Interesting Interviews

When I first picked up Relic Rush I thought, whoever developed this must be some kind of sadistic person. The levels don’t seem hard to finish, but in order to get the gold medals, you really need to nail those jumps. Well, turns out that Jason Pickering is just a man who loves a challenging platformer and I respect him for that. Read our review of Relic Rush and pick it up. We also have 5 promo codes that we’re giving away on our Facebook page so be sure to follow the instructions in order to qualify!

What was the inspirations for Relic Rush?

relic rush jason pickering start screenRelic Rush was inspired by the old single screen arcade games like Donkey kong and Popeye. I wanted a simple platformer, where the player could see the entire world. and the vertical iOS screen felt like a perfect fit


How long did it take to make Relic Rush?

Relic Rush took about 3 months to make. Most of the work was done in the first month, and then it was 2 months of polish, and tweaking. The menu system and Level Timer took the longest and went through the most iterations.


What is the most challenging part of making a new game?

Trying to keep it focused. Its very easy to just keep adding tons of things, and creating this mess of different mechanics thats very different from your original idea.


How do you balance the gameplay of Relic Rush so that later levels are hard but not impossible to beat?

It was a lot of game testing, plus I had tried to create obstacles that were much harder for the later areas, balancing that design wise before I really started coding. This Made things a little easier when i started building the levels.


Why did you decide to go with one touch controls?

I wanted something simple, and I worked at paring down the genre to its barest components. As I built the game I started testing, and I only had left and right controls in. I noticed that with the zig zag levels it was a lot of holding only one direction until you got to a ladder. so then I just made one button that you held down to move, but the quick release to stop didnt feel right on the touchscreen so I switched it out for the Auto-run.


How does it feel when people you know are playing your games?

It’s definetly nice to see people enjoy something you worked on. I can also say my dad has completed the game and I think this is the first game I have worked on he has ever been able to play, let alone beat.


Can you explain your process of making a game?

Well usually I start with an idea. The idea can come from anywhere. I might get an idea while watching a movie, playing a game, reading a book, or just outside in the world. After that I start a prototype and make sure that the game in its bare bones is just fun. the original prototype for Relic Rush was just an orange guy dodging squares. after the initial kinks are worked out I then barrell ahead making the full game. Adding Menus, enemies, building levels.


What programs do you use to make your games?

I used 100% free programs to create Relic Rush. I used GIMP an open source image editor for all my art assets, I programmed in Flashdevelop and I used the Flashpunk Engine. I used Adobe AIR to convert my flash file into an iOS game.


How do you feel about the iOS app store? Pros/cons, challenges?

relic rush last level jason pickeringI think the biggest challenge has been the sheer volume of games. It can be very hard to stand out in the sea of apps that is out there. One of the things I like about the appstore is they are starting to give curated lists which can be a great way to give your game a bump after its initial launch. You have no control over this though so its just something you have to hope for. For Example Relic Rush is featured in the “Great Platformers” category.


How worried are you about other developers cloning your work?

Well its a problem, but thats just one of the problems of being a developer. there will always be people copying games. usually though you can get lucky and it will be after your initial launch so its not really hurting your sales. That said, there have been some real terrible situations. Vlambeer has had some real trouble with people cloning their games before they get to market. I didn’t really have much trouble there. very little was shown of Relic Rush prior to it being released. its a bit of a double edge sword the less you show of the game the less people will know about it, but also the less cloners will have to work off of.


Can you explain your thoughts on in-app purchases?

I think its a horrible situation at the moment. I think that free to play can work and people have made some great games with it. The thing I see a lot though is it feels like its being shoved into every game just to make more money, and I don’t think that is helping anybody. I have had a lot of games they I have hit that point where it feels like the developer made a section harder to get you to buy IAP. More often then not thats when I stop. Another turn off can be the amount of IAP. When I turn a game on and the store shows I can buy 10,000 coins for $20. it makes me really question how unbalanced your game is that I would need to spend that much.


What apps do you enjoy playing?

I tend to shy away from the fast twitch games and usually focus more on the puzzle and turn based ones. Outwitters, Cardinal Quest, Dungelot. I usually grab anything with decent art and animation. I think there are some apps that just look great like Rayman Jungle Run, Little Things, and Super Lemonade Factory.


What App companies do you look to as an example?

I really like what Simogo has been doing with apps, the controls always feel great and the art is always spot on. Also I like a lot fo the board game Apps made by Days of Wonder. They do an excellent job of simplifying board games down to easy to use Apps.


How do you see the world of App development evolving?

I like that a lot of smaller companies are making apps that have interesting choices instead of just cloning the stuff thats already out there. I also see a big evolution in the way we are controlling apps. When the app store started people just started taking PC games and adding virtual controls. Rayman Jungle Run is a great example of changing the gameplay to make it fit a touch screen device. I think if that game was made a few years ago for iOS it would probably have terrible virtual controls.


At what point did you feel a game is ready to be put up on the app store?

It’s really hard to say. You just have to set a goal for yourself. Think about what exactly you want in this game at launch and try to stick to it. There will always be bugs. You will never be able to find them all. Luckily, in the new digital era putting out a patch to fix a game is fairly easy, meaning there are always a chance to fix stuff in the future.


jason pickering

The one and only Jason Pickering

What is your dream type of game to make someday?

I always wanted to make a game where you piloted a Victorian sub around the ocean. The game would be all about exploring the ocean and finding interesting things. I would also want to just fill the game with tons of references to Victorian literature. perhaps you find the remains of the Pequod, a giant carving of Cthulhu, or maybe a huge skeleton of some long dead leviathan.


Are there any new games that you are working on?

I have a long list of game ideas, but I am not sure which one I will start on after I finish with Relic Rush. I don’t think it will be a platformer just to give myself a break from that genre. It might be a small dungeon crawler. I think that could be fun.


Anything else you would like to share with us?

If you want to see what I might have coming up you can follow me on Twitter at @JasonP_

Jasmine Greene

Jasmine Greene has been a freelance writer for over four years with experience in video game, book and movie reviews. She lives in Manhattan. Nardio is her second of hopefully many (successful) web ventures. When she is not working as an executive assistant or at Nardio, Jasmine volunteers at Kitty Kind so that she can get her crazy cat lady on.

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