Bane Games, a new independent games developer heralding from Brisbane and consisting of devs who used to be in the commercial games industry, have just launched their first game for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Their game is called Flick Buddies, and we had a special opportunity to talk to Alistair Doulin, one of the main programmers from Bane Games, about their move to indiehood, their team, and their newly released title.
To start off with, can you tell us a bit about yourself and a little about your history in games development?
(Alistair Doulin) I started developing games at school while bored in my IT classes. I’d create small multiplayer games, share them with school friends then watch them play against each other.
After completing my degree, I was offered a high paid job as a business applications programmer and being fresh out of uni with no money, I took it. I soon became bored and was drawn back to my passion as a game programmer. I’ve worked for a number of Brisbane based game studios, none of which still exist today.
Can you tell us about Bane games? When did you start that up, and what was the main motivation to go independent and towards the self publishing route for yourself?
(Alistair D.) I decided at the start of 2010 that it was time for me to 'go indie'. I met with a couple of friends I had worked with in the mainstream industry and suggested that we form our own company. We set ourselves the goal of making fun games with small development cycles.
We decided to go independent and self publish for two main reasons: The first was due to some negative experiences with large publishers. Three of us had contributed to a game whose production was hampered by publisher restrictions. We saw years of hard work turned into a disappointing title leaving us with little recourse during the whole process.
The second reason was the realization that the market had changed significantly enough that self publishing became viable. With the advent of Steam, Apple App Store and other digital distribution channels we saw a great opportunity to sell directly to consumers; cutting out the middle man both in terms of design direction and profit sharing.
Congratulations on the release of Flick Buddies, it looks like a whole lot of fun! Can you a run through on the type of game Flick Buddies is? What kind of features does Flick Buddies have, and why we should all go out and buy it now?
(Alistair D.) Thanks, we’re really proud of Flick Buddies and it’s just the first of many fun games we’ll be producing. Flick Buddies is a frantic multiplayer action game that can quickly be picked up and played while having enough depth to take a little longer to master. Players will be up and into some quick flicking fun within seconds, but to be a real flick-master, you will need to become familiar with the games special abilities feature.
You should definitely buy the game if you're after some, casual fun; especially with a group of friends. Car trips, train rides and flights will dissolve into a blur with Flick Buddies sitting between you and some friends (or complete strangers). We also have some great AI to play against for those lonely times.
The other good reason to buy Flick Buddies is that it will provide us with the resources to develop even more games. Our hope is to start making games full-time, releasing a fantastic new game every couple of months while always updating and adding new content to the old titles.
What was the inspiration for Flick Buddies?
(Alistair D.) Flick Buddies came out of a simple problem that other developers had overlooked. I had both an iPhone and iPad and no good multiplayer games I could play locally with friends and family. I also wanted an accessible game with a lower barrier of entry for any age group. The flicking mechanic just made sense to me and seemed perfect for multi-touch devices.
The characters and environments were the inspired work of our artist who has a unique style which we let him run with; ultimately producing some amazing results.
How big is the team that worked on Flick Buddies, how did you find or know of the talent to work on this project?
(Alistair D.) We have four core team members who helped produce the game. I worked on programming and design, Simon on level design, Shauno on art and Mick on audio. We had all worked together previously in the mainstream games industry.
How long did it take to develop the game? Did you face any design or technical challenges during its development?
(Alistair D.) The game took a little over three months to complete but we were all working part-time at our ‘day’ jobs at the same time.
The main design/technical challenges we faced were making the game simple, enjoyable and vibrant while keeping it above 30 frames per second on all types of iOS devices. None of us had worked on iOS devices before which meant there was a steep learning curve.
We spent a lot of time fine tuning the ‘flick’ mechanic to make sure it felt responsive and gave the illusion you were really flicking those little guys around. This was made a lot easier by the superb graphics and audio.
What further plans do you have for Flick Buddies in regards to extra content and/or features?
(Alistair D.) We are planning regular updates for Flick Buddies throughout 2011. We will have new level and character themes with each update. We will be relying heavily on the community to suggest the direction we take with new game modes and features and have already accumulated a lot of great ideas.
For our first update we plan to add Open Feint and Game Center support as well as at least one new game mode. We will also add a couple of new 'families' and some new levels featuring mysterious new obstacles.
You've developed Flick Buddies with the Unity game engine. What are the main reasons for choosing that over other engines or writing your own, and how did you find it during development?
(Alistair D.) The ‘Unity’ engine greatly sped up the production of the game and really counts as the fifth member of the team. It allowed us to rapidly prototype the game and did a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to engine development. I’ve written enough of my own game engines to know that it doesn’t make business sense for a small team to develop their own in-house engine without a very good reason.
We found Unity a pleasure to work with. It had all the tools I would have usually spent weeks writing, such as animation and level editors. Without Unity I would have wasted a lot of time learning iOS development. For instance, I only recently purchased my first Mac - you know the mouse on those things only has one button?!
Any plans on bringing Flick Buddies to other platforms?
(Alistair D.) Thanks to Unity, we can easily make a PC, Mac, Web and Android version of the game with the click of a button. We do plan on releasing the game in 2011 on most of these platforms.
If all goes well we’ll also do an Xbox 360/PS3 version with a 40 million dollar budget and team of 100 (j/k).
What's next for Bane Games?
(Alistair D.) We’re currently working on the first update for Flick Buddies which we plan to release in February 2011. I’ve also started prototyping the next few games in the Flick Buddies franchise.
We also have a larger, more complex game we’ve been working on throughout the year and we’ll look at releasing that also during 2011.
Thanks for chatting to us, Alistair, and all the best with Flick Buddies! Flick Buddies is available now and you can grab it at the following links below!
Flick Buddies for iPhone and iPad :
For more information, visit the Flick Buddies website here!