XBLIG Uprising Developer Interview: Andreas Heydeck Games – developer of Smooth Operators

As part of our ongoing coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III we asked Andreas Heydeck Games to tell us a bit about themselves and their upcoming game, Smooth Operators – Call Center Chaos (read our PREVIEW of the game HERE).  Andreas Heydeck Games was kind enough to take the time to tell us about their studio’s game and their career as a developer.  The full interview can be found in its entirety below.  Enjoy, and of course a big thanks to Andreas Heydeck Games for taking the time to answer our questions.

First, tell the readers a bit about yourself: what is your history as a game developer, previous efforts, why you decided to start getting involved in making games?

I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember, starting with the C64, which was also the machine that got me interested in programming. It would, however, take quite a few years before I made my first game. I made my first game in 1995 and it was called Masken. It was a Snake clone for DOS. Masken actually got distributed by the only Swedish home pc magazine at that time, on their “floppy of the month”.

After Masken I did a couple of small games only for my friends, and then the game programming was laid to rest for some 15 years.

It wasn’t until my girlfriends brother told me about XBLIG and XNA that my interest woke up again.

Unlike the first time, now I got interested because it seemed like a good opportunity to get a game to a broader audience and also perhaps making a few bucks at the same time. So I started learning XNA/C# and made Meep, which is a platform jumper. I’m not very proud of it when looking back on the code and the result, but I got tons of learning experiences from it. After that I ported it to Windows Phone, and I put together Meep 2 last year which is also released on XBLIG as well as IndieCity, and got quite good reviews.

How would you describe your game in a sentence? What do you feel makes your game special or unique?

One sentence. This is really hard.

–         Comic economics simulator about a call center.

Quite a dull description though. But it’s unique in a couple of ways. There aren’t a lot of games centered around a call center and the setting is a perfect fit for good game mechanics. I’m still a bit confused why nobody has ever done it before.

And also, Smooth has a quite elaborate micro management system that is rarely shown in other types of simulator games. Everything you do will have an effect on your business.

If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration (for this game or in general), what would it be?

It’s difficult to pick one specific game as a general inspiration, but for Smooth Operators it was Corporation Inc. that gave me the inspiration for the front 2d view, but it was my day job that gave me the inspiration for the game itself. I’ve been wanting to do this game for a couple of years, but I was struggling to figure out a good mechanic that would work well and also look cool.

How long did you spend in development? Could you walk me through the timeline for the game, all the way from the conception of the idea to the final marketing of the game a few months ago? What software and tools did you use?

It was around the time that I got interested in XNA, that I started thinking about doing this game, and that was in 2009. For 2½ years I was just writing down ideas that I had about the game, and jotting comcept drawings.

In march this year, when the registrations for Dream Build Play opened up, I decided to give it a shot of developing this game.

I spent almost every evening after work and after my son had gone to sleep to develop it. I also hired Murry Lancashire, a truly excellent artist, to do the graphic assets for the game, alongside the development.

The game wasn’t really finished in time for the DBP submissions, but it was playable.

In fact, it actually wasn’t until two days ago that I could say that this game is done. Finished.

And no one is happier about it than my girlfriend! =)

Have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform?  What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?

Yeah, my first game Masken was for PC, Meep 2 was released both on Xbox and PC.

I’m aiming for a multi platform release for Smooth Operatos, and I’m currently working on getting it controllable on a PC. The goal is to release for Windows, Linux and Mac.

I also think it would be a good fit for mobile devices, so depending on how the game goes, there’s probably also going to be release on at least one mobile platform, but with slimmed gameplay.

Xblig was chosen because it was the easiest way of getting my games to the masses.

A game’s soundtrack can make or break a game, tell us how you selected yours. Did you produce in house, team up with a music producer or simply purchase royalty free music?

In gameplay there is mostly royalty free music that I’ve purchased. Rebecca, my girlfriend, was in charge of that. She spent a lot of hours sifting through music until she found the music style that both of us wanted.

I also got Zack Parrish onboard to create a title track for it, which turned out fantastic and fits the game perfectly!

If there was one thing you could improve on, or simply do differently in development what would it be?

Take more time. There’s just too much you have to put aside when rushing the development. And also there are many things that you’ll make compromises on that you don’t really want to. Unfortunately I work better with a clear deadline, but looking back, I wish that I would have started earlier on it. I’m trying to make up for it now though, but there’s going to be a lot of foot rubs for Rebecca now! =)

How did you go about deciding on the name for your game and why did you end up with the title you have?  Were there any rejected titles that didn’t make the cut?

I named the project Simcom Corp, and that was also the name it had when it was submitted to Dream Build Play. I was never satisfied with that name though, and there is also some type of physical flight simulator called simcom. So the name wasn’t going to work out.

Fortunately I got Kairi of IndieGamerChick.com onboard to host a “Name The Game” contest, where her readers would leave suggestions and the winner would walk away with 1600msp, a copy of the game and their name in the credits. Daniel McFarline came up with the winning entry, but reversed “Call Center Chaos: Smooth Operators”.

Immediately when I saw his entry, I knew it was going to be hard for someone else to beat it, and I think most of the other judges felt the same way.

Many gamers dream of making their own games, what advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to developer?

Think of a simple project that you can use for learning. A pong clone or something like that, and just do it!

Even if you already have your dream game thought up, don’t use that for learning because it’s probably going to be too big, and you’ll loose interest.

Read as much as you can and really take the time. Don’t give up to obstacles, be tenacious and read more.

And lastly, if you finish your first game and it looks like crap – be proud of it, but don’t release it to Xblig! =)

The XBLIG market has had mixed results so far in its existence. What do you believe could make it better? What do you believe could improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?

Better quality of the games, of course. This is the same discussion that’s been around since xblig was first launched. No smoke without a fire, as they say.

There are many games that holds very high quality on the service though.

But the story is always the same – a lot of high quality games gets released and then something like “One Million Taps” comes out, and xblig is down in the gutter again.

What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?

Smooth Operators will be in the pipeline for some time now with the ports to different platforms, but I already have started to form ideas about the next game. Not going to reveal anything about it though!

What game in the Indie Uprising are you most excited to play (besides your own of course)?

There are a lot of cool games in the Uprising this year. I’ve already tried some of them out, but the first place is probably a split between Gateways from Smudged Cat Games and City Tuesday by Return To Adventure Mountain.

We would like to thank Andreas Heydeck Games once again for taking the time to answer our questions!  Stay up to date on all of our coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III by bookmarking the following page: CLICK HERE.  CBR will be providing previews, developer profiles, interviews and of course reviews for every game involved in the Uprising. And, as always, support indie developers!

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About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.