Earlier this year, developer 10tons released its classic top-down shooter, Crimsonland, as a universal app for Windows Phone and Windows 8. Now 10tons is about to release an all new game, the sports puzzle title Baseball Riot, as not only an Xbox One game but as a universal app for Windows 10 for PC and mobile.
We got a chance to ask some questions about Baseball Riot to 10tons PR Coordinator Jaakko Maaniemi. We also asked him about his opinion on Microsoft's universal app strategy and what 10tons has in store for their next games.
First, the game seems to a mix of sports and puzzle genres. How did the idea for Baseball Riot come about?
JM: Baseball Riot is a sequel to Tennis in the Face. Which, in turn, is a technical descendant of King Oddball. It all started years and years ago when we wanted to try our hand with Box2D physics engine and see if we could make a fun game with it. King Oddball turned out great and we had fun developing it, so we wanted to use the technology again. The sports theme for Tennis in the Face, and subsequently for Baseball Riot, just came out of us figuring out what'd stand out within the genre. There were, and are, a lot of cute cartoon animal games out there. We wanted to do something else.
What can you tell us about the kinds of puzzles and levels in the game?
JM: A handful of people worked on the levels of both Tennis in the Face and Baseball Riot. You may even see the shifts in style and ideas throughout the game. We learned a couple of things about level design with Tennis in the Face, so most of the levels are somewhat more straightforward now. And there aren't any intentionally misleading levels in Baseball Riot. And of course the different scoring mechanic mixes things up, as Baseball Riot has the three collectable stars in addition to the actual enemies in each level.
What kinds of characters and power-ups are available in Baseball Riot?
JM: There are a bunch of unique enemies in Baseball Riot. The basic enemy is the Obnoxious Fan, who's just your basic target without any special gimmicks. The Umpires wear heavy protective gear, and are invulnerable from the front. The Catcher is pretty nasty, because if you hit the mit they hold up, the ball is destroyed. There's more, and also some variations for visual finesse. There are no formal powerups, but you do get to lob exploding Explodz cans in some levels, and you earn an extra ball if you knock out three enemies with a single swing.
What other features do you think are important in the game?
JM: The single most important feature is probably the ragdoll modeling on the enemies. It turns out a lot of people really appreciate the kind of juvenile slapstick humor Tennis in the Face and Baseball Riot offer. There's just something about watching a knocked out goon tumble down in slow motion! But it's of course mostly (but not completely) for show and to draw people in. The reason they keep playing is the addictive physics based puzzle gameplay, which I suppose many are quite familiar with. Gotta get those three stars...
Let's talk about developing for Microsoft's platforms. You previously released Crimsonland as a universal app for Windows Phone and Windows 8. Is Baseball Riot a universal Windows 10 app for PC and smartphones?
JM: Yes, Baseball Riot is an universal app. We prefer to release our Windows games as universals now that it's possible. It's a cool platform feature. It's of course a bit problematic to have the same price on a "mobile game" and a "computer game", and in the future with Xbox One in the mix, a "console game". Even if the game is the very same. It makes pricing challenging, but I suppose gamers within the ecosystem will get used to it and appreciate it somewhere down the line.
How hard was it to develop the game for Windows 10?
JM: For us, as multiplatform developers, developing for any single platform consists mainly of integrating the platform specific services, adapting controls as necessary and building the packages. Once we have started to support a platform, the bulk of the work is done. Basically, what we do is we develop a platform agnostic games, and then make platform specific builds when it's time to release. So you could say we don't really develop games for any platform specifically. We just make the best games we can and release them on as many appropriate platforms as possible.
Do you think Microsoft has the right idea in creating its Univeral app strategy for Windows 10?
JM: I think Microsoft is right in trying to offer something else none of its competitors can. Like touched upon above, it does create some unique challenges regarding pricing, but I suppose it's largely due to the system being so new. I can imagine a future where someone is happy to buy a, say, Xbox One game, and to be able to play it on a phone as well.
Will the Xbox One version have any extra features?
JM: Not really, except for Xbox Live achievements. Going forward, we hope to use Xbox Live on Windows and Windows Phone as well.
What other games does 10tons have in the works?
JM: We're currently laser focused on Neon Chrome, which has been absolutely killing it on Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=416529192. We reached #8, which is just incredible! Neon Chrome will release for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam early-ish next year, with more platforms to follow. I expect there to be a Windows 10 version with Xbox Live integration as well. The other brand new game we're working on is Xenoraid , which we hope to reveal more of in the near future.
Finally, what else do you want to say about Baseball Riot and its release this week?
JM: Baseball Riot will become available on Xbox One, Windows Store including Windows Phone, iOS, Apple TV and Android this week. There'll be a free trial available, so I encourage everyone to check the game out! Even if it seems like something you don't usually play, download the trial anyway! You just might like it, and there's absolutely in no shame for even the most hardcore gamer in indulging in more casual stuff every now and then. Or maybe a family member would enjoy it? And at $4.99 USD or less the game definitely isn't a big investment.
We would like to thank Jaakko for taking the time to answer our questions. Baseball Riot is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, Dec. 9.