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Interview: Mad Blocker Alpha

New minis title on the way.

Mad Blocker Alpha is a brand new Minis game coming to the PSP (and PS3) from Irish developers Open Emotion Studios. We chat to Paddy Murphy, CEO at the studio about their block-puzzler game and what he thinks about the Minis platform.  We started by asking him what has changed between the free Flash version of the game and the upcoming console version.

“First off,” says Murphy, “Mad Blocker Alpha: Revenge of the Fluzzles began as a re-imagining of our first Flash game but as development progressed and we realised the opportunities of the platform, we decided to go mad (excuse the pun) and really flesh the game out and try to create something that could stand alongside PSN games in terms of content and as close as possible to that in regards to music and art.”

So it’s much more than the free version, I asked?  “You could say it now barely resembles it,” replies Murhpy. “However, as a homage we put a classic setting into Endless mode, in MBA, where users can basically play the game with settings identical to the old Flash game. There is so much more in this though, that it has grown into a true sequel rather than a remake.”

So what’s new?  “We have totally redesigned the game from the ground up,” came the reply. “The visuals are vastly improved, the sound quality (and number of tracks) are superior and of course it now has more than one mode. As a matter of fact it has 3. The new story mode, which contains 17 stages each with varying objectives. There is Endless mode which is the classic “block game” style, escalating difficulty and what not. We have 2 modes in Endless, Classic and Mad. Classic is (as i said before) the same as Mad Blocker, however Mad mode contains the new GUI from Mad Blocker Alpha.”

Murhpy didn’t want to give too much away with regards to the Mad mode.  “There’s some really incredible features, but I don’t want to give them away just yet, we need some secrets for release!”

“There is also Tower Mode,” he continues, “which you’re probably able to get an idea of. Balancing that was hard, but we think it is an intriguing new way to play these types of games and we will have an official announcement about Tower Mode very soon, as we think it has the strength to stand up as almost a game, all its own. It is going to be difficult though to try and get people to view this title as a game, and not “Just another PSP Minis.”

I asked him what he meant by that, and whether he things people have pre-conceptions about the Minis platform.  “Oh definitely, they do,” he said. “Even I did before we started working on one. I thought, ‘Pfft, Minis, that’s basically just an iPhone or a Flash game, right?’. I didn’t realise that there was so much potential in the platform. Our coders, Colm and Eoghan both love the fact that they have the PSP’s amazing hardware but have constraints they have to work within… It’s a challenge, but they find it incredibly rewarding. I think, there is a great potential in Minis that isn’t being seen by the general public and media.”

“They are essentially the PSP’s equivalent of downloadable only PSN Titles, but on top of that they can be played on your PS3. It’s rare to get a game that you can play on 2 devices from one purchase, right? We hope that Mad Blocker Alpha shows people that there is a great deal that can be done within the limitations of the Minis, even for such a small development company like ourselves.”

But there aren’t any Trophies with PSP Minis, even if you play them on the PS3.  I asked Paddy if he thought PSP games featuring Trophies would sell more.  “Oh hell yeah, I know I’d buy way more of them,” he said.  “It’s a shame really that my life is starting to be dominated by getting Trophies. I recently picked back up Persona 3 for the PS2 and although I was thoroughly loving it, I was in the back of my mind thinking ‘I could be getting Trophys in Undead Nightmare, right now!’

“I hope I’m not the only person that feels like this,” he confides. “Its horrible really – I don’t like thinking that way and I’m not obsessed with Trophys – I generally only try and get them in games that I love. Still though, They are an important part of modern gaming. I think Sony needs to consider the idea of having Trophies in PSP games; Minis would definitely sell more if they had Trophy support, ha ha!”

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32 Comments
  1. OpenEmotion
    Member
    Since: Nov 2010

    Oh yeah, If anyone has any further questions please feel free to ask them here in the comments section and I’ll do my utmost to answer them efficiently, Ha ha.

    Paddy Murphy,
    CEO, Open Emotion Studios,
    http://www.openemotionstudios.com

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 15:54.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Oh, and as a newbie here I hope you’ve read the rules as we have a strict “no boring gits” policy ;-)

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:13.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        :( I’ll try to be non-boring… How do I begin? :O

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:26.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Can I congratulate you on having the perfect name for a sterotypical Irishman :)

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:30.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        My parents should have just called me “Default” ha ha! :P

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:32.
  2. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I’m not really into these block games but nice backgrounds all the same and great to see an irish developer!

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:03.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      Thanks TS. We’re starting to emerge hopefully. Theres a whole heap of Irish Game Dev talent, but it kinda feels like a big lack of support from the government even though they claim they are supporting digital media… Thanks again for the comments about the art though, Mike appreciates it big time, ha ha!

