When developing a mobile game for the market, ‘it’s very important to cut scope and make it as manageable as possible so it is easier to release,’ Mark Bonnici Co-Founder of 2Fold Games tells Newsbook.com.mt.
As co-creators of the Maltese themed driving game ‘Move Bak,’ they explained the problems and challenges which developers face when building and delivering a game.
These can range from keeping focus, staying strict with timing and balancing quality over quantity.
Mark explains that keeping up motivation can be a major pitfall. The importance is being concise. ‘You can be really ambitious with a big project but after time, motivation starts to go down. It’s best to keep everything that is important for the game and cut out everything else out that is not important for it to be successful.’
Joseph added that it was also integral to have a strong deadline to stick to. ‘You could say it would 6 months to release. It might take a year but you aim for a release in 6 months. You update as you go along.’
‘Another problem is side projects. You’re working on a game, you get another idea and you start working on that. You end never finishing both. Ideally you focus on the one game and you release it,’ he added.
This isn’t the brothers’ first game but through proven experience developing mobile games before, they’ve found that games like ‘Move Bak’ can be managed with a two person team and done in their spare time.
Support for gamers
When asked about support for game developers in Malta, the brothers explained that there is a variety of support out there, mostly online.
This comes way of the vibrant gaming community online, which is providing support to developers. There is also the The Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta which offers ‘game jams’ Joseph explained.
Mark added that funds do exist for gamers but he stressed that it was the developer’s role to release games. ‘You have to put in the time and sustain it yourself.’
‘They say it’s Malta’
Video games are set in a variety of different picturesque locations and time-periods, but Newsbook wanted to ask the brothers if they knew of any games that either been inspired or set in Malta.
They explain that there have been a couple of games which have drawn inspiration from Malta’s architecture and history, a couple more which have used Malta as a setting.
According to the brothers, the major time-travelling parkour assassination game, ‘Assassin’s Creed’, used much of Malta’s architecture to create its Crusader inspired environments in Syria and the Holy Land. When the decision was made to move the digital pixels to the silver screen, Malta was once again chosen for scenes to recreate Inquisitor Spain.
Malta has also appeared in a number of Real-Time Strategy games like Age of Empires and Total War. ‘Well they say it’s Malta but it doesn’t look anything like Malta. The inspiration is quite generic,’ Joseph said.
One which came to mind during the interview was that of the spy thriller and stealth-action video-game ‘Splinter Cell’. The franchise’s 2010 entry ‘Splinter Cell: Conviction’ opened with its main character ‘Sam Fisher,’ sat at café in a humid Valletta evening in a square, very like Pjazza Regina. For those unaware of where Valletta or Malta was, one of the supporting characters ‘Victor Coste’, told the audience ‘He was in Valletta, that’s in Malta.’ The action scenes explode from there, with Sam Fisher taking on a gang causing unrest in Merchant’s Street. Armed with a pistol and a number of well-placed fireworks on market stalls, Sam is able to dispatch the bad-guys.
‘I think the Maltese would love it’
As the interview concludes, Newsbook.com.mt asked what the brothers thought about the wild idea of creating a Maltese version of one of gaming history’s biggest franchises, Grand Theft Auto.
Their eyes and smiles widened and then the sheer scale of time and effort sunk in.
While remarking that the Maltese would love the game, he said that, ‘We could replicate the whole island for a map. Right now thinking that there is so much stuff you can put in,’ he adds.
Rockstar Games’ ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series remains one of the most successful video games to be played on gaming consoles across the world. The game is an exaggerated version of modern life with its intense consumerism, adult themes and abundance of opportunity and escapism for players to be and do what they want within a virtual environment. The game has grown a following as much for its violence as its focus on parodying modern brands and ideas.
Joseph agreed with the idea but began to see the challenges of such a project.
‘We need a team of at least 20+ people at least to start. Then there are the manhours and how you market the game. Much of Grand Theft Auto is set in big cities like New York. If you set it in Malta, it would be refreshing but you need to hit a worldwide audience.’
Mark added that the main problems for him would be the development and marketing attached to such a game.
Indeed, Grand Theft Auto has a worldwide appeal with a huge international development team with the resources, manpower and time to develop a game that fits a digitised version of American excess, lifestyle and culture.
‘I think the Maltese people would love it,’ Mark said.