Tell us a little about the people who work at Wake Up Studios, and the company’s history prior to Shake Spears!. Did everyone on the development team have a lot of experience in the videogame industry already, or was Shake Spears! the first major game production for most or all of you?
The team at Wake Up Studios consists of 10 people, most of whom have previous experience in the gaming industry. Some of us were freelance developers, others of us handled mobile distribution. Shake Spears! is our first project as a team.
The most important thing to know about us is that we love playing games. High quality games rule, and we got together to make more of them.
In what ways has Shake Spears! benefited from your collaboration with Alawar Entertainment, both during development and release? Did Wake Up Studios approach Alawar with a project proposal before beginning work on the game, or had development work already begun by the time you teamed up with a publisher?
Shake Spears! was already in development when we contacted Alawar Entertainment about publishing it. At that time, it had no particular title by the way! Alawar is a talented team, with lots of experience in game production and publishing, so they were a natural choice for a partner. We knew we were making a great game, but the vision and advice of Alawar was really important to its completion. Plus, we want Shake Spears! to be a hit, and Alawar has everything it takes to make that happen. It would be hard for us to place a value on their input on QA, visual improvements, localization, monetization, and marketing. Plus, the release strategy was all theirs.
What inspired you to create a game about jousting, of all things? And once a decision was made on the gameplay style, why did you decide to create a new world for Shake Spears! rather than set it directly in real-world, medieval history?
When we were thinking about what kind of game to develop, we knew we wanted to create something original, which meant inventing new game mechanics and means of user interaction. Many of the iOS and Android games available on the market are ports of PC or console games, and they have inherited the UI and controls of the original products, which were not designed for use on mobile devices. Also, many games are simply clones of existing hits. That’s the last thing we wanted to make. Now, even we didn’t create anything revolutionary, but I’m pretty sure no one is going to be able to say Shake Spears! is like another game, just in a different setting. And we’re proud of that!
As for the medieval theme, well, like a lot of people, we love medieval stuff: sturdy horses, valiant knights, jousting tournaments, and fighting for glory and honor. That’s a popular theme right now, as you can probably guess from all of the fantasy-based movies, TV shows, books, RPGs, and MMORPGs coming to the market. Besides, jousting is ideal for short casual game sessions on a mobile device. Finally, setting the game in a new fantasy world allowed us to create a really fun environment in which magic is possible.
How long did Shake Spears!’s development phase last? Did the game’s design go through a lot of transformation during that time, or was the final result pretty close to your original vision of how the game would play?
It took us about six months to develop Shake Spears!, and the end result was quite different from what we set out to do at the beginning of the project. That often happens when making a game. In the beginning, we wanted to create a simple title that wouldn’t require much work, just to see if people liked it and if the concept had promise. However, while working on the game, we decided it deserved to be more advanced and needed cooler gameplay and more features right out of the gate. Alawar provided a lot of the support we needed to make this happen, and provided valuable feedback on the features and gameplay that needed to be incorporated into the game.
Do you have any plans to port Shake Spears! to other platforms, or is the game likely to remain iOS exclusive?
We’d love to see Shake Spears! on other platforms, and are currently working on an Android version. It won’t be long until Android users will be able to join the jousting!
Now that the game has been out for a few days and you’ve begun receiving feedback from players, have you and Alawar decided what changes and additions will be made in updates? What features are we mostly likely to see in the game’s first major update?
The first update won’t be large, since we want to deliver it as soon as possible. We plan to fix some bugs and improve the gameplay by adding new difficulty modes for users who think the game is too easy. By the way, I hope these users have already beaten the Dark Citadel, as the final boss is difficult even for me!
We’re also working on multiplayer functionality, as it’s really cool, and we’re eager to compete against each other at Wake Up Studios! We have a lot of ideas for the multiplayer modes, and while none of them will be easy to develop and integrate with the current gameplay, we’re positive we can pull it off.
All in all, Shake Spears! is the kind of game that inspires new features and functionality. We have a long list of things we’d like to add, starting with an RPG-like career feature, more armor, weapons and magic, the ability to purchase rare artifacts, and more. There’s so much we could add in future updates, it literally takes our breath away!
Does Wake Up Studios have any plans for its next project after Shake Spears!? Is the studio likely to create more games with a medieval theme, or do you foresee Wake Up doing something completely different next time around?
Actually, we’re developing several projects as we speak. Some are in the final stages of development, and we’re working with Alawar to make these games perfect, as we hate releasing games in a raw state. In addition to these projects, we have many more ideas for games and the settings in which they would take place. With Shake Spears!, we have just begin to build our presence on the App Store!
iFanzine’s sincerest thanks goes to the folks at Wake Up Studios, and to Alexandra at Alawar Entertainment, who facilitated, translated, and edited this interview in record time. Now, that’s modern-day gallantry!
That’s a wrap! With the updates currently planned for it, Shake Spears! is only going to improve with age. We can’t wait to learn more about future collaborations between Alawar and Wake Up Studios! You can follow Alawar Mobile on Twitter or keep an eye on their website for the very latest news.