I interviewed Gnomic Studios on their first released game for Xbox Live called Square Off. If you haven't already played this game yet please make sure to pick it up since it is only one dollar!
When was Gnomic Studios founded?
Early in 2009, a couple of us decided to enter a game in Microsoft's Dream Build Play competition. We'd already been tinkering with a few game ideas but this was really the beginning of Gnomic Studios.
Is there a company vision for your games?
Not really, but we definitely want to make fun games and have fun doing it.
How long was Square Off in development for?
Roughly a year of three people's spare time. The amount of effort was very variable, due to crunch times for Dream Build Play submission and final release.
What was your favorite part about developing this game?
The fact that we were building a game for the Xbox console was pretty exciting, but there were times when playtesting the multiplayer Deathmatch mode was just hilarious.
Did Gnomic Studios always want there first game to be shooter or were there other types of games in mind like adventure, platformer, or puzzle?
Initially we were developing a platformer. During the contest we realised the scope of that game was too large to do it justice in the time we had left. We'd still like to finish that project one day.
Theres a lot you put into this game for just one dollar why not charge more?
We did release it at $3. At about June 2010 we dropped the price to $1 for various reasons. It was a hard decision because we felt the game was worth at least $3. The way that Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) works tends to favour $1 games due to the Top Downloads list and the fact that gamers seem to have a perception that no game on XBLIG could be worth more than $1.
Multiplayer seems to be a big part in Square Off was it hard to balance the gameplay so that everyone could have fun?
Yes, we spent a lot of time on balancing, and even then it won't be right for everyone. It's very hard to get the difficulty curve to work for both casual and hardcore gamers. It's was made even more tricky due to the fact that levels can be played with 1, 2, 3 or 4 players.
Why did you choose Xbox 360 as the platform for your game?
Mainly because it was the easiest avenue to get a game on current generation console. Microsoft brought out Xna which is a wonderful .Net API that allows rapid development of games on the PC. Once they announced the Xbox Live Community Games (now known as XBLIG), the deal was sealed. We can deploy to any Xboxand release games on Xbox Live for a very reasonable annual fee. Getting a game on Wii or PS3 is much more difficult and expensive.
Since the debut of your game how has the press been treating Square Off?
The press response was sensational. All of the reviews were pretty glowing. The main complaint was that we lacked the feature of online multiplayer. For a list of reviews, see our Critical Acclaim page
The game has already seen one free update can we hope to see more for Square Off in the future?
The free update was a good learning experience for us, but as a business venture, it was a failure. We spent a lot of time and effort developing levels, features and fixing numerous little bugs. We did gain some extra exposure from the free update, but ultimately the effect on our bottom line was minimal. Even so, we don't regret doing it. It's now closer to the game we wanted to make and hopefully the update gained us some respect from our fans. In the future however, expect to see a sequel rather than another update.
Are there any new titles that are in development from Gnomic Studios?
Currently we are trying our hand at different platforms. We have a puzzle oriented game targeting iPhone and Windows Phone 7. Stay tuned to the blog
for updates about this and other projects as we become ready to share more.
Here is the list of all the great people who worked on this game!!!
Code: Aranda Morrison
Art: Scott Millar & Adam Matera
Music: Joel Taylor
SFX: Jeremy Prestwood:
QA & Support: Josh Stewart & Ben Schroeder