Mobile Gaming Q&A With EA Mobile Producer, Mike Pagano
I recently decided to reach out to the Twitter, TouchArcade and TGN communities and find out "if they had the chance to speak with a Producer at EA about mobile gaming, what would they ask?" The response was incredible. I was quickly swamped with questions and comments, some really detailed and intelligent...some not so. I knew exactly who to go to with these - Mike Pagano, Rockstar Producer @ EA Mobile.
Mike sat down to answer your questions. Here's what he had to say:
Q: "How did your development process differ from other platforms that you've developed for? Whether it be PC/Next Gen/Web Browser/Cellular, etc."
Mike: The development process is roughly the same as the other platforms out there but set at an accelerated pace. Then again abstract anything enough we’ll see convergence, right? There’s always a problem set that we must overcome in a time frame with a given set of tools. But method aside, take _that_ abstraction, the biggest process differences arose from designing for the new features that were never seen together on a single device (at least to my knowledge). We spend an enormous amount of time, comparatively to known platforms save the Wii, designing for an unknown control set. How precise is the hardware? Can it track all ten fingers? What happens when we play while on a bus or train? What types of touch interactions should we use for design x or mechanic y. And so on. Otherwise the development process was the same: Idea->Development->QA->Iterate->QA->Iterate->...->QA Approved->Apple->Live. (Note I’m missing a lot of iterations in the flow during development phase).
Q: "What was the biggest hurdle to overcome when working with the accelerometer in the iPhone/Touch (if it was used)? How did it impact the game's development and fun factor?"
Mike: From a technical perspective, it performs well enough not to be any substantial hurdle. Choosing the right design is the real hurdle. How will with work the game X and how sensitive to you want to make it? Do you provide a sensitivity meter? Will the players get intrinsically the controls scheme? Do we need to provide a touch screen backup? Does the accelerometer provide enough accuracy to perform the sought after mechanic? The list goes on. I think we did it right with Spore Origins. We tuned the accelerometer so it felt right for anyone picking up the device- it’s not too sensitive and it’s not sluggish. We also provided a way for the player to play at any orientation allowing them to play laying down in bed or leaning back in a chair. As for impact, working with the accelerometer proved to take time in the tuning phase. We spent a lot of cycles figuring out what felt right and it paid off with what I think is a very controllable game.
Q: "I would like to know, however, whether they're thinking about releasing iPhone versions of any other Spore stages, eg Creatures like on the DS."
Mike: No Comment.
Q: "Considering the fact that the Apple Store is a free market, what kind of suggestions would you have for budding iPhone/iTouch developers out there that want to get into development on this platform?"
Mike: Buffer in a good amount of R&D time to fine tune your mechanic and ensure it is. Oh and make a menu system that works for touch as opposed to the standard menu list as seen with all other games. We’re all guilty of doing it, but following Apple’s design interface suggestions through what they’ve already created in their OS and existing apps is the way to go. Look at the OS and see what they do right and what they do wrong.
Q: "In general, what are you hoping to improve most with mobile platforms? (e.g., graphics, controls, multiplayer, etc.)"
Mike: We are hoping to improve them all, graphic, controls, multiplayer, mechanics, playability, and more! We want to make sure the games you play on this platform are something special that you’ll keep coming back to time and time again.
Q: "If any, what market is the EA mobile group aiming to satisfy? Purely the gamers or the general mobile users?"
Mike: We love to make games for core, casual, and non-gamers a-like. Each game we make caters to one or more of the groups and we hope that they like what we’re doing so we can keep making games for you.
Q: "What efforts is EA/EA Mobile taking to satisfy the needs of such a niche group?"
Mike: By listening to you and making games you want to play! A satisfied customer is something I wish for everyone who buys an EA game, whether it be on console, PC, handheld, mobile, or web. We are here to entertain the world and we’ll stop at nothing to provide a fun and satisfying experience.
Q: "Are there any plans for multiplayer such as racing friends in need for Speed?"
Mike: No comment.
Q: "Could you ask them why they don't allow the user to listen to their own music while playing their games? I know many people (including me) would like to listen to their own music while playing games such as Yahtzee Adventures and Sudoku."
Mike: We want to support the ability to play all music with our games. We are actively researching the problem for all titles and hope to rectify it in the near future.
Just wanted to close by saying it was huge of Mike to do this, especially during a release so a big "Thanks" goes out to him as well as the awesome communities of TouchArcade and TGN... you guys asked some great questions. And of course I can't forget the followers on Twitter who made sure this got posted
Oh yeah, here's a pic of me and Mike at the Apple store in LA - I'm on the left
Last edited by CraigLaw; 12-17-2008 at 03:58 AM. Reason: added hyperlink