We had the chance to interview Curve Studios, the team behind ports including Stealth Inc and Lone Survivor, in London a couple of weeks ago to chat about porting games to PS3 and Vita, and what it’s like to work with Sony.
We spoke to Rob, the PR and Marketing Manager at Curve Studios, about why Curve chose Sony and how a third-party can greatly help a small developer team to get their game to a wide audience.
Firstly, we asked Rob if it’s more enjoyable to create bright, happy games like Fluidity or brutal, hellishly difficult games like Stealth Inc. Rob, being the gentlemen he is, replied saying that the dark stuff is more enjoyable as it’s fun to watch their QA testers get frustrated at games like Stealth Inc. According to Rob, there were some horrible to play levels which were never publicly released, and we can only assume that they never saw daylight as a QA team member ripped all their hair out playing them.
Although he prefers the more brutal stuff, Rob also enjoyed Fluidity due to the longer levels leaving more room for creativity and, apparently, you’re unable to swear at it as it is just too damn colourful.
Next we spoke about what drew Curve Studios to Sony as their platform holder of choice, and what they offer that their competitors do not.
Curve, being a studio that focuses on indie games, were drawn to Sony due to their push and focus on the indie market and helping it to expand onto consoles and handhelds. Nintendo and Microsoft do cater to indie developers but Sony is more accessible and transparent in what they’re willing to do, plus their communication is amazing throughout development and marketing.
Sony hold monthly meetings to talk about indie games, what they’re looking for and progress on any titles currently being worked on, allowing Curve to also find games that they’d be interested in porting over to Sony platforms. Rob states that Sony have the ability to follow through on promises during development and do their best to make it a painless journey, especially as there’s more work to porting than many people assume.
Rob feels that Curve clicks with Sony on a gaming level, especially as the employees at Sony are passionate about games themselves and so understood what gamers want from these ports, and from indie in general. They take risks and appreciate niche titles such as Proteus, Journey, Flower and Lone Survivor.
Next we spoke about Curve Studios relationships with publishers such as Mike Bithell for Thomas Was Alone and most recently Jasper Byrne for Lone Survivor. We wonder how these relationships come about and so we decided to stop laughing at the name Stealth Bastard, another game they ported, and spoke about it.
Rob feels that Curve are needed where indie developers are concerned due to the strain that publishing a game can be on those developers, especially those who work alone and will struggle to find the time to do all the administration work required. Curve help indie developers by doing this work for them, allowing the developers to focus on their game and any future updates, and most importantly, so that the game doesn’t entirely take over their life and remains something they can be passionate about, not something they begin to dread.
Curve also talent scout on websites such as Steam’s Greenlight service and other online forums. So keep posting, your work may soon be noticed!
Next we discussed the important of additional content when porting a game, and surprising nobody, it does hold importance. Rob says that it’s important when marketing to gain sales and coverage to persuade people to buy it on PS3 or Vita rather than PC.
He feels the Vita is a perfect fit for the games that Curve have been porting as many people like to play on the go, and that offering extra content further pushed this point. Developers get involved but don’t need too as Curve can create content, and Curve like to add content so they aren’t doing a straight port with an experience that can be found elsewhere.
When deciding what games to port, they look for games that have been made with controller support in mind as some PC games, such as FTL (Faster Than Light) would be difficult to recreate on the Vita screen or with a controller. Although their library has focused solely on 2D games so far, Curve are looking to branch out to 3D games but wouldn’t say which. Personally, we’d like to see a Slender and Bastion make their way to Sony platforms, although playing Slender in public leaves us vulnerable to looking like idiots when we jump out of our train seats.
And of course, the most important question is would Rob want to fight a 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck. He would fight 1 giant duck and honestly, we can’t see how that would have a good outcome but we have faith in Rob’s fighting abilities.