Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Naramura, who is leader of NIGORO. NIGORO released very big hit 'Slap Cheek' game [Rose & Camellia] recently, and it became very popular all over the internet.

Naramura used 'Translation software' to make this interview, Japanese -> English. I edited some of it, but you could have little bit hard time to understand partly. So please make sure about that. Thanks for your understanding.

Korean version of this Interview.


Even GameTrailers.com has this!


1. 'Nigoro' is not very popular name in Korea, even if it's known for earlier work [Death Village] outside Japan. Please introduce yourself briefly, to Pig-Min readers.

We had opened the game to the public making it in the hobby before. The most important work was "LA-MULANA", that is Windows game which looks like MSX. But we were not able to make the game, because our members became too busy. After that, we made NIGORO, because I want to continue to make the game.

We opened Flash game site to the public, for the preparation of the long period game production. We plan to make a bigger game sooner or later.


2. 'Slap Cheek' is the least thing, people could consider for 'Fighting Game'. It's very unique & unusual, and very fun to play, but NOBODY made it until your game. How come to think about that?

We were not accustomed to making the Flash game. To make the game that was able to play by more people, a lot of popular Flash games were researched.

And, we decided it to making a  simple game only of hitting each other. However, We decided to look for a changeable theme, because it was not interesting in it alone.For slapping each other by the women, it is seen with an old drama in Japan sometimes.We got a hint there, and "Rose and camellia" became such a game.


3. 'Character Design' seems to be influenced by Japanese old school Manga for women. But 'Storyline' seems to be influenced by Japanese old school manga for Boy. Very fun combination, as 'Escalation of  the Enemy' &'Hidden Boss'. Can you pick up some specific Manga,  which you got influence to make this game?

We started making the design of "Rose and camellia", from the influence of the old school Manga for women style, as you guessed it.However, it has become like old school manga for Boy, because I am the Man & I wrote the story.

I got the model from "Rose in Versailles(Japanese old school Manga for women)". And I got influence from "Hokuto no Ken - Fist of the North Star (Japanese old school manga for Boy)" for the Story.

The storyline was not too deep, because we'd like to let people playing it freely.


4. Homepage & Game have some 'English' words, but most of the  messages are 'Japanese' language only. Partly foreigners-friendly,  but not very friendly. Do you have any specific reason why? And do  you have any future plan, to make homepage & game 'Multilingual',  with English & even Korean? Many Korean people wish to play game  with Korean language, so curious.

Our team NIGORO is 3 people, and no member can translate. However, because a lot of foreigners have come to our site,  so the explanation of easy English is put. We can prepare only the  explanation of English, because we learn English at the school in Japan. We'd better make the multilingual version, by employing the translater, if our work succeeds.

People in each country explains the brief storyline local, and it works. We wish to express our gratitude to the volunteer translators.


5. Not sure about Japanese market, however there are some Webgame market in USA. Do you have some plan to service your game with  commercial channel in the future? And did you get some proposal  from commercial game site?

Certainly, the foreigner evaluates us higher than the Japanese. First of all, NIGORO must make a lot of games, and became famous to make something bigger. If so, we can develop the consumer game like "Wiiware" ,"XNA" etc.


6. Too many people enjoyed your game, and your website went down  due to traffic. Do you have some data, where all the people came from? Country & Referer website, I mean.

The server was moved, due to high traffic & even went down.

Our site records 500000 visitors. When the game is open to the public, 50000 people visited our site that 1 day. We had not thought that such a many people came, we used just a cheap server, and sever down at then.

A lot of people in the sphere of Spanish came, when "Death Village"  was opened to the public. NowA lot of people in the sphere of Asia have come, when "Rose and camellia" is opened to the public.


7. Do you have future plan, to post your personal picture? Some  people might want to see 'Who made it', because it's too unique and  shocking game.

If we become famous more, we will update our photograph to the public.


8. Please recommend other good Games, and  the reason why.

I do not play new games usually. We love retro game. We want to let people have the interest, what we had while playing retro games in the past.

Hydlide, Maze of Garious, Gradius, Xanadu, Relics....and more retro games!


9. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced  about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

Sorry, we have not played Korean games. Foreign games doesn't do well in Japan. We want to play them in the future, when we have time.


10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

We wish to express our gratitude to a lot of foreigners for playing our game, though we are making the game for the Japanese. I think that there was no border in a fun game. However, we want to continue the game making that can amuse you!!


