Deciding to live in a giant skyscraper stuck in the middle of a crystal clear ocean would be seen as a strange decision by many – but there's no doubting it would be an interesting experience.
So being tasked with managing a whole building of people living out in the middle of the sea means that flaregames latest title – Ocean Tower – is off to an intriguing start with its concept alone.
Andreas Suika, Creative Director of flaregames, told us about how Ocean Tower is built on some solid foundations as well though, along with details as to the game's development, and what future plans there are for the title.
Suika is keen to emphasise that Ocean Tower may have a great set-up, but the gameplay mechanics also help it to stand out on the App Store. "We do think we've found a new formula for this type of game," he says, "it's all about optimising the limited space within the tower in order to make the citizens happy and increase income." "We don't focus on micromanaging floors or businesses or even citizens, with the gameplay revolving around 'areas of influence' - a shopping mall of that shape satisfies customers of that area; an museum of this shape fulfils the needs of people in this area, and so on." The basics are in place then, but Suika also claims the presentation helps to elevate the experience to the next level. "Like in every building game, it's a satisfying to add floors, below and above the waterline in Ocean Tower's case," Suika says, "but the game also has beautiful graphics. There's a wonderful carpet of sound that changes according to where you are in your tower, from dove cries at the top to blubbery near-silence below the surface. We recommend playing the game with earphones."
We built this cityIf ideas such as micromanaging and satisfying customers don't sound immediately appealing to you though, have no fear – the game's emphasis is on fun, according to Suika. "Sustainability plays a part in the game but it's not as big a thing as we wanted it to be when we started out," he explains, "we had a number of ideas, but we killed most of them in order to make the game more fun. In every game, fun must come first. Energy and how you generate it is still an important element in the game however." Ocean Tower has had a mix of influences in its design too, no surprise considering its interesting concept. "Inspiration was drawn from many sources," Suika says, "Sim City chief among them. But we're also fans of interesting architecture."
Plotting a course
There were pleasingly no (figurative) choppy waters to negotiate during production either, Suika tells us. "I'm pleased to say that nothing really dramatic happened during development," he says, "although we did change the art style early in production and had to re-iterate the gameplay mechanics for quite a while as the tutorial confused the hell out of players and had to be rewritten. Aside from that, it was a largely smooth running project." Suika also reveals that there are plans to bolster the game with updates in the near future. "We've left the development team in place - they didn't start a new game at the end of production," he says, "so we're earnest about supporting the game and doing updates. We'll be reworking some aspects of the User Interface soon, also new gameplay features will arrive." Ocean Tower is available in the App Store now, and is free to download [iTunes link]. You can also download it on Android [Google Play link]. You can download a music track from Ocean Tower here, and also take a look a making of book (in pdf form) here. The trailer for Ocean Tower can also be seen below: