Prevail, a galaxy exploration game by British developer JohnnyTwoShoes, was announced over five years ago. The game drew a lot of attention, drawing in dedicated fans with its promise of sidescrolling action and seemingly endless space exploration. Based on released footage, exciting space battles frequently gave way to more peaceful exploration--the game was shaping up to be a rich experience that is often so hard to find on mobile.
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I had an interview scheduled with Josh Scott-Slade from JohnnyTwoShoes (Plunderland) at 9AM, about two hours after my dog wakes me up in the morning to go outside. Remember, two hours to go.
I figured that I would hang around and prep for the interview by doing all the company research that I could do, so I hopped on to their website hoping to find something interesting. What I found was Heist 2, one of their many online games... and it sucked the life right out of me. Then what seemed like 10 minutes later and it was 9AM (where did the time go!) and the interview was on.
Still in shock over where my time went, I made a comment to Josh saying, "I didn't know that you guys made other games until today." I was expecting a new, indie game house with a seriously legit design team, but was certainly not expecting a three year old online game outfit. They did have another iPhone game that came out about a year ago called High Speed Chase 2, but it must've gotten lost in the deep sea of App Store apps.
"Ah yeah, we've been making games since we were kids." He went on, thankfully. I was still in shock over my Heist 2 induced time warp, "The company has been around as JohnnyTwoShoes for about 3 years now. It started off as a portfolio when I was at university, then it turned into a gaming site and became our company. My brother Max was a site designer by profession anyway, so it all just worked out."
So how, after years of online games, why did they get into the App Store?
"Well we always loved the iPhone and when the App Store came out it just seemed like the perfect idea for what we wanted to do. The App Store allows us to be more ambitious and support bigger ideas. There's only so much time you can put into a free web game."
After 3+ years of practice making games at a rapid-fire pace, it seems that Johnny Two Shoes is off to bigger and better things with Plunderland and then moving forward. They apparently have a "ridiculous amount of ideas for games", but are aiming to make their games as good as they can possibly be before moving on. There's something to be said for that kind of dedication to a games success, but it's nice to know that the company won't stagnate on one idea for two years (cough, cough, Fieldrunners).
"We intended to release Plunderland to support ourselves while we updated and fulfilled its full potential. We tried out new ideas and reacted on feedback, hoping that it would push up the charts slowly, allowing us to make a name for ourselves on the platform. Now the reaction is so fast to everything we do with it, it's kind of scary." He goes on, "at the same time it feels amazing to know we can do what we always wanted. To build on the game and make it even better - bring fresh new ideas to the experience. We hope people will see it as something they can return to and have that fun and excitement brought back every time we add to the game."
The obvious question here was, what kinds of things were they going to add to the game? It's one thing to fix glitches, and an entirely different thing to go "Pocket God" and make the whole experience change with every update.
Josh nonchalantly wrote back, "Yeah, new levels, campaigns, game modes etc. Anything we think would be fun or addresses peoples feedback." He went on to tell me some more specific details about upgrades, but what I gathered was that their experience with online gaming has made them quick movers, unafraid to try out any idea thrown at them. They thrive on customer feedback, and I honestly don't think that Plunderland will stop being supported until the feedback stops coming in.
I just had one more question, because, you know, I'm an industry professional (whatever that means). I noticed when I was on their website that their logo was a space man, so I asked them why Plunderland wasn't set in space.
"The basic idea behind the game is to create the sense of adventure and unknown. It could totally be set in space, but coming from a family of pirates, it just felt natural."
Well nobody is going to argue with that, with them being pirates and all. These people mean business.