Teams of developers get together in all sorts of ways. So do couples. But what happens when the two worlds collide? If you’re names are Brian and Anna, Fenix Fire is what happens. This new development studio, consisting entirely of two industry vets who are deeply in love, are preparing to unleash their first collaborative effort on the world. Their baby if you will. We recently had a chance to chat with the pair about their upcoming game Roboto that’s headed for the iTunes App Store and Android Market.
Everyone loves a good love story. Tell us how you two met.
We met at art school, but it’s not as innocent as it sounds. At the time, I was an instructor and Anna was a student in my class. We started dating after Anna finished the class, of which she received an A.
Working with a spouse can present its own unique set of challenges. Are you able to keep work and home life separate? What are the pluses and minuses of becoming business partners with your partner in life?
We bicker all the time about how to improve the game. Even though we work from home we’ll call a meeting to talk about Roboto in a very corporate type fashion. These meetings get sidetracked by discussing who’s vacuuming and who’s doing the dishes mixed in with gameplay decisions, AI behaviors and marketing plans. So I suppose we don’t really try to separate the business from our life, it all just fuses together. Oddly enough, as inevitable as this is, we actually like it this way.
Funny enough the pluses are minuses: we can talk about our projects any time of the day and we see each other all the time. There’s a very strong incentive to help each other, the better we do helps both of us. There’s no room for corporate politics.
Fenix Fire’s upcoming debut title, Roboto, will be hitting the App Store and Android Market soon. It’s something of a love story too. Tell us a little about it.
Roboto is about a clumsy robot boy who suddenly discovers the girl of his dreams right before she blasts off to another galaxy. Determined to ask her out, Roboto hoverboards across worlds in a desperate attempt to find her. Of course, there are many obstacles; enemy bots, falling platforms, gravity switching, laser guided turret guns and giant mechs all stand in his way.
To even the odds of this monumental quest, Roboto has many weapons at his disposal and can even upgrade his armor and hoverboard. In the end, only Roboto’s skill will propel him to have a chance in finding and asking out his one true love.
From what little we’ve seen, Roboto seems to be a 2D platformer that mixes a number of familiar mechanics like gravity-flipping, coin-collecting, and subtle 3D elements. What, if anything, inspired the varied gameplay in Roboto?
We turned to classic games for our primary inspiration. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for PS1 had this great twist when the top of the screen became the level – it was a great gameplay feature and we always wanted to play off of that. Also, going back even further, the best Mario game ever was Super Mario Bros 2. It was so unique and completely holds up today. The fact that you can pull grass to uproot vegetables and then throw them was awesome, and that really got us thinking about how to tie all the gameplay aspects together in a cohesive, circular fashion.
More than anything else, the Roboto World itself inspired us. The locations we chose for the game really lent itself to some great platforming moments and the fact that it is a robotic world allowed for crazy technology gadgets, like a gravity switching device and the hover board physics.
There seems to be a move amongst mobile game developers lately to shift from an iOS-exclusive focus to a mixed iOS and Android focus. How important is a simultaneous iOS and Android release to you? And why choose this, rather than releasing on a single platform first and then porting later as many developers choose to do?
Using Unity as our middleware allows us to achieve a simultaneous launch.
Gaming couples always seem to have a favourite game that they play together, and I’m sure you two are no exception. When the Fenix Fire team wants to chill out, what do you like to snuggle up and play?
Right now we really like Donkey Kong Country on Wii, which has a great use of theme and gameplay mechanics. Most of the time, however, we play Roboto. Not only to play test, but because even after 8 months of development we really just like to play it.