[Rose & Camellia] official page : Nigoro


Korean version of this Interview.
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Recently, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview of Naomi Clark, who was Producer - Writer of [Miss Management].

Korean version of this Interview.

User image

Title screen of [Miss Management].



1. [Miss Management] uses 'Time Management' concept, which was made for [Diner Dash]. But [Miss Management] is totally different game from [Diner Dash], especially for 'Managing Whom'. For [Diner Dash], player must handle 'Customers'. But for [Miss Management], player must handle 'fellow workers'. Very different & brilliant idea it is. How come to think about such a excellent thing?

At Gamelab we always try to come up with something new that we haven't done before. Sometimes this is a completely new style of game, sometimes it is an evolution from a previous idea. Miss Management is a time management game, and hopefully a good evolution of Diner Dash!

The funny thing is, originally this game was not like Diner Dash at all. The first versions were made to look like project-management software -- as if the character of Denise was sitting at a computer looking at software on the screen that let her give tasks to various employees. There was no picture of the office rooms, or walking around the office, just lots of tasks and power-ups and employees with different abilities. It felt kind of like playing a RPG like Final Fantasy -- except only the combat part, with tasks as "monsters," and no exciting graphics.

So we decided that was not exciting enough, then we came up with the idea of having Denise walk around the office -- and we realized, hey this could work kind of like Diner Dash! So we combined our idea of an office, many employees, and tasks, with our
previous ideas from Diner Dash to make a new game.


2. For [Miss Management], player must use 'Female' character, and also for [Diner Dash]. Of course, there are only 2 gender for human, so 'female' is half of them & not very special. But you might have some reason to pick up 'female' character for the player. Please share your thoughts about that.

You're right, females are half of everyone! But somehow, half of game characters are not females! And when many games do have female characters, they are made to be sexy, for the benefit of male players, instead of realistic. We like to do things a little bit differently, for many reasons. One is that we just don't want to do games that have already been made, we want to explore new ideas. There are very few games that are set in an office, in regular modern settings -- no guns, no spaceships, no swordfights!

Also, a lot of people who play our games are women, sometimes more than half! Since there are few games where women can identify with a realistic female character, instead of a female who's just there to be sexy, we want to provide this experience for them. At the same time, we also think our male gamers can enjoy a game with these characters; we try to make Flo and Denise the kind of characters that anyone can
identify with, just like famous characters such as Mario or Link. The player might not be a fat little Italian plumber with a big mustache, but still it's easy to "step into the shoes" of Mario and play with him. We think the same thing can be done with female characters too!

For similar reasons, we wanted to put characters from many different racial backgrounds in the game, so we have some Asian characters, an Indian character, some black characters, etc. This is also rarely seen in games, especially in a modern setting where the characters talk about race!


3. [Miss Management] is superior to [Diner Dash], for characters. For [Diner Dash], there was only 1 fixed character 'Flo', and others are 'visiting customers'. But for [Miss Management], all the characters are alive & have their own personality & dialogues. It's very hard to make all the characters different. Could you please let us know, how you made such a living characters? (Especially for 'Tara'. When she get angry, she's cute.)

We had both game designers (who write the story as well as design the game) and visual artists work on these characters together. First, two game designers (myself and Nick Fortugno) come up with ideas for characters, many of them were based on people that we know and have worked with. Some of the characters in Miss Management are very much like my own bosses and coworkers from past jobs! Then we asked our character illustrator, Carolina Moya, to draw them. The pictures of the characters looking excited, unhappy, stressed out, really brought them to life and gave us a lot more ideas on who they are, what they're like. We tried to come up with every kind of "office character" we could -- bosses and employees, nervous people and people who don't like working.

We also created the characters to fit the game, so their variety explores the whole game system: good at different kinds of things, stressed by different things, etc. Some are specialists, others can do anything. These parts of the game also influenced the personality and dialogue of the characters.

It all fits together: game + visual + writing.

Tara is one of my favorite characters, especially because she loves anime so much. She is partly based on one of our artists here.


4. 'Miss' of [Miss Management]. It means 'honor title of lady', but it also has meaning of 'mistake', so [Miss Management] might have 'duplicate meaning'. Did you intend it?

Yes, I'm glad you understood the double meaning!

We spelled it "Miss" because Denise is a young lady (we use "Miss" for women who are not married). And "Management" because that is Denise's job. However, there is another word "mismanagement" which means "badly done management." It means when those in charge make poor decisions about running an organization. Of course, a lot of the story is about "mismanagement" in this way too, for instance the way Duncan acts in episodes 13-18 is a classic case of "mismanagement," same with Pearl and Brooke later on.


