Indie Game Developer Interview: Mike Su (Massive Joe Studios)

We are kick-starting the week with an interview with Mike Su of Massive Joe Studios, the folks behind Age of Monsters – Rock Paper Scissors. The guy has a sense of humour :). For more details about the game, check out our review (click here).

Nine Over Ten 9/10 (9/10): Tell us more about yourselves and how you started developing mobile games?

Mike Su – Massive Joe Studios (MS): My background (this is Mike Su, CEO/Co-founder) is in traditional web product management, and more recently as the VP of Games for Break Media (the network of sites for guys). Jeff’s background has been in traditional animation. He started in comics with Image and Rob Liefeld in the early 90s, moved into TV with Jackie Chan Adventures followed by The Batman (where he won an Emmy as Producer and Creative Director of the series).

Some of the games we always liked most were the ones with great characters that could work beyond the context of a single game (like Mario in Donkey Kong, Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart and more), and so we really wanted to take that approach to making mobile games.

9/10: What was the idea behind AoM?

MS: AoM – Rock Paper Scissors game is what we would imagine an RPS game would look like if Michael Bay and Chuck Norris got together to make the game. Part of the meta-joke is in the fact that we took an Emmy award winning artist, and went way overboard for the sake of an RPS game. That said, we also focused on making something with simple, universal mechanics to help introduce the AoM world, where the monsters have taken over, and our last human hope is some programmer dude named Gizzard.

9/10: How has the response been to AoM on the iTunes App Store?

MS: It’s been great. We’ve gotten great reviews both from users and the press as well. Though there’s one site that seemed down on us, but we’re still hopeful to make believers out of them yet…*eh hem* 😉

9/10: Some would say that AoM is “over-produced” and I’m in the opinion that Massive Joe could have worked on something bigger instead of just Rock, Paper, Scissors. Any comment on that?

MS: I don’t think the word “over-produced” is in Michael Bay’s dictionary. Part of the joke is that we took something so simple and made it ridiculously epic. With our press release we tried to convey some of the humor and that it is something we’re trying to have some fun with (www.gamasutra.com/view/pressreleases/78728/Massive_Joe_Studios_Ushers_in_the_Age_of_Monsters.php). But it was really about getting something out there quickly that establishes this world.

The beauty of the mobile platform, with the development times and budgets being relatively modest, is that we can take a lot more creative risks and do something we think is funny, take some risks and seeing what happens. In the console world or in traditional animation, with the eight figure budgets, you simply can’t afford to take those risks. Most importantly, we are establishing the AoM world and setting it up for what’s to come next. And don’t worry, we have over stuff up our sleeves!

9/10: Could you share with us a little on what you’ll be working on next?

MS: Now that we’ve established the AoM world, our next title will tell more of the story and reveal more about Gizzard’s character. We’re really excited by the idea of being able to advance a character’s arc across game titles and mechanics, which is something we haven’t really seen done much because it was so costly to produce games. We’re also fascinated by the idea that game mechanics can imply personality traits for our characters, and intend to use that to explore more of AoM and Gizzard’s world. Beyond that, well, stay tuned… 🙂

9/10: Any words for aspiring game developers out there?

MS: This is such an exciting time to be on the mobile platform. As many iPhone and Android devices there are out there, we’re only at the beginning. Used to be that a couple guys in their garage could build a Facebook game, but those days are over. However, on mobile, a small team of people can get some pretty cool stuff out there. Given the relatively short play sessions, the scope of a game need not be World of Warcraft level, so there’s still a ton of opportunity for the little guy to do some pretty cool things.

Given all these dynamics, we really feel that mobile could be a source of IP for Hollywood much the same way comics have been for the past 10-15 years. It’s crowded, for sure, but water’s warm and there’s still plenty of room so hop on in!!

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