Regardless of which platform you prefer to do your gaming on, there’s no denying that Skylanders was a bonafide hit. And while the developers at Toys for Bob may have been responsible for the main game, the fine folks at Vicarious Visions were working hard behind the scenes on a wonderfully unique release in the Skylanders franchise.
Skylanders: Cloud Patrol quickly shot to near the top of the App Store charts upon release, and has remained one of the top 25 paid games ever since. We recently had a chance to chat with Ben Throop, Game Director with Vicarious Visions, about the title’s instant success. Here’s what he had to say;
Skylanders Cloud Patrol seemed to crack the App Store top 10 in a matter of minutes, and has remained there ever since. While the brand is notable, were you surprised by the immediate success of Cloud Patrol?
Well, you never know how a game is going to do until it’s released, but we all knew that Cloud Patrol was fun. You can tell you’ve got a fun game when the developers are playing it and competing against each other, even after working on it for months. When Apple chose Cloud Patrol as the Game of the Week it was very exciting and meant that we’d have a great chance to get the game in front of a lot of players. The ratings have been stellar and we’re super motivated to get some awesome updates out to Cloud Patrol fans.
If you were to boil it down to its core essentials, what would you say makes the Cloud Patrol formula so addictive?
It’s really about continuously presenting the player with challenges that they find somewhere in-between too hard and too easy… right in that sweet spot where they think, “I can do that!” and it’s very easy to play one more round. There are also lots of creative ways to play, to get higher scores and beat your friends, and to get further in the game. Players can develop their own style and solve problems their own way by unlocking different magic items and choosing how to use them strategically. And, of course, the Skylanders characters provide collectable aspect to the game, which is quite compelling to many people.
Vicarious Visions has spent plenty of time over the last few years adapting Activision franchises to handheld devices. Are there any existing Activision brands you’d love to bring to the App Store? (Personally, I’d love to see Marvel: Ultimate Alliance make the jump. Between the potential for in-app costume purchases and the success of similar games like Dungeon Hunter, it seems like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance could be an instant recipe for success.)
Yeah, that would be really cool if we had an opportunity to revisit the Marvel universe. Activision also has a great catalog of titles in its vault which I personally would love to see make it to handheld. I have a soft spot for the old Atari 2600 titles, and it would be great to see some of that of that retro gameplay reimagined on iOS.
Before Cloud Patrol, Vicarious Visions previously worked on the 3DS adaptation of Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure. It was different from the main game, offering up a unique storyline and platforming style reminiscent of… well, earlier Spyro games. Is there any talk of bringing a similar Skylanders franchise platformer to the App Store?
We were really fortunate to be able to run with the Skylanders franchise and create an original game that fit the 3DS system – it’s perfect for a fast platformer with its controls. That said, I don’t think the platformer genre is the best fit for iOS, at least not in the same vein as the 3DS game, which uses virtual sticks. I’d prefer to come up with some really surprising and fun things that are perfect for the iPad and iPhone.
While completely different in nature, both Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure on 3DS have one thing in common – they’re proof that Activision trusts Vicarious Visions with an important IP and is willing to take Skylanders in unique new directions. Tell us a bit about how you came to work on the franchise, and why your titles were so different from those that came before.
Since VV has such a successful history of adapting games to handheld and mobile systems, we had license to create something that was specifically designed for the hardware and play patterns of the 3DS. Everyone here worked extremely hard on Skylanders 3DS and the game was a very high quality product that we’re proud of. The quality of that title – along with a strong partnership with Paul Reiche and his team at Toys For Bob, and the folks at Activision – are what propelled us to do Cloud Patrol and hopefully more Skylanders titles in the future.
We began the Cloud Patrol project with a focused prototyping period where we asked ourselves “what would be a fun iOS game that hasn’t been done before?” We were fortunate to have the support and encouragement from Activision to build something new. Our ability to make gameplay the top priority is what has shaped these games into such fun experiences, both to make and to play.