5. You have somewhat different career for 'Game Producer', as you have done 'Content & Community Manager'. Especially for 'Community Manager', it might be very different work from 'Game Producer'. But it's perfect for making [Miss Managment], because this game deals with 'community of fellow workers'. What do you think about that?

Definitely! That's a good connection.

The "community" part of my job usually comes after a game is finished, in talking with players and especially for multiplayer games. It's all about how people interact with each other around the game. At gamelab many of us do many different jobs at once, since we are not a huge company. For Miss Management, I did project management, writing, and game design too. So my title explains some of what my skills are (specializing in content and community) but not exactly what I do. Actually, my job is not that much different from what I did as a game producer! Just a different name.


6. Do you have some future plan, to make 'Sequel' or 'Different Skin' version of [Miss Management]? For example, [Diner Dash] had 2 sequels & Spongebob version. How about making 'Game Company' version of [Miss Management]? Will have too-inside-story of Gamelab? (grin.)

We are really excited that Miss Management is turning out to be popular. The future of the game has lots of possibilities, and it could work in many different settings -- I guess it depends on if someone is interested in working with us, like Nickelodeon did for Diner Dash. As for "Game Company" version, some people have already said that Miss Management offices look too much like our offices already! =) The employees in Miss Management are mostly young, some of them are artists and writers, and they work in open spaces without lots of walls and cubicles -- much more like Gamelab than most offices!


7. How's selling for [Miss Management]? It might hit the Casual Game market in US, because it's very unique & fun game to do. But marketing is very different from entertainment itself, so curious about that.

So far Miss Management is selling very well! We have distribution partners like Big Fish Games and iWin here in the United States, as well as on our own site, which has just launched, so we don't have a lot of data for it, but we are excited to see how many people are downloading it, and a lot of those people have purchased it! On the larger sites, Miss Management is in the top #10 downloads still, and we hope to see it stay there! Because we developed and published Miss Management ourselves, we are also doing marketing. For now that mostly means talking to websites -- like Pig-Min! And also some magazines, newspapers, etc.


8. You used framework for Mind Control Software, which made [Oasis]. How about using that framework?

We really love the Orbital framework from Mind Control Software. The developers there are our friends, but also, out of all the software frameworks we have worked with, we like the way Orbital is built the best. It lets us build games more quickly and in some cases, re-use code. We also write additional code that builds on Mind Control's work, then we give it back to them, which helps grow the framework. It's a valuable partnership for us.


9. Please recommend other good 5 Indie Games & 5 Major Games, and the reason why.


Indie Games

1. Knytt is a beautiful little game, so simple but with such a great feeling of exploring and solving puzzles. It really captures the heart of adventure gaming. http://knytt.ni2.se/

 2. I really like playing Urban Dead, which is a massively multiplayer zombie game. It's all made by one guy, and has some very basic rules, but a whole zombie society has grown out of it!
http://www.urbandead.com/

3. Everyday Shooter is one of the most beautiful games around, it's almost like poetry. Hard to get a copy to play, though! I just heard it might no longer be an indie game, and will be on Playstation Network, so maybe it's not indie anymore!
http://www.everydayshooter.com/

4. Puzzle Pirates is one of my big inspirations for multiplayer games, it is obviously a work of love by the crew at Three Rings, who are also friends of mine. http://www.puzzlepirates.com/

 5. The indie game I have probably played the most of is Slay, which is another beautifully simple game that is insanely addictive, I can play it over and over. http://www.windowsgames.co.uk/slay.html


Major Games.

 1. World of Warcraft. Simply put, it is the most well-designed, polished multiplayer game anyone has ever made! I'm constantly impressed by how Blizzard has been able to "steer the ship" when the ship is so large and complex!

2. Okami. I am half Japanese and grew up with lots of stories from Japanese mythology, and I was so happy to see this game, which also play and looks beautiful, the calligraphic graphics are amazing.

3. Guitar Hero. I love musical games, I always buy them and have hours of fun. Guitar Hero was really a new breakthrough because it does such a good job of simulating how to "rock out." I'm pretty good and got second place in a local tournament here last year!

4. Planescape: Torment. This is a old role-playing game for PC, set in a Dungeons & Dragons world. It's always on my list of top games because it has such good writing, and the conversations and plots in the game are so amazingly complex. I recommend anyone who likes game stories, fantasy, or RPGs to try and get a copy!

