Commando Jack Interview With Colossal Games' Charles Burt
The release of Commando Jack last month brought a brand-new hybrid for us to play with: a first-person shooter mixed together with the always-reliable mobile tower-defense game. It's a cracking combination of game styles that was released at the beginning of this month, and picked up a 4.5 out of 5 Star score in our review.
We've since spoken to Colossal Games' Managing Director Charles Burt about development of the game, and we get to hear some exclusive information about future content planned for Commando Jack.
An FPS combined with tower-defense was a new one for us! What was the inspiration for the game?
The short and simple answer is that I really like first-person shooters and strategy games!
I'd neither played nor heard of a mobile game that combined elements of both the tower defense and first-person shooter genres and I thought it would be a fantastic mix. Imagine being able to jump into the heart of the action and changing the outcome instead of relying solely on your turrets. So, I built a prototype and knew it was something worth continuing to completion the moment I was able to go toe-to-toe with the enemy.
How long has the game been in development for, and what were the biggest challenges faced by the team during development?
While Commando Jack has been released and so can be considered 'finished', I don't think game development ever ends with the released product. Commando Jack has been in development for nearly a year and a half, and this will continue to grow as we add new content to the game via updates.
The biggest challenges faced when developing Commando Jack, and ones we continue to face, are deciding on which features to cut or delay until the next update, and being able to maintain high-quality visuals without compromising gameplay on older iOS devices.
As the development team here at Colossal Games are all excitable gamers, we often sit here coming up with great ideas to make Commando Jack even better. Sometimes it is difficult to say no to a great idea, especially when our development ethic is "No Compromise" and so it simply has to be built. This makes it hard to get everything we want into the game but also to deliver a lot of it. We have updates on the way which will add more features that didn't make it into the initial release of Commando Jack and a tonne of new content.
With Commando Jack, we wanted to raise the bar in terms of the visual-quality of tower defense games on an iOS device and given Colossal Games is a small studio, this is an immense challenge for us. Many things need to be considered when developing for multiple hardware devices even though they share the same operating system. As you can see from the image below, we went through a massive art overhaul to bring the game's visual experience up to scratch.
To maintain this level, it did mean we had to drop support for some older Apple devices; but the likelihood is people who own these devices don't really use them for serious bouts of gaming, and so the larger audience that own the newer devices will benefit from the increased visual quality.
The game strikes a good balance between providing in-game currency and in-app purchases. What's your philosophy behind striking that balance?
Commando Jack is meant to be played without the end-user feeling the need to spend more of their hard-earned cash to access items, upgrades or modes. Our policy on In-App Purchases (IAPs) is to provide the gamer with a shortcut to these items.
I'd say we are pretty generous with the amount of in-game cash earned per level. If a player has achieved a three-star rating on a level, they would be rewarded with enough money to purchase a new item, or a good amount of money towards the purchase of a larger, more powerful upgrade or weapon. If a player didn't get all three stars, they are still rewarded with some money. Balancing the amount of money given at the end of each level so that it works well for both new gamers to the tower defense genre and seasoned veterans is quite a challenge, but one I feel we did well.
We see there are other locations teased on the game map. What will the next update bring for the title, and do you have a time-frame for release?
We just released our first update to Commando Jack which included the new Rome level, two new weapons, the Amalgamator and Fire Mine, and some other tweaks and improvements. Let me tell you, this was a tiny update in comparison to what's coming!
Responding to customer feedback, our focus at the moment is on increasing the amount of content in the game, as well as offering the players new control layouts and some further fine-tuning to the balancing. The next update is going to be massive and I think new and existing players will be very impressed. We're working really hard to get all the new content built and working 100%, and it will be ready to download as soon as we can make it available.
Will future updates bring any other content to the game: new game modes, weapons, enemies etc?
As I've said, we are currently working on adding lots of new content into the next update most of which is super top secret. However, I can exclusively reveal to Modojo that we are working on two new sub modes called 'Element' and 'Mixed'.
While I can't say too much about these modes at the moment, I can tell you that they will be accompanied by some new alien types and weapons. We really feel that this update will take Commando Jack's strategic gameplay to a whole new level.
As you can see from the screenshots, there is a HUGE amount of content coming. And if that wasn't enough, we're also upping the number of levels too. Want a sneaky peak at some work in progress?
Please note that because of our high level of quality control, the levels featured in the above image are subject to change and some may not make the final cut.
We are pushing as fast as we can to get this new content out and more besides. We think this update is going to be awesome and can't wait for you to play it.