Interview: Launching Pad Games

With all the casual games in the App Store, it’s great to run into titles that stick in your mind, and are involving from start to finish. Scarlett Adventures Episode 1 is such a game and buying it will not only make you chuckle on the subway: all proceeds go to the Red Cross until the end of March. You can read more about this great initiative here.

Scarlett and the Spark of Life is a breath of adventuring fresh air, with its witty dialogue and memorable characters. We enjoyed playing through the game, and were left hungry for more. We decided to ask creators Tim Knauf and Tristan Clark about the time-line for Episode 2, creating games for iOS and managing a software house with just two members:

You guys are low in numbers (2 and expanding?), yet deliver an all-round experience with your games. How do you manage? What exactly are your backgrounds and how did you get involved in the gaming business?

Tim: First up, we’ve got to give credit to the very talented James Ellis for the beautiful backgrounds and character design in ‘Scarlett’. His help arrived late into the project, yet after a few incredibly intense weekends, he had turned the art style around. You can see why we’re keen to bring him back full-time for Scarlett Episode 2.

Tristan: As for our backgrounds… would you believe we both have degrees in English Literature? Completely related to game development, I know. Actually, our love of stories is what led us to both our degrees and the kinds of games we most want to make, so there’s more overlap than you’d think.

Tim: We really relish the cross-disciplinary nature of small-studio game development. We get to indulge our inner generalists — something that’s more difficult to do in a large company, where everyone has to specialize. Personally, nearly every aspect of game design, coding, writing and audio creation is enjoyable to me. (The world is probably better off with me leaving the artwork up to James and Tristan, though.)

You’re working on roughly two platforms at the moment; web and iOS. Are you planning on moving to other platforms as well? If so, which ones seem relevant to you? On a side note: is Scarlett receiving the HD treatment for iPhone 4 and iPad?

Tristan: As you said, there aren’t many of us at the company, so we have to choose our battles very carefully. For now, we plan to stick to browser-based games and the iOS platform — they’ve both been good to us. But we definitely have our eye on other platforms too!

Tim: We want to show off the gorgeous art of James Ellis (no pressure, James!), so Scarlett Episode 2 will support iPhone 4’s lovely Retina Display. As for an iPad version: yes, we’re very interested indeed. We’d like to take the time to do that properly, though. I think an iPad version of Scarlett deserves more than a hasty up-scaling.

Now we’ve finished Episode one, naturally we’re awaiting a second part. Can you tell us more about the timeline and the size of Episode 2? We know production has been delayed a bit. Does this mean it will be larger than Episode 1?

Tim: Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We realized that to do everything we wanted for Episode 2, we were going to have to get the company into a financial position where we could devote more time to it. The Episode 2 story and world is considerably bigger than that of Episode 1.

Tristan: Yeah, I think Episode 2 is roughly four times the size of Episode 1. Not only that, but we’ve got a lot of new gameplay features we’d like to add. We spent a long time trying to reduce the scope of the game to make it in a faster timeframe, but the loss of quality would have been too much to bear. Call us overly idealistic, but we want Scarlett Episode 2 to be uncompromisingly amazing.

Any chances of seeing Lavender make an appearance in Scarlett adventures Episode 2? Also – in terms of fauna – Episode 1 was rather horse and llama (-ish) oriented… any new additions?

Tim: Episode 2 is still Scarlett and Gherkin’s story most of all, but we’ll be getting to know Lavender well over the course of the series. (Is she really as feeble as Scarlett says?) As for strange and stubborn beasts: how about something with wings this time? And who knows — perhaps we haven’t seen the last of the savage yet stupid Pocalcos!

Tristan: You tease!

The news of the delay for Scarlett adventures Episode 2 was accompanied by the news of a new title, to be announced in April. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Tim: I can tell you a little bit! It’s a simple, pick-up-and-play game for iPhone and iPod Touch. We’re actually producing four games to prototype stage, and we’re facing them off against each other to see which one deserves to be made into a real game on the App Store. There’s some info about the process on our blog ‘The Trampoline’ at http://blog.launchingpadgames.com/the-face-off

Thanks to Tristan & Tim for their time! Check back for our review of Scarlett Adventures Episode 2 when it’s released!

Remember: Launching Pad Games is one of the NZ-based developers supporting the Christchurch quake victims through Appappeal. All proceeds of 26 participating apps go directly to the Red Cross during March. All you have to do is buy an app and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the New Zealand Red Cross.

Other participating titles include Ancient Frog HD, Into the Blue and Bird Strike, so check them out!

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