Grip Games talks PS4, Vita and highs and lows of the indie scene

PlayStation Universe recently hooked up with Grip Games CEO Jakub Mikyska to find out more about the Prague-based studio and its games, as well as to chat about the current state of the indie game scene and what the PS4 means to him.

PSU: Please tell our readers about Grip Games, how and why you formed and which games and platforms you’ve been working on...
We are an indie studio located in Prague with a headcount fluctuating somewhere between 5 and 15, depending on which part of a development cycle we are in. We have been around for almost four years and we have released many games that most of you have probably never played. We started with PlayStation Minis and released games like 5-in-1 Arcade Hits, One Epic Game and The Impossible Game. We also have some iOS and Android games.

Last year we released Foosball 2012, which was our first PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita game and just a few days ago, our newest game Atomic Ninjas was unleash onto the PlayStation Network.

The studio was formed by me and my colleague Jan Cabuk. We have worked on mobile games for many years and we wanted to get into the console games development and see where that takes us. I think we succeeded.

PSU: How tough is it to be an indie developer in this current economic climate and what challenges does the studio face without a major publisher behind it?
It’s tough, no doubt about that. One advantage that indies have over more established development houses is that we can be very cost effective. After several years of activity, our biggest problem actually isn’t financing the next project, but promoting it. We live in a world where you have to shout louder than everybody else to get noticed and even though there are some really nice opportunities for indies to get visibility, “I had no idea this game existed, now it’s on my radar” kind of comment is still the most frequent we get after releasing news about upcoming games. That’s where big publisher’s absence is really felt.

PSU: The trailer for your latest game, Atomic Ninjas, shows some similarities to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Was it inspired by Sony’s multiplayer brawler?
No, we kind of developed Atomic Ninjas in isolation from everything else. We made a game that we would enjoy and only after starting to show it to other people we realized that there are some similarities to PASBR and also Smash Bros. If there was a game that we looked at, while we were searching for inspiration, it was Awesomenauts.

PSU: Atomic Ninjas has a variety of quirky characters. Can you tell us about those characters and what skills they bring to the fight?
We went through a lot of ideas before we settled on ninjas. At the beginning, we were toying with the idea of using only boxes instead of characters (and then Thomas was Alone was released…), those evolved into secret agents, even space gladiators, but once the ninjas idea came, it was all clear. There are seven different ninjas. They don’t have special character-dependent skills, with the exception of initial equipment, but instead they differ with their look and personality. We wanted the players to pick their favorite ninja and play as that ninja simply because they like their design and taunts.

PSU: What can we expect from the multiplayer component?
Fun, laughter, and good times. We have made Atomic Ninjas to be entertaining, more than anything else. Playing with other people is always more fun and we wanted to take it to the next level and make a game that embraces all the positive aspects of competitiveness and created a game where you having just as much fun when you are losing, as when you are winning.

PSU: We’ve seen the closure of many big studios over the past five years yet indie studios are on the rise. Do you think the current indie revolution will last?
I think it will. We have reached this critical mass ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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