Ireland has a tremendous pool of talent and resources available to those who wish to succeed and while headlines in papers might harbour nothing but words of doom and gloom, this initiative aims to restore your faith in what we can achieve as individuals, what we can achieve collectively and we can achieve through perseverance. Welcome to The Gaming Liberty’s “We Are” initiative…
Pixel Wolf Studios are on the cusp of releasing their debut title, so it was with great excitement TGL sat down with the dev team and spoke everything from the inspirations for said titles, the Irish scene and what, going forward, you might need if you plan on joining the industry.
The Gaming Liberty: How did the idea for Pixel Wolf Studios come about?
Pixel Wolf Studios: Well we setup back in November 2011 when we were both were coming to the end of our Masters and working on games for our final projects. We were putting a lot of time into them and were keen to not have them just end up being college projects that never got released or fully finished. We were also both looking to make a move into the industry and looking at the potential jobs currently available both here in Ireland and abroad in the Uk and Canada. Neither of us wanted to have to go abroad if possible and we already had these two games in development at the time. We had a set of core skills from making those and our own backgrounds so we had a chat about setting up our own studio here in Ireland. We took some time to email some of the other studios and see how they got started out and what kind of help they got when starting out. We then spoke to various places like Enterprise Ireland, the DIT Hothouse and the Guinness Enterprise Centre to see what information they could give us and look into getting office space. We did all that over the space of about two weeks and gathered up all the information we had from each of these sources and sat down and processed everything. Right at that time there was a good buzz growing around games development in Ireland so it was an exciting time to be thinking about setting up a studio and to be honest it didn’t take us long to decide that this was what we wanted to do and so Pixel Wolf Studios was born!
TGL: Your first two titles, “The Imagination of Jamie Jones” and “Manic Machines”, are currently in development. Can you tell us about each title and the inspirations behind them?
PWS: Well Manic Machines is a puzzle game based on the concept behind Rube Goldberg Machines. This stems back to cartoons draw by Rube Goldberg which they are named after who would draw these really elaborate machines or contraptions that were there only to perform a very simple task. Back in the 90′s there was a set of games called ‘The Incredible Machine’ which drew inspiration from this idea and for anyone familiar with board games think of the board game called Mousetrap and you are on the right lines. We are both a fan of puzzle games and problem solving so these type of games seemed like the logical choice when it came to development. In Manic Machines the player will have a set of objects which they use to help create a path for a ball to reach a goal at the end of the level. For example this could be placing bits of pipe together for the ball to roll through, then adding a platform to bridge a gap, having buttons to trigger trapdoors and other devices. All of these would need to be setup in the correct manner almost like a chain reaction so that the ball can reach the goal. There will be various different objects which all act differently depending on how they are used and different themes which come with their own set of objects for those levels. The game itself is being released for the tablet market and we are hoping to release it at the start of the summer via iTunes and the Android marketplace.
The Imagination of Jamie Jones is our other title. Its a puzzle platformer again based for the tablet device market and is based around the imagination of a young boy called Jamie Jones. Jamie discovers that his favorite teddy bear has been stolen and finds himself in a world where he can use his imagination to help him solve puzzles and help save his teddy bear. The player navigates Jamie around the level trying to solve puzzles while collecting these magical characters he comes across in the level. With these he can use his imagination to turn them into objects that he needs such as a lever to activate a conveyor belt or a crate to climb up on to a platform. The game combines elements of a standard platform with puzzle solving and strategy elements to challenge the player and make them think about how to correctly use the objects to solve the puzzle. This will be released a towards the end of the summer and again will be available through iTunes and the Android Marketplace.
TGL: Thanks to the wealth of power found within the development tools for mobile platforms like iPad, would-be game developers are beginning to spring up quicker than ever before. What do you think sets Pixel Wolf Studios apart from the competition?
PWS: Right now its a great time to be a game developer and there are such a wide range of tools available. The beauty of it is though that there are so many genres and styles of game that everyone has room to build the types of games they like and appeal to their own set of fans. We are developing 3 puzzles/strategy games as that’s what we ourselves like to play and they are the types of games we would sit down and spend hours playing. Its important to build games that you yourself enjoy playing as it lets you feel more passionate about what you create and also build a better game for your potential customers. We feel as a small team we have a wide skill set which allows us have a good focus on the projects we are developing. No two days are the same for us in the office and we have to work on all aspects of our games and the studio so we have to be able to diversify every day and work on whatever needs to be done. We are hoping by the end of the year we will have 3 titles launched and more in the development stage so we are busy from the minute we start in the morning till the end of the day.
