PlayStation Mobile is out next week, and one of the major players are the talented people at Laughing Jackal, who are putting considerable weight behind the new multi-platform service.
I recently caught up with the studio’s Ross Brierley, who sounds like they’ve only got good things to say about PSM, as it’s colloquially known. And it seems like it was SCEE themselves who were kickstarting things.
“The suggestion to start PSM development originally came from the guys over at SCEE who were very enthusiastic and supportive about the prospect of us bringing some of our games over to the programme,” says Ross. “When we looked further into the platform ourselves, we were very excited about the potential the platform holds and we signed up as a developer as soon as we could.”
Although PSM works across a multitude of Android devices, it also works on PlayStation Vita. “That certainly helped our decision,” said Ross. “Obviously anything that increases the number of devices that can play PSM games is going to be a good thing for us.”
“Plus due to our previously released games we’ve already got an established fan-base on the PSP, a proportion of which have switched to PS Vita.”
Things have moved quickly, from the initial sign up through to the imminent launch. “Development has gone very smoothly actually,” said Ross, laying any fears to rest. “While there were some frame-rate issues with early builds of Hungry Giraffe (our first port to PSM) the support from Sony has been fantastic and we’ve managed to get our first three PSM games approved in relatively short order.”
Were they concerned about the number of devices the games need to run on? “From a testing point of view, at first,” says Ross, “due to the increased amount of testing required plus the increased chance of bugs occurring.” But that wasn’t ultimately an issue, with the studio citing “quality development tools” as a massive help and thus “compatibility and bug testing was a very straightforward process.”
Unlike Futurlab, who are kicking out brand new games for the launch of PSM, Laughing Jackal are sticking to tried and tested IPs like Cubixx and Hungry Giraffe, both great hits on PSP. Was it wise to focus on existing minis/PS3 titles for the first entries onto the platform, I ask.
“We’re quietly confident that it will be,” replied Ross, “but of course we won’t know for certain until the games are released. The first few games we’ve chosen were very popular when originally released as minis, with several of them achieving well in excess of 100k downloads.”
A new section on the Store will open up next week, with lots of new games.
And have the team taken the opportunity to tweak the visuals at all? “Our titles have a new lick of paint and they will run at a higher resolution on PSM than they do as minis,” replied Ross. “Of course, I’m slightly biased, but the difference between the original versions and the new improved PSM versions of our titles really blew me away.”
It’s an exciting time for the indie developer. “Anything that allows more people to play our games on so many devices is a very exciting prospect so we’re of course delighted to feature on PSMso early on in the format’s life. Bringing our games to mobile is something that we’ve been keen on for a long time and in fact several of our minis were designed to be as much fun to play on mobile as they are on PSP so this is the perfect opportunity for us.”
And trophies, which aren’t currently part of the PSM specification sadly, will no doubt be massively important down the line. Have Laughing Jackal given them any thought? “Well, several of our PSM games already feature in-game achievements so it wouldn’t require a huge conceptual leap to create some Trophies if it becomes possible,” came the reply. “We certainly enjoyed coming up with ideas for Trophies in Cubixx HD.”
“Personally, I’m very excited about PSM development and I’m sure that if other developers look into it, then they’ll quickly see the huge potential benefits on offer. Not only is it a great route onto mobile for console developers like us, but hopefully it will also provide a route for other mobile developers onto the handheld & console platforms. After all anything that encourages the cross pollination of ideas is a good thing from my point of view.”
“And if it means that there will be more great games to play on my Vita then that’s also a bonus.”