[Interview] Red Phantom Games – Minutes
We got a chance to talk with Red Phantom Games about Minutes, the new PlayStation 4 and Vita release from the indie developer.
PS3B: Hello and welcome Richard! Thank you for joining us. Could you please get us started by giving our readers some information about who you are and what it is that you do?
I’m the founder and director of Red Phantom Games which is a one-man (me) indie studio based in Leamington Spa in the U.K. I’ve been in the games industry for over 18 years and was a co-founder of Bigbig Studios (Pursuit Force on PSP and others). After the closure of Bigbig I decided to go it alone and decided to set myself the challenge of developing a console game almost entirely on my own. That means I deal with nearly everything – design, programming, planning, all the publishing and other aspects of the business side. The creation of art and audio are outsourced as I don’t think I’m really qualified to work on those areas.
PS3B: You’ve been hard at work to get Minutes ready for a release on PS4 and Vita in the Americas. What can you tell us about your game?
It’s inspired by arcade games and a desire to have a pure and focused gaming experience. It’s all about fundamental gameplay mechanics and eschews any setting, story, characters, dialog and all that other stuff that. Some people won’t like that but that’s fine. It’s abstract with clean, geometric visuals and the gameplay is in the classic “easy to learn, hard to master” vein – move, dogdge, collect, change size to balance risk and reward. I like to think of it as a warped version of a bullet-hell game! It also has a Cross-Save sync feature so you’ll retain your progress and scores across the platforms without having to worry about overwriting.
PS3B: How long did it take you to complete developing Minutes from the moment you came up with the concept up to final release?
The complete development cycle was around 18 months. The basic idea was formed in about 5 minutes when I was thinking about what a minimalist console game could be. From there it was prototyped on PlayStation Mobile for a couple of months then ported to Vita proper and later to PS4 at the beginning of last year. Development then continued on both in parallel for the final 8 months or so. That all included building my own engine so I’m hoping that the next game won’t take as long!
PS3B: Is there a reason why the game is cross-buy between PS4 and Vita? Also, why isn’t there a PS3 version as well considering it has a larger install base?
I think that there’s a level of expectation that the PlayStation indie games should be Cross-Buy if they are released on multiple platforms. I didn’t really ever consider doing otherwise. Of course, it won’t be appropriate for all games but if it’s pretty much exactly the same game on both then it makes sense. A PS3 version will hopefully come along before too long. Being a one-man developer means that it takes time to get everything done.
PS3B: How long will it take someone to experience everything that Minutes has to offer?
An initial playthrough of the 60 levels should take 2-3 hours. Though you won’t beat all the goals in a first run. The idea is that you go back to earlier levels once you’ve unlocked all the tools you need. At the point the game changes from a reaction-based challenge into more of a puzzle-solving one where you have to figure out the best strategy for each level and when to use powerups whilst further honing your moving, dodging and collecting skills. To beat all the goals in the game and win all the trophies will take many more hours. If you’re not so inclined to trophy hunting then the Daily Challenge can keep you occupied indefinitely.
PS3B: As a follow-up, can you please explain to us what is the Daily Challenge mode?
Daily Challenge presents the player with a new, randomly-generated level every day. The configuration is effectively seeded based on the number of days since the launch of the game. There’s over a million years of possible levels and we will only ever see a fraction of them. If I do another game update (perhaps for DLC) then perhaps I’ll add a new mode that gives the player access to some of these levels.
PS3B: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add anything else before we go?
Thanks for quizzing me! Everyone, please be sure to check the Minutes trailer right here!