Interview: Ex-Sony developers Nice Touch Games talk WP7, Burnout Paradise, biscuits and nachos

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Nice Touch Games are one of the few developers creating games exclusively for Windows Phone 7. A two man team comprising of Richard Bunn and David Green, they have already pumped out two quality games for the platform in Crazy Horses and it’s follow-up Match Maker, so we wanted to know what was coming next from the Crazy Horses stable(ahem), how they got into starting up their own studio, and most importantly if they were prepared to exchange secrets for nacho’s. Read on…

1. You both came from Sony London Studios, what titles did you work on while you were there?

Dave: I started at Sony on the notorious Eight Days project and after that got stopped prematurely I moved onto an unannounced AAA title that never saw the light of day. Fair to say I was a little unlucky with the titles I was assigned to over my many years there.

Rich: I came to Sony after working on Black and Burnout Paradise at Criterion. I met Dave on Eight Days and we’ve both had the same unlucky run of projects there having worked on a couple of titles that didn’t make it out of the door. Not an unusual experience for people in the games industry it’s a shame to say.

2. Why did you decide to leave Sony and start your own development house?

Dave: Excitement at the prospect of making our own titles mixed with the desire to get something fun released.

Rich: Most game developers dream of making their own games and after our last project was cancelled we just said enough is enough and decided to have more fun and actually release some games.

3. Why Windows Phone?

Rich: I’ve owned an iPhone for years and vividly remember the early gold rush days where there was a hunger for the few decent games that were being made. I expected that the Windows Phone might go through a similar phase and we could reap the benefits of that. I haven’t seen many of those success stories being repeated on Windows Phone so far – the top games are mostly ports of successful iPhone titles. Another part of the decision to go on Windows Phone is that Dave is a kick-ass C# coder!

Dave: For me the development environment was a dream and the platform was growing steadily. Seemed like a nice mix.

4. Would you ever consider working for other platforms? I have an iPod Touch with a Crazy Horses shaped hole missing…..

Dave: I don’t think we are opposed to releasing on other platforms and there are no road blocks for us if we decided to go that way.

Rich: We get asked to do the iOS version all the time. We’ve certainly discussed what the requirements are from a code and design perspective, but haven’t made a decision yet. You know us though – we might not sleep for two weeks and the ports will be out before you expect. Or they might not…

5. How supportive has Microsoft been with you, do you have any direct contact with them?

Dave: I gotta say that what you get directly out of the box from Microsoft for developing on WP7 is pretty incredible and any direct questions seem to get turned around with lightning quick responses … I gotta say I am impressed.

Rich: I haven’t really dealt with Microsoft – that’s Dave’s job! In return I handle all of our contact with you lovely people in the games press. Small indie developers shouldn’t underestimate how much time you have to spend building relationships and promoting your games. It can be a fun experience if you approach it the right way.

6. Have you heard anything regarding Crazy Horses getting approved for Xbox Live status?

Dave: That is a question for Microsoft … we would like to provide as much benefit to our gamers as possible.

Rich: Yeah, we’ve contacted Microsoft about this. If that doesn’t pan out the only option we have is to approach one of the other approved publishers. We already added in-game awards to Crazy Horses with a view to linking them to achievements in the future.

7. Can you tell us of any updates to Crazy Horses or Match Maker coming in the future?

Dave: Of course we will finish the American states for Crazy Horses with some new fun endings to the poor little horseys. The recent update to Crazy Horses saw you move into the cold and you may have noticed Match Maker had no snow levels … hint hint.

Rich: More free content! We have a definite end-goal with Crazy Horses of 50 levels, but we might also add more features and visual polish. Match Maker was designed to be open-ended and I’ll keep making levels until my brain explodes! That could be any day now…

8. What is next for Nice Touch Games? How about a hint of your next title- I can exchange Nacho’s for information.

Dave: I do love me some Nacho’s … nothing like snacking at 4 in the morning when the code is closing in around you and you forgot what sleeping was like when you had the security of a full time gig at a big studio. I think our next title will play to our strengths … whatever they may be … too vague?

Rich: Dave’s trying to keep you guessing! We have plenty more ideas in the back pocket, but we’re still deciding whilst we craft more updates for our first two games. We prototyped two other games during the development of Crazy Horses. One of these became Match Maker and we’re still considering what to do with the other one. There’s the possibility of more games featuring the Crazy Horses – people seem to like the little fellas! Whatever game we make next you’ll be the first to know about it! I’ll leave you with a handy little tip: British game developers usually prefer biscuits (cookies in the US) over nachos – you can dip them in your tea.


About Author

Simon Burns is the editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. He has been a fan of technology for over twenty five years and loves playing with gadgets and spending time with his family. You can get in touch with him via the ‘contact us’ section of the site or on Twitter by following @smartappreview

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