Interview with Dinosaur Polo Club! (English)

The developper of Mini Metro and Mini Motorways!

Tags : interview jeu


For the event #LovesIndies, I've the opportunity to talk with one of my favorite studio, the developper of 2 fantastics games : Mini Metro and Mini Motorways! At the first time it's made for my podcast with Buddakhiin called .Games, but we think it's better to have a transcript of the interview. Thanks again to Casey Lucas-Quaid and Rob Curry for taking the time to awnser my question!

Si vous êtes français, une version traduite de cette interview est disponible ici!

How have you started to create games?

Rob : Peter (Curry, his brother and our other director) and I have been making games since we were kids! Before we learnt to program it was making up board games and wargames at home. We both worked at Sidhe Interactive (now known as PikPok) in Wellington, New Zealand. We made games together in our spare time, though we stopped for a few years due to general life busyness. However we got back into for Ludum Dare in April 2013 and made Mind the Gap (the game that became Mini Metro).

Is it hard to complete a game to go from a game jam game to a published game? It's different?

Rob : Yes. It's very hard! Rami Ismail of Vlambeer has a rule of thumb, that for every day you spend on the prototype, you have to spend nine months on the finished game. This was quite accurate for us too. What we got out of the gamejam was the core concept and interaction, but we still had to build that out into a fuller experience - in-game and meta progression, expanding on the concept without breaking it, deciding how to add content, types of trains, etc. What made it especially hard is that Mini Metro thrives on its simplicity, so we couldn't just keep adding things to it - we constantly had to pare it back to the core essentials.

How did you start working with Apple...

(Context : Mini Motorways is one of the game of the launch of Apple Arcade)

Rob : We've always had a good relationship with Apple, we love their devices and how much they value games, and they like the style of what we make. So when they got in touch about Apple Arcade we showed them what we were working on (we'd been working on Mini Motorways for about six months at this point), they liked the look of it and asked us to pitch. The proposal for Apple Arcade really excited us so it was an easy decision to make to be a part of it!

When did we begin work on Mini Motorways?

Casey : Mini Motorways began as an idea back in 2018 and went through many, many iterations. The original concept was pitched as a few different ideas - we took inspiration from games like Freeways and also considered the very basic idea of "what if Mini Metro but with cars?" There were over 20 prototypes before we ended up with the variant that we were happy with. Once we settled on a design direction, our art team worked tirelessly to try to develop a style that was sleek and minimalist and evoked the spirit of Mini Metro while still being its own thing. Blake and Tana did an incredible job with this. Overall, Mini Motorways took several full-time staff 9 months to prototype, and then 9 more months to refine for our Apple Arcade launch.

Did you change your method of development for mobile games to PC games?

Casey : We design all of our games with the idea that they'll be played on both mobile and other platforms. The process between Mini Metro and Mini Motorways did definitely differ, but not really for that reason. From the ground up, every game we publish is meant to be enjoyed on both--and also other platforms. Since we're a small independent team it can sometimes take time to port onto new consoles and platforms, but we definitely don't want to pigeonhole ourselves as a mobile-only developer OR have people think that we used mobile games solely as a springboard to get onto Steam. We love mobile games and think one of the best aspects of our games is that they can be enjoyed while commuting, haha.

Have we had to change our development plans due to Covid-19?

Casey : Yes, the pandemic has affected us just like it's affected other studios. For starters, we are really sad to miss out on convention appearances this year! Since we're based in New Zealand, we always relish the opportunity to go to events like GDC and PAX to meet some of our industry friends as we don't often get to hang out in person. But apart from that, there have been effects on the production side of things as well - we'd just finished a hiring round when NZ went under Level 4 quarantine, and that meant some of our new team members weren't able to move here immediately, which sucks. We've been trying hard to support them and make them feel included. We've also had to adjust to working from home, which was easier for some of us than others. I personally was already working from home due to having to plan my move from the south island to the north island. It will be great to get back into the studio and up to Wellington proper. The best part of this job for me is hands down the people I work with. I miss them a lot and while it's nice seeing their faces on video calls, it's not quite the same because I can't whine at them to make me a cup of tea.

Thanks again to them for taking the time to anwser me!

If you want to play Mini Metro, you can find it here on Humble Bundle

And you can Wishlist Mini Motorways on Steam, or play it on Apple Arcade!

Publié le 13/06/2020