After BAFTA winning studios, Bossa told us all about their new Facebook game, Merlin: The Game, and we all lost a few hours in necessary research playing! We of course went back to them and asked very nicely for an interview! The UK based company was very happy to oblige and it would seem that Imre Jele, Bossa Studio’s Creator-in-Chief was nominated 'it' as very he obligingly answered all the questions we fired at him in super quick succession…
So how did Bossa Studios come about – where did it all begin as they say?
“Starting Bossa was actually fairly simple. We had been dreaming about starting our own game company for ages, so all we needed to do was to actually make the first step! The crazy-awesome started afterwards as we went through a whirlwind of an experience over the last two years. It helped a lot that we all brought a different set of skills from our past in games, entertainment and mobile industries. But more importantly we started with a grand vision; to create amazing games.”
With so many games around for both mobile and social networks, what do feel makes a game stand out – platforms, graphics, game play or just plain viral marketing?
“I personally believe the most important thing is the core game-play. Of course, the creation of a successful game requires an outstanding effort from all members of a multidisciplinary team as a game will only be as good as its weakest component. If a game plays well but unpleasant to look at, or looks great but no one ever hears about it – these are just recipes for failure.”
I am sure our readers would love to know how you go about creating your games, can you give a brief run down from the initial idea to actually going live?
“The flow and key stages of making a game is not that different from the creation of a TV series. Early preproduction defines the high level objectives – the emotions we want the players to feel, the core mechanics we use, the art style, early version of the script etc. That is followed by a much longer period of core development. During this stage we have to design and create the game's content: play mechanics, stories, art assets, music etc and put all of that together into a cohesive experience. The post production of a game's development is there to iron out bugs, and to polish the game experience. Finally, similar to how TV series can adapt to viewer feedback, we work closely with our community of players to fine tune the game after its release.”
Having just released Merlin: The Game into open beta, the graphics and game play look and feel really good. What has the feedback been like and has this given you any thoughts on the possibility creating games in the more traditional route – out of social networks or mobile platforms?
“Thanks, that's very kind of you. I'd like to believe that Merlin: The Game really stands out in the market, our visuals and game play bring a very fresh experience to Facebook.
The feedback from our community is fantastic. Their positive comments are not only a huge boost to the team's morale, but they also help us in defining where to take the game next. We have for example already added a chat feature because players have asked for it, but that's only the beginning.
Going to other gaming platforms will never be ruled out, but our focus at the moment is touch devices and games playable from internet browsers.”
Continuing on with Merlin, can you tell us the story of how it came about and were there any major development differences between Merlin and your other game MonsterMind (which readers you should really check out as nothing better than smashing up your friends' towns with Monsters”)
“We got a lot of kind attention because of our first game, MonsterMind. Winning a BAFTA for example was a hugely emotional moment for us. It was very tempting to ride the waves of that success and make a very similar game next. But we wanted to make sure Bossa Studios doesn't turn into a one-trick-pony so we have very deliberately chosen to make a very different game. As a lifelong RPG fan, it was an obvious start, and it was a happy accident that we could also get the rights to make a game featuring such an awesome TV show as Merlin.”
At the moment is seems that the UK game scene is going through a bit of a resurgence, especially independents, how much do you feel mobile and more importantly social networks like Facebook have played in this considering its now possible develop games in your bedroom and release them to the general public at the click of a button?
“This is an amazing time to be a game maker. From the initial idea through development to delivering your game to players is the easiest and fastest it has ever been, and even though these accessible game development tools and open distribution platforms like Facebook are extremely important, I do believe there're other key factors at play. There is a cultural shift; being a gamer has become the norm, there are art exhibitions featuring game art and games development courses are popping up all around the country. This supportive environment naturally encourages people to take a career in games.”
What advice would you give to any aspiring game developers out there; what programming languages should they be learning or courses should they be taking?
“There's no silver bullet, there isn't one language to rule them all. C++ for example is one of the most versatile languages, but it's also one of the more complicated ones. My suggestion to aspiring developers is to start small, define a game to make and find the easiest way to create it. Embrace tools available to you. Ultimately it's all about creating an awesome game experience, not hugely complex code.”
After the year you have had and Merlin looking like its going to be a social network hit where to now for Bossa Studios?
"I can tell you that we are aiming to release two smaller games very soon. Both are completely different in their game play and both very exciting. But we still have a lot to do on Merlin The Game, we want to continue developing it, reacting to player feedback. So it'll remain our focus for now."
As with all our interviews we like to ask some fun questions to finish off!
What games besides your own are popular around your office these days? We have a very varied taste in the office, so during lunch breaks you'll find people playing games from adventure games to the latest shooters, but FTL and the latest FIFA seems to be dominating the attention at the moment.
If you were a cartoon character, who would you choose? Dexter – definitely Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory.
Are there any World of Warcraft players on the team and if so Alliance or Horde? Alliance! A dwarf paladin here (eeeps tricky the Razberry Juice team is Horde all the way!)
We left a quick fired Imre, after thanking him for a such a speedy interview and wished him and Bossa Studios every success with Merlin: The Game and we really hope they will keep us up to date with new releases and news!