This week’s Interesting Interview comes from one of the founders of Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. They are the company behind Pro Zombie Soccer and more recently Supermagical. Honestly I can’t praise these two games enough. Just go buy them. I still replay both obsessively. The only reason we haven’t had a Nardio review on Pro Zombie Soccer yet is whenever I try and start I just end up playing all night. (I am really hoping for PZS sequel!) That’s why I told Jasmine to play and review Supermagical, I just couldn’t afford another iOS addition at the moment. Seeing her cute frustrated face when she was stuck and her super happy “I did it!” reactions totally was worth it. Even if she did tend to bogart the iPad to do it.
Please enjoy the interview below and support this awesome developer that’s was amazingly talented enough to make these games and gracious enough to do this interview. Below are the links to these awesome games on the App store
Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team Interview:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Enrique Corts and I’m one of the founders of Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. I’ve been working in the video game industry for 12 years already as an Artist or Art Director on projects like Plants VS Zombies, the Worms franchise, EyeToy Play franchise, Jewel Quest, Crush and a few more.
What inspired the name Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team?
Well, it’s a tough market out there and you have to do what you have to do to stand out! If we were starting our own game company we wanted it to sound original, cool and funny, although very few people in the world can say our name correctly in one go…haha. I think our inspiration actually came from the anime series TengenToppa Gurren Lagann. We had just watched it at the time and probably trying to describe it to someone else all those words came to mind easily.
You are coming up on four years of making games. Can you tell us how it all started? What brought all of you together?
Some of us were working together at the same company and I remember something happened and we all had to leave that company almost at the same time. At that point we were a bit frustrated about how it all went down with the latest project we were developing at that company and decided it was time to be brave and start our own little shop. Then the iPhone was made public and it all made sense.
But then some of the team members got very good job offers abroad and went for it, although we decided it was a good idea to keep working on our own games at the same time.
For several months, we were working on our first project (Pro Zombie Soccer) from different parts of the globe. My girlfriend and I were in Singapore, our Level Designer was in Vancouver, our Programmer in Mallorca and the two Audio guys were in Madrid. All of them working on PZS after their 9 to 5 everyday jobs and on weekends. The only team member who was working full time on the SAHDMT was me, so I tried my best to keep the team together and focused on finishing our first game, which we did in 9 months!
What do you look for in new team members?
Easy. To have passion about making cool games. Being an indie (and a small one at that!) sometimes means that money is scarce and the only thing that makes you keep going forward is a huge love and passion about video games.
Also, to have some initiative is very important for us, as most of the time each team member has to figure out what’s next on his schedule and how he can help the others at any given moment. We do not have a full time Producer within the team that feeds you your work every day, so yeah, initiative is nice.
What inspired you to jump into the gaming industry?
I’ve been a gamer since I can remember, starting with an old Pong game we had and later with the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore Amiga, Super Nintendo, PC…My brothers and me always had a gaming machine nearby at home. So I suppose the fact of two of my favorite hobbies coming together (drawing and video games) was just a matter of time.
I even remember being a fan of certain Programmers of some Spectrum games (when their names were on the covers) and I really admired those guys who were making amazing things with only 48k of RAM memory. I guess that also helps and gives you the objective of breaking into the games industry when you grow up.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the gaming industry?
Well, right now is very easy and cheap to do your own games, levels, mods or whatever you feel like doing, so go for it and make stuff!
Also, if you get a small team together and want to make your own game, it’s very important that you make something not too big or over ambitious. Finishing your first project without too much frustration is very important!
How do you feel about the recent popularity and subsequent proliferation of game development schools?
I would have killed to have something like that when I was studying! The only thing I have seen that worries me is that they tend to be too generalist, teaching a wide arrange of disciplines to their students, which it can be awesome if you plan to start your own indie company, but not that great if you are pursuing a very specialized job on a big company.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in game design?
Being a Concept Artist or Art Director since I started working on games I didn’t have any design background, although that didn’t stop me to come up with the basic mechanics and some ideas and concepts for all our games. I guess I’ll have to learn on the job!