5. Final Fantasy Tactics. I love this series and I'm looking forward to the PSP version coming out later this year! I like tactics games better than usual RPGs, the game system is very interesting and deep.


10. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

Is Starcraft a Korean game? =D I think it is by now!

I have also played Ragnarok Online, Lineage, and recently Ragnarok Online 2 -- big
Korean multiplayer games. I'm interested in the differences between how game companies here made big multiplayer games like Everquest and World of Warcraft, and how different they are from Korean games. I think it tells you a lot about the history of gaming in different places!

I really enjoy more "casual" Korean multiplayer games like Kartrider -- the style of "pay for items and upgrades" that Korean games have invented is going to be very influential across the world. I've played more of these, but I don't know names for all of them since I can't read hangul! Some others I liked are Freestyle Street Basketball and Gunbound.


11. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

Thank you very much for trying our games! I think that a good game can reach across languages and cultures, and be a global phenomenon! We have lots of good examples, from Tetris to Starcraft to World of Warcraft, too! Let's make an international culture of all sorts of games. There is a lot of writing in Miss Management, hopefully it's good for practicing English! And I hope it's still funny and entertaining, on both sides of the Pacific!

Thank you!

Where to play : Gamelab homepage



Korean version of this Interview.
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Interview : Elephant Games, [RIP Trilogy].

This time, Pig-Min interviewed Elephant Games, Russian Company which made [RIP Trilogy]. Recently they released [RIP Trilogy] through Steam.

Answerers :
Andrey Pahmutov, CEO
Peter Efimov, game designer
Natalie Lekomtseva, manager

Korean version of this Interview.

User image

Screenshot from [RIP 3 : Last Hero].


1. Elephant Games has made 3 [RIP] series up to now, but most Korean don't know about them yet. Please explain [RIP] series & your company, including history & company size.

Natalie Lekomtseva

The company "Elephant Games" has been developing computer games since 2003.The main body of the company consists of 12 people. The company founders - Andrey Pahmutov (CEO) and Peter Efimov (game designer) initially were in the board games business for a long period of time. Then they founded a small PC game developing company.

Now in our team we also have 4 programmers, 2 artists, 2 designers, the webdesigner and the manager, who helps to get the products to market. Our programmers developed PC games since they were students. Even the degree work of one of them was a 3D arcade game. The artists have dealt with computer graphics for more than 6 years. They were the artists for GBA games, mobile games, and have also done web design.

Now  I can say that we got success not only in PC games (both on-line and retail), our games are also very popular on Mac

Peter Efimov

As for the RIP series ? initially RIP was created as a small arcade shooter for PC in a humorous style (thus the heroes were so unusually looking). But further we decided to give up the ironical idea, but the characters were still remained in RIP: Strike Back.
Actually RIP: SB was a kind of intermediate version, where we tried to develop further the game play and put all the basic abilities which we actually realised in RIP 3.

Andrey Pahmutov

Speaking about The Last Hero -  it differs from its predecessors conceptually. We worked over the setting, the narrative elements, the plot and each character's backgrounds. We were growing and the level of the game was also improving. So RIP evolution is our team's evolution as well.
 
 
2. Elephant Games is Russian company. We all know Russian companies have made several good games until now, as [Big red adventures] - [Etherlords] - [Hero of Might and Magic 5] - [Sea Dogs] - [Stalker]. but not sure about them exactly. Please explain us briefly Russian game scenes. And are there many indie game companies in Russia, like Elephant Games?

Natalie Lekomtseva

If I may continue your list of games made by Russians, I will add Turtle Odyssey (Realore), Alien Shooter (Sigma team), Turtix (Alawar) and many others. I think that we can compare Russian game market with a kid ? it is rather young, growing very fast and extremely talented.

Andrey Pahmutov

As far as I know the number of indie developers in Russia is almost the same as in any other countries. The main difference is that only a few independent teams in Russia are able to spend a large budget effectively in order to create a real hit.

At the moment most of the games, produced in Russia, are targeted to the inner market. Thus, the idea of  such titles is very often difficult to understand abroad .
But at the same time lots of casual titles by Russian teams become very successful. (e.g. Turtle Odyssey, etc.)

Peter Efimov

To my mind, the main difference of Russian indie teams consists in their attempt to put into the game not only well- polished technical aspects, but also a very addicting, interesting and deep game play.


3. It might not be so easy, to make game in Russia & sell them abroad, especially for Indie Game company. When you started business, there might be some difficulties about that, as Promoting - Getting site visitors from abroad - ... etc. Please share some episodes about that.

