Tribeflame Hopes Gamers See The Light
Finnish developer attempts to grab top App Store spot with a hefty dose of flower power.
Finland is home to Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, but there are plenty of other video game developers from the country hoping to make a mark, including Tribeflame. It appears the company has a potential hit with Light The Flower, a puzzle game that tasks players with skillfully placing mirrors to direct sunlight, the goal to bathe flowers with those warm rays. The app debuted last week to rave reviews, and with downloadable content planned, could become a regular fixture in the top ten.
That said, we had the chance to speak to CEO Torulf Jernstrom about the concept, DLC and most importantly, the guts it took to release Light The Flower the same day as Angry Birds Space.
How did you come up with this concept? Why sunlight and flowers?
We were looking for new ways to make physics puzzles. When we thought of using light, we realized there were a lot of technical and sterile puzzles based on that concept as far back as Deflektor on the Commodore64, but none that really had a soul. We wanted to make the whole light and geometrics genre a lot more accessible, and it feels like we succeeded.
All other optics based puzzles use a single laser beam for their puzzles. The broad light rays that can be split in two are unique to us. They also make the game much more forgiving, so you don't have to place the mirrors on exactly the right pixel.
Puzzle games appear to be one of the more competitive genres on iOS. How tough is it to come up with a new idea people haven't seen before?
It's not easy to make something new in this genre, and it will take a while for us to come up with another one that is equally unique. There are lots of physics based puzzlers, and almost all of them feature a side view with gravity pointing down. That's why we found it refreshing to try a top-down optics based approach instead.
Seems like numerous "hardcore" gamers refuse to acknowledge iPhone and iPad as true gaming platforms. What would you say to those people?
I think it's good to have a more easily approachable platform. It has broadened the appeal of games to lots of people who did not play before. That said, a game like Light The Flower might look innocent and easy, but once you get further ahead it will be quite tricky to pass the levels with 3/3 stars. Most game developers are hardcore gamers, and when we showed the game to some local designers, their first reaction was, "Well, that's cute. Does it ever get even remotely hard?" Then they jumped ahead from the first levels to some mid-game levels and tried to pass for 15 minutes with a more embarrassed look on their faces.
We couldn't help but notice plans for more levels in this game. What's up with DLC? Can we expect the same thing, or will you introduce new elements to the gameplay?
We have more game mechanics already programmed into the game; ideas the current levels do not use. The next house will be based on those. I won't yet reveal what they are. We also have more game mechanics planned for further extensions. We're already at work on the first upgrade.
You know your game came out the same day as Angry Birds Space, right? Isn't this iOS suicide?
Yes it is. Chillingo is a very brave publisher. However, we already did pass the regular Angry Birds on the App Store here in our native Finland, but not yet with the new version.
How many people worked/currently work on Light the Flower, and where are you based? How long did it take to develop? How did you hook up with Chillingo?
The team varied in size from the first programmer, who started alone with the concept, and scaled up to four of us working on it together. At different times, we have had two artists, two programmers, one level designer, one sound/music composer and Chillingo's dedicated publishing and promotional team involved. Currently, we have three people polishing it. One graphics artist, one programmer and one level/game designer.
The team is based in Turku, Finland. For such a small country, we have had a decent number of hit games on iOS from here.
This first version of the Light The Flower took us from spring 2011 to early 2012 to develop. We wanted to publish the game through Chillingo to make sure it received the attention it deserves. After showing the game to them, they were very enthusiastic and worked closely with our teams throughout the past few months to polish the game to perfection.
Well, we really enjoyed it. Best of luck with future updates.