What were the inspirations for Pro Zombie Soccer and Supermagical?
For PZS I was looking to have a control mechanic that really worked on touch devices. When we found that mechanic we needed an actual game then, so I guess reading all that Captain Tsubasa (an over the top soccer manga) and being a zombie and comic fan made everything come together. We just wanted to make something a bit surreal, cool and funny, very different from the millions of games out there featuring cute cross-eyed little animals.
Supermagical came up because we thought that the control mechanic on PZS worked great and we could do so much more with it. Also, we knew that there wasn’t a great bubble-matching game on the App Store and we were very ambitious wanting to add some RPG and adventure ingredients to that kind of game.
How long did it take to make Supermagical & Pro Zombie Soccer?
Pro Zombie Soccer took us 9 months working in our spare time and weekends. Supermagical was a much bigger project and took us 14 months to complete the single player mode only. We are still working on the multiplayer updates 5 months later.
What is the most challenging part of making a new game?
Being an Artist, for me is finding the right art style that fits the game and finds its public. If the art’s too cute, then the hardcore gamers won’t want to get anywhere near your game, and if you make it too gritty, then it’s the casual who won’t be paying for it.
But of course finding the right idea for your next project or even giving the go ahead to one concept is extremely difficult. We already have quite a lot of games ideas in our vault and we try to follow our gut instinct every time we start a new game, but you’ll never know if that other one would have been the next App Store success!
How does it feel to have made two great games right off the bat?
Feels awesome! Commercial success has not actually been that huge, but we are very happy about being a quality developer and we intend to keep it that way.
All our games have been Editor’s Choice on the App Store and have been chosen by Apple for their annual Best Games of the Year selection. We are very proud of that fact!
How does it feel when people you know are playing your games?
What can I say…It’s a wonderful sensation. My younger sister was completely addicted to Supermagical and spent weeks playing the game ’til completion, although she didn’t spend a dime on it. Stingy! haha.
My parents are not that into technology or games at all. My mother doesn’t even know how computers or the internet work, but that’s something I plan to change soon…haha.
Can you explain your process of making a game?
We usually make a lot of meetings during a few days explaining the game ideas each team member comes up with. We make a huge document with all those ideas, keep talking about them until that concept list gets very narrow. Then we select the one idea we feel is the correct one for us to make next and start making the prototype. We believe is very important that the game’s base mechanic feels nice and fun as early as possible. With PZS and Supermagical was just that way…the prototypes were already fun to play from day one.
So once you get all the game’s elements working well together and making sense for the potential player, it’s all about producing the game’s content and testing as much as possible during the way to be sure that what you are doing is fun.
What programs do you use to make your games?
I personally work with Photoshop every day, some After Effects occasionally and your favorite program of choice for making particles or atlas sprites if you do 2D games. In my case I use Particle Designer and Texture Packer.
Our engine of choice is Cocos2d, a great free and open source 2D engine, but we recently switched to Unity3D for our next project.
How hard is it to submit a game for approval in the iOS app store?
To submit a game for review to the App Store is not difficult at all. You just need to follow Apple’s guidelines and you’ll be fine. I guess that’s one of the reasons why there’s some much people making games for iOS and Android devices out there. If you want to make a game for consoles is a very different situation…You need to get approved first as a developer for any of the platform holders, then buy those very expensive dev kits and pay a little fortune every time you want to submit your game for approval.
How do you feel about the iOS app store? Pros/cons, challenges?
One of the hardest things within the App Store is getting noticed. Lots of articles and opinions have been written about that topic, although I think in my humble opinion the solution for that is very simple: Just make a great, quality game and Apple will feature you in some way. It has worked out for us so far!
What improvements do you think can be made to improve the app store?
Well, personally I’d love to be able to answer as a developer some of the reviews or comments users leave on your App Store page. Sometimes you feel a bit powerless when someone is leaving a 1-star review for your game and you know he’s not right for whatever reason. I know this is not a huge change, but for me it’d be quite important.
