Interview with Brain Connected

Somyeol - Jump and Run Summary:                                                                         FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

Brain Connected is an independent developer team including two computer science students from Bremen northern germany.

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Updated:December 24th, 2012

Interviewed by: Emily Wong
Developer: Brain Connected

Android Park:  Brain Connected is an independent developer team from Germany.  They just released their latest Android game Somyeol – Jump and Run.   Let’s listen to the interesting stories behind the game.

Android Park: Would you please introduce yourself to us and our readers?

Brain Connected: Hello everyone,  we are two computer science students from Bremen northern germany and developed the mobile game Somyeol.

Kolja: Hi, My name is Kolja Lubitz and I currently study abroad at the Aalto University in Finland. I like to write games and with Somyeol I found a project where I love to spend all my spare time.

Jannik: Hello, I am Jannik Waschkau I am from Germany and currently studying computer science at the University Bremen. I love games and music and thats why I also make games myself. I am doing the programming stuff, music and level design for Somyeol.

Android Park: How do you start your career in designing or developing mobile games? Is there an interesting story that happened at the beginning of your gaming career?

Jannik: I was not really involved in making games until the Global Game Jam 2010 where I participated and made a Racing Game. After that I started programming another racing game called RageTracks with Kolja and another friend from university. We never really got it working right and then stopped working on it after we took part in the Global Game Jam 2011 where we created a prototype of Somyeol, which lead to an invitation to the Casual Connect 2011 where we got the chance to present our game. That was the point where we decided that game development had to go on. We did not have any experience with mobile games but decided that we had to make this game happen on mobile devices.

Kolja: My career started at the GGJ 2011 where we unexpectedly won with our game. The in 48hours developed version of the game was chosen from over 1500 games by a jury from the GameSource magazine.

We were invited to the Casual Connect in Hamburg. There we had the chance to show our game to several publishers and the press. This was a nice experience to see how other developers sell their games and how much power the game publishers still have.

In Hamburg we decided to continue developing the game for iOS and Android but without a publisher, because we wanted  to be free in our decision and the publishers were not willing to support us with money anyway.

Android Park: How long have you been engaged in the gaming industry? Are you enjoying working in this industry? What makes you most excited about designing or developing a mobile game?

Kolja: This game is more or less our first game project and it is the first game we published. For the first project this project is running very well. After about a year we have over 400.000 downloads across all platforms. The still growing number of downloads and good ratings are keeping me developing.

Jannik: Until we started the development of Somyeol I was not engaged in the gaming industry. Somyeol was our first game which we started developing around April 2011. Because we are an indie studio I enjoy a lot of freedom and don’t really have any obligations, which I am enjoying a lot. Besides that making games is pure fun, because you know you will end up with a product you will like (and play) yourself. I don’t think I would feel the same way making a business app. I think the most exciting part in game development is when you get to the point where you have a running version with all major features implemented. It is just a great feeling seeing that the hard work paid off.

Android Park: Where does your inspiration come from? Or what inspired you the most when developing games?

Kolja: I am one of those guys that never grow up. So I love to play and I like to give this great fun I have playing games to other people that may have forgotten that playing is an important part of our life. By making game I have the possibility to work and play. Sometimes when I want to test a new level I made or after adding a new feature I find myself playing the game for half an hour instead of developing the game.

Jannik: When developing Somyeol we were always meeting each other for long programming sessions in the evening and night. It was always a relaxing atmosphere and often we were eating dinner together. When someone had a good idea we could directly discuss it.

Android Park: Have you met any difficulties in developing an Android game? If yes, how did you resolve the problems?

Kolja: The main problem under Android are the different screen sizes. The code must always scale and position all graphics depending on the screen size and there is no information about the size of the device. Also the screen resolution isn’t a good indicator for the real screen size. There are wide range of devices with different CPUs and graphic cards. The game has to run on the slowest device like it does on the fastest and newest devices on the market.

The different Android OS versions aren’t a problem for game developers, because normally the new APIs they introduce don’t affect the games.

Jannik: Development went really smooth because we are using a middleware called Marmalade which let’s us program c++ and mostly we don’t have to worry about platform specific things

Android Park: Since Android and IOS are the two major mobile platforms that people use now, how do you think about the development future for these two platforms?

