I’ve spoken with Alexey Menshikov, Founder and CEO of BeatShapers. The developer recently released a new game, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, and has more good stuff in the works.
Travis Blair: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me!
Alexey Menshikov: Hi there! Thanks for the interview request.
Travis: I’d like to ask you first about your newest release, BreakQuest: Extra Evolution. What can you say to those not familiar with the game it’s based off, and what can you say is new for those familiar with the original game?
Alexey: Original BreakQuest is unique physics based breaking bricks game, created by Span-based Nurium Games and Felix Casablancas back in 2004. The Extra Evolution is our vision of the old game made exclusively for PlayStation minis (PSP/PS3/PS Vita). The new title has a lot of improvements: all new art/design style, sound and music for each of 100 levels.
One of the main improvements is that we’ve made 10 bosses that finishes every line of 10 levels, each boss level is the unique and require own strategy to defeat it. Original game has totally awesome power-ups like rockets and mines – we increased its usage with our game. Some legacy power-ups were removed, for example s-block wall: we have always working Energy Shield – special enegy line which when activated can survive 2 balls bounces before disappear. This is really helps, especially with boss levels which are damages your shuttle with weapon: loose control for short amount of time or inverse controls or both. For outstanding performance we’ve added 21 awards – player recieves them on level completion.
The levels are presened in 10 horizontal lines, each ends with boss, and by defeating boss you received a special award: new shuttle with special abilities – pre activated bonus: weapon, auto Energy Shield activation, multiball or sputniks. All of those features in the new BreakQuest: Extra Evolution gives new experience to the players.
Travis: Was SandS Band given any direction on what to create? The music in the game is impressive.
Alexey: Thanks, we will release soundtrack shorty on Bandcamp. Well actually no, we didn’t give them any directions, just like original BreakQuest did – the Sands have so many unreleased soundtracks and we asked to supply all of them to choose. Our art/design director took all available tracks and tried to unite them to have complete audio-visual experience which fit the level, than selected the required track which we licensed from the Sands after. For the main theme, we took the BreakQuest original theme (by) and very talented local composer Maximus Ermolaev made the remix.
Travis: Tell whoever over there that touched up the 100 levels in this game that I am really enjoying them. I admit – I never played the original. How far a departure was it from the original look, and was anything other than visual changes done to the varied levels?
Alexey: I will –Alexander, our lead artist is the guy behind design and art in the BreakQuest: Extra Evolution. New design is different than original but we tried to keep original game spirit and re-used some design elements and few sprites from original game. Most BreakQuest original levels are perfect and at its time were never seen before – like hanging ropes or moving bricks physically – actually BQ was one of the first physics interaction games. We love original design so we “creatively improved” to meet modern trends. The backgrounds are the thing which makes the new BreakQuest contain by 3 layers: color and 2 details layers. This is because all levels using same elements set from 9 huge textures – we have to pack all artwork to meet PSP and minis requirements and fit the 100Mb.
We also improved particle FX a bit, new UI look, new logo and promo art assets)
Travis: BeatShapers has been involved in some other minis. What have you learned as a developer from having some games under your belt?
Alexey: The idea behind our company business was taking interesting game mechanics from indie developers and ports them across consoles as the first stage of our company growth – make the name, generate cash flow. We believed that PlayStation minis is the right format for most of titles – we have to learn how to develop, how to prepare to the release and publish and market games. With all our past 12 releases and 2 platforms launch (PlayStation®Minis and PlayStation®Vita) now we have enough experince to develop our own titles aka stage two. Now I have whole team, the multi-platform technology, all those publoshing knowledge and relations with the platformholders which aids developments a lot.
Travis: The gaming market is comprised of larger, blockbuster releases and smaller, mobile-friendly titles. How do you feel about the variety of gaming available and what interests you about the games smaller in scale?
Alexey: The todays (Q4 2012) market divided by 2 big parts: small 0.99c casual games and large multimillion AAA blockbusters games. The mid size titles niche is almost empty – this is where we heading to. We are small studio (10 people), but we usually have 4 releases per year, in 2012 we have 5 releases already and 2 more planned. But nowadays we planning growth and we moving away from porting to developing own titles for multi platform. We not totally dropping porting – im trying to have 2 games per year, one is port and one is own developed title.
Travis: What’s next for BeatShapers? I understand there’s a few things cooking. Can you reveal detail about anything in development?
Alexey: It’s all classified but I can reveal something: we have 2 more PlayStation®Minis to be released this year, secret title (to be announced next 2-3 weeks) and new Carnivores SKU: codename Extreme Hunting. For PS Vita we have one game port and completely new game for PS3/PS Vita crossplay title (Which also aimed to true next gen – PS4). Also one of our PS3 work-for-hire titles also went to testing so hopefully to be released early next year by its publisher.
Travis: Congratulations on the release, and please, keep us in the loop on your future projects!
Alexey: Thanks so much, I will and we hope players will like the game