RedLynx Interview

For those who may not be aware of RedLynx yet, when did your now-lengthy history in the videogame industry begin, and what was the first RedLynx-developed game?

Our company was founded in 2000 by my brother Atte and I. Our last name translates roughly to “Lynx Marsh” in English, which we thought was a good name for a game company – at least the Lynx part. The “Marsh” was replaced with “Red,” and the rest is history!

Our first games were small web-based games, first in Java and later in Flash, which became quite popular with the quickly growing web game scene at that time. In fact, one of the earliest games called Trials grew so popular around the world that it quickly crashed the small Finnish ISP it was being hosted on. The manager of the ISP asked us to please move the game because his other customers were experiencing a kind of “de-TRIALS” of service attack.

At what point did the RedLynx team realize that this company would be a profitable industry player for years to come?

The important point is that we have been around for a long time, more than ten years now. I don’t know the percentage, but it seems like most small game developers don’t last longer than a couple of years. Right from the start, we did everything in a way that the company would be positioned to survive. We’ve had our hard times surely, they come and go, but good times come too. If we make a profit, that’s good, but not the main point. If we make enough to keep making games and our families happy – and our players happy – then we are happy too.

How does iOS compare to the other platforms RedLynx has developed for, in terms of either marketing or technical difficulty? What about iOS might make it more welcoming than competing mobile game platforms from a development or publishing perspective, and what does RedLynx see as this platform’s drawbacks?

We’ve been a multi-platform developer pretty much since the start, having worked on just about every major platform out there in the last ten years — Xbox, PSP, Nintendo DS, PC, Symbian, WiiWare, flash, and more. So our general approach is to take our proven product management and R&D processes, as well as our game design philosophy, to each new platform. So far that has worked out well.

In terms of iOS platform, and I am sure everyone is familiar with these ideas, but the App Store, the touch screen interface, and the huge number of games at very low price points make the iOS gaming platform one of the most exciting and also the most challenging gaming platforms around. That said, Apple has been doing a great job managing this massive content flow, organizing it, calling out exceptional games, and continually raising the quality standards – and all done in an attractive, easy-to-use interface.

While exploring RedLynx’s website I was really struck by its well-integrated social media aspect. What role have YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc., played in RedLynx’s success over the years? Any advice for other developers and publishers, both large and small, on how to use social media most effectively?

Social media is a great way to reach out to your fans and potential fans directly, by showing them something cool, something they will get curious, even excited, about. We have put a lot of energy into this part of our marketing, that’s for sure, and will be doing more in the future, because we do truly care for our fans and players, and we get a chance to hear back from them and to listen to them. These social media tools are just that, tools, but beneath it is people talking to other people. We love the messages and videos they send us, like the Trials HD rider who shared this video of his two-year old playing Trials HD.

RedLynx’s collection of trailers also made a big impression on me – even though I don’t normally go for racing games, every racing game trailer I viewed on your product pages left me saying, “Whoa, that looks really fun!” Of course having a well-made game in the first place helps, but is there any basic formula or design theory behind a RedLynx game trailer? Does RedLynx typically produce its trailers in-house or contract with specialists, and if it’s the latter, does the developer have to give up any measure of creative control over how the trailer takes shape?

I’m glad you liked the trailers! Our approach has been mixed – some of the trailer production is done in house, and all the gameplay footage is definitely taken here. But we have been fortunate to work with a local video production company here in Finland named Kombo, who are great at creating compelling and interesting trailers. The ideas and scripts for the trailers are generally ours and the music usually comes from our side too, but the 3D effects and other production they are specialists in. I worked personally with the team from Kombo on our Warhammer trailer for something like six months, to create the best trailer out there.

And I don’t mind letting the Kombo secret out of the bag now, since they have been acquired by our good friends (and fellow Finnish game company) Rovio. They are mighty eagles now, they won’t be making trailers for anyone else.