For just over a year, we've been designing and developing our first mobile game here at LightBox Interactive. We really felt that we could bring a lot to mobile development given our background in console games; shooting, flying, smashing, driving and 'sploding. That kind of stuff. That's our bread and butter!
We also wanted to try making a game that was free-to-play. Our hope was that by using our own special kind of skill-based gameplay as a foundation, we'd be able to develop a new breed of mobile game. A skill-based free-to-play game with high production value and one that is fun, first and foremost. Not just another shellacked random number generator or clone du jour that we've all seen too often fill the App Store.
The team here at LightBox Interactive and we just wanted to develop something new.
So as you can imagine we are thrilled to be soft-launching our newest game, PlunderNauts, on the App Store in Canada. Click on the logo above to head over to the PlunderNauts site and check-out our new launch trailer!
We've really tried to get the core gameplay loop (the combat) to be fun, fast and skill-based. The controls are simple and intuitive. Drag a flight-path for your starship to follow and tap targets for your turrets to attack. It's got a great interaction cadence that's tailored for mobile, and a great reflection of our team's roots in the action-genre. And of course your pirate starhship is crazy customizable. Armors, engines, shields, fighters, turrets, the whole-nine-yards. A full loot-system with rarity, item attributes, and crafting!
As far as pacing goes, the battles are fast. PlunderNauts is a game for mobile devices so we're completely aware of how play-patterns differ between console and mobile games. But the cool thing is... Plundernauts is a game that you can play for 2 hours or 2 minutes.
There's an over-arching galaxy map that's an arrangement of planets and other locations where you can battle space pirates and Bosses. Think of it as a constellation treasure map. When you win a battle, you earn gold, loot and items that can be used to upgrade your starship and continue your hunt for Iron Beard's treasure! Because, yeah... you're a space-pirate.
Now we'd be totally remiss if we didn't acknowledge some of the discussion lately surrounding free-to-play games. There are some really valid points about how some free-to-play games can be, shall we say, unsavory. We share those same concerns because the team members here at LightBox Interactive are gamers; console games, PC games and mobile games.
One of our guiding principals has always been to honor the "Player's Bill of Rights". It's an informal thing that we always talk about here in the studio. It serves as a test for any of the features or decisions that go into the game. Is it fun? Does it provide the player value? Does it respect the player?
It's not actually written down. It's a very informal process and discussion which boils down to "don't be a dick".
We've really needed to thoughtfully consider the "Player's Bill of Rights" when developing the game, because hey...PlunderNauts is free after all! So as you can probably imagine, we do need to make some money, keep the lights on, pay our team members, etc.
We're a small team of only 8 people. No parent company owns even a portion of LightBox Interactive. There is no angel investor funneling us capital. We're 100% independent. And one of the ways we maintain that independence is through the great partnerships we've had over the years.
And with PlunderNauts, we've chosen to partner with the great mobile developer, Backflip Studios. They've got a fantastic amount of mobile experience and expertise, and we'll be talking more about that partnership in the days and weeks ahead.
For now, we're just excited to get PlunderNauts into Canada for our soft-launch! For several weeks we'll be testing the game there, working out the kinks, tuning and making updates. When we're really happy with it, we'll be rolling it out globally, hopefully in late spring 2014.