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Interview with Giovanni & Daniele in association with the multi-cross-platform game Bang!

GameOn managed to grab an interview with Daniele Azara the Production Director from Palzoun Entertainment and Giovanni Caturano the CEO from SpinVector in connection with the new multi-cross-platform game Bang! which is due for release December 2010.

What makes Bang! unique is that you will be able to link up over multiple platforms, iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac plus more platforms to be announced.

Daniele Azara Giovanni Caturano


GameOn:
How easy was it to develop the game for each platform, for example did you experience any problems with getting the controls working for each platform and did you encompass any problems with the various displays and resolutions available to each piece of specific hardware?

Giovanni Caturano:
We wanted every platform to feel very "familiar" to the user, so we re-programmed (and, if necessary) re-designed the controls and graphics engine for each platform, natively. This way we ensured optimal results on each platform, instead of having the least common denominator. You are right in saying that the difference in terms of hardware and layouts (e.g. aspect ratio) of the display is a serious issue. It's been a lot of work: for instance, we have different card design for different platforms, depending on the resolution and space available. All graphics and layouts are not just scaled, but native to each platform, just like the code, so a 16:9 display gets a different layout from a 3:2 display and so on.  We even calibrated colors for each platform, to compensate for the difference in the display technology.

GameOn: 
With each of the platforms utilising different control schemes is one in particular marginally better, experience wise, for the player?

Giovanni Caturano:
I personally like the touch-based interfaces, but we strongly believe that every player will find the controls very intuitive and familiar on the chosen platform. So, it's not a matter of what we like best, but what the player is used to. We even considered a double approach on touch screens: some players like to drag, while others like to tap - we support both ways of interacting and we do it seamlessly, meaning that you can even drag when you're drawing and tap when you're targeting: it's all up to your preference. You can do the same with the mouse.

GameOn: 
Given that the game is cross platform multiplayer wise, how is the technology special?

Giovanni Caturano:
Until now, cross-platform interaction was either limited to just two (similar) platforms (e.g. PC vs Console) or complementary (not the full experience on both devices) or done through layers (e.g. Flash, Java or the web) that imply some sort of compromise. In our case, each one gets native code and native, optimized graphics on that platform, but doesn't have to care about what platform the other players have.

GameOn:
Have you patented/copyrighted the technology and do you think we'll now see more developers creating games in a similar vein or even licensing the software from you?

Daniele Azara:
we are considering this option, but there is still a lot of work to do. For example, it's impossible to patent a chair, preventing others to produce their own chairs. Right now, Palzoun and SpinVector are the first to let the players try what we have called the MultiCross-platform experience. You will find the logo of this special feature on every game we will produce. It would be great to have more games like Bang!, because we believe strongly this represents a bet for players freedom to share and enjoy what they like.

GameOn:
Was developing the game for some five different platforms significantly more expensive than purely developing for the iPhone/iTouch/iPad?

Giovanni Caturano:
It was. If you just consider the costs of testing, submission and update management on each platform, it's already an important matter. And then add optimized graphics and optimized code and different control schemes on each platform... it gets heavy. Using just a common layer would have been much easier, but that would imply wasting the best of each world, or having to sacrifice visual quality and smooth gameplay on lower-end platforms, and we didn't want that.

GameOn:
With audio being very important in immersing the player into the gaming world, can you tell us what style of audio we can expect?

Giovanni Caturano:
We have created several wild-west themed soundtracks and dedicated additional soundtracks for some gameplay moments: for instance, when a Duel takes place, a dramatic music (with a real trumpet, btw) pops in, creating a "high noon" atmosphere. Moreover, we concentrated on sound effects to the point that we used genuine weapon recording from actual vintage weapons.

GameOn:
With such a large percentage of the Italian gaming market being Public Domain, what do you think the general perception of Italian developers and publishers is and how is your company going to change it?

Giovanni Caturano:
I believe that the Italian Game Development Industry is often overlooked with a bit of prejudice. Our first product, DroneZ, was a big technical achievement (flagship nVidia and Intel game) but almost nobody knew it was from Italian developers. I agree with Raylight (our partner on another project) when they say Italy is the "hidden gem" of European videogame development. We are working with Palzoun on one side and with the other Italian developers on the other side to change this perception and to raise the awareness of which products are developed by Italian companies.

Daniele Azara:
There are brilliant developers in Italy, working for major international publishers. But we have no big companies, as we have no big publishers, and that's the reason why Italian industry finds it hard to grow.

There are two main issues to my eyes: cultural backwardness about technology and digital entertainment and (subsequent) lack of investors. Palzoun is trying to push to full evolution our embryonic stage of business development in these market areas, in an attempt to give energy to the Italian image and acquire enough thrust to grow and differentiate our digital entertainment products. We have a long cultural tradition, which has been (rightly) cannibalized by other European countries because we don't have the resources to take advantage of it. It would be a great objective, to reach a dimension useful to exploit our talents and strengths..

GameOn:
What's next for Spin Vector and can we expect to see more usage of your cross* platform multiplayer technology incorporated into future releases? (*Note: Multicross. Not simply cross)

Giovanni Caturano:
we are working on a Futuristic Racer in co-production with Palzoun. For the moment, it is Apple-centric, but, depending on the results of the BANG! Series, we'll consider adding more platforms and multicross gaming.

GameOn:
Please tell us about Bang! The game experience and the kind of gameplay and immersion on offer!

Daniele Azara:
Bang! Is a perfect Spaghetti-western style setting game: music, sound effects, mood, graphics and gameplay all work together to guarantee the unique feel legendary directors like Sergio Leone gave us in his movies.

The golden rule we used for Bang! is this: easy to learn, challenging to master. Starting to play is easy: you only have to know two things: Bang! Cards attack; Missed cards defy BANG cards. But then there is so much more! In fact, the player has a character with a special ability and a specific role with a different goal: the Sheriff, the Deputy, the Outlaw and the Renegade. All roles, except the Sheriff, are secret, so players must understand who is friendly and who isn't. There are strategy and psychology in Bang!, both really important and fun elements of entertainment.

Finally, there are many special cards, characters and expansions, ensuring an outstanding replayability, in both single and multiplayer modes.

GameOn:
Finally tell our readers 2 special facts about the game.

Daniele Azara:
The first special fact to us is that Bang! is a completely Italian product. Created by an Italian (Emiliano Sciarra), published in its original paper version by an Italian company (dVgiochi), produced, developed and published by Italian video game companies such as Palzoun and SpinVector.

The second special fact is represented by the investments, the quality, the marketing and PR effort and the technology behind the game, which are targeted to international market and aim to challenge with big casual games awarded by the agreement of the players, like Carcassonne or Catan. This is a rare and unusual operation for Italian industry standards, but we believe with Bang! we have a chance to compete in quality with these wonderful titles.

Bang!Bang!

Rasher | 26th November, 2010

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