Mel Kirk, Vice President of Publishing at Zen Studios on all things Pinball.
Pinball FX2 was recently released for the Xbox One and features some big names like Star Wars Pinball, Marvel Pinball, Plants vs. Zombies Pinball and original designs. GamingBolt recently got in touch with Mel Kirk, Vice President of Publishing at Zen Studios to know all the about the game. Check out his response below.
Rashid Sayed: Pinball FX 2 is coming exclusively to the Xbox One and not on the PS4. In an era where most indie developers prefer the PlayStation 4, what is the reason behind the exclusivity?
Mel Kirk: Pinball FX2 is not exclusive to Xbox One; it is also available on Xbox 360 and Steam. We still maintain the Zen Pinball platform on Sony platforms as well as Wii U, iOS, Google Play, Mac, and Amazon. Issues with exclusivity in the past have set us on the course of maintaining two differently branded pinball platforms. This may change in the future, but I do not see Pinball FX2 as being ‘exclusive’ in this day and age.
"The Walking Dead table based on Telltale’s award-winning adventure franchise will release later this summer, and we will have tables released based on brand new properties before the end of 2015."
Rashid Sayed: Can you tell our readers about the different content that they can expect in Pinball FX 2?
Mel Kirk: Pinball FX2 houses the greatest digital pinball collection in the world. Tables based on the biggest moments and characters from the Marvel and Star Wars universes, as well as our own original designs will be available on day one, along with the brand new Guardians of the Galaxy table based on the film from Marvel Entertainment. The Walking Dead table based on Telltale’s award-winning adventure franchise will release later this summer, and we will have tables released based on brand new properties before the end of 2015.
Rashid Sayed: Xbox 360 owners can’t import their existing Xbox 360 tables, scores, or achievements to Xbox One. Was there a specific technical reason for the same?
Mel Kirk: When we started working on Pinball FX2 for Xbox One in 2013, there were technical limitations that prevented us from allowing table transfers from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. However, there have been recent developments on the Xbox One platform that now make it possible for us to offer table transfers, which we are SUPER EXCITED about. Our community has been with us since 2005, so we want to reward them for their loyalty as they make the jump with us to Xbox One.
Rashid Sayed: The game is confirmed to run at 1080p and 60 fps on the Xbox One. You achieved the same withZen Pinball 2 on the PS4. Did you find it easier or difficult to achieve that resolution/fps on the Xbox One?
Mel Kirk: It was just as much work on both PS4 and Xbox One to get the desired result. The tables feel fresh, have a new level of polish, and play better than ever before. There are nuances and challenges with development on each console, but this is our third console generation and we are pretty accustomed to these challenges.
"The team at ID@Xbox are working really hard on behalf of indie game developers. Processes that pave the way for easy publishing are getting in place, early challenges have been sorted out, and things are moving fast."
Rashid Sayed: Can you talk us through the Worldwide tournaments that the game will offer?
Mel Kirk: We are happy to offer worldwide tournaments for players in all regions. There had been certain limitations in the past and certain territories were not able to access tournaments, but they will happen more frequently. Tournaments will take on an even bigger role in the future in Pinball FX2, and we are really excited to share those details at a later date.
Rashid Sayed: How do you think the ID@Xbox program is helping developers such as yourself to bring indie games to Xbox One with ease?
Mel Kirk: The team at ID@Xbox are working really hard on behalf of indie game developers. Processes that pave the way for easy publishing are getting in place, early challenges have been sorted out, and things are moving fast.
For example, we announced that we could not allow table transfers between Xbox 360 and Xbox One. We sent the community response to our guys at ID@Xbox, and within 24 hours we were working together to fix this situation. That’s movement – and a real push to help developers like Zen Studios to be successful.
Rashid Sayed: As someone who has worked across the PS4, PC and Xbox One, what are your thoughts on the Xbox One’s API ? Do you think it holds itself well against the ones present on PC and PS4?
Mel Kirk: Due to confidentiality restrictions, I am not able to answer this question in detail, but I will say that working with Xbox One is easy for an experienced dev team, there are no challenges out of the ordinary, and the code is solid.
Rashid Sayed: Did you faced any issues due to the Xbox One’s eSRAM?
Mel Kirk: No, we haven’t had any issues. Pinball FX2 is a big game with a lot of DLC content, and we have seen no issues.
"We are incredibly busy working on new pinball tables. There are a few new games being prototyped and hopefully getting the green light very soon."
Rashid Sayed: Did you got the chance to use the June SDK update to improve the performance of the game?
Mel Kirk: No, we did not use anything from the June update. The game has been RC [release candidate] for a few months and in certification, so no major changes other than table transfers and new tables have been added since that time.
Rashid Sayed: Are there any new projects you are currently working on?
Mel Kirk: Yes! We are incredibly busy working on new pinball tables. There are a few new games being prototyped and hopefully getting the green light very soon. CastleStorm validated that the studio is adeptat working on other types of games than pinball, so ourfuture is wide open and very exciting!
Rashid Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we take off?
Mel Kirk: I always want to say thank you to players who support Zen Studios, and want to invite them to join us on the forums or social media to tell us what they want to see from us and how we can do better. Thanks!