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Getting To Know RunBot's developer, Bravo Game Studios

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 22nd, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: STERILE :: Read Review »

With the recent release of Sci-Fi themed Endless Runner, RunBot, we took the time to get to know more about its studio, Bravo Games, and what makes the team tick, by asking a few questions of producer, César Ríos Oruña.

The Team

148apps: You've previously worked on some licensed titles such as Kung Fu Panda 2 and Power Puff Girls Snowboarding, how different is it working on those compared to original titles?
César Ríos Oruña (CRO): Working on original IPs definitely has some additional challenges that you don't face when working on licensed titles.

Let’s use RunBot as an example. When starting development of RunBot, we started with a "white paper", having to define everything from the bare basics. How does the game look? What’s the game's theme? How does it feel? You have so many options that you can get lost and spend a lot of time trying to figure where to go next. But don't get me wrong, despite being a big handicap this is one of the best parts of making video games – we have the freedom to create whatever we want. In a licensed game, the story and background are already there, you just have to adapt it to the game.

For RunBot, from the very beginning, we had a slick futuristic city in mind for the setting and a powerful agile robot for the main character. And this is where another risk pops up: you don't know 100% if that is going to work. If you are making an example; a Kung Fu Panda game from the movie, you already know that the characters are cool, people like them and everything is perfectly matching, because somebody has already done that job for you.

And then you have the validation process. This is a good news/bad news situation, as with a licensee, you get their help to make the game reflect their existing successful brand. But this can often lead to an iterative process that can delay the development team badly. As an independent, you can stop iterating whenever you want preventing the team from bleeding out, but you don't have this great help that a third party can give to the team.

With RunBot, we decided for a mixed approach – we provided our IP and game development, and Marvelous Games provided the publishing support and game advice to help make the finished game we have today.

148apps: As you've made many different kinds of games, do you guys have a particular favorite genre?
CRO: One of the great things of working on mobile platforms is that you can easily jump from genre to genre. Doing this keeps the team motivated and learning something new each day, absolutely indispensable to not getting stagnant creatively.

There are two genres that we are specially comfortable with: Cars/bikes (anything with an engine and wheels) mixed in with whatever game mechanic, and runners. Runners are especially good for mobile devices due to their simple controls and short play sessions. Some say that when you finish a game you just want to rush to another, the further the genre the better, but we are so comfortable with runners that after finishing RunBot we are still working on adding even more cool stuff based on feedback from our users. Adding cool things to a game always feels great!

148apps: Are you able to reveal any information on your future Marvelous Games's published titles?
CRO: The first game created within the Bravo - Marvelous alliance is RunBot, that just hit stores. Right now we are focused on improving it and we plan it to do it for a while. But I can tell you that we are also working on a number of other titles with them and we are extremely happy. Sorry I can't be any more specific about games or dates, but this alliance is going to bring great titles to stores, I'm pretty sure about that.

148apps: How is GemWars' (promised to be a 'mixture between Warcraft and Clash of Clans') progress coming along? It looks a really intriguing mix of genres!
CRO: GemWars is one of those titles that has become a bit "all-in". We’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and the concept has been evolving since 2010. Don't get me wrong, we haven't been working on it full-time since that date, but it has been growing slowly since then until it’s the HUGE game that is right now.

As you can imagine a lot of effort has been put into GemWars. The idea is to take the concepts of city management, exploration, and real-time battles and mix it in a fantasy medieval theme. The amount of content (3 sides, 64 controllable units, 36 buildings, spells, equipment, heroes...) is big and getting bigger; we’re continually adding things. We are still in production, but I can't provide any estimated release date, but when we do, we’d love to share more info with you.

While I'm busy keeping my fingers crossed for more info about GemWars, RunBot is out now and it's free to download. Thank you to César Ríos Oruña for taking the time to answer our questions. To learn more about the studio and its past work, check out their website.

Retro Athletics Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on August 9th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FRANTIC MASHING
Furious button mashing fun for fans of such retro gameplay, but not one to play in public.
Read The Full Review »

Volcano Escape Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Carter Dotson on February 18th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HOT LIKE LAVA
Volcano Escape is a hybrid of vertical endless platformers and dual-stick shooters that has you trying to escape a continuously rising wave of lava, shooting anything that comes in your path as you try to escape.
Read The Full Review »

First Look: Volcano Escape

Posted by Carter Dotson on February 9th, 2011

Two of iOS' most prominent genres (that don't involve matching together any number of gems) are vertical endless platformers, and dual-stick shooters. However, the paths of the two have rarely crossed...although the upcoming Volcano Escape from Bravo Game Studios is out to change this. In this game, you control the hapless Colonel Charlie Bravo, who went on a summer vacation...and then he got captured by some natives and chucked into a volcano. Oh no. However, not everything is as it seems, as apparently the natives have set up a labyrinth in the volcano to allow you to try and escape before the rising lava or one of the natives or strange creatures get to you. So, your goal is the same as in any endless vertical platformer: try to reach as great a height as possible before your eventual demise!

The controls interestingly take after dual-stick shooters more than vertical platformers. You have a joystick for movement, a joystick for firing in all directions around you, and a jump button. Along the way, you'll pickup powerups like a shield, high jump, and jet pack, as well as additional weapons like a shotgun and grenade launcher, for taking out more of the enemies around you. You have a double jump and the ability to take up to 3 hits before dying, though lava and traps will kill you instantly. The game feels a bit like Contra's vertical levels, with the mix of action gameplay and ascension-based platformers. The level designs are random, but tend to follow planned thematic shifts, like at a height of 700 (no unit is ever given), new types of enemies come into play and the levels start to involve more angled paths as well as platforms. When you kill enemies, they turn into molten rock, which can either serve as makeshift platforms, or as obstacles towards your further progress.

On the metagaming side, there's Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards baked in, and you'll see the names and scores of other players as you pass them. As well, you can challenge your Twitter followers and Facebook friends to play against you, and share your scores with them. You can unlock one of 5 characters, and an additional one will be available via in-app purchase. iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4th Generation owners will get to enjoy Retina Display support as well. Volcano Escape is releasing on February 17th, and we'll have a full review of the game then.