Dev Inside Look: Altair VIJanuary 7, 2011 No Comments
Microsoft made it very clear before launch that the most important thing going into the Windows Phone 7 launch was Developers… Developers… Developers!!!
Well I totally buy into that mentality and I believe that in order for WP7 to consume more marketshare it needs creative and intelligent applications/ games. Today we take a closer look into developing for WP7 with our guest Mr. Matteo Prosperi who is the game architect for upcoming game Altair VI.
1. Is this your first app for Windows Phone 7?
Yes it is. We use C# and WPF in our daily work, but this is our first project for WP7.
2. What encouraged you to create for WP7?
One of the reasons was, obviously, that the platform was going to be familiar coming from WPF and, knowing the WPF/Silverlight paradigm, we knew that it would allow us to build a visually appealing game with the few resources we have available being an independent, self-financed, development team. It’s great working with Silverlight for WP7, it has really helped us to spend less time with the code, leaving more time to create contents for the game.
The other main reason for choosing WP7, instead of another platform, was that, being a new environment, we can have more visibility. Obtaining visibility for our product is a big concern for us since we cannot afford a marketing campaign… in fact we do everything ourselves: the web site, the downloadable promotional material and obviously all the contents of the game, including arts and music.
3. Where did the idea for the game originate?
The idea comes from our love for science fiction, videogames and tabletop games. We took inspiration from many different sources. Given the form factor of the phone, the representation of items, monsters and events, comes, obviously, from collectible card games: we have the art, the characteristics and the flavor text.
The mechanics of the game are somewhat similar to the adventure tabletop games like HeroQuest or Arkham Horror, but we also tried to reach for the level of detail in the background story that is typical of pen and paper RPG… so if someone cares to read all the flavor texts and the missions details, we put much effort trying to give depth to the thing. We tried to stay clear of the PC videogame heritage, since we believe that radically different platforms call for different approaches.
4. What kind of classic sci-fi references can we expect? Any examples?
Even though any knowledge of the science fiction classics is unnecessary to enjoy the gameplay, we think that digging for references and quotations could be a sort of parallel game for the sci-fi lover.
Since we are trying, with this first installment of the Altair VI saga, to convey that sense of wonder typical of vintage science fiction, many references are from classics as Starship Troopers, Forbidden Planet or Star Trek TOS. Apart from the oldies, we took from the Alien series, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica and many others… even Neon Genesis Evangelion.
5. What kind of gamer are you attempting to gear Altair VI towards?
We are trying to build something enjoyable on different levels. At the bottom we have this turn-based action RPG that is some sort of almost mindless gaming with pretty pictures and funny jokes. Then there is the reference digging I have just mentioned. And then, for the most attentive gamer, we have the rich and original sci-fi environment with more than a hint of social satire.
6. What is the gameplay like?
Thinking about the peculiarity of the phone platform and of Silverlight, we saw the possibility to develop something departing from PC videogames, more suitable for the needs of the mobile user. First of all, this is a turn-based game so, even being about action and adventure, it is ideal for casual gaming: to be played on the bus or during a quick break.
We leveraged on the multi-touch capabilities of the phones to bring in an easy to zoom and navigate map as a real, full-sized, game board. Thanks to the power of WP7 devices we were able to put lots of details in the map itself for the player to explore.
Obviously we also have combats, that are resolved by virtual dice tossing and invite to a strategic use of inventory and abilities. The player can choose from four different characters that hint towards different play-styles. At the end of every mission the player is rewarded with a point that can be used to customize the character with new abilities.
7. How long did development take?
We started the development in September. Apart from the code, much time has been dedicated to create and describe the setting of the game. A very talented artist, Alice Bertola, is producing the pictures for the game, so that every image is original and explicitly created for Altair VI. The last member of the team, Poldo from poldursgate.com, is a composer and created an entertaining original soundtrack that is the background for the game and can also be freely downloaded from altairvi.com.
8. Which WP7 device do you own?
We are currently testing on two phones: LG Optimus 7 and Samsung Omnia 7.
9. When will the game be available? Price?
We are working hard so that Altair VI can be available from mid-January. We haven’t decided the final price yet, but we will launch the application with a promotional price of 1.99 for the first few weeks.
We will get deeper into the actual game next week. You can follow Altair VI on twitter