ExplodemonBT: Can you tell us a bit about your latest project and why you think everyone should go out and buy it?
is the first of our real labour of love to make its way into the public eye, and it has been a very long time in the making. It was originally started over four years ago by myself as a spare time project, something I was doing just for fun. The aim was just to make a really great platform game, one that was as enjoyable at a deep level as some of the classics from Nintendo and Treasure. The prototype I created ended up being really fun, and it started to gain a lot of momentum, becoming something we felt would be a really strong addition to the console download services.
Since those early days, it's taken a huge amount of energy and determination to see it through to its current state, and we've overcome a lot of obstacles. (Incidentally, the story of Explodemon's
journey to consoles has been so epic that I started a blog to tell the tale
) It's taken a lot of heart to get the game out, and we think it really shows in the final game. It's a game made my people who care about it. The lengthy development has also refined the gameplay, so we're releasing what we feel is something very polished and playable. We think it's going to be a great title.
BT: Explodemon is going to be published exclusively through PSN, right? Do you find these sort of digital distribution systems are helpful for smaller developers like yourself, or do you think there’s still a lot to be gained from hitting the retail market?
Curve has primarily worked with Japanese publisher and console maker, Sony
The initial release of Explodemon
will be on PSN, that’s correct, but we are currently keeping our options open as to what channels we pursue after that.
The new digital distribution channels have been a revelation though. As a small developer, we're now able to create and own our own IP, be wholly responsible for its direction, profit directly from its revenue, and all while being able to reach a global audience of many tens of millions of people. That situation was unthinkable five years ago. However, retail certainly still has its place for us, and we hope to maintain that side of our business for a long while yet. It's not an area that we can tackle without the backing of a publishing partner though.
BT: Before Explodemon was announced for PSN, it was entered into the IGF competition. What was your experience of entering what’s become such a well known competition and pitting your ideas against those of other developers across the world in such a direct way?
I entered the IGF with the prototype of Explodemon
just out of curiosity really, just to see what the experience would be like. At that stage, the game wasn't complete enough to be a winner, so I wasn't really expecting to be a finalist. Now that the competition has flourished and become such a great platform for indie developers, I doubt that we'd enter again, since, in the event of us becoming a finalist, we'd just be denying that place to someone else who would likely need the publicity more than we do.
I really think IGF should be kept for the smaller developers who are operating on the fringes, and giving them the opportunity to get their work out in front of a wider audience. It's also great for showcasing the more esoteric game ideas, and short-form playable pieces, that are becoming the trademark of the indie scene at the moment. More power to them, I say, since what they're doing will have a massive effect on the games of tomorrow.
Explodemon was entered into the IGF, where previous winners like Audiosurf have encouraged fierce competition
BT: Was there a reason you’ve elected to publish Explodemon on PSN, rather than PC or Xbox (beyond any exclusivity agreement, obviously)? You seem to have built a solid relationship with Sony...
We found Sony very welcoming; they really liked the game and were keen to have it on their platform. Within a few weeks of demoing the PC prototype we received a number of development kits and had approval to publish the game on PSN. In many ways this was the natural extension of our existing relationship with Sony. With the work we've done in the past on the Buzz
PSP games we've built up a great working relationship with them and know their processes and practices inside out. That made them an obvious choice when it came to choosing a partner to launch our new IP and digitally delivered download games.
BT: Do you think the UK would benefit from having more, larger publishers established within the country, or are we at such an age of digital communication that it doesn’t really matter where your business partners are based?
We do work effectively with overseas partners already, so it is perfectly possible to use modern communication to do business. However, relationships matter enormously. When it comes to getting business, you can't beat actually spending time with people and creating proper relationships. We do have good relationships with some overseas companies, but it's hard to build them with those that you rarely get to see face-to-face.
We're definitely better connected with the UK publishers because of our proximity to them, but recent times have seen their numbers fall dramatically, and consequently opportunities available to us have been reduced. We're certainly in support of having more publishers in the UK, if only to reflect the amount and quality of development that goes on here, but it would be great for our business too.
Explodemon will be released later this year on the PlayStation Network.