develop a beautifully vibrant and original world inhabited by interesting, unique creatures. Maps differ from each other in great detail and colour.
This diversity is valuable for our players as newly unlocked map offers new challenges and game dynamics. Our combination of graphics and music works well, and all together helps to create a truly unique game space.
Various creatures inhabit Guzu's world, and every one of them has unique characteristics and personalities in accordance with evolutionary principles.
Some are slow and easy to catch while others are quick and actively try to avoid Guzu at all costs. A third group of creatures move at average speed but are liable to change directions at random too.
The game's big predators are at the top of the food chain. They’re formidable enemies that need special skills to be beaten. Guzu needs to move quickly, manoeuvre effectively, and pick up the bonuses to defeat them.
What challenges did you face during development, and how did you overcome them?
We encountered a number of technical difficulties while developing Guzu, with most coming in the form of limited available memory on game devices, something that tends to be a common problem for most developers.
Guzu features a lot of diverse animations, many of which can be turned on and off depending on the games situation. We spent a lot of time optimizing the game's code, and in the end were happy with our results.
What was the thinking behind making Guzu a freemium title?
Nowadays, the freemium model is a reliable and easy to understand monetization technique among users. We want to give our customers an opportunity to try the game and get addicted to Guzu at no initial cost.
Furthermore, our refer-a-friend allows you to tell a friend about Guzu and let them download the full version of the game for free on the App Store.
There are no ads in the game, and no obligation to upgrade to the paid version either.
How important are the game’s Game Center features and online leaderboards in keeping players interested?
Game Center is an excellent tool to encourage greater interactive player involvement. We use both leaderboards (one for each map) as well as achievements, which together serve to make the game that much more dynamic.
The simplest in-game achievements are easy to win, allowing players to get a feel for the game without getting frustrated.
Have you any plans to bring the game to other mobile formats?
We've got big plans for Guzu. We're currently working on bringing Guzu to Android, and we hope it’s as well received there as it has been on the App Store.
Guzu is out now for iOS, and is free to download [iTunes link].