How worried are you about other developers cloning your work?
Very! That’s why we try to announce our new games a month or so in advance of the release date. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but you never know…
Can you explain your approach to in-app purchases?
Our first approach on this was with Supermagical and what we tried to achieve was to have a game perfectly enjoyable from start to finish without the need of making the users buying IAP’s. We got some criticism anyway as some people didn’t feel it could be done or felt ripped off by our system for some reason or another, but we put a lot of effort in this and made sure it could be achieved perfectly. I mean, as I told you before my younger sister finished the game without spending a single Dollar and she’s not even a gamer.
Of course there’s the issue of what users call “grinding” to get money, but we also had this under control and made sure you didn’t play the same level twice, as the enemies’ colors change every time.
It’s a difficult problem to solve, this one. It’s almost impossible to make everyone happy and we have to deal with it, although believe me when I say we try as hard as we can.
What apps do you enjoy playing?
My favorite iOS game ever is Tilt To Live. Man, I have played that one A LOT! Also, I’m recently enjoying Super Hexagon in short bursts.
What else does the staff play/ do for fun when not making a game?
Julio, one of our two Programmers loves traditional RPG’s, tabletop and card games. Mar, the other team’s Artist is always writing and illustrating fantasy novels when she’s not playing Minecraft. I try to get her to send her stuff to some publishers and see what happens, but she always says she’s still not ready…haha. She also plays pretty much anything Kairosoft does on mobile and practices kung-fu four times a week.
In my case I’m really into Padel, a really fun sport invented in Argentina that everybody plays here in Spain. It involves a kind of small version of a tennis court with walls where the ball can rebound. It’s always played 2 VS 2.
What App companies do you look to as an example?
Although not entirely on the App market only, I love what Capybara Games or Klei Entertainment do. They make incredibly polished and fun 2D games and that’s what we aim for every time we start a new project. On iOS market I’m a big fan of L33T Design, the makers of the two Dark Nebula games and of course Chair. Their Infinity Blade games are awesome.
How do you see the world of App development evolving?
Well, it seems it is all drifting towards free to play on mobile devices at the moment, plus multiplayer gameplay (asynchronous or not) is quite big right now and it’ll be bigger with faster internet connections and bigger data download limits.
At what point did you feel a game is ready to be put up on the app store?
We are quite obsessive with this matter, actually. We do not submit our games until every little detail and every known bug is finished and solved. Of course once you release your game there is always something you didn’t consider or a nasty bug you couldn’t test for whatever reason, but we always try to release something totally finished on our side.
What is your dream type of game to make someday?
I’m more of a hardcore traditional PC/console gamer myself, so I’d love to make something cool on those platforms someday. That doesn’t mean we’d leave the mobile market at all, but it’s something I’d like to try.
In fact, we already have a project in the fridge for consoles/PC we want to develop starting mid 2013, but we need to get funds first in order to afford all that work.
What is your favorite snack when making a game?
I’m pretty addicted to some cereal bars with nuts we buy at the supermarket. Also, anything with chocolate gets devoured pretty fast around here. For drink, ice lemon tea or sweet cold green tea keeps you awake when working late hours.
Can you tell us a little more about what else we can be expecting from you?
We are working right now on a smaller game for mobile devices that I think is looking pretty cool so far. It should not take more than 4-5 months to finish and it’s the first thing we do with Unity engine. As usual, it’ll be incredibly polished and fun to play!
After that, hopefully we’ll be able to start on that bigger project I told you about for PC/consoles, but it’s a bit too soon for us to be sure of what we’ll do in 5 months time.
Also, Supermagical is getting a huge update in January 2013 with a new Co-op Multiplayer Mode, Facebook integration, colorblind mode, new items…etc, with a planned Versus Multiplayer Mode also in the works. So yeah, 2013 looks like it’s going to be a pretty busy year for us!
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity of this interview and I hope you guys enjoy our games. We put a lot of love and passion into them and I think it shows!
If you have any questions or comments leave Them below. Check out the rest of our interesting Interviews here!