This week’s Interesting interview comes from two members of Mooff Games. They are the witty geniuses behind Maximus. Hands down my fave beat’em up on the iOS. I have been playing and replaying this so much, it’s kind of insane. Out of a sort of hero worshiping hope I sent them an interview request and they very graciously they accepted.
Nardio Interesting interview with:
What inspired you to jump into the gaming industry?
Simon: Well the break was lucky, one of my close friends needed help at a company to design some mini games and I wasn’t working at the time so he called me to ask if I was interested. I’m very thankful for that opportunity, I’ve always been a game geek so it was destiny…
Kwok: I learned to make games by playing on my cousins computer when I was 13. I almost got my first game published when I was 18 until I called to withdraw it. My first break into the game industry was applying for a game artist job and getting taken on as a game programmer instead which was a stroke of luck.
What inspired your company name?
Mooff was a reform of a previous company called Sooff.com, there isn’t much meaning behind the word but its short and easy to remember. But I think our slogan (Games by Gamers) is more meaningful and explains our philosophy, we’re gamers of the 80’s, which produced the first wave of great games. Our games are based on what we experienced as a gamers.
Can you tell us about how Mooff Games got started?
The company is essentially a small group of people who know each other from previous companies. We earned our first money from making games for clients, and then started testing our own mini games on the App Store with our first real break coming from a 3 week puzzle game called Bearadise.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the gaming industry?
Simon: You should know what you’re good at and work from there (I mean ability wise). I’d advise against doing things completely solo in this industry. Find a partner that guarantees you have someone to bounce ideas off, criticize/inspire and you know.. just joke around with.
Kwok: Programming and graphics are very useful and be inspired to only make games that you love to play.
What can you tell us about the gaming industry in Hong Kong?
It’s very small and we need to prove ourselves by making something that stands out… which leads on to the next question
Your twitter headline is interesting ” A small game studio that wants to make a difference in the very wrong part of the world.” What do you mean by that?
I think the person that wrote that meant that Hong Kong is an obscure place for a game company, it is seen as a childish career with low prospects of making money here. Hong Kong games have a poor reputation especially in the eyes of the locals and we can’t blame them… we have to raise our standard to prove ourselves.
What inspired you while making Maximus?
We wanted to make a brawler like Double Dragon but decided that a medieval world was more diverse, we took from Golden Axe, Turtles, Tower of Doom and Castle Crashers.
Can you tell us a bit about Maximus and its creation? The thought process behind it, funny stories, etc.?
Simon: We just finished our side-scroller shooter game ‘Toon Shooters’ which is just one genre we have a soft spot for and were loosely brainstorming which genre we’d try next. So we started doodling and drafting on a more futuristic looking brawler game set in present time and one day we said, “Meh lets try medieval, we’re more familiar with that and probably has more reach”.
Kwok: We joke about modern games and popular culture and had fun adding random things. In the first cut scene they are chubby cartoons and suddenly cuts to Alyssa in typical Japanese anime style – the head of a 13 year old but the body of a super developed lady. We also talk about the bad guys real lives behind the scenes, why do they do it? Just a job? They spring out from a tree and ambush you, how long were they sitting up there? What were they talking about? And what do they do when they get off work…
What’s up with that amazing and hilarious art style?
Simon: I think it’s a combination of growing up abusing the access to British, American & Japanese cartoons and games as well as our need to find a method of art that suits our team size (all 2 of us) and since we aren’t great artists we try to make the best of what we got and… I guess it sorta works?!
Kwok: We did market research to find what girls are into these days, and its middle aged fat men with moustaches and striped trousers, bikini girls holding swords, bears and owls. Also the art style comes from the fact that neither of us are good artists, we agreed on a style that was clean and simple and brings out the gameplay.
What are some of the most challenging parts of making Maximus?
Acceptable controls, since the D-Pad was out of the question (they suck). Also trying to make each stage different in its own way. That means making each level memorable through different monsters, bosses, the atmosphere and music. The worst scenario is having a bunch of same looking levels with the same enemies, we tried hard to avoid that since brawlers are synonymous with boring repetitive stages.
How does it feel when you start looking up reviews on your games?
Simon: It’s quite humbling to have someone spend time to write about something that we’ve done, I read deeply into everything people write, the good and the bad, to help us move forward on the next update or next game.
Kwok: That’s exciting to find out how the game is received and you learn from those reviews. I tell Simon that we are very bad at getting exposure for the games and for our name, it’s something that we should try more of.
How do you feel about the digital distribution stores such as Steam and iOS App Store?
