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FuturLab talks Beats Slider, Fuel Tiracas and PlayStation Mobile

Submitted by on Friday, 16 November 2012No Comment

FuturLab, a small studio based in Brighton, was propelled to the forefront of independent game development in the UK, after the breakout success of their PS minis title, Velocity.

Since then, they’ve been one of PS3 Attitude’s favourite developers. We’re therefore delighted that James Marsden, founder and Managing Director of FuturLab, took some time to chat to us about their games, PlayStation Mobile, and what’s next for the studio.

[PS3 Attitude] Your second PS mini, Velocity, was a huge success, gaining critical acclaim from the likes of Edge and IGN, and even winning at the TIGA Games Industry Awards earlier this month. You must’ve known you’d created a great game, but how surprised were you by this reception?

[James Marsden] I don’t think surprised is the right word. It’s more like relieved. We knew it was great, but it’s incredibly hard to stand out in the crowd these days, and it’s hard to get traction with mainstream games press. We were relieved and thrilled that Velocity received the recognition we knew it deserved.

[PS3A] Fuel Tiracas and Beats Slider are available now for PlayStation Mobile, but how would you pitch these games to someone who has never heard of them?

[JM] Futuristic puzzle games that are based on simple, clever ideas, executed with care and attention to detail! That tells you nothing about them, but we spent ages writing the store descriptions, so I’m unlikely to improve on those!

[PS3A] You were the only studio with two games available for the launch of PS Mobile. How much of a mad rush was needed to get them finished in time?

[JM] It was a mad rush!

Fuel Tiracas took 8 weeks to develop, which was a pretty frantic race! Beats Slider was already some way along in production because it was a project initially started in 2010 and was mothballed due to PSM not being ready at the time. Picking it back up and finishing it was fairly straightforward. We’re still working on our third PlayStation Mobile game, which we’ve yet to reveal. We’ve kept the best ‘til last…

[PS3A] At 40p, Fuel Tiracas remains the cheapest PSM game so far, and it’s also one of the most addictive. You could have easily charged much more than that and people would still have bought it, so what was the rationale behind its low price?

[JM] There are a few reasons, but the main one is perceived value. Velocity was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, and frankly both Fuel Tiracas and Beats Slider are incredibly shallow in comparison. Our reputation is very important to us, so we weren’t prepared to tarnish that by trying to charge PS minis prices for games that are less than totally awesome.

This has worked, as we’ve had great reviews for Fuel Tiracas and Beats Slider because they are great value for money. This keeps our reputation strong, and our fans happy.

Our next PSM game won’t cost that little, because we’ve put significantly more time and effort into it, so there’s a lot more enjoyment to be had.

[PS3A] Meanwhile, Beats is one of Sony’s own IPs, so did they approach you with the idea for Beats Slider, or did you approach them?

[JM] Beats Slider was originally called Beat Slider, which we changed to Slidin’ Beats for legal reasons as there’s already a game on the Android Marketplace called Beat Slider. The day before submission we were asked by Sony to change it to Beats Slider, to slot it under the Beats brand they had already established. They’re publishing, so it’s totally their call.

[PS3A] Has developing for PS Mobile been a mostly pain-free experience?

[JM] Yes!

[PS3A] Sony recently announced that full PSN integration for PSM is on the way, including features such as PSN leaderboards and Trophies. Are there any other features you would like to see in the next SDK?

[JM] I think it would be cool to allow gamers to pay what they want for a game, and give a percentage of that to charity. There’d be an incentive for gamers to pay a little bit more than they would ordinarily, and we’d all feel a lot better about the ‘free to play’ business model, as it’s basically a con.

We’d do that if Sony could implement that option within the store.

[PS3A] FuturLab started out creating Flash games, but since then you’ve focused almost exclusively on PlayStation platforms. Is this a trend that’s likely to continue, and will we ever see a full-blown PSN title from FuturLab?

[JM] We’d love to develop a full PSN title. That’s our goal, certainly.