Today we bring you an indie interview with Juan Diego, the creator of Battle of Puppets!
Company: Small Wonders
App Store: Battle of Puppets $0.99
How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
We have been developing since July 2009 and before that we were just video games lovers with a lot of ideas to develop.
How long did it take you to develop Battle of Puppets and how many people were involved?
About 13 people were involved in BOP. This includes programmers, graphic artists, production team, marketing team, etc…
How did you come up with the idea for Battle of Puppets?
We were thinking about an RTS game, but we needed it to be well adapted for the iPhone. That was the hardest part. We were thinking about crusades, but since we love opera we just thought about developing the first opera game for the iPhone. That’s how it started.
What inspired you for Battle of Puppets from initial concept to formalized game?
We were inspired by games like Little Big Planet, The Legend of Zelda, etc… We just wanted a simple strategy game, available for everyone, and we added things we love, opera, puppets, theatre and of course, video games.
What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
We love cute graphics, and we love when a game is very playable regardless the platform. Obviously this inspiration varies slightly depending on genre and platform.
What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
The most difficult thing is to get noticed. You aren’t able to build a lot of hype and you need to conquer your customer one by one because of the lack of a big marketing budget.
Can you describe your development process?
First we have a general idea about game, style, graphics, etc… Then we create concepts, when we think that we have found the right concept we start to create the whole world. Meanwhile we are programming AI, difficult levels, etc…
When everything is finished we test a lot and we publish the gameplay until we think it is good enough to sell.
After this we have a last test level with non-testers to see their reaction. If this reaction is good enough then we are ready for release.
What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
The creative process is amazing at the beginning. There are a lot of ideas and a lot of designs. If you look how it first began and how the game ended you would think it wasn’t the same game.
Did you do any pre-marketing before Battle of Puppets was released?
We just wanted everybody to see our characters. We wanted to see people’s reaction so we placed a lot of wallpapers in a lot of sites. Fortunately it was good, people love the art style.
What are you working on now?
We are trying to update Battle of Puppets with a lot of additional features. We want to include more maps, more armies, and if it was possible we would like to include multi-player (everybody asked for it).
We are working on a new title but I can say anything about it except that it will be a cute and funny game. It will not be a strategy game, and it will be released for the iPhone too.
Any plans for updates to Battle of Puppets?
As I told you before we are trying to bring a lot of updates and we ask people about what they like and if it’s possible we’d like to include all these suggestions on the next updates.
What was your most frustrating task while developing Battle of Puppets?
I think we haven’t had a real frustrating task, but the hardest part, I think, was to find the right characters. We have had a lot of different ideas until we found these characters. It took a lot of time.
What have you found to be the most successful way to market Battle of Puppets?
I think the most successful way is the game in itself. Each person who tries it loves it; there are a lot of people asking for wallpapers, extra material, etc… You can place banners, have good reviews, etc… But if people love the game then it works for itself.
How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
Feedback is very important for us. We are always asking people their likes or dislikes on Battle of Puppets, and we try to improve the game with this feedback.
Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We write our games just for us. We want people to associate Small Wonders with a certain kind of game. The best way is to create your own products
What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
We use to play games, and we watch a lot of movies too. When I am blocked I do something that has nothing in common with the task I’m doing. It’s the best way to find something new that probably works. You need to see things through different angles to find the perfect way to solve a problem.
Since its release what you do differently looking back?
I think the only thing we would do different could be to add multi-player to BOP. Everybody asked for it, and it takes a lot of time to implement right now.
What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
We had a lot of jokes between us, and it’s been very fun. Music is difficult to have a list, for example I love groups like Venetian Snares or Aphex Twin, but people here listen to Led Zeppelin, Kasabian, etc… So you see how different we are.
What was a must have during the development process of Battle of Puppets?
The day when we found our characters was a “must have” day; it was when we realized we had a great game
What games influenced you in your decision to make Battle of Puppets?
Little Big Planet, The Legend of Zelda, Monkey Island (The Secret, The Curse, etc…), for example
How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
We just wanted to have more things included, but we almost had 90% of what we imagined when we started, that’s great!
Before the release of Battle of Puppets were there any huge last minute changes?
We needed to fix a bug, but it was when the game was sent to Apple. That’s why we had version 1.1 in just one week after releasing Battle of Puppets
How did you keep yourself motivated?
It’s hard sometimes to get motivated, but we had a vision on this project, and that’s the best thing you can have to get motivated.
How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
Art is a very important part of the game as well as gameplay. It’s more what we need to feel with art than what we wanted it to look like.
We wanted to feel something cute, we wanted our characters friendly. That was our real driving force.
What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
You can use a lot of tools, but the only one that is a “must have” for us is Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
This is a real hard question (I can’t live without internet).
Obviously a lot of games, Plants vs. Zombies would be one of them (I love that game)
Is there anything else that you would like to say?
I’d just like to say thanks for this interview, It’s been nice to meet you and I’d like to say thanks to everybody who have supported Battle of Puppets, we work just for you, we love you.
We want to thank Juan for his time and for Battle of Puppets!