148Apps: The level-based structure of Isolani is a radical departure from The Drowning. Why was this more traditional progression decided upon for this game?
David Simard (DS): There are actually a lot of similarities between the core experiences of Isolani and The Drowning; they are both story driven and linear games. However, players unlock the levels in a different way. Progressing through The Drowning involved an element of luck, but Isolani is all about about skill.
148Apps: How do you adapt a level-based progression system to a free-to-play business model?DS: The key absolutely is replayability. The story part of the game can be a great hook but there has to be more to it at some point. If our biggest fans can’t find fun things to do after running through the linear story once then they won’t keep coming back to play the game. That’s a really healthy pressure on a game developer.
148Apps: The controls for Isolani also are quite different from The Drowning, with this game using virtual joysticks. Why use that? Was there ever any thought given to bringing back the controls from The Drowning for this game?
DS: As for the gesture system vs virtual sticks, the two different systems lend themselves to very different types of gameplay and during Isolani‘s development we realized that we weren’t going to be able to do justice to both of them. We had to choose one or we’d do them both badly. Isolani emphasizes strafing and hiding behind cover. That kind of side-to-side motion is one of the weak spots for a gesture system, so we decided to go with the virtual sticks. We also knew we wanted to support hardware controllers which are, of course, much more similar to the virtual stick system.
We believe that the gesture control system is great in the right kind of game. Our team noticed with The Drowning that the system really shined for players who were new to FPS games or even moving around in 3D spaces in general. It didn’t resonate as well with serious FPS fans who’ve grown up with very particular expectations about what you should and shouldn’t be able to do in that type of game. That shows us that there’s potential there to expand the market with new types of experiences.
148Apps: What’s in the future for Isolani? And do you think story-based free-to-play gaming has a viable future?
DS: I think the demand for that kind of experience is there, and I’m sure developers (hopefully us!) will find ways to meet it. We’re still in the early days with Isolani and what we do next really depends on how it’s received.
Thanks to David for his time.Blog, Interviews
Tagged with: dena, first person shooter, FPS, free, interview, Isolani, scattered entertainment, the drowning