We first had the pleasure of hooking up with Phil Gaskell, Creative Director & Co-Founder of Ripstone Publishing a year ago. Back then, they were just about to release Men’s Room Mayhem on PS Vita. Fast forward a year and Ripstone have transformed into a strong, cross platform indie company with their last release Stick it to The Man recently hitting the PlayStation 4 to critical acclaim. We thought now would be the perfect time to revisit and get more updates from this rather special UK based team. We spoke to Michelle Senior, PR & Marketing Manager at Ripstone who kindly took time out and gave us everything we needed to know about working in PR, last year and what more we can expect from Ripstone.
It’s been a year since we last caught up with Ripstone, at the time you were just about to release the manic and crazy Men’s Room Mayhem on PS Vita. I suspect that manic and crazy sort of sum up the last year for you guys?
Yes – but what is life without a bit of craziness?! It certainly has been a busy year for us, since the release of Men’s Room Mayhem on PS Vita & mobile we’ve launched Knytt Underground on Wii U; Pure Chess on mobile, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS & PlayStation 4; Stick It To The Man on PS3, PS Vita, PC, Mac & PS4 and now we’re working towards the launches of Pure Pool, Table Top Racing & Flyhunter Origins which are all due for release before the end of summer!
Being a PR & Marketing Manager for such a thriving indie company must be exciting. What would a normal day comprise of for you?
I wouldn’t consider any day ‘normal’ at Ripstone, but it is always definitely exciting! It usually starts with chasing the dog (Alfie, our Head of Bones) around the office for the first 10 minutes of the day as he gets rid of some of his energy after being stuck in a car for 40 minutes with me. Then I’ll catch up with Ripstone’s other PR & Marketing Manager Ami Langton on what we’re focusing on for the day; this can then mean we’re doing anything from brainstorming ideas for interesting ways to market our games, sending out review codes to journalists, checking out new game ideas that have been presented to us or getting ready for events such as E3, like we are at the moment. I love what I do, being in this industry and working at Ripstone, I am thankful for everything we’ve achieved – as cheesy as that sounds!
In North America (as well as in the EU) Stick It to The Man is currently part of PS Plus for PlayStation 4. How did you pull this off and how much did this introduce Ripstone to a wider audience?
Sony have been really supportive of us, but in turn we’re supportive of them too – every one of our games is available on their platforms. Stick It To The Man has gotten an amazing amount of downloads on PS4, even just in the first couple of weeks; more than we were expecting. It opened the game up to a whole new audience that were really receptive of the game. Both us and the dev team at Zoink have been getting so much love from the fans, which is the icing on the cake. Zoink’s Game Director, Klaus Lyngeled has fulfilled his dream of making this crazy game that has been rattling around his brain for so long; and now it’s great to hear that everyone else loves it as much as we all do!
Every one of your releases seems to capture an experience that fits Ripstone so well. How do you end up working with incredible developers like Zoink Games, VooFoo Studios and Playrise Digital?
We are so lucky to work with such incredibly talented people; it’s one the reasons I love this industry so much. We are quite fussy about the games we work on, which I think is why the games we publish do fit our company personality.
We are different from other publishers – our company mission statement is a picture of a monkey wearing a dog suit, along with a sunflower wearing 3D glasses, and loads of other seemingly crazy stuff; but it all makes sense to us & each element within that picture means something. I think the fact that we have a personality as a company, and as individual people, draws such creative & talented developers to us – we treat people how we’d like to be treated. We’ve all come from either big corporate companies, or from the development side of things & so know what works & what doesn’t. Everyone at Ripstone is passionate about the games & developers we work with; we’re a small team & the teams we work with are small so we know every person, personally.
This approach is clearly working for us as we’ve not worked with a development team yet that we wouldn’t want to work with again!
Being a huge racing gamer and pool player I’m salivating at your next two releases (it’s like you read my mind). Can you tell us what to expect in these upcoming releases and on what platforms they will arrive on?
Stick It To The Man really helped us focus our mind reading skills!
I’m glad you’re looking forward to Table Top Racing & Pure Pool, they’re both brilliant looking games but totally different from each other. Table Top Racing is coming to PS Vita this summer, if you liked Micro Machines you’ll love this game! It looks awesome on the Vita, and the dual stick controls make it really easy to navigate around the oversized tracks – even for someone that’s as bad at racing games as I am! We don’t have a fixed release date for this yet, the team at Playrise Digital are ironing out some bugs with the 4-player multiplayer, it’s a really cool feature & we all want to make sure it works perfectly so you can play online or locally against your friends.
Pure Pool is being developed by VooFoo, of Hustle Kings & Pure Chess fame – so you already know it’s going to look amazing without me having to tell you. It’s going to be out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this summer. I’m excited about some of the cool features in this game which really make it stand out from other pool games, from potting the winning ball and savouring the victory in super slow motion; to the game building a DNA-profile of your playing style so your friends can play against your DNA even when you’re not online, and you can play against theirs too – VooFoo are even going to include their DNA profiles so you can try & beat the developer! There’s loads of other cool features which I’ll let you discover yourselves over time, I don’t want to give away all the surprises.
What genre of game do you think Ripstone are likely to get involved in next?
Our catalogue is so eclectic already and we’ve got some interesting concepts on the horizon. We’re currently investigating Virtual Reality (VR) and have a really strong idea for an amazing game experience – we think so anyway! We’re working on a rogue-like game with an extremely talented game designer responsible for some very big games in the past. We’re also excited about what we might encounter when we’re visiting Nordic Game, E3, Develop, and Gamescom this year. There’s so much creativity around right now.
If there’s one game out there that you wish you had been involved with what would it be, and what twist would you add to make it a Ripstone game?
Our Creative Director, Phil Gaskell, was super keen on a game that recently smashed its Kickstarter goal, called Heart Forth, Alicia. I think for him, it’s always going to be the one that got away.
We don’t add any Ripstone twists though, it’s totally the developers dream & their game. You wouldn’t want someone coming along & telling you that your baby is ugly, and you should do this, that & the other to make it better! We’re about empowering the developers to create the games they want to create, without much external influence from us.
Liverpool seems to produce so much talent in gaming. Any idea why this is? Is the water different up there?
The water is different here – but not to my tasting, I’m from Yorkshire & the water tastes much nicer there! But clearly Liverpool does foster a lot of gaming talent, we’ve got some great teams here such as Playrise Digital, Lucid and Starship to name but a few. I guess if you consider the calibre of Liverpool-based development teams that have existed over the years – Sony Liverpool, Bizarre Creations – it’s no wonder Liverpool still has such an impressive pool of talent, no pun intended!
Lastly, and definitely most importantly…what’s your favourite gaming snack?
Popcorn – a bag with both sweet & salted in it too, the best of both worlds!
Punk and Lizard would like to say a huge thank you to Michelle Senior for her time. It’s a real privilege when such a talented company takes time out and speaks to a site like ours.
For more info on Ripstone head over here and tell ’em Punk and Lizard sent you!