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  • 10tons Interview – Twin-Stick Vita Shooter Focus & the Future

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    October 2nd, 2017GamespotUncategorized

    I recently had chance to talk to 10tons, a versatile publisher and developer that dabbles in a variety of different genres but which has seen notable recent success with twin-stick shooters. This, interestingly, is also how the company broke into the gaming world in the first place. 10tons has been among the PlayStation Vita's biggest supporters, bringing nearly every viable title in its library to the handheld. I was interested in finding out more about the firm's thoughts on the machine and its future going forward; I also had some questions regarding its current focus and projects.

    First off, tell me a little bit about yourselves! Who makes up 10tons and what do you all do?

    10tons was founded in 2003, so we’ll be celebrating 15 years of indie development next year. The studio currently employs ten developers. Growth has intentionally been kept conservative. We’ve been a multi-platform developer since start, and that’s very much our core strength. We aim to distribute our games as widely as we reasonably can.

    Your studio seems much more well-known nowadays than during your time creating mobile-only titles. Are you happy with how the company has grown?

    10tons developed PC and Mac games for years and years. Crimsonland for Windows was the first game the studio ever made. Mobile only came along with iPhone and App Store in 2008, and Android in 2011. 10tons has never been a mobile game developer; we’re a multi-platform developer and mobile certainly is a platform, or several platforms rather. We’re currently very happy to have three strong feet to stand on: Desktop (largely Steam), mobile, and consoles.

    10tons has been a major supporter of the Vita, from its debut year right through to 2017. Do you find the handheld has been a good home for your games?

    Vita has been good for us. As one would guess, the actual revenue from sales of Vita games have never been huge for us, compared to larger platforms, but we established our contact with Sony on Vita and that was crucial for us to get on PS4 very early on. Also the two PS+ free games we’ve had thus far have been technically on Vita, Azkend 2 and Neon Chrome. Although as crossbuy games PS4 gamers got them too. So Vita definitely has had a big effect on 10tons.

    Has the community's feedback convinced you to keep bringing your titles to the handheld?

    The Vita community is great, and it’s been a major factor in our continued Vita support. Like I said, and which is kind of a given, direct revenue from Vita isn’t the same as from a platform with a much larger install base. And we’ve watched it decline over the years. But seeing that community, hearing people being eager to have our games on Vita, it keeps up our faith that the platform isn’t dead as so many say. Seeing the enthusiasm maintains our faith that the market is still there, and porting a game for Vita won’t be a total loss no matter what.

     

     Have your contacts at Sony been encouraging to bring your games to the platform or has this waned over time?

    It’s funny, we’ve been very sensitively listening to any hints of Sony winding down Vita or whatever. But there’s just none of that, not one bit. Definitely nothing like this, ever. But I suppose it’s quite straightforward for them; the platform is on exactly to the point upper management says it’s off.

    You recently commented that Xenoraid's sales on Vita were "surprisingly close" to PS4 sales in North America. Given the size of the console's install-base, have you been surprised by the dedication of Vita fans in buying your products?

    It was quite surprising. In hindsight it was probably partly due to Xenoraid launching kind of weak on PS4 initially, but by now PS4 sales have far exceeded Vita. It’s perfectly natural, as the PS4 is just so much larger and the game’s been on several discounts. Discounts are a big part of indie game discover-ability on any platform these days.

    In general have you found your Vita releases have done comparatively well relative to the home console versions?

    Yes, Vita was a really nice addition to our PlayStation revenue a couple of years ago. It’s waning for sure, but currently we think we’ll still be able to turn a profit on a Vita port. The exception would be a very intensive Vita port, like if we had to optimize a game a lot to make the Vita port work. Our cross-platform tech is great and we don’t generally need to do a lot of custom work for any platform, but now that our games like JYDGE and Tesla vs Lovecraft are getting more intense technically, and Vita being a really kind of old mobile device, we’ll need to consider things more carefully. At some point the expected Vita revenue and the cost of effort for porting work won’t match any longer. But we don’t know when that’ll be.

