PlayStation Mobile Developer Interview: Hungry Giraffe
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk with some really awesome developers who have helped to pioneer the first crop of PlayStation Mobile games. Laughing Jackal is one such developer, and has decided to take a slightly different approach to supporting the PSM platform by bringing back Hungry Giraffe, a popular PSP minis title, for the first time on Vita and PlayStation certified Android devices.
While asking Al, senior producer, and Ross, community manager, at Laughing Jackal some pretty tough questions about releasing a previous title on PSM, they also confirmed what their next PSM title will be. And what would a new release announcement be without saving a little surprise for the end? Find out a bit more about Laughing Jackal’s way of thinking and, why a giraffe?
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Laughing Jackal, how it came to be, and what is your mission statement?
Ross: Laughing Jackal were founded in 2005 as part of the same group as Ghostlight & Midas. The original intention was that we would provide production support for their releases, including code localisation and porting, artwork support, scheduling and so on, in addition to developing brand new IP to be released through those publishers. However, with the advent of PlayStation minis and the release of Cubixx we were able to start releasing games ourselves rather than having to go through anyone.
Since then we’ve focused on producing bite-sized, original and addictive downloadable games, that appeal to a wide range of players. The goal for the future is to build on that groundwork by spreading our reach to cover as many platforms as possible with our existing IP and new products.
Q: Just in case people don’t already know about Hungry Giraffe, what is the story with the super long giraffe neck? How did Hungry Giraffe come to be?
Al: We realised after publishing a few minis that the market for quick playing downloadable games on portable devices had to involve phones at some point. We wanted to focus on games that would work satisfyingly on both PSP/ PS Vita and touch screen smart phones, without compromising either.
With that in mind we developed 3 game concepts, all of which have now been released as minis and one of those is Hungry Giraffe.
We really wanted to jump into the endless climbing / jumping genres and we wanted to leave a trail behind the player showing where they’d been. From there a giraffe was an obvious leap (well, it was to us!) and there didn’t seem to be any better motivation for him to be climbing than filling his face, so that’s what we went with! 😉
Q: Hungry Giraffe was first released as a minis title for PS3/PSP, but not PS Vita, and now we know why. Tell us what is new with the PlayStation Mobile version.
Ross: The PlayStation Mobile version of Hungry Giraffe features an improved menu system and higher resolution graphics meaning it looks even better than the previous game.
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Q: If someone like myself already owns the minis version, what about the PSM version would compel me to buy it again for $2.99?
Ross: If the improved graphics – which do look lovely I might add – are not enough to attract you than the other big advantage is that the PSM version is now available on any PlayStation Certified Mobile device. Also when you purchase Hungry Giraffe from PSM you can download it onto three different PlayStation Certified devices. Which means you can play on your smart phone and your PS Vita – which ever you prefer.
Q: The first comment our reviewer had about the minis version was that he wished it had network functionality. Is this something that was possible to do for this launch version, or something that you might add later on?
Al: We’ve not been able to work this in for launch. If it’s possible to do so down the line then that’s definitely something we’ll look at. We’d love to do it, but it has to make sense for us to take the time to put it in.
Q: Clearly, Hungry Giraffe’s gameplay ends when gravity wins over the giraffe due to lack of food intake. Though, ironically, the game features obstacles such as floating anvils and dumbbells. How did that idea go over with everyone at Laughing Jackal?
Al: Everyone realised that we needed obstacles in the way and we had a bit of a brainstorm to figure out the kinds of hazards they might be. The functionality of the hazards came first (e.g. slowing him down, knocking him back, obscuring your view) and their appearance came after.
While not everyone agreed with the exact graphical representation of each of the hazards, we’re all very happy with the final results. That’s collaborative game development, right there. ^_^
Q: Can we expect PSM ports of Laughing Jackal’s other minis titles such as Orbit, Cubixx, or OMG-Z?
Ross: I can definitely confirm that Cubixx will be coming to PSM and that there will be at least one other mini making the jump to PSM. Beyond that, you’ll have to wait and see. 😉
Q: What is next for Laughing Jackal? Are you planning more PSM releases?
Ross: We’ve got lots of things coming soon. We’re definitely planning on continuing our support of PSM as it’s a platform we’re very excited about but we’ve also got some unannounced PS Vita games in development and of course those of you who have been following us regularly will be aware of ‘Mystery Game X’ which is still in development.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the answers the folks at Laughing Jackal have provided, and sincerely thank both Ross and Al for giving us so much of their time. Hungry Giraffe is one of the more addicting games on PSM, as is the case with all of their minis offerings, so we cannot wait to find out what this so called “mystery game” is.