They gave us a distribution channel and this was something we found very difficult to do by ourselves. It’s still tough to get noticed in those stores but it’s a fair enough chance. If the games are not good enough we would learn our lesson quickly and come back with something better.
What improvements do you think can be made to improve the iOS app store?
I would love to be able to REPLY to people who leave reviews for us, many times they ask questions or leave feedback which needs an answer but I’m just left helplessly looking at the comment begging them to msg us on Facebook or e-mail.
How do you feel about in-app purchases & Freemium gaming?
Simon: With regards to our games, I feel like we try to make a paid-quality game that happens to be free and if people are happy to pay with in-apps, then they will. It’s a touchy subject because so many games out there just flat out ask for money or you can’t succeed. We aren’t like that, but we understand why people are skeptical about so called ‘freemium’ games. One of the alternatives is to make a paid game but, quite frankly, they don’t compare to free games for money and exposure.
Kwok: I always believed in this kind of approach, whatever lets more people try out our games, because we are confident that if they give us 5 minutes, we will give them a good experience. If we charged one dollar, nobody would give us a chance.
How worried are you about other developers cloning your work?
Simon: If other people are cloning our games then mission accomplished for us, we must have done something right. Lazy and bad companies clone games, great companies make games to be cloned.
Kwok: Cloning is safe for design but risky for marketing, I don’t remember too many great clones. We are more focused on making new ideas. I think that if you worry about things like that, it’s more of a negative mentality.
Any thoughts on the evolution of tablet/ phone gaming and its effects on the larger game industry?
They take most of the casual game market away from game consoles and flash games. Its great for small indie companies to have a chance, but also pollutes the market with lots of rubbish.
What was the first game you can remember playing that just wowed you? Have any games recently blown your mind?
Simon: Let’s see… going back in time, I started my game days heavily influenced by PC games of all things. I remember being blown away by Dune I and II… Broadly speaking, anything done by Blizzard, Bullfrog, Sierra or Lucasarts back then blew me away because technology taking huge leaps every 6-8 months.
Kwok: Double Dragon arcade, R-Type, Area 88 SNES, Street Fighter 2. Recently would have to be Candy Crush.
What types of games do you normally like to play?
Simon: I have a soft spot for dungeon crawlers. I was a huge WoW player up until the end of Wrath of the Lich King. I’m still going through Bioshock Infinite and always hop on Minecraft to do random stuff. I don’t a favorite genre in particular, I think I just appreciate a great game when I see one.
Kwok: PVP or Co-Op action games, chess, Tetris (not on iPhone).
What do you do for fun and or to de-stress?
Simon: I enjoy cooking and playing PC games. I’ve got an exercise bike hooked up with an Xbox 360 controller that I use to play and workout, that’s a great way to relax.
Kwok: Going to supermarket, cooking, reading, playing chess and having dinner/lunch with friends.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Simon: Frozen mangoes (from Philippines), pop them in the freezer until they’re solid, take them out and put it in warm water for about 30 seconds.. the skin comes off easily because of the heat but the inside is deliciously ice-creamy.
Kwok: Shepherds Pie.
What is the best show you are currently watching?
Simon: Game of Thrones, I can’t believe I didn’t start watching until recently.
Kwok: The last I watched 2 months ago was the old GTO drama from 1998
Best book/comic you are reading?
Simon: It’s old but I still really love ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan and read snippets every now and then.
Kwok: ‘Super Mario’ by Geff Ryan.
What gadgets can’t you live without?
Simon: Earphones, if I forget those I’ll feel naked… I need the option to block out the noise of the roadside & crowds.
What is your favorite advice you have been given?
Kwok: Do what you love and you never have to work another day in your life.
Simon: I can’t think of any particular advice but Kwok’s one is pretty good…
You have released several fun games so far to great reviews. How does it feel to be an accomplished developer?
Simon: Not sure If I’d consider myself as an accomplished developer but knowing there are thousands of people enjoying our work is amazing.
Kwok: We aren’t there yet, but I can say that at this stage I am very happy with how the games are progressing.
Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on now?
We just started on a project called ‘Blackmoor’ which will showcase our take on platform games (see: Castlevania) You can expect the game to have smooth controls, great bosses and characters, intricate worlds and a lot of nonsense. Multiplayer maybe?
Once again thank you to Simon and Kwok for doing this. I cannot wait for Blackmoor. Readers please feel free to check out links to Mooff Games websites and apps below.
Thanks for reading!
Mooff Games Universal iOS Apps: