Total Recoil rockets its way to PSN this week. We catch up with David Pollard, Lead Programmer at Eiconic Games to find out more about this explosive shoot ‘em up:
How did it feel playing your own game on the PS Vita for the first time?
It was amazing! Even before we got everything else working, as soon as we
had a build where we could control the player with the dual analog sticks
(and say goodbye to the virtual sticks!), we could instantly tell the game
had found its rightful home on the Vita. And I don’t know what it is about
the screen on the Vita, but the colours looks so much more vibrant and crisp
compared to any other device I’ve played it on.
The action heats up pretty quickly in Total Recoil, are level designs
changed constantly to make levels feel right for the player?
We did quite a lot of iteration on the level designs, especially in the
first couple of groups of levels, to try and ease the player in and give
them a chance to learn the controls before bringing out the big guns. On the
other hand we also wanted to throw as many cool explosive things at the
player early on, so the difficulty curve definitely ramps up before too
Have there been any changes or tweaks you made to the game since it was
released on iOS?
We actually made quite a lot of changes to the iOS version since we first
released it, so much so that the first build we put out is almost
unrecognisable compared to the new Vita version. So the Vita release
represents a culmination of all our efforts to improve and tweak the game
until we were really happy with it. The main changes made specifically for
Vita have been to the controls and we spent a lot of time tweaking to get
them just right. We put the Vita’s rear touch pad to good use with the
ability to control the guided missile, which I think works really well (once
you get the hang of it!).
How long is the process from bringing a game like this from the App Store
to the PlayStation Network? What difficulties did you encounter?
It took us roughly 4 months from the day we got Vita devkits to passing
certification, and the process was mostly smooth for us, but we do have a
background of working with consoles so had a good idea of what to expect.
For instance, we know from experience that getting the game through the
submission process can take a month, or longer, as the game has to pass all
the technical requirements and follow all the correct naming conventions,
etc. No matter how careful you are there’s almost always something you
misinterpret (or just miss completely), which means you have to resubmit.
Not that I’m complaining though, I think it’s good to have a certain level
of standard that games have to follow – it’s good for the player in the end.
Also, there’s great support available from sony to help devs through the
process, so it’s not like you’re on your own.
Regarding the pricing of Total Recoil, how is this decided? Do Sony have a
hand in this also?
The price was agreed with Sony when we first had discussions about bringing
the title to Vita, and we want to give it a price that made it almost a
no-brainer purchase. We think it’s a bargain really!
When your game gets released do you read the reviews?
I have to confess I do try and read all the reviews our games get, even the
bad ones! I like to think I take on board any criticism, and try not to
take negative reviews personally. Either way, the release of a new game is
always the most stressful time, seeing how those months of work have been
recieved. I’ve actually got a holiday booked next week so I think this time
I’m going to try going completely off the grid and not spend the whole time
hitting refresh on google… I’m just kidding myself really.
Do you mix and have contact with other games developers? Does a
friendly rivalry exist?
I’ve made some good friends over the years in the industry, and yes I
definitely have a good friendly rivalry with some of them. But most of my
good game developer friends are from when I worked with them years back, and
I always think I’d like to spend more time going to more events and things
to meet more fellow indie developers – just too busy making games
Can you tell us the next game that might be hitting the Vita from Eiconic?
I can only tell you that we’ve just started working on a new game which will
be targeting Vita as the lead platform, I’ll be able to tell you more
details soon I hope!
What PS Vita games are you playing at the moment?
I’m playing Limbo at the moment, which looks great on the Vita, and Velocity
Ultra is ace too!
A real big thanks to David for taking the time to answer our questions. Head over to the Total Recoil Facebook and tell ‘em Punk and Lizard sent you.