Shellrazer Ice-Breaker Interview With Nick Waanders And Shane Neville
Earlier today we published our preview of the upcoming Ice-Breaker update for the popular iOS game Shellrazer. We've also got some brand new screenshots of the expansion for you, if you'd like a sneak peak at the new content coming tomorrow.
We also spoke to Nick Waanders, programmer and owner of Slick Entertainment, and Shane Neville, designer and owner of Ninja Robot Dinosaur Entertainment, about their experiences of releasing Shellrazer, the new Ice-Breaker content, and future projects.
It's been around three months now since was Shellrazer released and we last spoke to you. What's the team been up to since the initial release?
Nick: We did a few smaller updates, and in the background we've been working on the Ice-Breaker update. I've also been working on the port to Android. And we've been working on a new game as well, so lots of things going on at the same time!
How has the game performed and has it met your expectations? Without going into specifics about financials, has it been a profitable experience for you?
Nick: The game performed really well, we were super stoked to see so many people loving the game. Hitting the number 2 spot on the overall paid charts in the US, Canada and Australia was definitely not what we expected, and we were super excited to see it climb up the charts that far!
We created the game in only 6 months with 4 people, so it wasn't a super expensive game to make, and the sales have paid for our investment. We're not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but at least we have enough money to make another game.
How did the new content for Ice-Breaker come about? Had you identified any gaps in the original release that you wanted to fill?
Shane: The Yeti are very tough customers and can take a lot of damage, but their weakness is fire. Adding a couple of characters that do fire damage, with Chuckles the Dragon and Combs the Necrobomicon made choosing your build-out a little more fun. The Yeti characters also gave us a chance to play around with a few different enemy behaviors, like the Ninja who jump out of snowbanks and the Wal-Russer who rides a walrus while firing fragmentation bombs.
This gives us more variety. One of the big complaints of the first game is that it's repetitive. With more enemies, more damage types and especially more characters, the gameplay can get changed up more often.
What's the most significant change the new update brings to the game?
Shane: Adding 50% more levels is pretty big, but gameplay-wise, the fire damage changes things up quite a bit. Chuckles and Combs are incredible on Ice-Breaker, but they also make playing the original game a lot different. More options on the build-out is always more fun.
Nick: We also added a rating system for the levels, so you can now get a bronze/silver/gold rating for each level in the original game as well as all the levels in the Ice-Breaker game, adding another goal for people who want to be challenged more.
Will there be further expansions after Ice-Breaker? If not, are the team looking to create a new franchise, or do more work with the Shellrazer concept?
Shane: I've got some ideas that fundamentally change how Shellrazer's gameplay works, so they wouldn't fit into an expansion, but perhaps a sequel or "Super Turbo Shellrazer" version?
Nick: We all love the Shellrazer art style and environment, so you'll definitely see more of it in the future. We may make another expansion for Shellrazer, but we're also itching to start something new. We'll definitely keep updating the game to solve any problems people may have though. It's a work of love, so we won't just abandon it.
What are your thoughts on the latest round of Apple hardware? How are you finding things from a development and testing point of view?
Nick: I haven't actually gotten my hands on the latest iPad Mini and the new iPad Retina, but a friend of mine tested Shellrazer on them, and it works OK. The biggest challenge for most developers was the change in aspect ratio on the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch devices. We had just done a pass on our art to make it 16:9 compatible, so it wasn't too much work to get it working on the new aspect ratios. This will also be in the update coming out on Thursday.
I've turned into a bit of an Apple fan when it comes to developing for their devices. The nice thing about the Apple devices is that they are a bit like consoles, you test it on one and it works on all of them. With Android there's a lot of different manufacturers, so it's almost impossible to test the game on all of the devices out there.
I noticed on your blog that an Android version of Shellrazer was in the works. Do you have a release date or window for the platform, and will it include the Ice-Breaker content at launch?
Nick: We don't have a definite release date yet. It's the first Android game I've done, so I'm hitting all the snags you can possibly imagine while developing for the platform. I can say that it's running on Android though, and it's running quite nicely too. There are a few big ticket items missing that I need to add before we are ready to ship it. The Android version will include everything that is in the latest iOS build, which includes Ice-Breaker, and any other little updates we may do before we ship the Android version.
You gave us a lot of insight into Shellrazer strategy the last time we checked in with you. Are there any tips the team would like to share with Modojo readers for the new Ice-Breaker content?
Shane: Finishing Ice-Breaker without using Chuckles or Combs is really hard. It's do-able, but the fire damage from the new characters cuts through the Yeti hordes like a hot knife through butter. There is also more variety with buildings, air and ground units in the levels, so choosing what equipment you put on your characters is very important.