Ridiculous Fishing: The Game that Nearly Ended Vlambeer
March 8, 2013 Page 3 of 3
It was when Wohlwend finished up with Gasketball and flew out to stay with Gage that the real development got underway.
"He decided to fly over to New York to Zach's place, and basically not leave until the game was done," Ismail recalls. "Me and JW were working on Luftrausers, so when we heard of that plan, we decided 'Okay, we're going to drop everything and focus on Ridiculous Fishing.'"
It wasn't smooth sailing from the get-go -- although, would you expect less from this long and winding story? As it turns out, success can be a wonderful thing, but it can also change the playing field rather a lot.
"We had to figure out how to work with each other again," says Ismail. "If you look at who we were when we started this project, Vlambeer had just released Super Crate Box and Radical Fishing, Greg had released Solipskier, and Zach hadn't yet released anything that a lot of people knew about except for maybe Lose/Lose. That's what we were all known for."
"Since then, Vlambeer has released like 10 other games, and Greg worked on Gasketball and Hundreds, and Zach released SpellTower, which became this absurd success. So when we started working together again, we had this problem that we were four people who were all doing something else. It took us a while to work out how to work together again."
Describing it as "a luxury problem," Ismail notes that having four different teammates, each with their own great success and their own strong opinions about what would make the game click, means that moving forward can be rather tricky.
"If you have to dive into hardcore philosophy every time you want to make a decision, that's not how you make video games!" he laughs. "Maybe some people do, but that's not how we make video games. We just try to see what works. But we didn't do that -- we had this problem where we were just talking about stuff."
It's not something that Ismail, or indeed any of the team, had really considered. Who would have thought that bringing together an indie dream team could create its own problems?
"I've been extremely honored working with these guys, but it's interesting that it doesn't only bring positives," he adds. "You don't really think about that when you put a team together, I suppose. You end up over-discussing and overanalyzing everything, instead of actually trying. That was unexpected, but sort of cool."
An example of this over-analysis: The team had a four hour long heated debate about adding a single name to the end game credits.
"We were moving again, but we needed to figure out how to work," says Ismail. And figure it out they did -- in a few short weeks the foursome had locked down everything from the visuals to the gameplay, and things rapidly escalated from there.
Just weeks later, the game was suddenly finished, and the team was staring at the App Store submission screen. "We couldn't really believe it," adds Ismail. "That was amazing. It was such a weird rush."
Video games releases are always a savaged bundle of emotions for their respective developers. On the one hand, there's huge elation at getting your work out to the public. On the other, there's the worry of how people will receive it, and whether anyone will actually care.
For Ismail and co., there's the added worry that the average iOS gamer will believe Ridiculous Fishing is a clone of a game they played a while back.
"Ridiculous Fishing is in this weird situation where a lot of people know about it, and they know it's related in some way to cloning, but they don't necessarily know how," he says. "So I am a bit worried about the public reception of the game. I'm not quite sure that everybody will understand that Ridiculous Fishing is the original."
But surely people will have forgotten about it by now anyway, I remark.
"We really hope that's true, but yesterday we had our first mention on Touch Arcade," Ismail responds. "The article even mentioned the clone, but there was a comment on the article that said, 'If Vlambeer gets cloned, it's the biggest news story -- but if they clone another game, it's suddenly like, whatever?'"
I flinched at this. The Rami Ismail from GDCE 2011 may well have fallen into a deep, long coma if he was able to read these sorts of comments now.
"So that is sort of worrying to me, and I don't know what we're going to do about that, except sort of explain it to everybody until they understand," he says.
In the meantime, Ismail is just happy to be making games again, and he's determined that nothing is going to shake him from that path again.
"I playtest Ridiculous Fishing every time I travel," he notes. "I'm on the train, and I find someone to playtest the game. These are people who might not know about gaming at all, or people who don't play video games, or people who are really good gamers. One time I even ran into someone who had played the clone, which was sort of painful... But you know, it's such a wide demography, and just seeing their responses... Whoever we give it to, they play, and they're having fun."
"That's so exciting," he says. "It's just so nice to be making games again."
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