Developer Stories: Airplay Adventures
Mid-cycle. That’s where we’re at. Hardware prices are affordable, mass-market adoption is at full tilt, there’s a clear winner in the console wars and the games market is booming but not yet saturated. Times are good.
Spot anything wrong there?
The truth is that things are more than a little different this time around and, for indies like us, times are tough – but also so much more interesting. New platforms and new channels of distribution are emerging faster than ever and have opened up so many new opportunities it’s quite bewildering. Here we'd like to share with the world some of our experiences of the last year.
At AirPlay we count ourselves lucky to have survived through the ‘challenge’ that was mobile and privileged to have been trusted to work on some of our favourite game properties like Sonic the Hedgehog and LocoRoco (hurrah!). But more importantly than all of that we’re proud to have been able to add our own little game into the mobile mix called Super Yum Yum. It’s a pretty unique puzzler about a ravenous chameleon fella called Leon on his mission to munch massive amounts of fruit.
Working in mobile we always believed our console backgrounds stood us in good stead to make great games on the small screen too. Then, about 18 months ago the urge to take Super Yum Yum out to a wider audience became overwhelming. We took the plunge, stopped trying to juggle work for hire, and decided to focus 100% on our own games and pushing them out beyond the mobile RIM.
In the move to new platforms we made the conscious decision to stick to the Yum Yum formula tightly. Although desperate to add new mechanics for our own entertainment we wanted to retain the simplicity for a first generation of new players (while desperately hoping existing fans wouldn’t be too disappointed).
The first part of our plan involved a new version of the game, Super Yum Yum 3, still for mobile yes, but also to develop and launch a version for the iPhone. Then with that proven we would try to get it onto other platforms. It launched in April 2009 and sold well enough. Nothing special but thanks to a nice push from Apple and some lovely reviews from the likes of Destructoid and the Guardian, the game started to find more traction elsewhere.
First came Mastertronic who saw the potential in a Nintendo DSi version. Due to an incredibly tight schedule we decided to team up with an experienced DS developer we know called Impressionware. They worked super hard to get the game finished and the result is a slick port with fantastic stylus control.
With the DSi version being Leon's first console outing we decided to drop the ‘3’ and go for something a bit more descriptive. “Super Yum Yum: Puzzle Adventures” was born and is COMING SOON to a DSi near you! Ooh, maybe even one of those new XL ones with the really massive pixels.
Not to be content with one new platform we had also been chasing other leads. It was back in late 2009 when we were first introduced to Blitz Games Studios and at that time their Blitz 1UP venture was in its early stages. Initially there wasn't an obvious match in how we could work together, but one of the great things about the initiative is the openness. We kept communications going, exchanging regular emails and meeting up at events. Then in Summer last year we hit on the idea of another development partnership, this time with Regolith. Naturally the game would also be tested and distributed by Blitz 1UP via some great channels. Final platforms are still to be confirmed at this point; we were hoping for PC but with thanks to Blitz it may go further still.
We couldn't be more pleased to be a part of Blitz 1UP. It could only have been conceived and executed by a big independent developer like Blitz. They've been there, they've done that and I'm sure they have far too many oversized developer T-shirts. At times like these it's reassuring to know that great games expertise is just a phone call/email/IM away. And they pick up even when they're in the pub!
Ian and James, Airplay
PS – A special thanks to everyone who worked on Super Yum Yum and supported us over the years. You know who you are: Chris B, Hong, Anna, Can, Steve, Alex, Dugan, Dan, Rick, Scott, Katie, Marco, Matt, Sydney, Kees, Chris S, Pramesh, Rik, Kapil, Jidh, Darren, Clive, Ton, Trinigy and many, many more.
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