Crossy Road on acid is probably the best way I can think of to describe Argentina-based indie studio LemonChili Games’ debut game, Floyd’s Sticker Jam (out now, free). Fast-paced shoot’em up gameplay, psychedelic visuals, and tons of unlockable content mark this one out as a real must-play. To find out more about the game and the talented team behind it, I recently caught up with Nando Sarmiento, LemonChili’s Chief Creative Officer. Check out our chat below.
Thanks so much for joining me for this interview, Nando. Let’s start by finding out a little more about LemonChili Games. How long has your studio been in business, where are you based, and how many people are on the team?
Thanks for having me! The studio has been around for almost 2 years now, and Floyd’s Sticker Jam is our first project. We are based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and we are about 15 people in staff.
What is LemonChili Games’ mission statement as a company?
The studio is basically a spin-off from PepperMelon, our previous character-design driven commercial studio (we did a lot of CGI projects for commercials, art and direction), so we have a very solid animation/design background. When we decided to stop working for commercials and delve into video games, we always said we wanted to make free-to-play video games, but that didn’t feel too spammy or free-to-play-y, if you know what I mean. Our slogan is “Mobile games don’t have to suck.” So we are always focusing on bringing a ‘console’ experience to the app stores.
Congratulations on the release of Floyd’s Sticker Jam. It’s a very weird and fun game! For my readers, can you briefly describe what the game is and how it plays?
Sure! Floyd’s Sticker Jam is a trippy, casual, isometric, time-travelling shooter, featuring stickers. This is a lot to digest, but it’s simpler than it sounds. The game plays as Crossy Road (one-tap to move forward and slide to move) and the main characters you choose shoot automatically. Whenever you die in-game you travel back in time and can re-do each level with your past self. So the more tries you make, the easier it gets. The game, as I said, also features stickers and a sticker album, which we designed in a way that stickers = content. So, the more stickers you paste in-album, the more features you unlock in-game. Say, boss fights, items, new characters, new enemies, etc, etc.
How long has the game been in the works? And were there any particular challenges you faced during its development?
Retention has always been the biggest challenge, at first, as user acquisition. The game’s been in development for around 1 year and a half, but the overall real production time must’ve been 1 year. When we did the first version, the sticker album did not exist. Adding that into the game was quite challenging. We wanted to add a long-term system that would make our retention figures better, and it seems it’s working.
What initially drew me to Floyd’s Sticker Jam was its trippy, hyper-colorful art style. Where did the inspiration for the game’s zany visuals come from?
Actually, the whole concept for the art of the game came from old-school NES and Mega Drive/Master System (SEGA) manuals and cartridge art/box art. We also were pretty much inspired by Sonic (for all the UI).
Are there plans in place to support the game post-launch with new content and features? If so, what have fans like me got to look forward to?
Yes, totally. We are planning on adding a new level up system that will allow you to upgrade each Floyd, plus new albums and stickers! Which would mean more content (more bosses, more worlds, more enemies). Also we have in store an event based system, with weekly and monthly events.
You guys have another mobile title, Tower Power, in development for release in 2018. What can you reveal about that?
That game is a flick-em-up (we love shoot’em ups), and it’s currently in soft launch. Not a lot to reveal I’m afraid!! (yet). 🙂
Aside from Tower Power, do you have any other projects in the works or planning stages that you can tell me about?
Yes, actually we are also the developers behind Tough Coded: Live. It’s a desktop game that you play online LIVE and in Seasons, designed live by a game master (the game master is myself). The project has been touring the world for 4 years now, I just came back from doing 3 shows on TwitchCon (Los Angeles). The game also won 2 awards at the Tokyo Game Show 2015 (Best Experimental Game, Best Presentation). The game can be played physically in real shows, or online, at select times. There’s more info on that on toughcoded.com.
In addition to making games, you guys run conferences/workshops and host regular gaming parties at your headquarters. Can you tell me more about these initiatives?
In Argentina the indie scene is quite small, so we kinda know each other, and we’re (thankfully) friends. We like to hang out and play each other’s games. There’s also a lot of hardware/console indie games here, party games like DOBOTONE or NAVE from the guys at Videogamo (videogamo.com). We like doing this once a year, to hang out with developers and see where we are at and how our projects are evolving.
What advice can you offer to others who may be trying to break into the mobile games industry?
Analytics. I can’t stress this enough. You can’t make a game nowadays without giving this a total 100% focus. The first metric you need to check is your retention. And you can’t do that if you have no analytics in your game. Free to play, today, seems the way to go, and you can’t create an average player into a paying player unless they play at least 30 days (which is a LOT), so knowing your data is the way to go!
I wouldn’t listen to people who say “make a game like this or like that.” I would do whatever you think is fun: but make sure people play it. With Floyd’s we decided to make the game we wanted to play. At first everyone complained about the controls, the style, etc, but when we threw it to the world we found that people are loving the controls and the style, and we’re getting a 50%+ retention for day one, which is a lot! If you do what you think should be done, I think you should be on the right track.
Thanks so much for the interview!!
You’re welcome, and thank you right back. That was a really enjoyable chat!
Floyd’s Sticker Jam is available on the App Store now for the unbeatable price of free. To stay updated on what the folks at LemonChili Games are up to next, be sure to check out their website and follow them on Facebook.