Simon Flesser of Simogo discusses their first iPhone game, the brilliant Kosmo Spin.
The wonderful Kosmo Spin [review] seems to be going from strength to strength on the iPhone App Store and is receiving great reviews all over the Internet. The company behind this game is Simogo and was only founded this year by Simon Flesser and Magnus ‘Gordon’ GardebÃ¤ck. From their base in MalmÃ¶, Sweden, they created Kosmo Spin with Simon being responsible for all things art and sound, while Gordon is the self-professed King of Code.
Simon Flesser of Simogo has agreed to answer some questions from GGUK, and maybe he will even explain why the world needs a game that revolves around rescuing breakfast foods from an alien.
If you could start by telling us a little about yourself and how you ended up working in video games?
I’m Simon from Simogo and I live in MalmÃ¶, Sweden. Used to do movie and commercial animation, but I’ve always been a gaming fanatic (since I got a Game & Watch game called â€Fireâ€ when I was four), so it felt pretty destined that it was something that I would work with. So some years ago (four?) I got a job as 3D artist at Southend and that’s how all this started.
You were working for Southend Interactive with Gordon, on such games as R-Type Dimensions, Lode Runner and the upcoming XBLA game, ilomilo. What prompted the decision to start your own development company?
It’s something we both had always wanted. Do our own thing, small things. A lot stuff clicked timing wise â€“ when we first started talking about it iPhone gaming was seriously on the up rise and it was something we were very interested in, as it’s a platform with low risks, and a platform that’s easy to get your stuff out on without big investments from men in ties. A lot of work tasks on bigger projects (such as ilomilo) had ended for both of us. Although fun to work with, such big projects can be quite creatively draining, so going in to making smaller stuff was something we really wanted. So we had (and have) this vision of making smaller high quality productions. To make new stuff all the time is (for now at least) a lot more creatively refreshing than two year productions.
Please tell us about Kosmo Spin.
Kosmo Spin is the not so epic story about Nod and his eternal struggle to save the breakfast creatures of a small planet by deflecting different play balls that is launched by a UFO. You use your finger to spin a 2D universe planet so that Nod runs automatically on his small planet.
The concept was born around a control method we had wanted to try out on a puzzle game. But then it morphed in to this action concept,because we wanted to do something more accessible, a simple arcade game that everyone can play. So that puzzle project evolved in to Kosmo Spin.
OK, who came up with the idea of the breakfast foods, and how much had they been drinking?
That would be me! I usually come up with ideas in the morning, when walking to work, so hopefully I had not been drinking (yet).
We came up with the whole thing because the game really needed something fun to occupy the players with when not deflecting balls. The design was not quite working for a long time. The UFO would only shoot balls and beam, and there were no breakfast thingys. So basically all players would have to do was staying under the UFO to catch the balls. And then we punished those players with the beam – for a behaviour that we had encouraged. It was just a terribly frustrating game to play, with no actual rewards, only punishments. So we came up with the pickups (they were going to be balloons for a long time) and I just love these old games were food is the biggest reward there is. Then again we wanted to do something else than the regular hamburgers and pizza slices. And you rarely eat hamburgers and pizzas for breakfast.
What are the pitfalls and benefits to being an independent developer?
Hmm. The biggest benefit is of course the creative freedom. Being such a small team has a lot of good sides. The way we develop games can be very dynamic and flexible, it’s easy for us to make the changes needed to make a game work and fun, without going through big approval processes.
The downsides of being a small independent developer that are self funding our games is of course that there are things that we simply can’t do. Extensive testing by big QA teams and that kind of thing. And it’s quite scary to. But fun-scary, not scary-scary.
ilo and milo make a guest appearance in Kosmo Spin. Will we be seeing the Kosmo Spin hero in ilomilo when it is released?
Ilomilo was graphically more or less wrapped up some time ago, so sadly no. Maybe in a DLC? I’m a big fan of these cameo things, so I’d love to see Nod, as the hero is called, in other games.
How long did it take to finish Kosmo Spin?
We started Simogo in August, and started the work on Kosmo Spin at the same time. We’ve been doing a lot of starting up stuff, administrative boring things, so that has taken a lot of our time. So, about three months maybe? Our next game will probably take a less time to do.
Will we be seeing the game on any other platforms?
Maybe. For now we’re concentrating on iOS. We have been (veeeery losely) talking about a version for windows phone 7 or android, but we’re not sure. We’d have to see if it’s viable. The game is so tightly built around the touch screen controls, so although it wouldn’t be impossible to make for another platform without a touchscreen the question is if it would be fun. Actually thinking about it, playing Kosmo Spin with analog triggers or analog stick might be quite nice. Or with pointer controls on Wii? Hm. We’ll see. I think we’d rather concentrate on our next game, for now.
What are you working on next?
We’re doing a fun and pretty experimental little retro punk thing. We’re also working on updates for Kosmo Spin. And maybe a prototype for a third game.
What is your favorite breakfast?
Weekdays â€“ Two cups of coffee and raspberry & banana smoothie that I mix myself. On weekends I always go to the bakery to buy home buns.
Simon and Gordon