Mixed Bag Games’ co-founder Mauro Fanelli talks about the power of the PS4.
There’s plenty to say about Mixed Bag Games’ Futuridium EP Deluxe. To the untrained eye, it might appear to be a Rez clone but without the beautiful graphics (you know who you are). However, this futuristic shoot’em up is one of the better indie titles for the PS4 and PS Vita.
Speaking to GamingBolt, studio co-founder Mauro Fanelli talked about a variety of Futuridium-related things. What was the inspiration behind the game? What are its unique hooks especially given the number of indie shoot’em ups out there? How long is it and what kind of replay value does it offer? We find out below.
Rashid K. Sayed: Given that there are no shortage of shoot ’em up games in the market, what was the inspiration behind bringing it to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita?
Mauro Fanelli: We really didn’t think about it. We were developing our ‘big’ game, the action adventure forma.8 that is coming out at a later date, and there was the opportunity to do a classic inspired game for a one month long game jam in Italy.
"We designed the game around some strong concepts: it's not a straightforward shooter, you need to master the level layouts to get the highest score possible."
Since we had some ideas about a low poly shoot ’em up with some gameplay twists, we just did it, first as a free PC/Mac game, then as a more complete iOS port and, finally as a fully fledged game on PS4 and PS Vita. Since we love the genre, it was just natural for us to do it, and we are really happy with the results.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there any plans for making it cross buy between the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita?
Mauro Fanelli: Yes! Futuridium is cross-buy, and it features cross leaderboards between the two platforms.
Rashid K. Sayed: Indie games normally don’t receive post launch support. Do you guys plan to change that with Futuridium EP Deluxe?
Mauro Fanelli: One of our ideas is to replicate something that happens quite a lot in the mobile scene: adding more levels and content free after the initial launch. Ideally we would like to add more stuff to the game down the road: we can’t confirm anything right now, since it depends on a bunch of factors, but it’s something that we would really love to do.
Rashid K. Sayed: The game does not seem to be a straight forward shooter and I believe there will be special powers or skills that the players can unlock. Can you talk about them?
Mauro Fanelli: One of the special things about the game is… There are no power ups! We designed the game around some strong concepts: it’s not a straightforward shooter, you need to master the level layouts to get the highest score possible (and the medals!), adding a strong puzzle element to the game, and you need to fully master the mechanics (the turbo and the 180 degree turn) to progress. The idea is: we want the player to get better and better by playing, adding more obstacles and twists down the road. But you can only rely on your skills.
It’s risky, I know, but for Futuridium we feel it works very well.
Rashid K. Sayed: How many levels are we looking at in the retail version?
Mauro Fanelli: We added a ton of stuff to the PC/Mac/iOS version, the Deluxe PlayStation edition is huge. The new campaign is 50 levels long, divided in 5 different areas, with 5 bosses and 5 bonus levels. Then, just by destroying cubes, you can unlock the Classic mode, that’s basically the full old Futuridium with its own leaderboard, another game mode with a certain selection of levels and a secret mini-game that we won’t spoil right now.
"We are in ID@Xbox and we'll love to work on Xbox One in the future, but Futuridium EP Deluxe is a PlayStation exclusive."
Rashid K. Sayed: How are you making sure that players will replay the game again?
Mauro Fanelli: We’ve designed the game with different layers of complexity, with the idea to provide a good experience and replayability to dedicated players. First, just by destroying cubes, so just by playing, you unlock more continues, different gameplay modes and different colour skins for the levels. The game is quite difficult, but by progressively unlocking continues and by dividing the main campaign in five zones (you can start from the last one you reached) we want everyone to be able to reach the end of the game.
Then each level has 3 different medals to get: one for not dying, one for finishing the level under a certain amount of time, one for chaining all the cubes in the level. So there are 150 medals in total and it requires a LOT of work to get them all (but you get a Gold trophy for doing it!).
And the game also includes 10 different leaderboards to compete in, and I think the competition for the top spots will be very interesting, since to compete at the highest levels you need to master a lot of tricks and be very skilled. Last but not least: there are 5 hidden ‘negacubes’ to find and destroy in the game. Good luck with that!
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there any specific reason why you guys are not bringing the game to the Xbox One? Microsoft seems to have pretty decent policies placed for the indie developers.
Mauro Fanelli: We are in ID@Xbox and we’ll love to work on Xbox One in the future, but Futuridium EP Deluxe is a PlayStation exclusive. It’s something we worked on with Sony a lot of time ago and they were the first to support us as a small team and our projects when we were totally new on the development scene.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the game run at 1080p and 60fps on the PS4?
Mauro Fanelli: Absolutely! And at full resolution on PS Vita too, with a very smooth frame rate (I’m not saying 60 on Vita because they’re not 100% stable all the time, but trust me it’s smooth).
Rashid K. Sayed: From a developer’s point of view, what are your thoughts on the resolution and frame rate debate? Do you think the people who develop games care about this debate?
Mauro Fanelli: Yes, all developers care. In an ideal world every game would run at 1080p/60fps on console, or higher, but a lot of times it’s simply not possible, and developers have to make a choice, and it’s always not an easy one. Also it depends a lot on the kind of game you’re making.
My personal opinion? 60fps, no matter what.
"I think the PS Vita is an awesome platform to start developing on if you're new to console. It's powerful, it's easy to work with, has an awesome display and it's a lot less intimidating than the PS4."
Rashid K. Sayed: Although the game does not seem to be resource intensive, it is using a lot physics processing and particle effects. How are you using the PS4’s GPU and GDDR5 memory to achieve this?
Mauro Fanelli: We are using Unity as our game engine, so for now a lot of the low level stuff is taken care by the engine and, for Futuridium, we really didn’t have to worry about performances. The PS4 simply munched throughout anything we threw at it, so we just had to turn all the post processing effects up to eleven, pump the particle counts to the max and enjoy the 60fps at full resolution. Easy win!
Rashid K. Sayed: Did you face any issues while developing on the PlayStation 4?
Mauro Fanelli: Not at all. We are new to console development but everything went buttery smooth, a lot more than we anticipated.
Rashid K. Sayed: The PS Vita is not performing well on the market but several indie developers such as your self are still bringing out games on it. Why is that?
Mauro Fanelli: I think the PS Vita is an awesome platform to start developing on if you’re new to console. It’s powerful, it’s easy to work with, has an awesome display and it’s a lot less intimidating than the PS4. It’s not performing well on the market, but the PS Vita community is vibrant and the owners of the platform are very dedicated to it: we got lots of love from PS Vita owners for Futuridium, and it was really flattering.
I think the market potential on PS Vita for indies is strong, and that’s why there are a lot of cool games coming out in the next months. It’s the ultimate portable indie machine, and we love it.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we take off?
Mauro Fanelli: Thanks for the interview and we really hope you’ll enjoy Futuridium. And take a look at forma.8 too!