Slide To Play Q and A: rComplex

When we first saw rComplex, we thought it looked like a stylish auto-runner. Then we played it right when it came out, and the game’s performance left something to be desired. The development team heard players’ cries, and quickly pushed out an update that improved the experience quite a bit. But they’re not done with the game yet. We caught up with Igor Raffaele, the general manager of InterWave Studios, to talk about the future of this gorgeous running game.

STP: How did rComplex first come about?

Igor: rComplex was developed by some colleagues and friends over at Event Interactive. Those are the original makers of rComplex, Roger Hicks and Brian Terwilliger. They started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a remake of the game with all kinds of bells and whistles, and that failed. Before that, though, we’d contacted them privately and said we were interested in seeing the game come to light. I was a great fan of the original PC indie concept when it came out, and I thought it had tremendous potential in terms of gameplay and presentation. And so we picked it up from there.

What made you decide to port rComplex to iOS?

It’s a tried and tested gameplay mechanic. It’s basically an auto-runner, with jump, slide, and back-shooting. What it had on top of that was a really powerful story and atmosphere, which I thought added to the gameplay. Some auto-runners– which is still a popular genre and I think will remain so for a while yet– they get crazier and crazier with their power-ups and scenarios. Whereas rComplex is really beautiful in its simplicity and streamlined gameplay. As you play, you pick up the story and soak up the atmosphere, and you have the whole “run for your life” thing that, I think, was realized really well.

What was the immediate reaction from gamers when you released it on the App Store?

Less than positive. There were two severe issues with rComplex when it released. One was a performance issue that we didn’t pick up on in our testing. We have quite an extensive testing team for a studio of our size, and we made sure we had full representation of all supported devices. But we’d all been in the game for too long to pick up on how difficult it truly was. We had our reflexes first beaten into the ground, and then oiled by the game over several months. And when players first got in the game and were using the swipe controls, and they didn’t react as instantly as they were used to in most arcade games, there was an overwhelming negative reaction, which of course we fully understand.

The other was a slight technical hiccup, where the game would actually install on 3GS devices. We don’t support 3GS devices, and never intended to. We made that clear from the first day, but something went wrong during the submission process at Apple and the game would start as if it were compatible with 3GS devices. But there the game literally crawls, because it was not designed for that resolution or processor. So the cloud of comments around rComplex performing badly grew exponentially, not necessarily based on the slightly laggy swipe controls, but also because all the 3GS people who had installed it said, “this is a horrible framerate, what are you guys doing?” Now, we’re working to patch both, based on user feedback.

You’ve released at least one up date so far. What updates have you already released, and what are you working on in the future?

Well, based on initial user feedback and reviewer feedback, we put aside all of our plans for the future of the game. We were planning to release Game Center integration and a couple of other features, but that’s all been put aside for now in favor of tweaking gameplay. The game is already on the App Store as version 1.2. Changes in that version were mostly performance based, and we quickly put in some touch-based controls. So you have buttons to jump and slide, instead of having to swipe up and down. There has also been optimization to build-size and music compression and things like that, which make it generally perform better.

The next update has already been submitted, 1.3, which further improves it. We’ve pulled back the camera in a lot of scenes, like in the motorcycle section, where people just weren’t getting enough advanced warning for obstacles coming in. The camera will pull back quite a bit further on most levels. Also, the buttons have been rearranged so now they’re placed one on top of the other, which is more intuitive than how we had them placed before.

Next up, then, the update we’ll work on after that will be 1.4, and that will have Game Center integration, a bunch of cosmetic changes to make them less jaggy and make them prettier in general. After that, we have a couple more gameplay features in mind that I’m not going to talk about yet, because you never know in game development what’s going to come back.

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