Kolja: The From the beginning on we wanted our app to be multi platform. We choose a middleware to only have one code base across all different operation systems. I think the two platforms are a large problem for developers. They normally have to decide to develop for one of these two platforms. If a developer then later decides to port a game to the other platform this always means the double of work. Normally developers choose the iOS platform because there they have only premium devices and nowadays they have only three different screen resolutions. After more than two years of experience I recommend the Android platform for small developer teams, because there you can faster try new stuff and if you make a small fix this fix will be immediately available in the play store.

Jannik: I think it is really hard to predict anything, but I think that both platforms will have it’s place in the future. I think that cross platform development will increase in importance. Especially as new platforms like BB10 and Windows 8 get more users.

Android Park: Do you have development experience on iOS?  What reason makes you consider to develop an Android Game ?

Kolja: The I like to avoid the discussion about the best mobile platform. And because of that game is available for iOS, Android, RIMs Playbook and Bada. And versions for Windows 8 and BB10 OS are also in development.

Jannik: Unfortunately we do not really have any development experience on iOS. We programmed a few extensions for Marmalade for ad networks, so we could monetize our game on iOS, but that were only a few lines of code. We are trying to release Somyeol on as many platforms as we can to reach a wide audience. Android and iOS just are the two biggest platforms and that is why we started to release for this two first.

Android Park: Have you met any problem during porting between IOS & Android or developing Android Game ?   How did you get through it ?

Kolja: You should always test all changes on both platforms because the same code can have different effects for example on different screen resolutions. But if you are careful the developing for the two platforms is a nice way to reach more customers.

Jannik: Surprisingly the port to Android was very easy because Marmalade took care of all the hard work. All that was left to do where things like integrating the back key. The biggest problem was probably the splash screen. Marmalade provides a mechanism for that, which was broken at that time and thats why we needed to make a custom one.

Android Park: Tell us the story about Somyeol – Jump and Run .  What inspired you to make such a game ?

Kolja: The Global Game Jam had extinction as the topic. So we decided to make a Platformer game where you have a lot of small characters and where it’s not so important to save all of them and it’s ok if some of this sweet small characters die until you save at least so many that you reach the amount of points you need to pass the level. Over time we introduced more characters to create harder puzzles. The new characters do not only differ in the skills, they also gave a different amount of points.

Jannik: When the theme of the Global Game Jam 2011 – extinction – got announced, we only needed a few minutes to agree on the concept of a platforming game where the player has to steer many characters at once and has to guide them to a goal. Many of the Somyeols would have to be sacrificed to finish the game. We then hammered the code for a basic platforming game into our editors. All the base work went really fast and so we had a lot of time to implement different game mechanics, program a level editor and build levels. It was a very creative weekend for us.

The best part was probably the presentation of our game at the end of the jam. Because of the funny voices and voice lines we had recorded everyone was laughing. After the Jam we got invited to the Casual Connect 2011 and we decided that we want Somyeol to become a fully-fledged game.

Android Park: What’s your business mode for Somyeol – Jump and Run?  Will it be free all the times?

Kolja: The project was always a hobby. But the hobby had some hidden costs for the markets and licenses. So we decide to have a business with a paid version and a free version so if someone likes our game he can buy the game to support us. This plan did not work well so we added an ad service to the free version.

Jannik: Yes it will be available for free all times. We have two different versions though. The free version is ad-supported but we are trying to make the ads not too annoying, so that the players can still enjoy the game. The second version is paid and contains one extra levelpack and ads are disabled. The differences between the two versions are not very big and the paid version is there for people who want to support us and to give them a little extra candy, so it is definitely not a must to get the paid version.

Android Park: Do you have something special to say to our readers and your future fans ?

Kolja: Play the game. Find all the secrets we have hidden in our game and beat the online highscore. But be warned the game isn’t as easy as it looks.

Jannik: Yes it will be available for free all times. We have two different versions though. The free version is ad-supported but we are trying to make the ads not too annoying, so that the players can still enjoy the game. The second version is paid and contains one extra levelpack and ads are disabled. The differences between the two versions are not very big and the paid version is there for people who want to support us and to give them a little extra candy, so it is definitely not a must to get the paid version.

Android Park: Anything to supplement ?

Kolja: We made a nice cake with a Somyeol on it for the Birthday of our artist. [Pic]
And if someone likes to try the first version of Somyeol made in 48 hours, then this version is still available on our website.  The name Somyeol is the Korean translation for the theme of the GGJ which was extinction.

Jannik: Because we could not come up with a good name for our game at the game jam we used Google Translator to translate extinction into korean. The result was that we ended with the unspeakable and horrible to memorize name Somyeol2D. From a businessman’s view probably the worst decision we made was to keep that name.


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