PlayStation Mobile Developer Interview: Beats Slider
FuturLab have put out some pretty great games so far with Coconut Dodge and Velocity. We heard they were hopping on the PSM wagon so I got in touch with James Marsden to see what he could tell us about PSM and FuturLab’s plans for the platform. This is Part 1, which mostly covers their first launch title Beats Slider.
Q: What made you choose PSM as the platform for your next projects?
There’s a few reasons. It’s usually a good idea to get involved in a new platform at launch, when there’s not a great deal of competition around.
We were also approached a couple of years ago to begin working with PlayStation Mobile, back when everything was hush-hush and the Vita was still being called NGP. The game we began then, Beats Slider (although it was called something different) was put on hold as the platform matured. After we finished Velocity we were given an opportunity to pick that back up and create two brand new games.
When a company like Sony says ‘can you make some ‘slick and futurlabby’ games for our PSM launch please?’ it’s advisable to get on with it 🙂
Q: Do you see PSM as the next step in the evolution of Minis, or do you think both can live side by side?
Actually I think PSM is very different to Minis. Most obviously it’s a touch-based platform that is designed to run on a lot of different hardware devices, and there’s no restrictions to online connectivity like there is with Minis.
Regarding the evolution of Minis, PSM isn’t really it, no, but there is a better alternative.
Minis is a great platform to get started in game development. Mediatonic, ourselves and a few others have benefited greatly from the existence of Minis, but now I would urge indie developers to approach Sony with small (and great) ideas for PlayStation Vita. The submission requirements have been hugely relaxed since PSP, so you no longer have to pitch big games with dazzling technology. I know of several small games, games that you might have associated with the minis channel a year or two ago, that are being developed natively for PS Vita, with support from Sony.
Sony realise that PS Vita needs lots of great games, big and small, and they’ve altered the submission process to reflect that. It’s very exciting as it means small indie teams can get published on PlayStation Vita.
That is exciting, isn’t it? 🙂
Q: I know you guys were trying to make a push to get trophies added to Minis. Are you a little disappointed that there aren’t trophies for PSM at the moment?
A little, sure, but I can also understand that big wheels turn relatively slowly. I’m happy with the SDK overall, it’s very easy to develop for.
Q: As the platform stands now, what would you like to see added?
PSN integration 🙂
[gallery_imgs dir=”http://media.psnstores.com/psm/beats/” num=”10″]
Q: What can you tell us about Beats Slider?
It’s a classic slider puzzle that turns all the tiles into musical riffs, notes and beats, building up music as you slide the tiles around, creating an evolving soundtrack that reaches its completion when you complete the puzzle. It’s a very simple, cool idea, and we like having games like that in our portfolio 🙂
Q: For some people, our own Eric included, sliding puzzles are a real challenge. Is there a hint system or anything like that to ease the difficulty?
There is a hint system, yes – there’s also a neat little technique explained in the instructions which basically teaches you how to solve every slider puzzle. Once you’ve learned the technique, they’re quite straightforward.
Like all puzzles, once you know what you have to do, the puzzle is satisfying to play through – frustration sets in when you have no idea what you need to do. Hopefully we’ve addressed this, and nobody will need to feel belittled by their Christmas cracker toy ever again!
Q: One thing I noticed from your other two games is that they always have great music. Can we expect the same with Beats Slider?
Beats Slider was the biggest musical challenge we’ve faced yet. Creating 16 pieces of catchy music that have to sound good in up to, wait for it: 20,007,974,164,906,320,568,399,715,106,816,000,000 different permutations, is quite a feat of musical skill.
I think we succeeded in that the vast majority of permutations sound good, with only a few that sound a bit more… interesting :p
Q: I noticed there is a remix mode for levels you complete. What exactly can you do in it?
In remix mode you can push the musical tiles around freely without the rules of the classic slider puzzle. This mode is more of a toy than a game, allowing people to just move musical blocks around, muting rows, muting individual blocks by double tapping, and hitting the randomise button to just hear the sounds played back in different configurations.
Some of the levels actually sound best when completely randomised, particularly level 4 – it takes on a beautiful Tubular Bells vibe that was quite unexpected! :p
Beats Slider will be out on October 3 for PlayStation Mobile. We should have some hands-on impressions up then too! Look forward to Part 2 a little later today where James and I talk about PSM submissions and their other launch title Fuel Tiracas.