Time Surfer Interview With Kumobius' Tom Greenaway
We discuss cake and the possibility of an Android release.
According to Kumobius, the Australian-based developer creates "fantastical games you will love." Considering this is the same studio responsible for the entertaining Bean's Quest, we'd have to agree. The talented designers released their newest creation, Time Surfer, on the App Store this month, and it follows in the tradition of retro-inspired 2D graphics and simplistic controls, but with gameplay that packs a big challenge. That said, we caught up with the company's Tom Greenaway to discuss its newest project.
Similar to Bean's Quest, Time Surfer has cool 2D graphics. Do you enjoy these types of visuals the most? Where does the inspiration come from?
Personally, yes. I think 2D games are great and 3D games can never completely replace them. Even as 3D becomes more powerful, the gameplay mechanics of 2D as an experience is often quicker to learn and easier to grasp. For iPhone it's a great way to present a game.
Furthermore, I think style is more important than realism, and our artist's strength is in traditional 2D graphics and animation. From an inspiration point of view, we loved games from Sega, Nintendo and on the Amiga when we were young. Some of our fondest memories include games like Wonderboy 3: The Dragon's Trap on the Master System, James Pond on the Amiga and After Burst for the Gameboy.
As it plays similar to Tiny Wings, is that were you looked in deciding on Time Surfer's gameplay?
It's funny, we didn't start with Tiny Wings/Wavespark as an inspiration, although we certainly moved to mimic the physics of those games as we worked on the project. It actually began as a more traditional cave flyer with time rewind mechanics - something closer to Jetpack Joyride combined with Braid.
But to be honest, just having a cave flyer with time rewind is a little boring - it ends up only being about avoiding hazards. When we paired the time rewind with Tiny Wings and Wavespark-style physics gameplay, we discovered a much better experience. It became about using the rewind to avoid hazards but also using the rewind to improve the timing of your dives into the landscape. In those games the better you dive, the more speed you gain - it really opened up the gameplay.
We know the game's been well received by critics, but how has it done commercially?
Well we hit the top 10 overall for several countries in the first week: USA, Australia and Canada. It's definitely on track to beat Bean's Quest sales and that's great for us. We learned a lot in the past year and a half - we'll be doing updates to Time Surfer and begin work on the next game too.
Personally, we think cake is a bit tough to come by through simply playing the game. Is that by design, or something you plan to fix with an update?
It depends on the player's skill, really. We don't have a huge testing team, so we knew the first release would probably need more balancing of the economy. I'm not sure if cakes will simply become easier to collect or maybe costumes or pets will become cheaper. Maybe some pets will become more expensive. We will look at the data and listen to the users.
We don't spell out how the whole cake system works to the player though. There are details players will learn as they play. For example, cakes actually become worth more the further you get in a run of the game. So players that are competing for a high score will be rewarded with more cake. Additionally, completing the missions earns you cakes as well. In fact, missions are an excellent way to get more cake.
Bean's Quest eventually made it to Android. When can we expect to see this title on Google Play?
We have no guarantee and no ETA. Obviously we want everyone to be able to enjoy our games, but for now we'll focus on iPhone and iPad.
What's your impression of NVIDIA's Project Shield? Can it succeed in a space dominated by multi-purpose smartphones and tablets?
It seems like a crazy, innovative idea. It could be amazing or it could be terrible. We have to see really. I guess everyone is trying to create half-tablet, half-controller devices now. The Wii U has Nintendo's strength of 1st party games behind it - I am interested to see how NVIDIA battles that. Maybe the ultimate question for Shield will be the price.
As a mostly mobile-focused game studio, we welcome any new open platforms we can get our games onto.