Andrey Pahmutov

In fact we have never experienced any specific problems about selling from Russia to abroad.  We faced just the same problems as all the start -upers: lack of experience and business contacts.But I think we managed to cope with all the difficulties. Currently we have a professional and very friendly team of developers.

Natalie Lekomtseva

Speaking about the main problems I would mention inability to contact with business partners personally due to our geographical position. But this issue is easy to resolve with a phone and e-mail service. Now we have lots of partnerships and business contacts. Besides, currently we have several really great agreements, which we are very excited about. Unfortunately I cannot give much information on that as we are bound with NDAs.
 

4. Earlier [RIP] series were sold seperately, around 19.99$ through casual game download portals. But with 3rd. game, it's published through Meridian4 & all of trilogy are sold at once under 20$, and download purchase might be only available through Steam. It's kinda big change for your selling. How come to change your selling method such a lot, and what are the differences for the Past & the Present selling? And will there retail package for [RIP Trilogy]?

Andrey Pahmutov

At the moment we are trying to change our selling strategy from direct sales to close cooperation with the publishers for different territories. We have a strong feeling that ?division of labour? is much more effective for us.

However, we sometimes can help the starting up developers with the product producing and its promotion.

Natalie Lekomtseva

We are really proud of dealing with all our business partners. Our team really enjoys working with Meridian4. They are very professional and friendly guys. Hope, we will release a retail package for RIP Trilogy with them very soon. As for the price- actually it depends on Steam policy.


5. [RIP] might get some influence from [Crimsonland], even if [RIP] series are kind different from [Crimsonland]. You might hear several feedbacks about that, from some players & even some reviews. Please share your opinion about that.

Peter Efimov

To some extent, RIP is really inspired by Crimsonland. And we are absolutely proud to see RIP compared with this great game. Crimsonland is a classic title. And I know very few games-clones which are appriciated and treated even more positively than the original.


6. First 2 series of [RIP] were similar to each other, not very different. 3rd. game might have some different & improved aspects, as I suspect. Please let me know about that.

Peter Efimov

As we mentioned above, RIP 3 differs from the first two RIPs by its concept. This project is made on the much higher level, regarding both graphics and and technical aspects. I think, the ideas, put into RIP 3 (destroyable environment, military vehicle abilities, etc.), will be improved and realised in our future games.


7. You might have some future projects, after [RIP Trilogy]. Please share us about that.

Andrey Pahmutov

Certainly, we have several projects in development.  But for the moment I would prefer not to comment much upon that. Please, follow our news at our official website Elephant Games.


8. Please recommend good Indie Games, and the reason why.

Andrey Pahmutov

I like Peggle. Though, I doubt that it can be considered an indie game. Popcap is both a publisher and a developer. I can also recommend Darwinia and Defcon.

Peter Efimov

Jets'N'Guns is another great game. We greatly respect the developers who are not afraid to shock the audience by a cool combination of dynamics and humour. The retro game stylistics of the game look really impressive! I am also dreaming to get to the magic island in Tropix ? the developers have done a great job (though, this title is not indie in fact).


9. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

Peter Efimov

Unfortunately, not. But we would be pleased to try if you us advise some titles. I really enjoy Eastern RPGs (Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire). We respect these games for the deep and serious plot.


10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

Andrey Pahmutov

We hope that you will like RIP series. We have lots of fans all over the world and will be happy to have friends from Korea.

Peter Efimov

On my part  I encourage you to send us your feedbacks and suggestions on RIP Trilogy. Let's make good games together.



Korean version of this Interview.
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Interview : Greg Costikyan, CEO of Manifesto Games

Welcome. This is e-mail Interview with Greg Costikyan, CEO of Manifesto Games.

Korean version of this Interview.

User image

1. 'Manifesto Games' is very unique & important store for Indie Game scene, but not many Korean knows about that until now. Please introduce your store briefly, and CEO yourself.

Manifesto Games's purpose is to build a market online for independently developed games. We're long-time gamers and game industry professionals, and we feel that the conventional, retail market for games has become too focused on best-sellers, on franchise titles (e.g., number six in a series), and on movie licenses. What was once the most creative popular artform has increasingly become dominated by games that don't innovate, and that don't create new forms of gameplay. And also, many kinds of games that still have enthusiastic fans--like graphic adventures and computer wargames--have disappeared from the shelves, because they don't generate the million-plus unit sales that the conventional publishers want to see.

