There's already been one high profile attempt to create the online shooter for iPhone, but unlike ngmoco's Eliminate, Villain's Archetype is a more traditional take on the genre.
You pay up front to buy the game and from then on the team-based deathmatch FPS is completely free.
We caught up with lead producer Dane Baker to find out more.Pocket Gamer: What was the inspiration behind Archetype?
Dane Baker: We are all huge fans of the first-person shooter genre, and have enjoyed many of the great console titles: of course Halo and Call of Duty but underappreciated titles like Section 8, too.
We set out to bring many aspects of console FPS games to iPhone and iPod touch - everything from adding friends to your buddy list and our in-game radar to matchmaking that pairs players with similar experience against each other.A touchscreen device isn't the ideal platform for a FPS so why iPhone?
We would actually argue that the touchscreen is a great platform for the FPS. One of the great things about touchscreen devices is they remove a layer of complexity from a user and the computer. You interact in a more direct way.
When Halo was brought to the Xbox from PC, many diehard FPS gamers complained. But eventually people came around to realise, 'Hey, this can be pretty fun without a mouse'.
I think the same will be true of FPS titles on touchscreen devices. In fact, we think that touchscreen devices will yield revolutionary user experiences that just aren't possible today, and games will be among the first to take advantage.Considering the even gender split of iPhone, don't you think you're limiting your likely audience with an FPS?
I wouldn't say we're limiting our audience but instead that our game fills a void on this platform.
Moreover, I would argue that there are more so-called traditional gamers playing games on iPhone and iPod touch than people realise.How much inspiration did you take from Eliminate?
Archetype reflects the type of game that we as gamers wanted to see on the iPhone. Our game was inspired by our love for FPS, and more specifically our desire to create a traditional FPS experience that revolved around team play and community.
We see how others have approached things, both in the traditional gaming space and the App Store, but our overall vision and business model has always stayed true to what we believed in.Why did you decide to focus on team-based deathmatch?
It comes down to community. The first-person shooter is all about your skills and the glory of winning, but without friends to enjoy it with, it doesn't mean as much. So we built Archetype around this.
Not only can you add friends to your buddy list and challenge them, you can earn EXP by playing and winning games, earn achievement medals and rank up. We'll publish an update shortly after launch that lets you post your achievements to Facebook as well.
Why did you decide to have melee weapons?
FPS gamers want a variety of weapons: what works for me might not work for you. So maybe I prefer bum-rushing with gunfire followed by melee. But you might like a stealthier attack that involves grenades and attacking behind your opponent. The more options, the better the fight.What's your approach in terms of server infrastructure and what plans do you have for scaling with demand?
We have very talented folks who have worked on this issue for nearly a year. Our servers allow us to scale to meet any demand, and we're confident in our system.How have you got this type of game to work well on 3G and Edge?
One of our goals from the very beginning is to ensure that Archetype is an awesome experience regardless of your connection. Our servers provide as great a gameplay experience as your cellular provider allows you to have. We've found that Archetype works great, even over Edge.
Just as important, Archetype takes advantage of each device's capabilities. So the game detects which device you're running and increases the resolution, models, and textures to what that generation can handle.
iPhone 4 runs a separate engine - allowing us to fully utilise the Retina Display - from iPhone 3GS and below, for instance.Why did you decide to go for a straight paid app rather than freemium?
We think freemium can work but it's having trouble finding its audience. That's not to say it can't work, but audiences are sceptical, and we prefer to be completely transparent about our value proposition - $2.99, €2.39, £1.79 - and that's it, no question marks.
Our pricing model for Archetype gets you five stages, six weapons (plus two grenades) plus the ability to earn EXP, achievement medals, an offline tutorial stage, player profiles, buddy list and friend challenges, and more.With such online games, you tend to have a busy launch period, with activity fading away over time so how do you intend to keep me playing, at least on a weekly basis?
Our game will live and die by the support we receive from our fans, so needless to say we're extremely conscious of what we need to do to ensure our community is robust and active.
Out of the gate, Archetype provides compelling gameplay that will keep you coming back for more: Ranking up, earning EXP (which matches you with players of your experience level), achievements, and challenging your buddies will fuel great deathmatches week-in and week-out.
Also, we have exciting plans to extend and update Archetype well into the future, and gamers decide if we get to make them happen.
Thanks to Dane for his time.
Archetype is out now.
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