If you love indie games, there’s a good chance you’ve played something that Curve have worked on. Arguably the biggest indie game publisher they have worked on Thomas was Alone, Lone Survivor, Proteus and many more, including more recent titles like Nova-111 and The Swindle. They also make their own titles, most notably the Stealth Inc. series. We caught up with Curve’s Marketing maestro Rob Clarke recently and he told us what they are up to these days.
Hello Rob! It’s been a while. How’s things?
They are great! Since we last talked to Vita Lounge we’ve grown the company at Curve quite a bit, we’re making more games on more formats than ever, and we’ve got a much bigger publishing team now helping to manage and run things.
It certainly looks like you have been busy lately, we count four planned Vita games to go with the three already released this year. With these games also on other systems, how do you manage your time?
Well a bigger team helps! We split our time in the publishing side of things essentially in two ways, half our time is spent with press and fans, and the other half of the time is spent with the platform holders.
All of the games that you have upcoming are quite different to each other. Is this something that you look for when you are approached by other developers or something that happens through chance?
We look at loads of different games, and we don’t have an exact type or genre of game that we look for, but we do like to keep an eye on the types of game we have planned and try to keep a healthy mix of different genres! There’s a few we’d also really like to do, I personally love to do a racing game of some sort in the future, there’s not too many indie racing games out there and I think there’s a big audience for an indie take on something like Micro Machines or Motorstorm.
Out of all the games you have worked on so far for the Vita, which has been the best experience for you?
I think the earlier games, Lone Survivor and Proteus, were two of my favourites. Firstly, they some of the first Vita titles I’ve ever personally worked on and so of course they are going to be close to my heart, but they also both had new content and, in the case of Proteus, Vita specific features which made them more exciting to take to shows and work on.
You’ve developed and ported quite a few games for the Vita now. What is it about the handheld that you love so much?
It’s an obvious answer but the Vita is a portable system, and many of the games we create make great portable experiences. By their nature indie titles tend to be shorter, more focused experiences which work well on say, a morning commute compared to a larger triple-A game. Cross-buy also remains an awesome option.
There must be something that you don’t like. What’s the most irritating thing about the Vita for Curve as a developer?
I’m not a developer but I’ve spoken to Stu Miller one of our core tech guys. He said the Vita is genuinely one of his favourite consoles due to the excellent tools and support, but the GPU on the Vita makes it tricky to produce the kind of graphical effects that have become a standard these days, which means sometimes we have to ship games without the full range of effects they might have on other systems, even older systems like the PS4. Though that does mean it allows us to bespoke things on the Vita that often end up looking just as good!
It was recently announced that around 30% more power was available to developers on the Vita. What does this mean to you, and will it help with anything?
Funnily enough we found this out because of you telling us! I went to ask our programmers if it would help and they had no idea about it at all. Turns out it’s absolutely going to help! The more memory we have, the easier it is to port a game, and of course everything we do on Vita right now is a port, so that’s really important.
When you aren’t busy making games, what Vita games are you playing?
Why all the excellent Curve games, of course! That’s a cop out though; my Vita is basically a Persona machine right now, I finally caught on to the series with 4 only a few months ago so I’m about five years behind the rest of the world with this, but I’m loving the game and the universe.
Andrew House’s recent comments are well documented. As a prominent developer for the Vita, how do you feel about them, or is it business as usual? At what point would you consider ceasing support for the Vita – or does cross buy make it worthwhile?
The status, official or not, of the Vita doesn’t really change our own attitude towards support. All that matters for us is that people are still buying and playing games on the Vita. Cross-Buy is likely going to extend the life of the Vita considerably from this perspective. I’d go as far as to say Cross-Buy is probably the reason why we can still support the PS3; people are happier to buy digital games even on an older console if they know it will work on their PS4 one day.
You recently lost your Design Director, Jonathan Biddle, who took his new project with him and his new indie studio, OneBitBeyond, but you are still working with him to get it onto consoles. Is there any chance that White Space could end up on Vita?
We still work very closely with Bidds and his new projects, things are still way too early to decide on formats yet though, but as always if we can do Vita, we will do Vita.
Many people may not realise that you actually develop your own titles in addition to porting other studios games, with Stealth Inc. the obvious example. Are you working on anything new internally, or do you plan to in the future?
We’re not working on anything new right now from an original dev perspective, as we have so many different projects to work on this year already! We like to keep the creative side of the company sharp though, so we’re doing Game Jams and generally keeping our minds open about the next steps!
We’ll leave you with one more question. If you could change one thing about either the Vita itself or its interface, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a single thing about the hardware to be honest, but I’m always really vocal about my personal dislike of the interface. I’ve always loved the old PSP/PS3 interface and how customisable it was, and the bubbles on the Vita always feel at odds to me with the look and feel of the system as a whole.
We would like to thank Rob and Curve for their time with this interview. If you are a fan of the team you’ll probably want to check out Pumped BMX, which is out this week!
This first appeared in the fourth issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive content in the magazine soon!