One recent highlight in the world of mobile gaming is indie musical shooter Beat Hazard Ultra, a crazy music-driven shooter which has just seen a port released on iOS devices…one which we loved, incidentally!
We took the time to chat with Beat Hazard Ultra creator and Cold Beam Games’ CEO Steve Hunt about iOS, being a one-man dev team and the possibility of an Android port. Enjoy!
What spurred the decision to take Beat Hazard Ultra to the App Store, also making it available on portable devices for the first time?
My strategy all along was to take Beat Hazard to as many platforms as possible. It makes good business sense, but it’s also very cool to see your own game running on so many different devices.
Where did the idea of Beat Hazard Ultra come from, in terms of integrating music so closely?
Well I’ve always been mesmerized by music visualizers, and I thought how cool it would be to turn one into a game. That was about 3 years ago. I got made redundant from Juice games and decided it was time to try going ‘indie’. Beat Hazard was an ideal first project.
How difficult is it to develop a title on your own? Do you get external feedback from others, or just go on your instincts for game mechanics and the like?
I pretty much go with my instincts. I let family and friends play the game and I listen carefully to what they say. I also listen to what players say once the game is out. Beat Hazard has had many changes based on that. Especially from feedback on the Steam forums. However, at lot is very subjective and you need to be carful what you take on board.
Now it’s been released on all major digital distribution platforms, have there been any major wins or hurdles have been, both for yourself developing and in terms of getting it onto these sales channels?
The major win was getting on Steam. That version has done very well and given me more credibility to take the game to other platforms.
The PS3 version was a complete nightmare to make. Their software is very poor and overly complex, as are their submission and testing procedures. The game didn’t sell too well either. I won’t be going there again.
The iOS version was great to do. I hired some friends that work at D3T (www.d3t.co.uk) to do the low level port so I could focus on game play.
Are you pleased with the reception generally? I heard Beat Hazard Ultra was the highest-rated PSN title at one point…
The PSN version got quite a frosty reception from the press and didn’t sell too well. The high rating means that players that did buy it really liked it which is great.
iOS has been far far more positive. I’ve had some amazing reviews and players seems to be loving it – I’m so happy about that.
Are there any iOS-specific features that you’re happy to have added? How hard was it to incorporate Internet Radio, for example?
Apples SDK is amazing. It’s very easy to learn and you can add powerful features very quickly. For example, I added In-App Purchases in a few days. Apple really know their stuff and understand that they need to make development as easy as they possibly can, which they have done.
Any advice for those looking to make their mark on the indie scene, anything you wish you knew beforehand?
You need a good idea, but keep it simple. Start small and grow slowly. And don’t forget you don’t need to spend a fortune on development. There’s great engines, software and plug-ins out there that will make your job easier and won’t cost the earth.
What’s next? More Beat Hazard Ultra or are you trying something else?
First I’ll take a break for a bit. The Android version is waiting in the wings. After that I have a few experimental game ideas I’d like to try. And of course I want to make Beat Hazard 2 – it’s gonna get cool!
What’s your favourite song to blast to?
I quite like blasting away to the German Techno radio stations. Which is odd because I don’t listen to techno normally!