We think the best way to sustain innovation and creativity in the game industry is to build for games what the independent music and independent film movements create for their own artforms--an alternative path to market for games that may never sell at the same levels as big-budget titles, but that have some artistic merit, and appeal to smaller but passionate fans.

I've been thinking about these issues for years--I wrote an article for Game Developer magazine back in 1999 calling for an "indie game publisher," but until recently, I didn't see a way to make a viable business from the idea. Three things changed my mind: First, the spread of broadband means that it's now possible to distribute even large games over the Internet (which wasn't true in the dial-up era). Second, the success of the casual game market provides a viable business model for online game distribution. And third, I spoke at the Game Developers Conference in 2005 on the lack of creativity in the industry and the conservatism of the major publishers, and got a standing ovation--meaning that it's clear that game developers are eager to see something like this happen, too.

 
2. There are MANY Casual Game portals already, but very few Non-Casual Indie Game stores. How come to start Non-Casual Indie Game store?
 
Precisely because there are many casual game portals already, I didn't see the point of starting another one--nor do I really want to have to compete with companies like Yahoo! and Real, who have deep pockets. Anyway, casual games are succeeding in reaching a market, and I'm more interested in trying to do the same with games that are more hard-core.

Our basic idea is that the casual game market has proven the viability of selling games via direct download with a "try before you buy" offer, and that it should be possible to build a similar but parallel market by appealing to a different demographic--gamers, in essence.


3. How to choice games which you sell in store? You might not accept every proposal, as I think, and there might be some basis about that. Please let us know about that.

We look for games that fall into one of three categories:

1. Games that cater to an existing audience of enthusiasts that the conventional publishers no longer (or no longer often) address--particularly graphic adventures, computer wargames, turn-based strategy, space shoot-em-ups, and RPGs.

2. What we term "cool indie games"--games that are quite innovative in terms either of gameplay or subject matter.

3. Games that appeal to audiences, many of whom may not think of themselves by gamers, but who share an interest in a particular subject that the game addresses. (For example, we carry a scuba diving sim.) In other words, niche audiences that the major publishers are not likely to address. Our belief is that gaming is now a common cultural thing, and just as people interested in a topic can be persuaded to read a book or watch a move on that topic, they can be induced to play a game on the topic as well.

 
4. Casual Game Portals are famous for their best sellers & high profit, but not sure about Non-Casual game store yet, because there were not many news we could read. Could you please let us know your business size?

We're still quite small, and have a long way to go--keep in mind that we've build Manifesto with a very small investment of capital so far, and our growth has been organic, rather than spurred by major advertising and promotion. Our best sellers are in the hundreds of units sold, rather than thousands (or millions), but the numbers do seem to be improving month by month.

 
5. 'Manifesto Games' must do some Marketing, not just for Games but also for Store itself. For example, I read a news about [Shivah] at CNN internet, which was press-released by Manifesto Games. Please let us know more about your Marketing - Press release like that.

Because our financial resources are limited at present, public relations is the key to our current marketing efforts (one of our core team is a highly experienced publicist). We try to reach both the core game media, and also larger publications, both in the US and elsewhere--and for games of interest to particular groups, media devoted to their interests. (For example, The Shivah, whose protagonist is a Rabbi, was also picked up by The Jerusalem Post.) Of course, we can't always predict who will pick up on a particular item, and were quite surprised (and happy, of course) when CNN.com (and Reuters) ran the story on The Shivah.

 
6. There are not many stores, which carries 'Detailed Review done by seller', but Manifesto Games does it for every games. Please let us know about that, as How much time you spend for each review - Who writes them (All by yourself, or some worker hired dedicated to that.) - Customer feedback about such detailed reviews - etc.

Well, actually, our reviews run the range from a paragaph or two to several thousand detailed words. The short pieces are normally written by me, after playing the game for some time. The longer reviews are written either by my partner Johnny Wilson, or by someone from whom we commission the review.

We feel that we need to provide more than a place to buy independent games--we need to try to say something interesting about each we carry. The idea is to motivate people to come back to the site frequently to see what's new.


7. You might have some Opinion about 'Indie Games', as 'I think Indie Games are better than Major Games, because...' or 'I prefer Indie Games, because...' or something else. Please share some.

Ahem. "Corporate games suck. Indie games rock. Tell all your friends."

