Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Rade Stojsavljevic, president and co-founder of Jet Set Games. Jet Set Games are the developers of the very fun and nicely done turn based strategy game Highborn for Android. Highborn Chapter 1 was one of the first games that I purchased. I had originally seen it on my wife’s iTouch and knew I had to have it. In addition to our interview today, I just finished a review of the 3 chapters for the Highborn series over at DroidGamers.com. With out any ado…
Q. Tell us a little about JetSet Games?
A. Jet Set Games is a small development studio based in Las Vegas, and made up of several former Westwood Studios folks. Our focus is on mobile development and smaller, digitally distributed games.
Q. How did you come up with the logo?
A. When we founded the company and picked the name, we were going for a 1950’s modern America feel. Brett Sperry had some ideas for an art style and worked with a former Westwood graphic artist to develop the idea of a donkey in a suit which became our logo.
Q. Do you guys play any mobile games? If so which ones?
A. We play a lot of games on pretty much every platform. Personally, on mobile I’ve been playing Temple Run and have gotten back into playing tower defense games lately.
Q. Any new games coming out or in production for Android?
A. We’re working on a new title with a big publisher and will release it for iOS and Android later this year.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Highborn?
A. Highborn came out of a desire for a strategy game on mobile that was fun and easy to play. We thought a lot about what things worked best for a mobile device and quickly ruled out a real time strategy game. A turn-based design felt very natural on a phone or tablet, and the game evolved from there.
Q. Currently there are 3 chapters, any more coming out?
A. We do not have plans for additional chapters. We’ll be coming back to Highborn with a full blown sequel.
Q. Do the chapters need to be played in order?
A. Each chapter is designed to be independent so you can play them in any order. There are some story elements that carry through from each chapter but new players will not be lost if they jump into one of the later chapters.
Q. Is there a particular reason why each chapter is a separate game vs doing in-game updates?
A. Having each chapter separate was due to a technical limitation with Amazon’s app store not allowing for in-app purchases.
Q. Currently the only way to do multiplayer is via OpenFeint, any plans to modify or expand the multiplayer options?
A. We had originally launched with multiplayer via Facebook Connect but our players hated it. We switched over to OpenFeint because it offered both iOS and Android support, achievements, and has a very large player base. We do not have plans to change the multiplayer options but are discussing ideas for the sequel.
Q. The game is currently only available on Amazon, any plans to bring it to Google Market?
A. We do not have plans to bring Highborn to the Google Market. To be financially successful on the Google Market would require some core changes to the game that we felt would be best left for a full sequel.
Q. Where do you see the mobile game industry going in the next few years?
A. The mobile market is still growing both in terms of total number of users with smartphones and the capabilities of the devices. There are two major developments that I believe will happen in the mobile space within the next two years. The first is a shift in business models. Freemium apps are here to stay but the design changes necessitated by that business model have resulted in too many games with very similar game mechanics. I think this is going to change significantly in the near future as additional business models are developed that will open up more expansive game designs.
The second thing comes from the rapidly increasing power of mobile devices, specifically graphic capabilities. We’ve been playing around with an iPad 2 streaming a game screen to a TV via AppleTV, and it’s really cool. Mobile devices are upgraded way more frequently than consoles and I don’t think it will be too long before they become a primary gaming platform. Right now you can grab a smartphone, streaming device, and Bluetooth controller to recreate the console gaming experience.
Q. Do you think Android will ever overtake iOS?
A. In terms of total number of devices there are already more Android phones than iPhones. The problem with Android is almost all of the revenue is over on the iOS side and I don’t see that changing any time soon. In this case I think Android is too much of an open platform for it’s own good. Manufacturers and mobile service providers have too much ability to change hardware specifications or not deploy the latest OS updates which makes it extremely hard for developers to make sure our games run great on every device. We just have to pick the top selling devices at the time of a game’s release and hope we chose right. It’s a lot like the PC market was in the 90s with the device driver mess, before Microsoft cleaned it up by releasing DirectX and Windows 95. It remains to be seen whether or not Google will do something similar with Android.
Wow! I really appreciate the time today Rade. I can’t of anything else to ask. I hope my readers enjoyed this interview as much as I did. It is always nice to hear from developers. Can’t wait to see your new game later this year and the Highborn sequel!