Independent development in Australia has been going from strength to strength over the past few years and the PAXAUS Indie Showcase serves to highlight some of the fantastic work being put out by local developers. Player2.net.au caught up with each of the developers awarded a spot in this year’s Indie Showcase and give a sneak peek at what PAXAUS attendees can look forward to.
PAXAUS 2015 Indie Showcase – Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise
Yak & Co.
Artist Mark White and programmer Jason Rawlings make up Yak & Co, a Melbourne based developer working on the follow up to Mark’s iOS debut Tasty Tadpoles. Agent A: A puzzle in disguise, a spy themed mobile puzzler that has drawn comparisons to The Room (the iOS game, not the film).
Stephen del Prado: Oh hi Mark! Tell me, how did Yak & Co. come into being?
Mark White: Yak & Co was formed when I asked my friend and co-worker Jason Rawlings to become the developer for Agent A. We had worked together for about 4 years at Millipede (an app development studio) and I wanted to build another game in my spare time. After building a few early prototypes I knew Jason would be the perfect guy to bring in for Agent A to really help improve the overall development of the game and allow me to focus on the art and design.
I like the art style of Agent A, especially the use of colours seen in the trailer. There seems to be a distinct throwback to classic spy series’ like Get Smart in not only this palette choice but also the shoe-phone joke in the trailer. Is this an accurate read, or are there further sources of inspiration that might not be as readily apparent?
Yes! I love Get Smart, one of my favourite TV shows of all time. I’m also a huge Bond fan and in particular the classic old Connery films. The art inspiration was from guys like Kevin Dart and his Yuki 7 series and also Shags retro vector illustrative style.
When crafting a puzzle title how hard is it to judge difficulty without resorting to external input?
Game and puzzle design is something that I think takes a lot of practice. I don’t think you can really get a great balance of difficulty without constantly testing it on people. Sometimes the simplest thing to you just makes no sense to people and so I find constantly testing and iterating really improved the fun factor in our game.
How has your experience creating Tasty Tadpoles (Mark’s solo iOS debut title) influenced the direction you’ve taken with Agent A?
Creating Tasty Tadpoles on my own taught me a lot of things. One of the main things it taught me was about doing a lot of research on the type of game you want to build before you actually jump right in and start building. It’s very easy to get caught up once you start so planning out your game is very important and I think this made Agent A a much more complete game.
How did it feel to have Agent A selected as a PAXAUS Indie Showcase title?
Terrific! It was great to be selected as one of the winners of the showcase amongst some really great games. We were very honoured!
What can PAXAUS attendees look forward to from Yak & Co.’s presence?
Right now we’re aiming to get the game finished for PAX and we’ll be taking along a few devices so hopefully everyone will get a chance to have a nice long play of the game at our booth!
PAX BONUS ROUND: Agent A: A puzzle in disguise Hands On
You know a game is good when you’re already asking the developer if you can have a finished copy when it’s available. I have to admit I don’t have much experience with iOS and Android puzzle titles so Agent A was refreshing for me for a number of reasons.
Firstly, as a spy-themed title I adore the choice to go with a lighter aesthetic in terms of colour. Rather than a darker palette, Agent A revels in the Technicolor look of the 60’s and 70’s, an element that I would love to see more games adopt.
The puzzles at first can seem obfuscating with a non-linear progression as you move around the environment with a bit of backtracking to be done. However, this doesn’t feel tedious as the solutions to a number of the puzzles can be found hidden within the level art which encouraged me to pay more attention to the visual design, no doubt a cunning move on the part of artist Mark White.
For those heading to PAXAUS 2016, I highly recommend stopping by Yak & Co.’s booth to give Agent A a test run – hopefully the full release isn’t too far off.
Stephen del Prado