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

Posted 16 Apr 2013 16:10 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.

Smash the Block
Smash the Block
Do you feel that an always-online future would be a positive one, for both developers and gamers?

I think it opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for games designers, and therefore for the games players will have access to. I?m not sure furores like the one surrounding SimCity will help, but I often refer to how people once responded to Steam.

Back when it launched, it was attacked and labelled as bad for the industry and bad for games by certain sectors. But now everyone seems to think it helped ?revive? PC gaming. Regardless of the truth, it take a good few years and a lot of trial and error to prove new tech?s worth. I?m sure we?ll see it before long.

One thing I?m excited about is just how much more social an experience (I don?t just mean via twitter plugins) most games will become. Recently a mate of mine sent me a text after seeing a boast displayed in Mario Bros U, and that was a new and exciting thing for me ? it shows a glimpse of how this kind of thing will unfold.

Following Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal event, how successful do you think next-generation consoles will be in capturing the indie and mobile gamer?

Mobile gamers are a different breed, one much less interested in gaming as a hobby than indie or core gamers. Of course, I?m painting with a broad brush here but generally mobile gamers don?t tend to see 'console' or 'PC' gaming as a thing they?d be interested in.

I believe there will always be some crossover, but in terms of general competition over the same dollars? I?m not sure I think that even exists. Someone umming-and-ahhing over spending 40 on a 40hr game to play every weekend for a few months with their mates on a home console is not going to base their decision on their mobile gaming habits, and vice versa.

Even the time they spend gaming is of a different variety. I game on the loo with my phone, in bed with my 3DS, and in front of my telly with my consoles. Therefore I don?t think the big consoles need to capture anything mobile.

As for indie games, they will always exist first on PC (again, broad brushes) so it?ll be hard to see them moving away and using Sony as their first port of call, no matter how appealing they make it. That said they?re making great moves and Sony are to be applauded for their attitude in this regard.

How important is it to create new intellectual properties for existing platforms? Should the final years of a console generation consist of already-established franchises?

IP is the be-all-and-end-all for consoles. I don?t see any multiplatform games as a reason to buy any one console. Exclusives are key, and most of these are usually existing IP. That said, without new IP, and bearing in mind that eventually all non-first-party content will end up multiplatform (just see Bungie for the latest example), console platforms will die out completely.

That?s why we always see new IP on new consoles, but I?d much prefer we saw more. It?s always at the start of a console?s life we see new IP rolled out, and that?s just because it?s a chance to embed a new money making franchise into gamer?s hearts while there is less competition.

I don?t see this habit changing much in the future? and how the more open and less-frequently re-booted markets like mobile and PC will affect this moving forward? I don?t know.

Thanks to Andrew for his time. Check out SPOnG's recent industry insights below.

Industry Insights Series:
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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