That's simplistic, of course. The conventional publishers do produce some excellent games, and many indie games are mediocre. However, the mainstream industry has become so conservative that it's very unusual to be surprised and excited by a new mainstream game any more--the gameplay is almost always something you've seen before, and even on the (rare) occasions that they publish what they call "original IP"--meaning a game that isn't based on an older on, or on a movie license--they simply create a game of an existing type (racing game, sports game, RTS, RPG, whatever) with little if any real innovation.

Indie games are often rough around the edges, but individual creators and small teams are much better positioned to do something interesting and different--and that's what's exciting about the field.

 
8. Please pick 5 good games & explain about that.

Well, my favorite indie games at the moment are (not necessarily in order):

The Shivah: At its heart, The Shivah is an old-school adventure game like those that LucasArts used to publish. The graphics are quite retro--it looks as if it might have been published in the late 80s--but the topic and approach is masterly. The story deals with a Jewish rabbi having a crisis of faith--certainly a topic no conventional publisher would touch--and both the writing and the voice acting is excellent.

PeaceMaker: Created by a mixed US/Israeli/Palestinian team, PeaceMaker puts you in the role of either the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian president, and as such, you need to both satisfy the demands of your own people and try to come to some kind of agreement with the other side. It's a frustrating and difficult game, as you might expect, since it's about a frustrating and difficult problem. And that, really, is the virtue of this game: To demonstrate that games can cast light on thorny, real-world issues, that games can be more than mere entertainment.

Kudos: Kudos is a curiously compelling "life simulation," in which you play a recent graduate with few skills, trying to survive as a waiter while developing skills and connections to get a better job---while socializing enough to stay sane and reasonably happy. While it's mostly carried in text, it has a strong narrative draw, pulling you on to see what happens next and try to guide your character to a more fulfilling life.

DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold:  DROD is a "thinking man's dungeon." While it takes place in an underground fantasy dungeon, it's nothing like the sort of hack-and-slash games that typically take place in that kind of environment. '"DROD" stands for "Deadly Rooms of Death," and each room in the dungeon is a puzzle. It's turn-based, and each step you take, monsters move in response, in predictable ways--so to get through a room, you must carefully plan every move, and one mis-step means death. In other words, this is unique gameplay, not found in any other title.

Ninjastarmageddon!: Ninjastarmageddon! is an Elite-style space trading game. That is, you control a starship, travelling the universe and trading goods, fighting pirates or becoming one, performing missions for  one of the two sides that is fighting a war around you, and upgrading your ship with new equipment and capabilities over time. Where Ninjastarmageddon! is different and interesting is in its humorous, over-the-top approach. The graphics look like they're from a comic book; and your 'starship' looks like a car, in which you tool around space. The goods you trade are things like kittens and cheese, and the ongoing war is between Ninjas and Zombies.

 
9. Have you played some Korean game, or experienced or even heard about Korean Gaming Scene & Market? If so, please share your opinion about that.

Oh, yes.... Some years ago, I spent some time downloading and playing Korean games because a friend of mine was thinking about trying to bring some to the States. I don't speak Korean, of course, which makes it difficult--but my daughter attends a local high school with a substantial number of Asian students, and so I hired a Korean-American student to play them with me, so I could at least tell what people where saying and what the menus meant.

I found it quite interesting, particularly the diversity of MMOs in the Korean market--although things are changing here, most MMOs in the states are still fantasy in theme. However, there's also an important cultural difference that, I think, makes it hard for many Korean MMOs to find a market here, and vice versa. In the US, most player prefer to avoid player-versus-player combat, at least most of the time, so games are built primarily on character advancement and quests. In Korea, grouping together and fighting battles against other groups seems to be the main point of most MMOs. So what's a minority taste here is the majority interest in Korea, and vice versa.


10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.
(Didn't answer it yet. If he answers later, will edit it again.)


Korean version of this Interview.
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Welcome, people from abroad. This is the interview with the [Puzzle Quest] maker, CEO Steve Fawkner of Infinite Interactive.

Korean version of this Interview.



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1. As I see, [Puzzle Quest] seems to be part of [Warlords] franchise, due to sub-title [Challenge of the Warlords]. Your company made [Warlords] series in the past, but they were not very famous in Korean scene. Could you please introduce that series & your company work briefly?


The Warlords strategy games started back in 1989. Since then there have been 10 sequels, all of them very successful in the USA, Europe & Australia. The very first Warlords games were turn-based, like Civilization.   Many of the later ones were real-time, like Warcraft.

One thing that the Warlords games all have in common is your Hero.  Usually only RPGs have heroes, but we added the same kinds of heroes to strategy games, which has really set us apart from other games out there ? your hero grows in power the more games you play… and as he gets more powerful, the way you play the game actually changes, too.


