An Interview with Jan Lechner of Foxglove Studios
Outright Geekery had the opportunity recently to speak to Jan Lechner, Product Lead at Foxglove Studios, a mobile exclusive game developer/publisher. Creator of popular games like “The Muscle Hustle” and its newest game, “Snipers Vs. Thieves”, we ask Jan what it is like working in the mobile field, and how their unique design philosophy influences the games it develops.
Your latest game, “Snipers vs. Thieves”, has a big focus on multiplayer and cooperative play, something not usually found in mobile free to play games. When developing the title was this something you wanted to focus on from the beginning? Or was that something that came about during development?
JL: Real-time multiplayer and cooperative gameplay were ingredients from the very earliest concepts of the game. Based on our previous experience, analysis of the market, and our own preferences as gamers, we felt this could work really well. We developed a very basic prototype and were immediately convinced by how much fun it was. The multiplayer experience became not only a focus, but a defining component of the game. We examine all of our decisions in the context of how a design change or new feature will impact the experience of players playing, competing, and cooperating with others.
Snipers vs. Thieves has a big online community, especially on reddit. Were you expecting such a large following after the game’s release?
JL: No, it was at best a hope. We love our game and invest a lot of time, energy, and passion into developing it. It is very rewarding and encouraging to us to see so many people enjoying our game. The community has been a huge help in improving the game, as there is no replacement for their feedback. We are thankful for everyone who is taking the time to leave a comment on Reddit, Facebook, or via the game, reporting issues, or making suggestions.
On the game’s Facebook page there is a contest for players to design new masks for the Thieves. This is a great idea to make players feel involved. How did the idea for this design contest come about? Do you have any other plans for community involvement you can talk about?
JL: We always look for opportunities to involve the community in the development of the game. We are all enthusiastic gamers and know how rewarding this can be. The first time this specific idea came up was when we realized how much fun our whole studio had in creating masks. With everyone involved, we very quickly generated a huge list and saw the potential for throwing the doors open to the community at large and better understand what our players would like to see in the game. This competition is just one way in which we want to engage with our community and we don’t plan on stopping there, so be ready for more.
The One vs. Many aspect is something else not usually seen in multiplayer games, mobile or otherwise. What were some concerns regarding balancing the game during development? Were there any concerns about one side or the other becoming too powerful or easy to play?
JL: The One vs. Many aspect of the game is a constant challenge to us, as maintaining the balance can be quite difficult. If we make a change, then it must be thought through for snipers, individual thieves, and for the full team of thieves. We don’t always get it right, and this is another area in which we’re thankful to have such an enthusiastic playing community.
Being a mobile exclusive developer, what are some of the challenges and hurdles you face that are different from a more traditional game developer? Conversely, what are some benefits in working in the mobile space?
JL: Developing for mobile comes with a number of challenges. For instance, touch screen controls require an entirely different approach than keyboard, mouse or game pads. Player needs differ too. Mobile game sessions can often be short, with players squeezing some fun in between their other day-to-day activities. It can be tricky to satisfy the needs of a person riding the bus home and those that want to lean in and play all night. It’s worthwhile, though, since there are a huge number of gamers across the globe that want to play on mobile. Community is also essential to us and we believe that mobile gamers present us with an opportunity to forge relationships that is like no other platform.
Thank you very much to Jan and everyone at Foxglove Studios. Check out their latest game, “Snipers vs. Thieves”, available free to download at the Google Play and iTunes app stores.