Interviews// Industry Insights: Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios

Posted 1 Jan 2014 14:00 by
As part of an ongoing series, SPOnG gets the unedited, open and highly informed opinions of developers, producers and more in the vast world of computer games.

Industry Figure: Andrew Smith
Job Title: Founder/Designer
Company: Spilt Milk Studios
Best Known For: Hard Lines (iOS, Android), co-created with Nicoll Hunt

Andrew Smith is living the mobile dream right now, having established Spilt Milk Studios and released Hard Lines (a modern take on classic mobile game Snake) to critical acclaim. There's no crying over spilt milk here. Haw haw (you're fired - Ed).

But Andrew actually hails from something of a console background, working with Ruffian Games on Crackdown 2 add-on content before founding his own studio. At the moment, in between client work for AppyNation, Andrew is hard at work on two new projects - Lazarus: Ultra Robopug Adventures (iOS, PC and Mac) and Smash the Block (iOS).

Here are his thoughts on the next generation, always-online and the need to have a constant stream of new IP.


Lazarus
Lazarus
Do you feel that we are entering a new console generation too soon? Or can it not come soon enough? And why?

I always feel we rush towards the new technology too quickly. On the one hand, we get to race to the tech plateau – that fabled time when games tech can’t get any better and we can all focus on tools and creativity. But in the meantime relearning everything every 4 years is frustrating as heck. You can see how many great 2D games keep coming out even now – games that would not have taxed the SNES or Megadrive… and you just can’t help but think ‘what if’?
 
On a related note, how many games do you know that actually USE the analogue stick. Properly. It’s taken three generations to get that far… if tech just sat still for a bit we’d all be able to more thoroughly explore these things we take for granted. And there’d be fewer missteps.

I’m not even convinced the platform owners (Sony and MS, specifically) are ready for this next gen. The amount of PR blunders and half-baked ideas about DRM and used games etc suggest a rushed plan, while the amount of games that are going to be cross-generation this time round mean that so many people are going to have yet one more reason not to fork out for the new machines.
 
When all my friends are playing a new game on a machine I’ve already got, why would I fork out £300 for the privilege? I won’t. And then that gives me a few more months of not buying into the next gen, and one more reason to stick with the last.

There could come a tipping point where just not enough exclusives are released, and everyone sticks with the old gen. All the multiplatform big games (FIFA, Madden, CoD, GTA etc.) are coming out on PS3 and 360. That’s a year’s worth of gaming (and not spending any money on the next gen) right there.


Ouya and Oculus Rift have generated a lot of positive buzz. How disruptive do you think these products will be when they are released to the public?

Probably not at all. These things are going to really excite the hardcore and the hobbyist… but the general public won’t care. Oculus Rift will be exciting when it comes packed with games (on PC) and with consoles. Until the wider world of development adopts it, any unique hardware is going to suffer a little.

Some may say it’s a platform of its own, but without a storefront, it’s just an expensive piece of kit with some great games that support it. That’s not enough in this day and age… although there is a lot of indie support for it so you never know! It ultimately needs an exclusive, Oculus-only killer game. Like all hardware.


Smash the Block
Smash the Block
How excited are you for E3? What kinds of announcements or showcases would surprise you, as both a developer and as a gamer?

Since Xbox and the DRM/used game/always online scramble these past few days, it’s become a lot more interesting. I’m expecting MS to try to cover up it’s mistakes with big exclusives… but the ball is in Sony’s court really. Both systems will have great lineups, though I’m expecting MS to appeal to the ‘generalist’ gamer, and Sony to the hardcore with more indie and leftfield titles.

Both Sony and MS are boasting massive numbers of exclusives, but we all know a percentage will never make it to market, and some will take years. Of course Sony might announce some horrid always-online and DRM plans too… while Nintendo are quietly letting people play games simply easily and RIGHT NOW. I think they might be the dark horse.

Playable (or even video) versions of Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Zelda and the next 3D Mario will almost certainly show up, plus whatever else they’ve yet to announce. Most of those games are destined to launch worldwide this Christmas. I think they’re going to ‘do a 3DS’ and see a big turnaround.

But then, really, if Apple announce Apple TV and it’s what we all expect it to be at WWDC, then E3 is going to find itself struggling for attention.


Thanks to Andrew for his time.


Industry Insights Series:
Jun 2013: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Jun 2013: Tore Blystad, IO Interactive
Jun 2013: Dan Griliopoulos, Journalist
Jun 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Jun 2013: Dominic Matthews, Ninja Theory
Jun 2013: 'Peter Molydeux', Gaming Genius
Jun 2013: Ste Pickford, Zee-3
Jun 2013: Andy Payne, O.B.E.
Jun 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna

Apr 2013: Nathan Fouts, Mommy's Best Games
Apr 2013: Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios
Apr 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Apr 2013: Peter Molydeux, Gaming Genius
Apr 2013: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Mar 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna
Mar 2013: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Mar 2013: Dan Webb, X360A
Mar 2013: Stewart Gilray, Just Add Water / Oddworld Inhabitants

Mar 2013: Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games
Feb 2013: Blazej Krakowiak, Techland
Feb 2013: Gina Jackson, Women in Games Jobs
Feb 2013: Stewart Gilray, Just Add Water & Oddworld Inhabitants
Feb 2013: Dominic Matthews, Ninja Theory
Jan 2013: Dan Webb, X360A
Jan 2013: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
Jan 2013: Andy Payne, O.B.E.
Jan 2013: Gordon Midwood, Different Tuna
Jan 2013: Andrew Smith, Spilt Milk Studios
Jan 2013: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Jan 2013: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios

Jan 2013: Peter Molydeux, Genius
Jan 2013: Andy Payne O.B.E.
Jan 2013: David Jaffe
Jan 2013: Jon Lander of CCP
Dec 2012: Martyn Brown, InsightforHire
Dec 2012: Steve Lycett, SUMO Digital
Dec 2012: Theo Sanders, Ubisoft Singapore
Dec 2012: Ted Price, CEO Insomniac
Dec 2012: Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
Dec 2012: Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx
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