PlayStation Mobile Developer Interview: Word Blocked
We already talked about one word puzzle game from the PlayStation Mobile launch when Nick did his Q/A about Underline. I had the chance to ask Quirkat some questions about Word Blocked and the process of getting the game up on PSM
Q: First of all what can you tell us about Quirkat?
Quirkat is an independent developer based in Dubai (UAE) and Amman (Jordan). We’re 8 years old and have developed games for the PC, web, iOS, and more relevant to PSN, four PSP minis titles targeted for the Middle East. We also have an upcoming downloadable PS3 title that we’re super excited about; to be released in the next few months. Our team is very international in its make-up and includes some very talented individuals from Jordan, UAE and the UK.
Q: What made you want to release Word Blocked on PSM?
This has been an exceptionally exciting opportunity for us. Originating from our part of the world, where the industry is still in its infancy, made us have to work quadruple hard to be recognized as a serious developer. SCEE have been extremely supportive of our projects (with the minis in the past, and the current PS3 project) and we jumped on the opportunity to be part of the launch lineup for this new platform. Having experienced development and submission hardship for the traditional platforms, we were really happy to be able to think mobile and PlayStation at the same time. I have to say this has been one of the easiest and most fun projects we’ve worked on.
Q: How difficult would you say it was to have the game release in 3 regions for launch?
There wasn’t much we had to do practically, but a global release was very exciting for us! Having said that, we were developing an English language word game which would be released in territories with a wider array of languages. That, I would say, was the biggest challenge – to get the marketing message right in the local language for an English language game. The beauty of the platform and the headache free update process is that as PSM expands and is rolled out across more territories it would be worth considering doing localized versions for each of the languages, but that really depends on the reception of the game and the uptake among gamers.
Q: What can you tell us about Word Blocked?
Word Blocked is a word game with a twist, quite literally. The game is basically a 3×3 block of letters that can be twisted and turned to align into words.
The idea behind it was, as you can see, quite simple. We never thought of developing an anagram type of game before due to the abundance on other platforms. The game, we felt, however, was waiting for a platform like PSM to give it new life. With the cube of letters being the star of the game, we felt the mechanics and the platform were made for each other and we hope we’ve been able to give the gamer the familiarity of a known game genre with the simplicity and casualness of the cube’s mechanic.
The PS Vita is where we feel particularly proud of the game and its feel, as the depth of the colors and the gorgeous screen really bring the game to life.
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Q: I noticed there were two different modes in the game. Can you tell us about each of those?
The game can be played in a speedy Timed mode where you have two minutes to achieve the highest score possible, or a more leisurely Relaxed mode where you have the luxury of time to find longer, higher scoring words. In the former mode you get the added bonus of bombs and missiles, which you can use to change the letters available on the cube. In Relaxed mode, at every 100 points scored you progress up a level, and the difficulty is notched up by dealing out new letters with fewer vowels and more difficult consonants in the mix (e.g. Q, Z, etc…)
Q: Can you explain how the combo system works?
To give the player more incentive to find consecutive correct words, multipliers are introduced whereby the score is doubled, tripled or even quadrupled depending on how many correct consecutive words are found. This also adds to player strategy, for example I find that sometimes I’ll see a word or two but not enter them in till I’ve spotted a third and then enter them all in quick succession for the bonus points. Obviously you’re still dealing with a 3D cube and more words could be lurking a twist or two away.
Q: Do you see more PSM releases in the future for Quirkat?
Absolutely. We love working with the Sony platforms and have our fingers crossed that the game delivers to its potential. We hope to be able to make it to the hearts of casual gamers and word game enthusiasts worldwide with what we feel is an easy yet very addictive game. The platform is also very powerful yet easy to work with, submission and QA criteria are simple and straightforward, and with the promise of greater PSN features to integrate we’re already sketching a few ideas for our next PSM game.
Q: Anything you would like our readers to know about either Quirkat or Word Blocked?
My final point on Word Blocked is that beyond a game of words, we have found that it can be a highly addictive puzzle game in the sense that the cube manipulation is a game in itself. One of our programmers at the office loves to form partial words then spot a letter across the cube and start manipulating to bring it towards her incomplete word, as if she were playing with a Rubik’s cube. That aspect added a whole new dimension to the gameplay and gives the player hours more of building skill.
I would like to thank Candide from Quirkat for taking the time to answer our questions. Word Blocked is out now for $1.99 / £1.59 / ¥200.