Recently, we reviewed Roll 7’s latest indie hit on the PS Vita, OlliOlli (which I scored a 9.5 in our review). Today, Tom Hegarty provided us with an interview about how the game was first conceived, how it became a Vita exclusive, and much more behind the premise of the title.
Marcello: When and how did the idea of OlliOlli come about?
Tom: OlliOlli was initially dreamt up by John, our Creative Director. He was 13 at the time and had two main passions, Gaming and Skateboarding, so you can see how the basic idea was formed! This was all happening in the mid 90’s so the fact the game uses a pixel art and a retro vibe is very much related to the kind of games we played whilst growing up! It took us 15 years to do anything with John’s original idea but we’re glad we did!
Marcello: Roughly how long has the game been in development?
Tom: We started development in Feb 2013, thought we had been toying with the prototype or a few months before that. We actually finished development before xmas but had to sit tight to release at the right point and as part of the Vita Play Promotion in North America.
Marcello: When it came down to figuring out which platform you wanted to bring OlliOlli to, how did you make your decision?
Tom: Our first title, Gets To The Exit, was released on the App Store in July 2012, that experience was great for us in terms of taking a game from start to finish and actually releasing it but we realised that the type of games we want to make, (e.g. difficult ‘hardcore’ games) were not really thriving on the app store, and although the user base is huge, the audience is not there. At that point we made the decisions to move to console or steam and move away from the App stores. Once we met with Sony, it was their initial suggestion to take it to Vita, our concept demo was on iOS and seemed like a very natural move to go to a console handheld.
Marcello: There’s no question the PS Vita is a powerful handheld device. How was your experience developing on Sony’s latest handheld?
Tom: We were slightly underprepared to move from app dev to console dev, there is a wide world of new process and technical knowledge to get your head around. Our biggest challenge was loading the entire game in one go so you, the player, can get instant restarts and no in-game loading time. To do this we had to play with the memory allocation which started to become very tricky towards the end.
Marcello: OlliOlli’s control scheme and mechanics are intricate and immensely rewarding, blending that arcade style of Tony Hawk and authentic realism of SKATE, yet differentiating itself by setting a new bar. Where did the idea of the mechanics come about?
Tom: The main difference in our control scheme is pressing X to land. Although that sounds simple in passing, it determines how well you score in the game: Press X too early and get a sloppy landing, press X at the right time and you get a perfect landing that could be the difference of 200,000 points! That idea came from what it’s like to actually skateboard. Landing is the hardest part; most people can get the board to flip in the air but if you ever watch skateboarders live, it’s rare they land the trick. The X mechanic was designed to give you that feeling they get in skateboarding, you’ve not done the trick until you nail your landing!
Marcello: The game’s art style and soundtrack certainly compliment each other nicely. Can you discuss a bit about the visual and audio design of the game?
Tom: It’s interesting as the art and the music were worked on separately, so we’re happy they blend so well. The music was chosen based on what we listen to in the studio. We originally went with punk/skate music and tried some crazy electronica but the game is so intense and all about flow that we found more jazzy/ambient music fitted better and allowed you to focus on the game. The art style was developed over a year and was initially going to be far simpler, but as we progressed the character got more and more shaded!
Marcello: Now the game is a PlayStation Vita exclusive, but is there any chance of bringing it to another Sony platform like the PS3 and/or PS4?
Tom: For the moment, OlliOlli is a Vita exclusive and we want to concentrate on that for now. I think it’s managed to get extra coverage based on the fact it is a Vita Exclusive.
Marcello: There’s already plenty of content in OlliOlli, yet DLC is a big thing nowadays. Have you considered any future DLC for OlliOlli?
Tom: There is no DLC planned at the moment. We didn’t anticipate there being such a big response and audience to the game so it wasn’t in our initial plans. Never say never though!
Marcello: What’s next for Roll 7 after OlliOlli?
Tom: We’re actually working on our next two projects but I can’t reveal any info about them yet, but do watch this space!
Marcello: Any additional info you’d like to share with the readers?
Tom: We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last few weeks by either buying the game, tweeting screenshots etc, OlliOlli wouldn’t be what it is without the people who play it so we’re just super hyped that people are enjoying it!
Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time Tom. We look forward to seeing what’s in store for the future of OlliOlli and the team over at Roll 7.