Interview With Platronic Games

One genre staple I didn’t see in the early preview footage is a Hint button, which has often been used to get the player out of a jam. Will a Hint button actually be available in the game, or did you decide it was unneeded for any reason?

It’s coming, we’re just still thinking about how we want to handle it in the end. It’s pretty much a “win” button in this genre and I really want to think about how it should function. We might only have it affect certain objects, or maybe we’ll give you a timed number of uses. We just want to make sure we’re comfortable with what we let the player have so that it’s not tempting to lean on it too much.

What does The Secret Castle’s “advanced mode” entail, compared to the normal difficulty mode? Will “advanced mode” be unlockable, or available to the player from the start of a new game?

It’s likely going to be available from the outset. Advanced mode is really just a set of super hard multi-piece objects that are not critical to moving the plot along. We thought about having them unlock, but likely they will just be in the task list but not required to finish the game. We’re still working on this as well though, and the best news is that multi-piece objects are hard to find. I rarely get stuck in these types of games but you really have to think in 3D to find some of these advanced objects.

Will the game be compatible with only certain generation iDevices? For example, will it work on second and third gen devices, or will it strictly be for the iPhone and iPod Touch 4, iPad, and iPad 2?

All 4th gen stuff will definitely be supported. 3GS is highly likely, with the only issue being that it’s definitely over a 20MB download and it has a lower res screen, which needs serious testing in a Hidden Object game. If anything, it will come in a later update so we can give it the attention it needs to be good.

Do you have any post-release content for updates in mind yet?

Absolutely, now that all the groundwork is done we hope to have extra levels if we see interest in the game. We’ve talked about a couple of fun non-story levels, but also, there is an outline for two sequels if the game is successful enough.

And finally, how much of a challenge has time management been for you and the team during this project? Did you pretty much know what to expect going in, or did sleepless nights and time crunches take an unexpected toll?

I like to joke that this game was made between the hours of 12 AM and 3 AM throughout the last year. Everyone has sent me emails at night between those hours and many respond to emails after 2 AM. With that type of schedule there’s really no room for crunching, as everyone has day jobs in the morning. The amazing part is, not only am I working with a team that dedicated, but many of them do it without even asking for some sort of explanation. If I say I need another piece of art, or a feature in the game added, the team has been able to deliver everything well above what I thought we could do.

At this point, everyone is just excited about getting this game into everyone’s hands and making it as good an experience as we can. We really hope that it attracts not just casual gamers and kids, but people who want genuinely new interactive experiences.

Big thanks to John Francis for taking out the time to answer our questions, and to the Platronic team for burning so much midnight oil for the sake of innovative digital entertainment! Don’t forget to check out our First Look at The Secret Castle if you haven’t already. For good measure, here’s the developer’s website (where you can find more cool concept art), Facebook page, and Twitter account.