PlayStation Mobile Developer Interview: Quiet, Please!
Quiet, Please! debuted on the PSM store on March 27th and we had the chance to ask the developer Mike Oliphant a few questions about the game, his experience with PlayStation Mobile development, and what we can look forward to seeing from him next.
Q: Could you tell us a little about Nostatic Software and how you got into development?
Nostatic Software is a one-man operation. I do all aspects of a game – programming, design, art, sound, music. I’ve been messing about with computers ever since the early 80s – both as a programmer and a gamer. It wasn’t until a few years ago, however, that I started making games commercially. My first release was in 2010, on Xbox Indie Games. Last year I expanded into mobile game development and now I am starting to bring my games to PlayStation Mobile.
Q: Your first PSM title Quiet, Please! was just recently released. Could you tell us about the game and what influenced you to create it?
The first version of the game was written for Ludum Dare – a 48-hour game development competition. I always liked the old-school point-and-click adventure games such as the ones made by Lucas Arts and wanted to make something in that style. I was really happy with the result, so I expanded it into a commercial release – the latest version of which is now on PSM.
Q: How has Quiet, Please! been received on PSM? How does it compare to other platforms?
So far it has gotten a really nice response. The Vita user base is small compared to say the Xbox, but it is a community that is passionate about games. They also tend to be more serious gamers – as opposed to the more casual, freemium-addicted hordes in the mobile phone market. I think it is a good fit for the kind of games I make.
Q: How has it been working with the PSM SDK? What was the process like porting an already completed game to PSM?
I have a love-hate relationship with the SDK and the developer side of PSM in general. First off, it it fantastic that it even exists at all. There aren’t many completely open platforms for console development (Xbox Indie Games is the only other one). I also love that it is based on the C# programming language. C# is the platform I use for my games, so that made the basics of porting my games quite straightforward.
On the negative side, the SDK is still relatively immature. It has bugs, limitations and most of all quite poor performance on the Vita (it is actually faster on other, much less powerful PSM devices). For lots of reasons that I won’t go into details about, actually getting a game out in the store is a frustrating and time-consuming process. Hopefully as time goes on things will improve. After all, it is still a system in development (as opposed to Microsoft’s XNA platform which is officially no longer actively maintained).
Q: Are there any improvements you would like to see made to the SDK?
Definitely. Lots of little things, and one big thing. The big issue is performance on Vita. They released a new version of the SDK last month which was a positive step forward, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Fortunately for me, my games are relatively modest in their performance needs and I’ve been able to get them running nicely on the Vita.
Q: With the strong push Sony is making for indie developers have you been considering developing a game for the PlayStation 3, Vita (beyond PSM), or the PlayStation 4?
I would love to develop for PS3 and PS4. Unfortunately, the indie push by Sony that has been getting a lot of press lately is mostly targeted at larger, more established developers. This is in contrast to PSM, which is truly an open system for any developer that wishes to publish for it. I am hoping that Sony does something similar for PS4.
Q: You mentioned on your blog that you were planning on bringing Ascent of Kings and Kung Fu FIGHT! to the platform and possibly Tunescape and Block Zombies. Can you tell us a little bit about these game and can we still look forward to seeing them on PSM?
I am currently in the process of submitting “Kung Fu FIGHT!” to the store, so hopefully it will come out in a few weeks. Aside from sharing a similar art style, it is nothing at all like “Quiet, Please!”. It is a fast-paced run/jump/beat-em up. Mercilessly difficult and unforgiving. But fair – when you die (and you will – a lot) it is because you made a mistake.
“Ascent of Kings” is mostly ported as well. It is an adventure-platformer with metroid-style ability upgrades. I have a little more work to do on it, but I hope to submit it to the store some time this month.
“Tunescape” was my first game. It is an ambient, music-driven experience. I haven’t yet brought it out on any hand-held devices, but I’m definitely considering it for PSM.
“Block Zombies” for PSM is less likely, but might be possible if the performance of the SDK improves. It is much more graphically demanding (it used all of the horsepower of the Xbox 360).
Q: Beyond these titles what might we see next from Nostatic Software?
I’m currently prototyping a potential new game idea with an explore/fight/loot/craft theme. I’m thinking something with gameplay akin to Monster Hunter, but with a Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past visual style. We’ll see 🙂
Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Just that I’m in this PlayStation Mobile thing for the long haul. I love the Vita. I think it is a fantastic device, and I love seeing my games on it.
I would like to thank Mike for taking the time to answer these questions. Quiet, Please! is available on the PSM store for the low price of $0.99/£0.79/¥100. You can follow Mike on twitter at @NostaticSoft and keep track of his development work on his blog.