A New Kind of FPS on Steam
by Deborah M. Fike · 12/17/2008 (12:27 pm) · 13 comments
You may like First Person Shooters, but you've probably never seen one like this. Frogames' Penguins Arena: Sedna's World is what the studio affectionately calls a "First Penguin Shooter." At its face value, it offers fun and simple gameplay in the vein of MarioKart: pop into a multiplayer game as one of four tribes of penguins (identified by color), play king of the mountain by hurtling snowballs at your enemies, and use a variety of accessories to give yourself a leg up on the competition. Dig a little deeper though, and you find that Penguins Arena has a deep environmental theme about the perils of global warming. It isn't just a marketing ploy: Frogames is dedicated to social responsibility and donates $1 to Kiva, an overseas microlending charity, for every copy of Penguins Arena sold. Combine all this with the distinctive art style that is Frogames' mark of quality, and you have one addictive game. And starting December 18th, you can opt to buy it on Steam.
Christophe and Mathieu, the Frogames guys, have been long-time supporters of Torque, and their journey has been archived in our blogs and forums for many years. It was GG's pleasure to catch up with them and ask them about the release of their first big commercial success.
Please describe Penguins Arena's gameplay.Penguins Arena is a fast-paced "First Penguin Shooter" game for kids and older gamers. It has very short rounds, with players having three lives each, but even when you run out of lives, you return to the game as a ghost, ensuring that the player has a chance to participate even when he's out of a round.
"Penguins Arena: Sedna's World is a silly game wrapped around a serious message about global warming and pollution. Me, I just want to be the last penguin standing. Play is fast and furious. Penguins. Arenas. Sharks. Death Matches. How often do you hear those words describing the same game?" - GamersInfo.net
Where did your inspiration come from?From a gameplay point of view, our main inspiration comes from Quake 3. On the game's theme, Frogames was created with an ideal of corporate social responsibility. We like the Penguins Arena storyline because it conveys an urgent environmental message to people of all ages.
What was your development process like?Penguins Arena was born during a Game in a Day session (the subject was "impalement"). Penguins Arena's gameplay really hasn't changed much since the early prototype...we just replaced the sticks with snowballs! Some months later we worked on a second prototype, and we were so happy with the results, we decided to make a full game out of it.
We like to use an iterative process because it's probably the most comfortable one for a young team. The problem with this process is: when are you supposed to stop working on a feature, or even on the game itself? Nobody is going to tell you when enough is enough, and more features don't necessary mean more fun.
Only two developers worked on Penguins Arena's development. The third member helped us on the communication and marketing aspects at the end of the project. It took two years from the first prototype to the release of Penguins Arena. We worked well together because we had been living in the same city, and when we couldn't physically meet, we used chat, e-mail and our web server. We also met to make technical or strategical decisions on a regular basis. If we would have been able to work full-time on Penguins Arena, we would probably have finished it in six months.
Penguins Arena won the 1st-place prize in the Best Game on the Go category at the Intel Game Demo Contest and was a finalist in the 2008 Indie Game Showcase.
Why choose Torque?Frogames was born in 2002 when GG first provided technology for game developers. We are GG children! There's a lot of reasons why we chose Torque, but if we had to choose three main reasons:
- Mac & PC support (70% of our sales come from Mac users)
- Fast prototyping capabilities
- TGE's Networking system, which is still one of the best
What were a few major development problems you encountered? How did you overcome them?We had to build a lot of small systems for Penguins Arena:
- License Management System
- Basic DRM
- In-Game RSS Communication
- Statistics Tracking
Just in time for Christmas, Penguins Arena offers family-friendly entertainment and a holiday environment.
What did you learn in creating Penguins Arena?Penguins Arena is our very first (finished) game. So we learned a lot about gameplay and about the very long process that is taking a prototype and turning it into a finished and sellable game.
What kind of awards has Penguins Arena won during its development?Penguins Arena was a prize-winner at the Intel Game Demo Contest, one among 145 entries from 29 countries around the world! The game won the 1st place prize in the Best Game on the Go category and the award for the Best use of Torque in a game demo. Penguins Arena was also a finalist in the 2008 Indie Games Showcase.
What can we expect to see next from Frogames?We just released our new game MiniOne Racing, a thrilling and colorful race game. Our next main project is CS: Wizards, an art content pack compatible with the previous CS: Warriors and Commoners pack. And then we are going to work on mini games for the iPhone.
Congrats on the release of Penguins Arena on Steam! GG as a whole is proud, and I have to admit that Penguins Arena has been one of my favorite Torque games so far. (I still have the theme music from that trailer stuck in my head.) Keep 'em coming!
For more stories like this, check out GarageGames' Developer Interview series.