Exclusive: Breakdown Studios Interview

Not Your Usual Developer Interview

iFanzine chat to the developers of the magnificent Mad ‘O’ Ball 3D about making iPhone games, music, future projects, and well anything else that crossed our mind! A really revealing interview complete with behind the scenes pictures of the guys and the studio. Enjoy!

iFanzine: So who are Breakdown Studios?

Breakdown Studios: Breakdown studios was formed in late 2009 by two old friends, both born in 1973 in the same country, but now living in different ones –  Italy (Tommaso) and Sweden (Gualtiero). They knew each other since they were young boys and started to use computers with commodore when they were just 10 way back in 1983.

Passionate about videogaming since early age, Gualtiero got some experience on 3D graphics, modeling, animation and 2D graphic. Tommaso is a multimedia/cinema/tv director who got the programming vocation under his belt with web 2.0 applications, interactive human interfaces installations and publishing games. Additionally he is a musician and a sound designer.

Tommaso Lintrami is the musician and sound designer as well as a web developer and a game designer/programmer with more than 15 years of commercial IT experience. He was responsible for all the programming involved in developing Mad O Ball 3D, so in general the game engine scripting and some objective-C programming as well as all the sound fx and the music. He also developed with some help from Elias Tsiantas (Level Editor Programming) and also Gualtiero Tabacchi (animations) who with Idigicon LTD published the game Dragan’s Quest for PC, a budget game where a little dragon makes his own way fighting with bubbles (a Bubble Bobble 3D with a storyline). See here: http://www.litobyte.com/oldsite/draganquest/ for more info.

Gualtiero Tabacchi is the level designer, graphic and web designer of this project. He was responsible for all the 32 tracks * of the game all the models and the textures as well as interface design and web design. *actually tracks North6 and South8 were done by the programmer and I guess you can see that! 😀

iFz: Breakdown? Mad ‘O’ Ball? On a scale of one to ten just how crazy are you guys?

Breakdown: Breakdown isn’t exactly “a breakdown” in the literal sense of the word, but instead the breakdown guitar riff of the hardcore genre. It’s what you can hear when the game starts when our two ugly faces come up in black and white. Yes! We are those two heads fighting our way to the end of this project!!! And yes, we are of course mad – the graphic artist is a crazy snowboarder and bass player; we had a hardcore band when we were 18. My pictures of the studio tell it all…dont you agree? 🙂

Tommaso: Putting the mad in Mad O Ball
Gualtiero poses for our first topless photo shoot…

iFz: Your first iPhone game Mad ‘O’ Ball 3D is an incredibly polished piece of work, what was the development time like?

Breakdown: 5 months in a very crazy mode. We both prototyped the game at the same office for one month to decide whether to develop or not. Then we registered to the Apple Developer Program with my name (the programmer – Tommaso Lintrami) and started the journey: 1 month prototyping, 3 month art content production and game engine scripting, and 1 month testing and implementing the final touches.

iFz: One of the (many) highlights of Mad ‘O’ Ball were those incredibly catchy tunes – I drove my girlfriend nuts humming the theme song – who was responsible?

Breakdown: All the sounds and the music were composed by the same mad guy who wrote the code (Tommaso).

iFz: You’re quite active places like Facebook and the Toucharcade forums, how important are social networks such as these when hitting the promotional trail for an iPhone game?

Breakdown: Those are the best/biggest resource for us indie developers to “spread the word” out there. Very much we would say. But they are not the only resource, also the official reviews and the 50 promocodes for each update that we spread among users and reviewers helped us a bit.

iFz: You run ongoing contests for Mad ‘O’ Ball players, what was the thinking behind this?

Breakdown: Since the start of the project we thought of this game as the perfect candidate for online social-network communities challenges and such stuff, so we are waiting for the growth of the community to be able to create appropriate competitions. There will be iTunes gift cards and other great prizes coming up as soon as the competition for the first place in the hardest tracks (North and West) comes up!

iFz: Mad ‘O’ Ball originally launched at $3.99, which, for better or worse, is a pretty bold price-point for an iPhone game, are you pleased with sales thus far?

Breakdown: We know the price is right for this “polished piece of work”, we have deeply analyzed the market on the appstore and we can assure we are still the cheapest of all the best bold games you can find out there.

iFz: Will Mad ‘O’ Ball be rolling onto iPad anytime soon?

Breakdown: Well we live in Europe and the new device is not here yet, but we are already working on the HD version of the game and while we can’t anticipate too many details, obviously it won’t be just a scaled copy of the iPhone version. If anybody didn’t catch it yet, Michelle from iCasual claimed it to be very enjoyable and playable scaled x2 on iPad on their podcast. But we are cooking up something special for the power and the extra screen width of the iPad.

Where the magic happens

iFz: What does the future hold for Breakdown Studios? Can you reveal whether you are working on any new projects?

Breakdown: We are taking a break now from the long rush hours we had in the last few months while we think about future projects. We have something in mind, but of course we can’t reveal any details yet.

iFz: Who else’s work do you admire? Any favourite games other than Mad ‘O’ Ball?

Breakdown: We like Sway, Angry Birds and Labyrinth 2 among the indie games. And we personally like Face Fighter as it allow us to virtually kick the a** of whoever we think deserves it! 😀

iFz: Where will iPhone (iPod and iPad) gaming be in three years time? HD? 3D? Will we ever get a physical d-pad or buttons?

Breakdown: Well, I see many HTC phones using trackballs or optic sensors, we will see if gaming will take off on “(Android) Market” too, but we guess the cool thing about the iDevices is “exiting” the controller era to enter into the touch era.

iFz: What one piece of advice would you give to any aspiring app developers out there?

Breakdown: We think that the appstore market need more titles that uses the most cool features that iDevices offer: accelerometer, multitouch, location service. Our advice is to focus on the hardware possibilities and on creating unique original gameplay, don’t forget to polish your work with attention to details.

A promo poster for Mad ‘O’ Ball  (Work in progress)

**A huge thank you to Tommaso and Gualtiero for taking the time to answer our questions. You can say hi to the guys in the comments section below and be sure to read our glowing review of Mad ‘O’ Ball 3d here.