Following the successful (and critically acclaimed) launch of OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood, we were able to catch up with the fine folks over at Roll7 to have a brief discussion about their games and their studio.
First, let me say congratulations on the launch of OlliOlli2 and thanks for having this chat with us.
Glad to be here!
For those who might not be familiar with Roll7, could you briefly introduce yourselves? Tell us a bit about your studio and how you guys got into making games.
Of course, man!
We were making games for clients for a while and although we were enjoying it, we were getting tired of working for other people. So, we had a light-bulb moment and realized…Wait?! We could do this for ourselves!
John, our Creative Director, has always had some game prototypes already kicking around, so when we had a meeting with PlayStation, they really liked the look of OlliOlli… and so they asked us to make it for them!
OlliOlli was a surprise hit for many when it launched last year. What made you want to do a skateboarding game?
We’re all massive skaters, and John used to be a sponsored skater. We really wanted to combine our love of arcade-y, combo-multiplying retro games with the real experience of skating. Skating is all about tricking out, looking rad and landing with perfection – and we tried to capture that the best we could with OlliOlli.
When it launched, it was a PlayStation Vita exclusive. It has since been brought to a number of other platforms, but what made you decide to make it a Vita game when it seems so many other developers are making games for smartphones?
It was definitely a whole mix of things. First, of course, PlayStation was interested in OlliOlli as a Vita-Exclusive, and we were happy to do it. Once it was agreed, we got to work in designing and evolving the game from its original mobile touch-screen prototype. We started to learn all about the PlayStation Vita and it helped us work out and design our infamous control-scheme, the menu layout and of course the rad, pixelated visual style. If PlayStation didn’t want OlliOlli on the PlayStation Vita, it would have been a totally different game!
What was your reaction to the critical success of the game?
We couldn’t believe it. We set up and got our Twitter working around a similar time, so to see critics and importantly, players starting to rave and compare scores was freaking surreal. It was SO cool. We made a really weird, really hard game, with an unusual control scheme in a genre that hasn’t been around in a long time – so we had no idea how it was going to do. It went so well…
OlliOlli wasn’t a flawless launch however. Many people complained about game breaking bugs and crashes that kept them from playing it. What was your reaction when all this came to light? Were you surprised this was happening?
It was terrifying, you know?! It basically threw us back into reality. After the reviews came in, and they were 7s, 8s and 9s, we were over the moon – so when people started sending us screenshots of the game crashing… we realized that the work is far from over!
You now have OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood out. When did you decide you were going to make a sequel and why?
With OlliOlli, it was our first PlayStation game so we tried to have a realistic set of expectations. And we learnt A LOT. We tried a lot of things – such as getting manuals in there – but we never could do it. So when we finished the game – and we had the blueprint of what OlliOlli is – John sat us down, and excitedly told us the focus of what OlliOlli2 is. We were SUPER ambitious. We wanted it to be everything we couldn’t do the first time! Manuals, Revert-Manuals, Grind-Switches, All-New Look, Split-Level Routes and more!
It seems like a relatively short amount of time between the launch of both games. Did you learn a lot in making the first game that helped you develop the sequel so quickly?
It was still actually a lengthy amount of time for us! We finished on the core of OlliOlli around October 2013 – and we started work on OlliOlli2 in a full capacity in February 2014. We love that it feels like a quick turnover for most people, but it secretly wasn’t so speedy for us!
Now that OlliOlli2 has launched, what is the mood like in the studio? Is there time to celebrate or is it business as usual focusing on the next game?
Between the stellar reviews (thanks guys!) AND winning a BAFTA, we’ve definitely had some time to celebrate! Never enough time though, because we’re all looking ahead on getting Not A Hero out in the best shape possible!
Speaking of Not a Hero, it seems a lot of people are very excited about it. The tone of this game is very different from OlliOlli. How long have you been working on it?
Not A Hero, in some form, has been hanging around since at least 2012. John has always wanted to do a 2D, action-film inspired cover shooter and that’s where the fundamental mechanics for Not A Hero come from. You slide, shoot, excute, slide, shoot, execute. Throw our Purple Rabbit, BunnyLord in there, and you have a colourful world of pixelated, bloody glory.
Not a Hero currently has a release date of “later this year” for the PS Vita. Want to be a little more specific? Or even more vague? Soonish? Maybe?
We announced the date a few weeks back – Not A Hero will be hitting Steam May 7th. We will start working on the PlayStation 4 and Vita versions straight after! Unfortunately, we can’t confirm any more than that but it WILL be hitting in 2015!
Is there anything else you want to tell the Vita audience (or any audience, I guess)? Anything they should know about your studio or games?
We’re all big fans of the PS Vita here. Between it’s kickass screen and bodacious controls, it’s the perfect place to play our types of twitchy, score-attack games. Thanks to the Vita fans for being the best (and playing our games!).
Thanks again for agreeing to this chat and congratulations on OlliOlli2 (as well as that spiffy looking BAFTA award you now have).
Thanks so much!