With the Australian dollar in the way it is, the region is no longer a hotbed for video game development it once was, at least not in the console and PC space. Where Australia has excelled instead is in the emerging, yet lucrative, mobile game space, with several top ten games on Apple’s iTunes attributed to developers such as Firemint and IronMonkey, which recently merged into FireMonkeys. After releasing a sequel to the widely popular Flight Control with Flight Control Rocket last year, there were questions about whether the developer would revisit its other high profile property, Real Racing. The good news is that the developer has done just that with Real Racing 3, which sports cutting edge graphics and tilt based controls that made the firs two instalments such a hit with mobile users.
Following the launch of the game in Australia, PC World caught up with FireMonkeys development director, Kynan Woodman, to discuss the game’s new direction.
Unlike the first two games, Real Racing 3 is going freemium. Why adopt this model for the game?
FireMonkeys development director, Kynan Woodman (KW): We created Real Racing with a goal of making it available to the widest audience possible. By making the game free, there is no barrier to entry and anyone with a compatible smartphone can download and play the game.
Any special reasoning for the timing for the switch to free-to-play?
KW: Free games have been becoming more and more popular, and we had considered converting Real Racing 2 into a free game. However making a free game isn’t as easy as changing the price, there was a lot to consider and we decided that we would leave Real Racing 2 as a paid game and release Real Racing 3 for free.
The game is expected to have more than 900 race events available at launch. How many of those will be available to a user who does not make any immediate in-app purchases?
KW: Real Racing 3 has a pretty standard game progression where you start off with some lower end cars and race to earn R$ to upgrade your car or buy a new one. So at the beginning of the game you have only a few events you can compete in. As you buy more cars, you gain access to new events. If you want to race in super car events straight away, you can buy some R$ to speed up the process.
This game is coming out simultaneously on iOS and Android. How is the multiplatform development experience for FireMonkeys this far into the smartphone cycle?
KW: We have a cross platform engine that supports both iOS and Android more easily. Having said that there are hundreds of devices with varying performance, so we have spent a lot of time focusing on getting the best experience on the devices we support.
FireMonkeys, back when it was two separate studios, has a long history of specialising on iOS development. Any particular challenges that you can highlight when it comes developing for two mobile platforms instead of one?
KW: Both studios had a long history in mobile back to the J2ME and BREW days, and had cross platform engines for many years. We have always been prepared for new platforms to rise in popularity, so when iOS and Android became available we were ready to support them.
What is the oldest iOS platform that the game will be able to run on?
KW: We support iPhones and iPods that have a Retina display, as well as the iPad 2 and newer iPads.
How does FireMonkeys draw the line on what iOS devices the game is playable on? After all, there is a significant gap in processing power with each new iteration of an iOS device.
KW: We try our best to support as many devices as possible. However, as devices become less popular, it stops making sense to have artists and engineers working on supporting old devices when they could be working on new features.
What are your thoughts about the fragmented Android landscape? Does the Tegra chip simplify the number of platforms to develop the game for?
KW: We have a cross platform engine that reduces the impact of fragmentation, but it definitely reduces the complexity of creating a cross platform game when devices have similar hardware.
Real Racing 2 was developed when Firemint was a single studio. How has the merger of the two development studios into FireMonkeys benefited the development of Real Racing 3?
KW: FireMonkeys brought together two great studios that both have made amazing mobile racing games, so that experience has definitely helped development of Real Racing 3.
What is your favourite car in the game and why?
KW: In testing I liked driving the Pagani Huayra, but I am saving up for it now I am playing on the real build.
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