We had the distinct pleasure to throw some questions at Thomas Hopper, T.A.C.S. Games, to see which of them would stick. He humored us with enlightening responses in the midst of coding a hundred or so games with just his right pinky. Super Brain Eat 3 will be his fifth PlayStation Mobile title.
When asked about Super Brain Eat 3, developing for PSM, what features he’d like added to PSM, and what his favorite drink is, Thomas Hopper had much to say. Enjoy our PlayStation Mobile Developer Interview with Super Brain Eat 3′s creator and developer Thomas Hopper.
Q: Can tell us what Super Brain Eat 3 is about?
SBE3 is a simple yet taxing retro-arcade-puzzle-game in which you need to guide a creature around a maze in order to munch on all the hearts and brains whilst avoiding the Jelly-Monsters and deadly traps. You can gulp down potions too and spit magic or become invincible for short periods. The magic you spit out bounces around too and you can shoot it straight or at an angle so it can bounce round corners. It gets quite hard so completing all the levels will be a challenge but there is a high score too so you can tell if you’ve made progress.
My current project is a larger more complex beast than my previous PSM games and so requires a more complex engine than I’ve previously built. That engine needed a field test before it was set in stone and it’s hard to keep my brain from wandering anyway. I’ve always wanted to make a top down maze game and had recently decided that I wanted to make a game with lots of cartoonish gore. So with the prototype engine I’d built and some very silly looking jelly-monsters I began a speed-coding session and voila.
Q: Now that you’ve pumped out all these PSM games, what sort of progression are you noticing with the way you are designing your games to make them better or unique from the last?
The games themselves are getting more complex in terms of the actions a player can take and the ways the non player entities behave. My next game will have more of a narrative too. I’m also looking to improve replay-ability with additional collectables and to improve the user experience with things like multiple saves for storing progress.
I always listen to feedback and the PSM players I’ve spoken to have been very constructive so if you’ve played my games and have an opinion, I’d love to hear it.
Q: What sort of features would you like to see implemented into the PSM dev tools?
I’d love to see better integration with friends, trophies and other online PSN features. Leaderboards would be a great addition but I don’t imagine that will happen. Other things like access to the rear touch pad, mic and better/lower level access to the audio hardware too, would be really nice. There has been some talk about expanding the range of devices on which the PSM games will run, that too would be a good thing for developers and gamers alike, since more customers means more games.
Q: What would you say to budding Indie games developers who haven’t thought about the possibility of coding for PSM, or to non-developers who think they have a good game idea?
There are only two good pieces of advice to give a budding game developer and that is to (1) start making a game, any game. And (2) finish that game. Those are the hard things, if you do them over and over you’ll get better and eventually make the games you really want to make.
The PSM dev tools are a really good place for anyone to start making games. The tools are free , the documentation is quite good and some of the subsystems can do a lot of the hard work for you.
Q: How do you come up with the price of your games?
Before I’d released anything I spoke to some people who’d already bought PSM game content and asked them what they expected to pay. I then released a few things at different prices and I’ve been watching how people respond to those price points. I think I have a better idea now of what people expect to pay for what kind of content. My upcoming games will be at a much more competitive price point.
Q: Can you tell us what you’re working on after Super Brain Eat 3 leaves your peripheral? And finally, what’s your favorite beverage?
I’m working on my next big game (code name ‘to End’) which I am going to take my time over. It’s a platformer/shooter with a greater focus on narrative than my previous games. I expect that I will break off to make another small game before it’s completed. I have a strange desire to make a game that looks like Elite.
For development – Black coffee.
My thanks to Thomas Hopper for answering my questions and for his continued efforts to support PlayStation Mobile. I hope that more Indie developers will take notice of PSM and get their games and apps onto the platform as easily as T.A.C.S. Games seems to have done.