PS3 Attitude talks Underline and PlayStation Mobile with Albino Pixel
PlayStation Mobile finally launched a few weeks ago, which offers developers a new opportunity to release their games on both PS Vita and selected Android devices. One of the service’s launch titles is Underline, a fast-paced word game from Albino Pixel.
PS3 Attitude recently talked with Dave Allanson, Technical Director of Albino Pixel, about his latest game, his thoughts on PlayStation Mobile, and what the future has in store for the York-based studio.
[PS3 Attitude] We’ve been having great fun playing Underline at PS3 Attitude, but how would you pitch the game to someone who has never heard of it?
[Dave Allanson] I think the best way of summing the game up is a mix of Boggle with elements of Tetris and Bejeweled. As letters constantly drop from the top of the screen, players must draw words in the grid as quickly as possible before they run out of time or the grid fills up. The longer you last the faster the tiles will drop, adding pressure to the player.
Throughout the game you are rewarded with coins to spend on weapons such as Freeze or Line Clear which will help you get that new highscore. Players are also given multipliers when chaining words in fast succession, which can not only be used to increase their score but also as a blank letter tile.
[PS3A] Sony recently announced full PSN integration for PlayStation Mobile, which will include features such as online leaderboards and Trophies. In the future, can we expect to see either of these in Underline?
[DA] Definitely, we already have trophies and leaderboards built into the game so once PSN is integrated we will be hooking these up to the service.
[PS3A] You developed Underline almost singlehandedly. Do you find it easier to create games on your own, or, in an ideal world, would you prefer to be leading a full team?
[DA] Underline was myself on code, my business partner Peter Hinton on Art, and then Gavin Harrison composed an original track for us to use in-game. In my last studio I lead a 10+ man team on console projects and it’s a completely different experience to something like Underline.
With things like iOS and PSM it makes it so much easier to work on projects which require a smaller team and usually with much shorter timescales. If I had a larger concept in development that needed a bigger team then I would happily go down that route but at the minute our games are all titles that can be developed by just a couple of people.
[PS3A] How has Sony been to work with as a company, and how easy/difficult was it to release Underline on PSM?
[DA] Sony were great to work with and the tech team was really supportive through the whole development process. Actually getting the game from iOS to PSM was relatively straight forward, with only a few problems during the project.
[PS3A] As well as Underline on PSM, you’ve also released an iOS app. Do you see PSM as a competitor to Apple’s App Store, or is it an entity unto itself?
[DA] It’s not really a competitor due to the devices it runs on; it just provides another platform to release your game on. Being a launch title has helped us get more exposure and also the chance to appear in a much less saturated market so it will be interesting to see how it does in the long-term.
[PS3A] Do you find it easier to develop games for either PSM or iOS, or are both processes fairly similar?
[DA] Most of my iOS development is done in Cocos2D which also happens to be the framework that PSM is built on, so the process is pretty similar overall. Other than taking onboard the changes necessary to work in C#, development as a whole is pretty much the same as if developing in Cocos2D & Obj-C.
[PS3A] We know your next project is an iOS strategy title called Faster. Can you reveal anything else about the game, and can we expect to see a PSM version?
[DA] We can’t reveal too much at this stage but keep an eye out over the next month or so for more news on this game. Faster is also another game we may bring to PSM at some point, along with a couple of other concepts we are currently prototyping.