Interview With Team Cheezia

For starters, let’s have you tell us a little about Attido. Videogame development is just one of many business activities this company performs, right? Does the game development team get to focus on videogames exclusively, or do you often complete software development tasks unrelated to games as part of Attido’s business model?

Yes, mobile game development is one small branch of what we do here at Attido. The company’s main focus is on business-critical IT systems consulting, development and optimization for big companies. We also do a lot of our own software development, both web and mobile. So, mobile games fit pretty well in our product lineup.

Team Cheezia, which consists of three game developers/graphic artists, has other development tasks as well, but currently we are almost 100% focused on developing Cheezia: Gears of Fur.

We saw that the original Cheezia spent some time at the top of the puzzle game charts in Finland! Home field advantage is one thing, but the fact remains that you had some measure of marketing success. What factors help explain Cheezia’s success in your home country – did any major videogame media outlets play a part, for example? And what challenges did you have marketing the game outside of Finland?

Yes, the original Cheezia reached #1 “Top Paid Puzzle Game,” #3 “Top Paid Game” and #5 “Top Paid App” in Finland’s App Store. Something we’re really proud of. The development team did quite a bit of marketing: sent press releases, used social media, posted to gaming forums, etc. We did get some attention in the local media, such as a small newspaper article and a few reviews. These, of course, helped to get the game noticed. But in the end it was the strong support from the Finnish gamers that really put the game on the charts.
Of course, international marketing is a lot harder and this is something we wish to improve with Gears of Fur. We got some positive reviews but mobile gaming is a tough market. You really have to put a lot of effort (and money) into marketing in order to succeed. It’s not enough that you make a great game anymore. You have to market it efficiently as well.

You’ve done quite the genre switch between Cheezia and Gears of Fur. What motivated the change from puzzle game to platformer for your second title? Do you see more room for platform games than puzzle games in the mobile market nowadays?

The first Cheezia was more of a test project for us. Last summer we had a short period with no client projects so we decided to develop a small mobile game. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, the game ended up being a simple puzzle/reaction game. The whole development process took us five weeks, and this included building the game’s website and marketing efforts as well. The game was pretty well received and everybody at Attido liked the characters so much that we were given a chance to develop another game based on the Cheezia characters.

Because of the limitations of the first game’s development tools (Adobe Air), we decided to develop the new game with Unity3D, which has proven to be the right choice for us. Unity3D gives us far more freedom in creating just the game we want to make.

The whole team is a fan of platformers such as Mario, Sonic and others. However, we’ve noticed that there aren’t that many great platformers on iOS and Android (I don’t count runner games as platformers). This gave us the initial idea to create a platformer using Cheezia mice. I think that there is always a market for both good puzzle and platform games on mobile devices.

And in what ways is Gears of Fur related to the first Cheezia? Does the second game inherit any characters or story background from your first, or is the mouse-in-wheel concept the main point of connection between the two? If so, what can you tell us about Gears’ hero and antagonist?

The main link between these two games is the setting and the characters. The original idea is that Cheezia was a cheese factory run by mice. I mean, who has better knowledge to make great tasting cheese than mice themselves? We have taken this basic setting, transferred it to Gears of Fur and built the back story around it. The idea to use a mouse wheel as a “main character” was also there from the beginning.

I’m not going to reveal the plot just yet, but in a nutshell our hero is one of the factory workers who must save the factory from an evil kiwi spy and his horde of minions.

How challenging has it been to implement the wall-climbing physics in Gears of Fur? Do you feel the engine is perfected yet, or do find yourselves constantly making tweaks still?

Thanks to Unity3D, it hasn’t been that hard. Since we use the built-in physics engine, the gameplay basics have been pretty easy to implement. The engine is pretty close to the finished version, but of course there are always things that need to be tweaked before the release.

And finally, what can you tell us about any features or content you have planned for the final version of Cheezia that we can’t see in the preview build or in screenshots yet?

Well, the final game will include power ups, more enemies and more environmental elements. We will also add more physics elements that are missing from the alpha build. Those and much more!

Cheezia: Gears of Fur will be using the freemium model. The first world will be free and the rest can be unlocked by buying them straight from the game. It will be a universal app with better graphics on Retina display, iPad and Android tablets.

Big thanks to Jyri at Attido for taking the time out to answer our questions about Cheezia: Gears of Fur. You can check out our hands-on preview of an early test build, and stay tuned to the Cheezia Facebook page and Twitter account for the latest news! We’ll be sure to bring you a preview video in an iFriday Roundup when it becomes available down the road.