Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview with Llamasoft (The maker of Retro-styled games you'll go apeshit over)

I sat down with Jeff Minter the developer of many retro iOS games to ask him a few questions regarding his studio and future steps. Some of the games he has developed include: Deflex [1.99]Minotron 2112 [1.99]Minotaur Rescue [0.99] and his latest game GoatUp [1.99] which we are giving away a few codes of on our twitter channel. http://twitter.com/#!/TheAppShack

1. How successful do you think your brand image and games are on the AppStore market?

Not hugely, largely because not enough people are aware of what we do.  In the app store it seems that marketing and generating visibility is pretty much more important than actual game design, and we don't have a marketing person at Llamasoft.  And without that I doubt we'll ever "get lucky" and have some huge hit.  All I can do is try my best to make good games with good controls and hope that enough people find out about them to make it worthwhile.  It's kinda frustrating to be honest.
2. How do you compare yourself to the hordes of casual and 0.99 games?

Well, we're more about providing an updated version of oldschool gaming, something that brings back some of the fun of that style of gaming but with less of the limitations - that's what the Minotaur Project is all about.  And I have game design experience going back nearly 30 years, so I know how to make a game that plays well and has good controls.  I think that's worth tier 2.
3. What message do you want to pass on to aspiring game developers?

Make the games you want to play.  When you still play your own game after you've finished it just because you enjoy it, then you're doing it right.
4. Can we get an idea on what your next game will be like?

I've got several ideas I'm choosing between - I've the skeleton of a Defender game already started, I'd like to do a classic Star Force style scrolly shooter one day, likewise a Time Pilot style game because I do love TP.  I've also half a mind to make an unholy union between Caverns of Mars and Lunar Lander.  There's my Scientology game I want to do as well, but that'll probably be a longer project that I'll do in two or three games' time.
5. How long did it take for Goat up or Minotron 2112 to be created?

Each of those games took a month.  They were pretty straightforward as the basic idea was clear and simple to get up and running quickly.  For most iOS games I really don't want to be taking more than a month or two on them.
6. What role do you play in the company?

I design and program the games and do my not particularly brilliant programmer art sprites.
7. How many employees do you have or is it a one man operation?

There's just two of us here, me and Giles.
8. How did you get the idea to name your company "llamasoft"?

It came from a certain fascination for South American camelids that I developed at 6th form college, whilst learning to program on the Commodore PET. 
9. Will you be sticking to the arcade graphics or gradually maturing to some other form?

I'd like to do some more algorithmically generated stuff one day but I don't know if I'll ever get the time, at least while working tier 2 on iOS.  You simply don't have a lot of time to explore or be experimental.  Keeping it retro at least fits in with the theme of the Minotaur Project games and allows me to handle most of the "artwork" myself, although some people do moan about that.  Haven't noticed any of them coming to offer me better graphics though :).

The Scientology game will likely be more polygonal than sprite-y...
10. What is the one most important thing that should be in a game?

Fun, no doubt.  Too many games take themselves too seriously.  And good controls.  Why people release games with bad controls is beyond me.  Take the time to do it properly, or don't bother at all, I reckon :).


Post a Comment