iPhone Life magazine

Exclusive Interview with Paul Croft of Mediatonic

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Croft, the man behind the amazing game studio known as Mediatonic. The studio is responsible for many terrific games, not only on the iOS platform, but also on the PSP and PC. I've always been a fan of the studio's games - in particular, I absolutely love Must.Eat.Birds.

The full interview is presented below.

 

Dain Schroeder (iPhone Life):
Hello Paul,

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. I had a few questions for you regarding your terrific games and your experiences with developing for the iPhone. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe Must.Eat.Birds. (which is pretty much my favorite game ever, by the way) was your first project for the platform?

Paul Croft (Mediatonic):
Must.Eat.Birds was our first game for the iPhone. As the platform was new to us we wanted to create a small title to test the waters on the iPhone. The game is a little crazy, it's in the style of a japanese game-show crossed with a quirky catapult mechanic. It was a lot of fun to make and came together really quickly - in the end we built and launched the game in just under a month. It's awesome to hear you like it!

DS:
If there's one thing that I've found all your titles to be abundant with, it's a unique sense of style and charm. What is the brainstorming process like when your studio is planning a game?

PC:
Ideas from our games come from the whole team. We do a lot of things to encourage discussion such as regular board game nights, game clinics where we throw around ideas and workshops. Generally when we design our games we focus on three different things - super high quality, surprising content and a compelling narrative. Each game we make is managed from start to finish by a creative producer whose job it is to weave the games narrative and story through every part of the experience.

We try and put our personality and lots of love into the games as make them - and we hope this comes through when people eventually play them!

DS:
What originally interested you in developing for the iPhone specifically?

PC:
We had been making Flash games for several years before the iPhone came along. It really appealed to us because we saw it as an opportunity for us to develop and publish our own content - and hopefully make enough money from it to support further development.

In addition, the iPhone seemed to be an ideal platform that supported the pick-up and play experiences we're best at creating. 

DS:
Were there any major hurdles in iPhone development? 

PC:
We've had a few submission hic-cups but aside from that the development process for us has been relatively smooth. We work with some great programmers who can generally anticipate a lot of the headaches and it makes things a lot smoother.

DS:
Previously, Apple was known to be rather strict with its App Store admission policies - was this an issue for you?

PC:
To date it's not been a problem for us, Apple have always been very supportive. 

DS:
You've just released Who's That Flying?!, your latest game (which is also fantastic in every conceivable way), via Steam. Can you tell us a little about that experience as compared to releasing a title for the iPhone?

PC:
We released the original game on PSP minis which is quite a different experience to iPhone development. It requires a special license and development kit and the submission process is significantly more complex involving age ratings and a QA with Sony. 

Following the completion of that title a port to Steam was relatively straight forward, it's comparative to releasing a game on the iPhone. We worked with a great publisher on the title (Kalypso) who made the whole process very smooth.

DS:
I realize you probably can't announce anything for certain here, but are there any plans to bring WTF?! (or your previous title, Monsters (Probably) Stole my Princess) to the Mac and/or iPhone?

PC:
I would love to, but at this point my lips are sealed.

DS:
Do you have any advice for any of our readers who might like to get into iPhone development, or game development in general?

PC:
The biggest piece of advice I would give for getting into game development is to start doing bits of work in your spare time and build up a portfolio of work, small projects and studies. This is relevant both if you're looking to get into art, design, programming or production. Breaking into the industry is very difficult (we typically get 100+ applications for a new role) so if you can demonstrate that you've got the motivation and commitment to work towards it in your own time it will be a huge help to your case.

iPhone development is a great place to start - the barriers to entry are very low and there is plenty of resources available on the web for learning programming. 

DS:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, where can I find some of those delicious-looking Battenburg cakes featured so prominently in Must.Eat.Birds?

PC:
Battenburgs are pretty common here in the UK - you can find them in pretty much every major supermarket. Although they look tasty and are a bit of a cult phenomenon I must admit they don't taste as good as they look. 

DS:
Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me. As a huge fan/stalker of everything that comes out of your studio, I can't wait to see what's next for Mediatonic.

PC:
It was a pleasure - hope to speak to you again soon!

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