2. [Puzzle Quest] is kinda different game from earlier [Warlords] series, but it still uses [Warlords] franchise. It could be kinda risky & unusual thing, when you were in pre-production period. Could you please let me know how you decided? And do you have some episodes to tell us, about making entirely different genre under the name of earlier series?
 
Puzzle Quest is still set in the same world as the other Warlords games ? the maps, the nations and the characters are all well-known to Warlords players.  For that reason we felt it was appropriate to include the word “Warlords” in there somewhere.  
But we also knew that this was quite a different game and we didn’t want to confuse people by calling it “Warlords: Puzzle Quest.”


3. [Puzzle Quest] is good example for Fusion Genre, with match-3 puzzle game & some good RPG elements. It's not very common to combine such a different genre into 1 game & make it excellent. Other recent good example might be [Bookworm Adventures] from Popcap, with Word Game & RPG elements. Could you please share us your thought, about mixing several entirely different genre into 1 game, and another good game [Bookworm Adventures]?

I think of it a little bit like cooking: you get the nicest and most surprising flavors when you combine spices and ingredients in new ways.  The same is true with game design ? the biggest and best surprises for me are always found when two of my favorite genres are mixed together.
 

4. [Puzzle Quest] might have PC version, as we can see from Demo, but released PSP & NDS version only until now. And people assumed there will be PC retail version, due to PC Demo, but XBOX Live Arcade version is announced at now. Please let us know about that.
 
Puzzle Quest is really a perfect game for portable systems, so we think that PSP and NDS were a great place to start. 

We have also recently announced Puzzle Quest for Xbox 360 Live Arcade.  We did hope all along to bring Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords to Xbox Live Arcade because the game is so well suited to the platform, and were very excited to make the announcement. No further details have been announced at this time regarding the XBLA launch or about the game coming out on other skus, but keep an eye out for more information from D3Publisher.


5. [Puzzle Quest] got big hit in US handheld gaming market, even if it's not very famous until release. ㅊould you please let us know how you did promotion for [Puzzle Quest]? It became very famous within only few weeks after release, and just curious.
 
It was really great that we could top sales for games in March and April in the USA.  It’s certainly been the best-received game that I have worked upon, and it is still in high demand.  We knew it was a good game, but we’ve been surprised at just how fast people found out about it.

I think the best promotion we can have for Puzzle Quest is word-of-mouth. We just need to have people play the game.  After that they tell their friends, their friends play it and tell their friends, etc…


6. This could be another good example for Indie Game Developers to go handheld directly, even if your company is not very indie. [Cake Mania] & [Diner Dash] go to NDS, but after success of PC download version, so [Puzzle Quest] could be very different case. If you can, could you please let us know about detail of the production, as budget - making time - number of working people?
 
We probably don’t really qualify as an Indie company, because we’ve been around for 18 years and done many commercial games. (Pig-Min writes : Infinite Interactive started at 2003, but he tells us his whole career, so it seems to be 18 years.) We really felt that it was time we branched out from PC development and added a few new skills, so handhelds such as NDS are the first logical step on that path.

The very first prototypes of Puzzle Quest were done by just a few people in 3 months back in 2005.  At the peak of development in mid-2006 we probably had between 10-15 people working on it.


7. Have you played some Korean game, or experienced or even heard about Korean Gaming Scene & Market? If so, please share your opinion about that.
 
My experience with Korean games has mostly been with MMOs, but I think you guys do them REALLY well.  I’m a big fan of Lineage II, and other products from NCSoft.  Also, a number of the NeoWiz games are pretty cool.  Other than these, though, we don’t see a lot of Korean games here in Australia.


8. Please pick 5 other games to recommend, and brief reason why.

Some of my favorite Indie Games at the moment are: Astral Tournament, Tasty Planet, War World, Peggle & Bookworm Adventures.

Some of the larger games I’m currently having fun with are: Earth Defense Force 2017 on Xbox 360, Dungeon Runners from NCSoft, City of Heroes from NCSoft, and Oblivion on Xbox 360.


9. Please leave some message for Pig-Min Readers.

Although we have created many games in the past 20 years, we have sadly never managed to release any of them in Korea.  But I hope Korean gamers enjoy Puzzle Quest, and I hope that both Infinite Interactive and D3Publisher have the opportunity to bring them lots of fun games in the future.


Korean version of this Interview.
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