    You've developed games in a wide range of genres, from word puzzles to space shooters, but recently have focused on twin-stick shooters. Is there a particular reason for this?

    We have indeed been making a lot of twin-stick shooters recently, haven’t we? It’s partially a kind of an accident and how things just turned out, but there’s a couple of big reasons behind it. Firstly, we enjoy making and playing twin-stick shooters. Secondly, ever since Crimsonland in 2003, which was our first game and the game the whole company was built on, we’ve had a reputation and fanbase in twin-stick/top-down shooters. A lot of people are just excited about a twin-stick shooter from 10tons. Twin stick shooters will probably always be a big part of what 10tons is, just as casual games are.

    In terms of upcoming games, you've revealed a horde-based shooter named Tesla vs. Lovecraft that seems similar to Crimsonland. How is development going on this?

    Tesla vs Lovecraft is going great. The game is now on the verge of beta and release candidate. Now we’re just adding the very last bits of content, polish, and tweaks. We’re also working on the console ports, and those are really far along as well. Once we get all that done, it’s time to look into how the game ends up being exactly and what it’d mean to port it for Vita.

    You also have JYDGE in the works as well as Time Recoil just released. The former seems like a spiritual successor to Neon Chrome, while the latter borrows from that title's gameplay mechanics and experiments with them. Was Neon Chrome a breakthrough moment for your studio?

    Neon Chrome was a big tech leap for us, as it was the first game we made with 3D graphics. It went really nicely, and we got kind of excited with the tech and wanted to use it again. It was always the plan anyway, as it’s a big chunk of expensive tech, but we definitely didn’t think we’d end up making three games back to back with it. But yeah, JYDGE is a Neon Chrome prequel and something some fans basically asked for us to do. They didn’t enjoy Neon Chrome’s procedural/roguelite bits much, but liked the rest. So that’s JYDGE, evolved Neon Chrome gameplay in handcrafted levels, with tons of customization and mini missions. It’s fun! In Time Recoil, on the other hand, we wanted to make something really compact with just a couple of mechanics and have the whole game be about that, instead of the really sprawling-ly featured lite-RPG that Neon Chrome was.

    How is development on JYDGE and console ports of Time Recoil progressing? JYDGE in particular seems a brilliant mix of dystopian sci-fi and fast paced shooter gameplay.

    JYDGE is coming out this week and Time Recoil is available. With Time Recoil we’re now working on the mobile ports, and would probably be making the Vita port too if our developer for that wasn’t on a vacation. But we’ll get to that hopefully real soon, and if no surprises bump up, Time Recoil is pretty probable for Vita.

    What are the chances we see any (or all) of these upcoming games on Vita? 

    Time Recoil is likely, but we really don’t know about JYDGE and Tesla vs Lovecraft yet.

     

    Has there been any interest in partnering with a company providing limited physical releases such as eastasiasoft or Limited Run Games?

    We have been thinking about doing a physical release with Limited Run, and we’ve been discussing with them. We’ll see how that goes, at this exact moment we’re swamped with other stuff though.

    What does the future hold for 10tons? You recently pledged support to the Nintendo Switch. Do you see this console absorbing the Vita's audience of high-end handheld gamers in the coming years?

    I would think it’s quite likely that Switch will inherit a lot of the handheld console land. It’s bound to, as Vita is showing its age and Sony is being increasingly frank about sunsetting the platform. So within a year or two there probably won’t be other viable handheld platforms than Switch and earlier Nintendo handhelds, but those are ageing as well. Switch also is clearly getting a massive amount of game support from, well, everyone. It would seem that the high-end handheld/mobile gaming competitors will be Switch and mobile devices.

    Finally, two questions I'm asking everyone - what are some of your favourite games that you’ve played on Vita?

    Recently I’ve really enjoyed Salt and Sanctuary.

    Which Vita model is your favourite (LCD or OLED)?

    Our favourite Vita model is the dev kit, as that’s really what we actually have in our hands the most!

    Full Article - http://www.vgchartz.com/article/269651/10tons-interview-twin-stick-vita-shooter-focus-amp-the-future/