Welcome back to the second part of the interview we conducted with Paul Ripley last week. The long-and-short: he’s great, he’s made a great game, and we want to give you lot the chance to learn a bit about all the cool behind-the-scenes development type stuff.
Part 2, commence!
Appy: Why did you make Guide The Light so fiendishly hard in the later stages!?
Paul:Haha! You should have seen it before I removed all of the really hard levels…
I do think there should be some challenge in a game though – what fun would it be if you could try to play from start to finish without having to retry levels, or spend some time working out how to get past a level?
The key to the later Guide The Light levels is to look at the level, and work out how to solve it without moving anything – once you actually start, you are then against the clock on some levels.
Of course, there is the Vision Crystal if you are really stuck on a level.
Appy: Sounds terrifying… but cool! Were there any other features or content you were fond of that got cut?
Paul: Originally there were quite a few much larger levels, but they were confusing, as you had to keep scrolling the screen around. There are now only a couple of levels (at the end of each pyramid) that are bigger than one screen. It makes gameplay simpler by fitting each puzzle on the screen, but I had to drop some great multi-screen levels. Maybe they will make a comeback later on as downloadable content…
Appy: Tell us a bit about Captain Blake, the main character. He seems a little bit… hapless.
Paul: When I first created the game, it was all made with “programmer art”, so the main character was just an animated stick figure. I asked Colin to create a character, and he came up with a few character styles, based on nicely stereotyped popular images of explorers from the past.
Colin eventually settled on Blake, who was loosely influenced by Jungle Jim from the 1930s comic strips, as well as other comic book characters.
Appy: We’ve already had some of the community get back to us on this, so we have to ask – is there going to be an Android version?
Paul: I’d like to port the game to other platforms eventually, and I always write my code to be as platform-agnostic as possible, so it shouldn’t be hard to port to Android. I’m just not entirely convinced its worth my time at the moment though. As far as I can tell, the best way of making any money on Android is from advertising, and Guide The Light doesn’t really suit the ad-supported model.
Hopefully the Amazon store might convince Android users to start paying for some of their content.
Appy: What do you find best about coding for Apple’s devices?
Paul: As I mentioned previously, I always code in a generic way to make porting easier (a habit I learnt in the past developing cross-platform games). That means I code in C++ rather than Objective C, which would be the easiest way to develop for iOS.
Getting an App up and running on iOS is very straightforward though – their tools, such as Xcode, and their APIs and SDKs all just work.
I tried to get a sample app up and running on an Android simulator one afternoon, and it took about 5 hours – it took about 30 minutes the first time I tried that for iPhone.
Appy: Is there anything in particular you like about iOS5 and iOS6?
Paul: I think my favourite features that were new with iOS5 are a little obscure. Probably wireless sync was one of my favourite features – it was annoying having to plug the phone in to Mac if I wanted to transfer new music.
Also being able to take photos with the physical volume button was a great new feature.
From a gaming point of view, adding points to Game Center Achievements was a good move in iOS5, as was turn-based multiplayer game support.
I also like the new Facebook and Twitter integration in iOS6 – it makes social sharing much simpler now, from a developers viewpoint.
Appy: Going back to our earlier questions, the trend for more difficult games (Demons Souls etc.) has taken off recently… Was this a conscious decision on your part, or…?
Paul: It wasn’t a conscious decision, it’s just that whenever I try and make things so easy that anyone could play them without thinking, I can’t find the fun any more. I definitely like to be challenged (a bit, not too much) by games – the sense of achievement is so much greater when you have to think a bit to make progress.
I think for a while the trend in mobile games has been to make things as easy as possible, so as to sell as many copies to as large a casual audience as possible. I think developers might now be realising that even casual gamers want to be challenged a bit.
Appy: What’s your favourite part about games development?
Paul: Working on smaller mobile titles definitely beats developing AAA console games.
I did enjoy working on same great AAA projects in the past, but making my own mobile games lets me develop every aspect of the game, rather than focusing on 1 or 2 narrow areas of the game.
Appy: What’s your fondest memory of the development of Guide The Light – either related to the game or just life events that were happening during that time period?
Paul: It’s been enjoyable handing the game over to friends at various stages and watching them get engrossed in solving some of the levels. When you watch people spending a lot of time trying something out you know you have something interesting.
Appy: And finally, now that Guide The Light’s coming out… what next?
Paul: I’ve always got a few game prototypes on the go, so it’s time to see which one to develop onto a game! I’ve also got a reasonably large update to Hexius (Paul’s previous iOS game – Ed.) in the works, and I’m just ported my game engine to OS X, so I’ll be looking at putting some games onto the Mac App Store (possibly Guide The Light).
There could well be some expansion packs for Guide The Light too, as I have a few unused levels, and lots of ideas for new ones.
I’m sure you’ll all agree, once you’ve got your mitts on the game from the 22nd, that more levels can only be a good thing. The game as it stands will last you a long time – some of the levels really take brain-teasing to a new level – so be sure to keep an eye out on here, on Facebook or on our twitter for launch news, and a competition!