Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
For those of you that ride Malta’s public transport, you’ll know that when the bus begins to fill up, the first words that sound above the wailing babies, mobile phones and moaning nannas, is the bus driver shouting ‘Move Back please!’ Slowly and gingerly, people begin to file deeper into the bus.
‘There aren’t a lot of games on the market that are Maltese themed,’ Mark Bonnici, co-founder of 2Fold Games tells Newsbook.com.mt.
Bonnici is one half of the creative team behind ‘Move Bak’. He explains that the game started when he was fiddling around with a couple of different demos for a driving game, with a range of environments and tiles inspired on Maltese architecture.
He turned to his brother and fellow co-founder and creator Joseph Bonnici with the idea. Joseph recommended making the vehicle a Maltese bus.
‘I wouldn’t imagine driving anything other than a bus around. If it had been a normal car, I don’t think it would’ve worked as well,’ Joseph explains.
‘That’s how it came to life,’ Mark adds.
The brothers released ‘Move Bak’ around two months ago on the iTunes App and Google Play stores. They explain that although there wasn’t much marketing behind its release, the game has been downloaded numerous times with word of mouth spreading it across the population and further afield.
The level-based game places players in a simulated bus driving around Maltese inspired environments moving from point A to B, making quick left and right turns by pressing their thumbs on the phone surface, arriving at bus-stops as checkpoints and finishing up at the Triton Fountain.
Not a lot of games like this
Mark explained that there aren’t many games out there that are Maltese themed and it was something that would ‘immortalize Maltese culture on the App store and Google play’.
When asked about the appetite for the game, he explained that since its release, there has been a substantial uptake from gamers within the Maltese communities in Australia and Canada.
‘There is something reminiscent of their childhood’.
A key question raised by Newsbook.com.mt was how a game which is quintessentially about Maltese culture and effectively an ‘in-joke’ for society going to be marketed widely.
Joseph replied that although the wider audience might not get the in-jokes or that Maltese references will go over people’s heads, ‘if it’s still fun to play, people will get into it. I like Rammstein music (the German metal band). I don’t understand the lyrics but I still enjoy the music.’
Mark added that it had been a focus to use the Maltese population as the test audience from the beginning. This would give the developers the means to get feedback and improve the game before marketing it worldwide.
Joseph added that the Maltese audience were a good place to start as they were more likely to click twice as much as foreign nationals.
In the next part, we find out more from the Bonnici’s about the importance of staying motivated and building small and concise content. We also ask if they think there could ever be a Maltese version of Grand Theft Auto.