TGL: With the industry shifting towards cheaper development costs, and success stories like Minecraft becoming both an inspiration and a staple for budding developers – do you feel that in the contemporary video games market, a knowledge of portable development is crucial? Where do you think prospective developers should focus their attention?
PWS: There are so many options available to people at the minute and with cheaper development costs it means its possible for literally anyone who is interested to try and develop something and get it out there. The handheld and portable market is growing every day and has become just as big a player in the industry and the big development companies that previously only developed console titles have seen this. You now have a lot of the major games being developed for the handheld market as well as the consoles with versions of big games like Dead space available on the iPhone and iPad. Certainly for developers looking to get started the ability to develop something for the mobile market and be able to publish it themselves via the App store and Android Marketplace is a massive advantage. This allows you to get some games out there and build up a portfolio of games without a lot of restrictions and red tape you would face going down other avenues if trying to develop for say the console market. Right now for example we don’t have access to the Indie marketplace on Xbox Live in Ireland which is a huge shame as I think it would encourage a lot more people to develop it if they were able to showcase their games to each other and see each others work up there.
TGL: You’ve now settled in the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin. Can you tell us about the support you have received to date?
PWS: Sure, when we went and spoke to the GEC they had just launched a new initiative called the Creative Cluster. It was a new programme in which they were looking to take on game studios or games related companies and provide them with office space and support at a minimal cost. They have a large room dedicated to the cluster which they have divided up for each studio and you have your desk space, your phone and broadband and everything you need. We also have access to a mentor who comes around to talk to us and see how we are getting on and if we need help with anything. They offer support and advice when it comes to putting together funding applications or business plans or anything of that nature and as the building itself houses such a huge amount of companies its great for networking. We attend a networking meeting the first Wednesday of every month and get to meet up with new companies starting in the building or existing ones who might be looking for some help with their business. Its a great way to get introduced to other companies and get your own name out there too.
TGL: Do you have any advise to those that want to establish a studio, or even get their foot in the door, as developers in Ireland?
PWS: The best thing to do is just start and do it. Build something and get it out there and don’t be put off wondering will it be good enough or will people play it. Its a continuous learning process and you will always improve on anything you develop with the next game so you just need to go for it from the start. Development costs are dropping all the time and there are plenty of options when it comes to office space and getting setup. Right now there is such a buzz in Ireland around the games industry and everyone in the community is great. We regularly meet up with the different studios and developers around the country and have a chat about what they are working on and whats next in the pipeline and theres a huge sense of well being about it all. No one is in competition with each other, its more about putting Ireland on the map and trying to encourage the Irish development scene. Anyone starting out should get in touch with the various studios for advice and be sure to check out gamedevelopers.ie and get involved in the community on there. Obviously follow the studios and developers on Facebook and twitter and go along to the various events throughout the year and meet up and talk to people and ask questions.
TGL: What’s next for Pixel Wolf Studios?
PWS: Well right now we have a third game in development that’s actually going to be released prior to Manic Machines and The Imagination of Jamie Jones. Its still a bit top secret but we are excited about getting it out there and releasing it hopefully in the next 2 months. It will be available on all smart phone and tablet devices and more information will be available on our website and Facebook over the coming weeks so check those out for more information! That will give us 3 titles this year and a busy few months ahead getting those out there and then on to developing some new titles and plans before the end of the year.
We’re also launching a training program which is essentially a beginners course in game design and development using Corona SDK.The course will cover each and every aspect involved in the process of creating games for mobile devices from the planning and prototype stage right up to the coding and development. Starting the 9th of June, the course costs €225 and is for students between the ages of 12-15 with no previous coding or game design background. For more inoformation, please feel free to head on over to our Pixel Wolf Studios training page – where you can also register your interest in the course too.
Finally, we would just like to also say thanks to The Gaming Liberty for their continued support and promoting the Irish Game Development Scene. Its a really exciting time right now to be making games and in the industry in Ireland and there’s a lot of great things going on right now in all the studios so watch this space.
You can reach Pixel Wolf Studios through the following links: