If you've been following Pocket Gamer closely over the past few weeks, you'll already be aware that Greedy Bankers vs The World developer Alistair Aitcheson is working on a new iPad title.
This upcoming game is called Slamjet Stadium, and it's a futuristic footy-esque sports title that pits you against both AI-controlled opponents and your real-world buddies.
We recently sat down with Aitcheson to discuss the inspiration behind his new game, as well as post-launch updates and the free-to-play business model.
Pocket Gamer: What was the inspiration behind Slamjet Stadium?
Alistair Aitcheson: I really enjoyed developing the multiplayer mode in Greedy Bankers vs The World, the iPad puzzle game I launched in 2011.
Players had to group together gems into bigger and bigger squares, but could get bonuses by stealing them from each other. It's very active and physical, and players love getting competitive over it, so I was eager to experiment more with multiplayer on shared tablets.
Last year I made l lot of quick prototypes - I'd whip them together in a couple of days, take them to the pub to show my friends, chat about them, and then start another based on what we discussed.
Slamjet Stadium was originally one of those: a physics-based re-interpretation of football.
The futuristic setting evolved fairly naturally, but it's given me an excuse to get imaginative with the design. Will they really play football on hoverbikes in the year 2113? You can't prove that they won't!
Did you create all of Slamjet Stadium's artwork yourself? If so, was it a bigger task than creating the artwork for Greedy Bankers?
Yes, I did all the artwork myself.
It's part of the process that I absolutely love, and being able to get hands-on with every part of development is one of the reasons I decided to start a one-man studio. Credit must go out Tom Parfitt, the musician who's done the excellent sound work for the game - that's one bit I can't do on my own!
There was more artwork to do on this game - in Greedy Bankers the screen was generally filled with gems, so I could be a lot more economical with the artwork that I used.
In Slamjet Stadium you get complete arenas to play in, and I needed to make them feel like real locations, give off that futuristic industrial vibe, make them feel alive without having them clutter the screen visually.
However, in another way the futuristic setting is very liberating. I really get to use my imagination, especially with the character designs.
The art design takes inspiration from all things futuristic, from Mad Max to The Jetsons, and mixes them up with bikers and American football. It's been incredibly fun to draw.
What feature or features will make Slamjet Stadium stand out in Apple's bustling App Store?
The local multiplayer is the big key feature in Slamjet Stadium.
There aren't many games out there that encourage you to cheat and play dirty, get in each other's way, steal each other's characters, and set off deadly traps to mess each other up.
It's amazing fun at parties and at the pub (I know this from experience) - it's a truly social game where people genuinely interact in a way that isn't possible on other devices. I think that's something very special indeed.
Greedy Bankers and Slamjet Stadium both feature fast-paced local multiplayer modes. Is this something you plan to implement in all future projects?
It's a style of game that I really love, especially on the iPad where people can share this big 10-inch touchscreen. Rather than each player having his own controller, your opponent becomes a genuine part of the game - this creates all kinds of exciting play that goes beyond the confines of the screen.
In terms of future projects, I certainly want to try out new ways for players to interact like this.
Mobile devices are really exciting for these kind of games and I think there's a rich seam of untapped fun waiting to be mined. But I'm certainly not going to limit myself to just these kinds of games. As an indie I have a lot of freedom to explore all kinds of avenues in gaming, and I want to make the most of that.
Will Slamjet Stadium house any social features, such as Game Center-powered leaderboards or achievements?
There will be Game Center leaderboards in the single-player mode, where players can race to beat the AI tournaments in the quickest possible time.
In terms of achievements, I'd like to use them to encourage people to explore the game and try to do weird and unpredictable things. I've not worked out exactly what this will entail, but I do want them to be present in some form.
Do you plan to support Slamjet Stadium with post-launch updates?
Yes, I will. I want to get feedback from players to find out what they like most about the game, and build on that.
When you cast a game out into the real world you only have a vague idea of what players will respond most excitedly to, even with extensive testing. So the players always inspire how the game evolves in updates.
Do you plan to port Slamjet Stadium to the iPhone and to other mobile platforms?
Slamjet Stadium is made specifically for the tablet - I designed it around the multiplayer experience, and around physically moving across the device with your hand.
On a smaller device it would need to be a very different experience.
However, it's something I could potentially work with as a future project, taking the roots of what I've created now and turning it into something new for the phone. Watch this space, I guess!
What do you think of the free-to-play business model and did you consider it for Slamjet Stadium?
With every game there's a business model that suits it best. There's no such thing as a "one size fits all" business model, or even a model that is objectively "best".
So I'll be going for a fixed-price model with Slamjet Stadium because it's what suits the style of the game.
I want people to get the complete kit when they open the game, so that they can explore all the characters and all the arenas, without keeping any of the pieces from them.