In our interview series today I like to introduce Yann Seznec, Founder of Lucky Frame.
The Edinburgh-based creative studio is the creator of Gentlemen!, a fantastic duel game for up to four players. We’ll tackle subjects such as how the guys got into the game business, if OUYA still is an option for future projects and much much more. Here we go!
Day of the OUYA: Before we get into the game, would you give us an introduction of who you are, how you got into the gaming industry and a little bit about your studio Lucky Frame.
You: Lucky Frame is a creative studio based in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are three of us, Yann, Jonathan, and Sean. I’m Yann. Hello!I started the company five years ago after making a musical software hack for Wii remotes, which got a fair amount of attention online. Our first few projects were very focused on creative approaches to musical creation, and that’s still very much a part of what we do. That led us into making games, at first for iOS and eventually for other platforms too.
DotO: What was it like to port Gentlemen! for the OUYA? What OUYA specific challenges did you encounter and what can other developers learn from your challenges? How was the support from the OUYA team?
You: Gentlemen! is the first project we’ve made for platforms other than iOS. We switched our development platform to Unity to make it, with the aim of bringing it to as many different platforms as possible. We started with 2-player versions for iOS and Android, and then made a Mac/Windows version which allows up to 4 players and has a different set of levels. Unity makes porting relatively straightforward, though of course there are always issues with each new version.
DotO: As the OUYA wants to attract more indie game designers, how well is your financial return from Gentlemen! so far? Is it better or worse than expected and did you test different monetization strategies (different price, reduced free content)?
You: We expected very little from Ouya sales financially, so in that sense it hasn’t been disappointing! Our strategy is to have a reduced content in the free version, and an annoying nag screen that shows what you can get with the full version. It’s a pretty standard approach, but for future projects we’ve talked about some more creative ways we could use to encourage people to buy.
… I do think it will be difficult (though not impossible) to create a culture of purchasing on the Ouya store …
DotO: From your point of view, how well is free-to-play working on the OUYA? Are Indie Developers benefiting from that concept at all?
You: I don’t really think that free-to-play is something that is designed to be good for developers, the people who benefit the most are players, and that’s a good thing! It’s pretty cool to open up the Ouya store and just download a ton of games to try out. But I do think it will be difficult (though not impossible) to create a culture of purchasing on the Ouya store – if there are always more free games to try, it could make people hesitant to buy anything at all. Within that framework is tricky to figure out how to create a sense of value in the games that are offered.
DotO: You got very positive reviews at The Verge, Edge, Pocketgamer and others. Did you expect that kind of success, when you developed the game? Gentlemen! already was a success on the iPad before it was released on the OUYA. It’s probably a bit early to ask that, but how well is the OUYA port performing against the other versions (considering the relatively small community and the early state of the new console)?
You: The iPad version is by far the best selling, with Android coming in second with about half the number of sales of the iPad version. Ouya and Mac/Windows are a small fraction of that. But I don’t necessarily think that is representative of everything we would release cross-platform. This was our first Android/PC/Ouya release, and I think in some ways we didn’t really know what we were doing. For example, it probably would have been a better idea to release the PC/Ouya version first, followed by the tablet version. By the time the 4-player version came out I think we had kind of saturated the press with the game already, and we didn’t get many reviews.
It’s really exciting to see a whole new world of gameplay opening up. It’s a new approach and I don’t think the rules have really been written yet.
DotO: In your opinion how much will the up-and-coming Android consoles like GameStick, GamePop, Nvidia’s Shield, Amazon’s console and others affect the success of the OUYA? Do you consider to release your games for the other consoles as well?
You: I have no idea how this will all play out, but it’s really exciting to see a whole new world of gameplay opening up. It’s a new approach and I don’t think the rules have really been written yet. We’re up for releasing our games on any platform that will work well, our primary concern is making great things that people want to play.
DotO: Last question. What are you planning for the future? Is there already a new game in the pipeline? Will it also be coming to the OUYA?
You: At the moment we are finishing off yet another port, this time bringing Bad Hotel to Steam. After that we have a few ideas in the pipeline but nothing is certain, it’s an exciting time!
DotO: Thank you for your time Yann. and I’m very excited to see more of your work in the future.
You: Thanks very much, and thanks for supporting our game!
Note: If you haven’t played Gentlemen! yet, go to the OUYA store and do so! Afterwards … buy it! Worth every Cent.
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