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:37.
  3. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Is there a chance Paddy Murphy (great name!) could comment on the pricing on Sony’s hardware compared to games on the likes of the iPhone. Not so much, maybe, about his own title but in general. From a customer perspective it’s fair to see why people would question paying X on iTunes and 3X on the likes of the PS Store. However, a developer’s input would be very insightful.

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:08.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      I think there are some big costs involved. I cant give specifics, but Sony have lowered the entry cost, that’s really all I can say. Unfortunately, there are marketing costs involved, Ratings, Hardware… It all adds up and Devs have to at least break even… I do think the current trend of Minis being 7 bucks (The Flying Hamster and Zenonia) is a bit exorbitant… I mean, you can get a great PSN game for 7 or 8 euros…

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:31.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Cheers, fella.

        That’s good to know as part of me was thinking about how much it costs to even get it out there and then what percentage Sony take, etc.

        I know Apple take 30% of everything, I believe, but shan’t push you on further figures for Sony. ;-)

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:03.
  4. eirekun
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    Cool – I get to buy a new addictive game & support my local games industry!!!

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:13.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      Cheers Eirekun! That is legendary to hear. We hope you really enjoy it… Can’t say much but Tower Mode is gonna be preettty awesome, ha ha! Also, cheers for the local support! :D

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:32.
      • eirekun
        Member
        Since: Sep 2009

        Look forward to it & the best of luck!

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:46.
  5. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Did you ever consider making this a full PSN game rather than just a mini?

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:41.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      We sure did… Would have loved to… but our coders are still getting used to the Hardware and stuff, coming from Flash Games and stuff… As I said in the interview, as long as this and Ninjamurai do pretty well we should have something very intriguing coming into fruition next year which… We are really… really looking forward to… Oh yeah and maybe the next Mad Blocker will be on PSN with Crisp HD visuals like Critter Crunch or something, ha ha!

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 16:46.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        Cool. Mini’s are getting better when it comes to graphics and presentation – Flying Hamster is absoloutely gorgeous – but I still feel a bit dirty playing a SD game on my 52″ 1080P tv. I normally have to go and have a shower and then put on WipeoutHD to make the blocky pixels fade from memory.

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:06.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        Yup, but hopefully alot of the dudes, who start out bringing you cool looking Minis will eventually be able to bring you epic looking PSN titles, right? ;)

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 18:09.
  6. BIGAL-1992
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Oh how I would have liked to appauld this…….if the CEO’s name hadn’t been so stereotypical.

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:08.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      In all fairness it happens quite a bit. My real name is Roger Sheep.

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:09.
      • BIGAL-1992
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        ?

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:10.
      • Dan Lee
        Common like the rest of us.
        Since: Jun 2010

        God that was baaaad….

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:13.
      • eirekun
        Member
        Since: Sep 2009

        Bit woolly alright

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:15.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        LMAO! nice!

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 18:11.
    • BIGAL-1992
      Member
      Since: Jan 2009

      And for the record in case anyone doesn’t know, I’m Irish.

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 17:09.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        Ha ha, Nice one. Whats your own name? John Finnegan, Seamus O’ Reilly? heh heh!

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 18:10.
      • BIGAL-1992
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Well put it you this way, my name is Allister, which is a scottish name, I myself am irish, yet I have a london accent. Basically I’m the last sort of person who could be classified a stereotrype.

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 18:40.
      • OpenEmotion
        Member
        Since: Nov 2010

        My name is Paddy Murphy, However i don’t have red hair… or freckles… or a thick unintelligible Irish accent. I like to think that only my name is stereotypical anyhow :P

        Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 19:00.
  7. matthangzhou
    Member
    Since: Sep 2010

    Great to see a new developer being so involved on the blogs. Love the name and looking forward to the game. Keep up the great craic.

    Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 19:33.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      Heh Heh, Will do Matt! Thanks for the kind words :D

      Comment posted on 09/11/2010 at 21:17.
  8. Teabags
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    The last Minis title I brought was Young Thor; hopefully this will get me reaching for my wallet.

    Comment posted on 10/11/2010 at 07:47.
    • OpenEmotion
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      We hope so too, Teabags ha ha ha!

      Comment posted on 10/11/2010 at 12:28.
  9. OpenEmotion
    Member
    Since: Nov 2010

    The game might be released a little later than our planned release date due to some technical issues and the dates of submission for store content at christmas. However, it gives us a little more time to refine the game even more and to blow you away even more :D

    Comment posted on 10/11/2010 at 18:51.

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