Welcome to Show and Tell, a feature where we speak to indie developers about what they're working on and what they've just finished. We normally reserve this space for local developers, but we had to make an exception for these Berlin-based indies, Spaces of Play.
I first encountered Spaces of Play back in 2010 — it was a tiny indie team working on a game for the iPhone and iPad. I played their game, Spirits, and was absolutely blown away at the gorgeous little puzzle game they'd created. I wasn't sure how well they would do given that their studio was unknown and they were entering an already-saturated mobile market, so I was pleased to hear from them again recently. Not only have they taken out a range of international game development awards, they've now released a Mac version of their game.
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your studio?
Spaces of Play is a game studio based in Berlin. We are a group of four people — Mattias, Marek, Andreas and Martin. We are game designers, visual artists and musicians, and we have come together with the goal of creating original and innovative games.
We have known each other for a long time. In 2009 Andreas and Mattias started working together to create the iPhone version of Mr. Bounce, which was originally a Flash game designed together by Andreas and Martin. After that Mattias approached Marek to do illustrations for a new game project which ended up being Spirits. We planned for two months and ended up working on it for one year. Spirits was the first project that involved all four of us at the same time.
What game are you working on at the moment?
We just finished porting Spirits for the Mac! In Spirits you play with wind to guide a tribe of leaf-spirits back home. It’s based on the mechanics of classical game Lemmings but offers a very different gameplay experience. People described it as poetic and relaxing but also challenging at the same time. In Spirits your goal is to lay out a path for the spirits to walk and fly home. You can transform a spirit into a blowing cloud or a wind blocking ball. You can also transform them into a vine that the other spirits can use to reach higher grounds, or you can dig tunnels into walls. Your goal is to save a certain amount, but each time you transform a spirit you sacrifice it, and it will not count towards the goal anymore. So you have to combine their skills wisely to save as many as possible.
Being fans of the Mac for years, we made Spirits a first-class citizen on OS X. We have redrawn all 42 levels by hand to support any resolution up to 2560×1440 pixels. It will look stunning on your MacBook Air and your wide-screen iMac alike. Add multi-touch trackpad support and native fullscreen in Lion — we think this is the best port your Mac has seen in years.
Listening to our players’ feedback, we also added a time-saving fast forward feature. It speeds up the game accompanied by a dazzling glow effect. Best used after you successfully laid out your path.
If you finished a level in a creative way, it’s now easy to share a screenshot of your solution on Twitter. For more competitive players we have online ranks for each level, as well as a combined online world rank.
Where and when can we play?
Spirits on the Mac is coming February 15 to the Mac App Store! Spirits for iPad, and Spirits (iPhone) are available on the iOS App Store now.
What’s next for your studio — any big plans?
Plenty! One of the biggest problem in design is to decide on something. We have a lot of ideas, but will have to figure out which one we want to spend the next two months (or years) working on. We were in Copenhagen for the Nordic Game Jam last month and spent two days prototyping one of our latest ideas. The prototype kind of sucked, but gave us inspiration for another idea that we are really excited about. It’s a different take on the action adventure game genre and that’s all we can say at that point. Follow us on Twitter (@spacesofplay) and you will know as soon as we do!
Any words of advice for those who want to get into the games industry?
If you want to create games independently go to indie games festivals and get to know the community. Indies like to share what they know and help each other out. You will learn a lot there. It’s easy to get focused on your game idea and forget that other aspects such as getting the word out about your game or bringing it to other platforms are also important for your success.
If you want to make a living off your games be aware that they have to stand out in some way, or they will get buried under the mass of other games that comes out daily. Start with a tiny idea that you can prototype in a few days. Show it to friends and strangers and try to get honest feedback. Having an interesting game idea is a quick thing; building the game takes time, and polishing a game can take forever. Plan a lot of time in for polishing. This extra effort can elevate your game and be the factor that will push it into orbit to the other indie hits out there.
You can buy Spirits from the App store here.
Are you an indie developer or game design student with a cool project to show off? Whether you're only half-way through your project or you've already completed it, we want to see it! Send us an email with the subject line "SHOW AND TELL"!