Recently, a runner about zombies Dead Ahead from the domestic team Mobirate was released. On the very first day, Apple began to actively promote it. We contacted the developers and asked them about the project.
The questions were answered by the executive director of Mobirate Anton Belov.
Anton, now many people know about Parking Mania and Dead Ahead, but the studio name itself has not yet become familiar. Please tell us a little about Mobirate first. How long have you been playing games, how many of you and where are you from?We live in the city of Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Lenin’s grandfather.
We’ve been playing games for a long time. This year we turned 10 years old. We started when I was still a 3rd year student. I then made a Billiard Master for Pocket PC. The game sold well: it was enough to organize a small studio of 4-5 employees. Now there are more than 20 of us.
Parking ManiaThen they began to do for Palm, but there was no great success.
We have probably done about 10 projects for it and Windows Mobile. Then it became difficult, they decided to create a game for the Nintendo DS, even signed a counter-contract with the publisher, but then the crisis of 2008 broke out, and the project was closed. Here Chillingo, with whom we worked from the very beginning, when we developed for Pocket PC, offered us to make games for iPhone. There was nowhere to go, I had to develop for iOS.
The first three games did not give good revenue, but then there was Parking Mania and Stick-Fu, with which we rose to the second place of the paid top of the USA. Things got better after that. The game for the Nintendo DS was released in the DSi Ware store (it was approved by Nintendo for more than six months, they almost checked the pixels there). As a result, its development paid off, no more.
Your last project, the runner Dead Ahead, was released two weeks ago. It was featured on the main page of the App Store in many countries, was in the top 30 free iPhone games in the USA, for the second week it is also in the box office top 200 there. We also liked him very much on App2Top, but we still can’t help but ask the following question: runners are much inferior in profitability to builders, card projects. And still you decided to take up this genre, starting work on Dead Ahead. Why?There was a concept of this game, and it immediately hooked all of us, so we decided to make it in 3 months.
For money, of course, it would be better to make a builder or a farm, but there you can very easily get monetization and goodwill. Card games, when we first started developing Dead Ahead, had not yet risen high.
As far as we know, the development of Dead Ahead took a lot of time. How long have you been working on the game?15 months.
A bunch of features were just invented while the concept was transferred to iOS. Initially, there was only a naked runner without shooting and everything else.
We know that you did the project on Marmalade. If the work was not on Marmalade, would the game have been released earlier?It’s hard to say, maybe one platform is faster, but it’s easier to port to others.
Versions on other platforms are almost immediately working, with the exception of external SDKs (analytics, advertising).
Of course, marmalade also has its own rake, and they usually pop up at the end of development, when near-game things begin to be created. For example, marmalade has had a bug for 2 years with the display of a splash screen when launching the game, although it seems to have been fixed in the latest versions.
Are you satisfied with the result, with what you got? What, looking back, would the project have tweaked?Of course, they are satisfied.
The reviews are great everywhere. On metacritic, the rating was 88, and they took “The Best iOS game of May 2013” in the same place. With management, some complain, but the update is already with Apple and will be released soon.
Today, everyone says that games are a service. How are you going to develop Dead Ahead? Add social features or focus on new content? We will also add social features and content, and in each update there will be both new functions and new content so that players do not get bored.
We want to make multiplayer.
What do you think the work on this project has taught you, what have you learned from working on Dead Ahead for yourself?We were doing a development analysis and realized that we were wasting a lot of time because we didn’t make prototypes initially.
That is, they started making a feature and almost the final art, and then it turned out that it was necessary to redo. And so it often happened. For new projects, a feature-prototype-oriented approach was taken for testing. In other words, we do it quickly and immediately throw it away if you don’t like it. It seems to be understandable, but it really turns out differently.
Have you decided what your next project will be?We are currently developing big updates for Parking Mania and Dead Ahead.
We are also making a beautiful and interesting Parking Mania 2. We will recruit more people, maybe we will make a clone of Clash of Clans, although probably many are already doing it, and towards the end of the year they will begin to appear.
What will you use to develop your next project?On Unity.
Why exactly on this engine?More support from the creators and the community, and the editor is great.
If Marmalade had a similar editor (Shiva does not count, there are a lot of glitches and 2D is not normally supported), then maybe they would have stayed on Marmalade.
Many independent developers are still wary of publishers. Based on the experience of working with Chillingo, do you think a publisher is really needed or can you safely do without it?You can hire a PR agency for 100K, but if you don’t have that kind of money, it’s easier to go to a good publisher.
They will tell you how to do better, and what will not work and be bought. I am a programmer by education, I want to make games, not engage in conversations and stories about them. Let the people who do it better do it.
Will your team continue to work together with Chillingo? Yes, we are going to continue.
Well, the last question. In Moscow, many people often complain about the big crutches in the maintenance of the team, the frenzied rhythm. How is the situation in Ulyanovsk? What pros and cons could you highlight when talking about working in your hometown?Of course, we have less costa.
But Ulyanovsk is the center of IT in the Volga region. We have large IT companies engaged in e-commerce, web and others. So there is a lot of competition for programmers, and there have been fewer and fewer good ones coming out of universities lately. Our city is beautiful and clean. Powerful IT events are held under the auspices of local companies.