We had the chance to sit down with Adam Saltsman last week at GDC to ostensibly talk about The Hunger Games, the upcoming movie tie in game from Semi Secret Software`, the folks that brought us indie darling and commercial hit, Canabalt as well as Gravity Hook.
It didn't quite work out that way.
Lucky for us, Adam may be the nicest crazy-smart person around. He seemed genuinely upset that he wasn't able to talk The Hunger Games (maybe next week, he promised us), but also equally enthusiastic about the game he's currently developing with Greg Wohlwend, the developer behind Solipskier, another critical darling of the iOS gaming scene.
Currently named Hundreds, the game app is a mathematical, physics, puzzle...er...thing. It's beautifully designed with lots of red and white, with levels chosen by swiping a finger across a matrix of white dots.
Once inside the chosen level, the player must figure out how to grow the number circles to add up to 100, without touching each other, obstacles, or more vicious extra pieces. Each level is a mini-education in itself, as Saltsman spends an inordinate amount of time creating each level so that it can be figured out without a tutorial or instructions. This has got to be difficult, especially when we're talking about the hundred levels or so included in the game.
We played a few levels with Adam looking over our shoulder, and I remain impressed with the advanced level design and brilliant unspoken, unwritten pedagogy built into each one. Saltsman showed us his notebook full of illustrations and written notes about the levels to be included in Hundreds--this is a man who is at the top of his design game, and it shows.
While we learned nothing about The Hunger Games app on our visit, we came away with a new appreciation for game design and this genuine, kind human being with a notebook full of awesome and a new baby. Thanks again, Adam, for a lovely chat.