What's With All the Mobile Games? "Pizza Brave" Devs Weigh In
"Pizza Brave" designer and project manager Jero Campagnoli talks trends in game development, including mobile, retro-modern, and cross-platform.
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Retro games and casual titles have risen in popularity, with creations like Game of War and Clash of Clans earning huge profits. So why is the trend of mobile and casual games shyrocketing? I recently sat down with designer and project manager Jero Campagnoli to speak about his experience with Pizza Brave. “Pizza Brave started as a casual running and jumping game,” Jero explained. Their team of ten consists of animators, sound composers, and developers who united to create Pizza Brave.
Jero’s team mainly works with Unity which he clarified was due to exceptional cross-platform support. “It [Unity 3D] has exceptional support for PC, Mac, and mobile devices. At first Pizza Brave was envisioned as a mobile, and casual game, but over time it became an adventure game and we expanded to PC and Mac as well.” Using Unity affords the flexibility to work across a range of operating systems and consoles. Plus, the ease of working in both 2D and 3D makes Unity the perfect engine for the Pizza Brave team.
Pizza Brave embodies a retro vibe, and gameplay which recalls side-scrollers like Super Mario Bros. When asked why casual games, and mobile titles seem to be so popular, Jero posited that they’re more accessible to more players. From a gameplay perspective, players are able to pick up a game like Candy Crush, or Fallout Shelter. It’s simply more intuitive and easier than plunging into Skyrim and having to worry about stats and leveling up. Furthermore, casual games are available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet, and don’t come with ridiculous minimum system specs, as with recent releases such as The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight. Even the PC and Mac ports of casual titles have such low requirements that even with aging integrated GPUs can run them.
If you find yourself wondering why casual and retro games are arriving in hordes, it’s due to several factors. Primarily, accessibility to a wider audience both in terms of gameplay and hardware. This is compounded by the easer of cross-platform development thanks to engines like Unity 3D and Unreal, both of which featured many mobile enhancements in their latest releases. However, mobile and casual game development isn’t with out its challenges. Jero elucidated that simplistic, retro-modern aesthetics means a higher onus on music and graphics. With mobile games, you only have a few minutes to capture player attention, “…and the goal is to convince gamers to play again,” Jero stated.
According to Campagnoli, retro-modern games are here to stay. It’s one of the biggest trends he identifies in game development. “I think that the trend today is less players looking for a game, but rather searching for an experience.” In a recent interview, Brianna Wu expressed a similar sentiment. Sure, there’s a lot of eye candy, but 4k visuals does not necessarily constitute a masterpiece. Rather, we’re seeing an emergence of titles like Pizza Brace and Wu’s Revolution 60 which eschew the recent obsession with graphical improvement, and instead focus on aspects such as dialogue and narrative. Yet, despite retro visuals, titles such as Revolution 60 can often be challenging to develop when matching players’ movement and facial expressions to their emotions. It’s neat to see both a trend of game appearances harkening back to older releases, but a simultaneous push forward incorporating advancements such as better movement, touchscreen control, and even in-game emotions.
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