Recently skating game OlliOlli got exclusivly announced for the PlayStation Vita. After seeing some great gameplay footage we decided to ask Tom Hegarty, director of Roll7, for a Q&A about this upcoming skate game.
Tom Hegarty on OlliOlli
Can you introduce yourself, what is your role in the creation of OlliOlli?
I’m Tom Hegarty one of three Directors at Roll7, I work on a range of stuff for OlliOlli, from level Design, balance, QA, all the way through to finance and press. It’s a pretty varied role at the moment as we’re new to console development so we’re finding our feet at the moment team wise. The genesis of the game came from our Creative Director John Ribbins, he actually came up with the idea when he was 13 years old but it wasn’t until last year that we managed to get a concept demo together!
What makes OlliOlli special?
I hope the key factor to OlliOlli’s success is that fact that the majority of team were or are still skaters. We didn’t just decide to do a skating game, Skateboarding is a genuine passion, combined with our passion for playing and making games it seems like a perfect fit.
We’re also keen to simulate the realities of skateboarding (as much as you can in a 2d environment) the key to the game will be timing your landings and grinds to perfection. Most people can get on a skateboard and make the board do all sorts of flips and twists, a very small percentage of those people can actually land them. The key to OlliOlli will be to press X just before you land, too early or too late and you lose points. We want to get across the mastery of landing your tricks!
Daily challenges and OlliOlli DLC
On your website you mention you will provide daily challenges in the form of the Daily Grind. How long do you expect to keep supporting this with new content? Is the content for the Daily Grind already included in the initial download?
We’re still working through exactly how many Spots there will be so I can’t be precise right now but what I can tell you, is that the Daily Grind spots will be a mixture of specifics spots from Career mode and bespoke ones that we’re building at the moment. This is one the best parts of the game dev process for us, coming up with ludicrous combos that will hopefully make the player feel like a skating legend when they eventually chain it all together!
Are you considering paid downloadable content?
We do have something in pipeline, but the key difference is that all the money we receive will actually be going to a charity. We’re just tying up the deal now so can’t talk too much about it but it’s a very cool charity and links with the game well!
It’s obvious that the game is inspired by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but I really liked it when I saw you also mention 720 degrees in the PlayStation Blog post you made. What do you think made that game so much fun to play on the Game Boy Color?
The main thing about 720 was that it was the game (that we came across anyway) that didn’t consign you to a half pipe and it let you choose what to do!
OlliOlli has a focus on global highscores and offers both predefined and random levels. What do you think of the critique that games which don’t have predefined levels don’t provide an even playing field for global highscores? (Think Big Sky Infinity for instance)
Good question! I think there’s a definitely an argument towards that, however if you can build a solid random level generator in such a way it will mean that if people play the game enough they will get the same opportunities to score big. The thinking behind us having defined levels in the main Career Mode was that as a skateboarder you pull your best tricks when you know what’s coming and after you’ve practiced a particular section over and over! We’ve tried to replicate this in OlliOlli as much as possible. Practice makes perfect!
What do you expect the price to be for OlliOlli and how did you decide upon that?
We know for Europe its £3.99 and 4.99 Euro, US price is still to be set but it will be equivalent with exchange rates taken into consideration. We did a lot of research into Vita Price points and this seemed like a good middle ground, not too expensive, but not so cheap to make you wonder if it’s any good! As it’s our first title, gamers don’t know who or what Roll7 is so that also had a bearing on the price.
You are quite active on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Are you planning to spent anything on traditional marketing?
Well, at the moment, I am the marketing department! We are debating internally whether we can justify that spend as we don’t have that in our budget but at the same time I think it’s nice when we approach magazines as the developer and try to build up a relationship that way. We’re certainly going to be ramping up the social media activity as more assets come online and you may also see some of team skateboarding in real life, hopefully injuring themselves in the process. That kind of stuff seems to do well on the internet.
Tom Hegarty on PS Vita
OlliOlli is an exclusive PS Vita title. What made you choose to develop for the Vita? You have a direct relationship with Sony. How did that come about?
OlliOlli is only our second game release, the first was on iOS (Gets To The Exit) and whilst we got good reviews the sales didn’t match! Yes there’s an argument to say that iOS gives you an enormous audience but for a small studio with limited marketing capabilities how do you reach that audience? Moving to console seemed to make sense as although there is still a vast amount of competition, we now have a dedicated of audience of gamers.
In terms of Vita, there are two strands to the story; the initial concept demo was built on iOS, the leap to Vita seemed logical, with its bigger screen and analogue controls to give us a much deeper trick system, secondly we chanced across James Marsden (director at Futurlab) at Develop Conference 2012, after playing the demo he put us in touch with Sony and the Vita Content team. We had to pitch to Shahid Ahmad and his team and happily for us they liked what they saw in OlliOlli!
What did you think of the way Sony handled the PS Vita at E3?
Really pleased, there were over 80 Vita stations and as far as I could see they were strategically placed in front of the PS4 section which meant we got the footfall! The press conference was always going to primarily be about PS4 so I wasn’t surprised we didn’t see more, but the link form PS4 to Vita certainly makes the Vita more exciting proposition to potential buyers.
Do you think Sony can turn the sales for PS Vita around?
I think so, you just have to look at the work Shahid and his team re doing to see how much content is coming to Vita, which should hopefully address the main concerns from consumers that there aren’t enough games for Vita. My guess is that we’ll start to see combo packs of PS4 and Vitas sold together which should raise its profile. Also everyone who has got one loves their Vita! I met someone the other day who has stopped playing PS3 in favour of their Vita, it’s a damn good machine!
What is currently your favourite game on the PS Vita?
Thomas Was Alone, playing through that at the moment and loving it, and now looking forward to Hotline Miami!
Want to know more about OlliOlli? Visit the Roll7 website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!