Slide To Play Q and A: Egg Ball Studios

At a recent meeting with Bulkypix, we were especially impressed by the concept art for two games coming later this year from indie studio Egg Ball. One is a freemium, pirates-themed social game (which sounds similar to Lil’ Pirates), and the other is a musically inspired platformer set in New Orleans in the early 1900s. We spoke to Julien Victor, the CEO of Egg Ball, along with Nicolas Badoux, lead game designer, and Louis Lim, art director, to find out more about these interesting projects.

Pirates concept art

Can you tell us a bit about how Egg Ball got started?

Julian: Egg Ball is a young French game studio. Created by three individuals who were both friends as well as gamers, we decided to develop our games without the pressure of a publisher and in March 2010 shipped our first title, Boowie! The strong warrior for the iPhone. The team has definitely grown since those inauspicious beginnings and is now composed of 14 dynamic and brilliant people.

How did you develop a partnership with BulkyPix?

Julien: After our third title, we wanted to continue our growth as game developers and to look towards even bigger games. We decided to find a co-producer to help us create the game according to our vision without being pressured. We’ve heard about Bulkypix as a “humane publisher” so we decided to meet them and see if our cultures could work together. In our first game together, Bulkypix supported us even better than we had hoped and had stuck to their word and built real trust relationship.

A Moon For The Sky

One of the Egg Ball games we enjoyed recently was A Moon For The Sky. Where did the concept for this game come from?

Nicolas: Well, you know that we have a great team, and rather than just as co-workers, we really are a bonded group of friends. So’¦ sometimes we sing, and for A Moon For The Sky, we sang Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra. That was where the inception of the idea for the game came from!

From that moment, we really wanted to create a game with a dreamlike atmosphere. That was for the atmosphere, for the gameplay, we always want to add original elements, this can be especially seen in the flipping of the gameplay in Doodle Jump: You don’t move your character to bounce him higher and higher, you draw platforms to send him to the sky.

Pirates concept art

Can you tell us a bit about Pirates? Will it be a casual, online, free-to-play game, and how will it distinguish itself from other pirate-themed freemium games?

Julien: Pirates will be online and free to play. With this game, we want to give a real world-effect immersion (Your actions have an impact on your world and can change the course of the game) with a strong storyline and an original view. We can’t tell you more quite yet :)

Louis: Moreover, it will have the feel and flavor of the mindset of real Pirates set in an original cartoon world.

Pirates concept art

How far along is development on Pirates?

Julien: Like all our games, we will provide many versions. The first one will actually be available in the second quarter of this year.

Jazz concept art

We’d also like to know more about Jazz. The setting and style is very unusual for an iPhone game. What are you trying to accomplish with the look of the game?

Louis: We are always searching for a unique graphic style for our games. For Jazz the storyline is more mature, so, I decided to tell the story with a simple style, with animation like the old Disney “Silly Symphony”. This style gives an easy immersion and a vintage feel of the early 1900′s.

Nicolas: We try to give the player a sense of dreaming, becoming a part of a world that he seems to know and with that, brings their sense of nostalgia and emotion. We first did extensive research on the jazz era and music, on specific instruments used in the style, on the creation and development in New Orleans, to its migration across the globe. All these little anecdotes complete the player’s immersion in the environment and help broaden the game’s depth.

Jazz concept art

Music seems like it will be an integral part of the game Jazz. How are you approaching the sound design?

Julien: Since the beginning of Egg Ball we have worked closely with the French Sound designer (Yubaba). They have been an ideal development partner, and we have always worked together from the throughout the game development process to get better and better sound integration into our game’s experience. Moreover, they also created an actual Jazz band, so they are integrated directly into the project to get the best sound design that we had hoped for, and they have helped us marry the music perfectly to the gameplay.

Jazz concept art

Can you please describe the central gameplay in Jazz?

Nicolas: Our intention is to provide straightforward gameplay so that all players (ranging from the casual to the hardcore) can find the game both appealing and engaging. The musical style “jazz” is featured, with the music being highlighted throughout, but we haven’t just made a musical game like Guitar Hero or Parapa The Rapper. The sound design of Jazz compliments the gameplay as in the shooter Rez whose rhythmic sounds accompanied various in-game actions. To be clear, Jazz is a platformer game in the spirit of Oddworld Abe’s Odyssey and Braid.

Jazz concept art

When can we expect to see Jazz coming to the App Store?

Julien: This will be our biggest title in 2011, so we’re taking our time to really get it right and to capture the best vision of the game. Its our goal to see it released towards the end of the year.

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