Feature: Interview With BeatShapers
Here at GLG we like to introduce readers to the teams behind some of their favourite games we review. This time round we have BeatShapers of Carnivores and BreakQuest: Extra Evolution fame. So please enjoy our behind the scenes interview.
GLG: So Beatshapers could you tell our readers a little about yourselves like how did it all begin? How many of you are there? And how did you come up with the name Beatshapers?
Hi! I’m Alexey Menshikov, Founder and CEO of Ukraine based Beatshapers; we are a developer and publisher on digital space, mostly on PlayStation® platforms. Officially, I’ve been in the games scene since 1998, started as sound and audio designer at Action Forms Ltd (creators of Chasm, Carnivores, Cryostasis, etc.) but have gone from audio and decided to create my own company. Beatshapers, initially started as a label for music games back in 2006, but later transformed into separate company which is now 10 people. Since 2009 we have released more than 14 titles (and counting!), the most noticeable are Jetpack Joyride, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, Carnivores series and PS Vita/PS3 cross play title StarDrone. Previously myself and key team members have worked on IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey for the PSP platform. Our sister company Noisaurs, who takes care of sound design have been credited in Battlefield Bad Company and Black, Cryostasis,and over 30 other titles.
GLG: You mainly deal with PlayStation Minis, why did you choose this particular platform to work on?
AM: Back in 2009, when we just started, Sony approached us with the minis concept – we kinda liked this idea so decided to launch our first game: BreakQuest, than we had Carnivores, our most successful minis and then decided to license more games like Canabalt, Wizorb, Jetpack Joyride.
GLG: With the new PlayStation Mobile platform out there and developers putting up some cracking games, do you see yourselves taking the leap into full on mobile phone gaming?
AM: We love the PSM concept but there is few disadvantages which is stopping us move there, like C# language. Our engine is pure C/C++ and it’s really hard to translate to PSM framework, plus, small install base makes PSM a bit risky for us. Speaking about Minis its 70M registered PSN accounts (PSP/PS3/PS Vita) vs. 3M PS Vita only. That is why we are moving to native PS Vita/PS3 games instead, to use the full potential of the PlayStation Network services.
GLG: What are the limitations for you when developing a game for PlayStation Minis? Does the lack of online or trophy support damage your sales do you think?
AM: Definitely, although it’s hard to understand for me personally: I was surprised that many people buying games for trophies. Indeed, an absence of online scoreboards decreases replayablity for the minis. That’s why we are moving BreakQuest: Extra Evolution to native PS Vita with trophies and scoreboards. The full announcement coming soon.
GLG: You recently worked with Halfbrick to bring the stupidly addictive Jetpack Joyride TO PlayStation Minis, how did this come about?
AM: Last year we planned which games I wanted to bring to the minis platform and suddenly recalled about Jetpack Joyride. We had a meeting with Halfbrick at GDC and it all started from there. They are not interested in making minis themselves so such collaboration is convenient for both of us. Unfortunately, the development process got delayed a bit because we needed to integrate two iOS upgrades since we started development, but it’s finished now, hope the players love it.
GLG: What games did you play growing up, what inspired you to go into game development?
AM:Oh well. I was born in USSR, in the West Siberia and got my first ZX spectrum back in 1989. It didn’t have many games there but a programmers manual, so I started coding games with friends, which were never released. In university I got 386DX, so my first game there was Comanche and Doom. Later on I switched to Lucas Arts quests. I was involved in underground subculture called demoscene (on PC) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene that helped me a lot in terms of graphics programming, art and sound, which increased my skills and understanding how computer games works. Unfortunately, I’ve missed NES, Dreamcast, C64, Amiga and many other wonderful computers, consoles, games but I study them in my spare time.
GLG: whats next for Beatshapers? Anything in the works you can talk about?
AM: We are still deciding on a new Carnivores SKU for minis: shall we finish it?. As I mentioned, we have BreakQuest: Extra Evolution for PS Vita, unannounced PS3 2D work-for-hire game in QA now. Also PS3/PSV/ next gen prototype stage, we hope to show some artwork soon, this is our biggest title.
GLG: What do you think of the PlayStation Vita?
AM: We totally love this machine and we definitely making several games for it for the next year. Its powerful, it has great development tools, it’s growing and has a loyal audience: all you need is just the right title. It’s a pity that not many 3rd parties supports it more, we call on all the other developers to support the platform, it’s very easy to start and Sony is very open now.
All that remains to be said is thank you to Beatshapers for opening their doors and allowing GLG to get a look behind the scenes and see where the magic happens. Alexey is a good man and knows where he wants to be in the market. What this means to gamers is we get a good game with a sometimes modern twist on a old concept. Here at GLG we have reviewed many of Beatshapers work so please browse the site and see what all the fuss is about. We wish Beatshapers all the best for the future and look forward to their new titles.
Here is a picture of their office, where games are made, dreams are imagined and coffee is drank.