After reviewing the new iOS game Hard Lines, and really enjoying it, we wanted to know more! So we talked with Andrew J. Smith of Spilt Milk Studios to pick his brain a bit. Here’s what he had to say.
SK: Humorous text manages to add life to the lines, “lifelines”, get it? What was the inspiration for the game’s clever dialogue?
SMS: Haha, nice pun! Well the inspiration was actually the end result of us trying to get a ‘cool’ tutorial into the game. Originally we were going to have all the elements talk to you when you start playing, so the pickups would say ‘pick me up!’ or ‘over here’. That sort of thing. But then as soon as we got the first line spawning in and saying things like ‘kill me’, ‘bring it on’ and ‘I’m your worst nightmare’ we knew we had to go further than we had planned. The personality just made all the difference to the game. We were already enjoying it but when the little guys came to life like that we knew we had hit on gold.
SK: What was the idea behind giving players three different options for touch screen controls?
SMS: We actually started off with only one, but then after the Beta it became apparent everyone wanted one of three control systems. We knew we could do all three, so we thought why not? For every person that wanted to swipe, another wanted to turn left and right. It was an impossible situation, but we figured just go for it and let the user decide. Best way really!
SK: The A.I. in Hard Lines is quite challenging. Were there any particular design ideas or a system you used to determine the games overall level of difficulty?
SMS: Essentially the lines behave in a much more simple way than people give them credit for – something the personality and quips has to answer for I believe! They are the grunts of the game, and we knew the game was plenty of fun so we decided to release it. Admittedly we’ve got tons of plans for expanding it (new modes and whatnot) but clearly there is room for specific AI behaviours for different kinds of lines. It’s definitely something we’re aware would bring a lot to the game! After all, we are quite inspired by Geometry Wars…
SK: Is there a possibility we might see some new game modes or powerups besides “Juggernaut” in any future updates?
SMS: Yup, we’re definitely going to cover new modes and powerups. One powerup we’re considering at the moment is a screen-clearing smart bomb for those times you’re really stuck, and modes-wise we’ve got a list about 20 items long. Admittedly not all of them are worthy of a mode to themselves, but it’s beginning to surprise me just how robust the core gameplay is. We’ve got ideas for modes a little like Quix where you compete by claiming territory, or modes where the arenas get smaller… and of course different shapes of arena too. Suffice to say, we’re planning a lot of extra content over the next few months!
SK: Why do Lionel and all the other lines want to kill one another so badly?
SMS: I’m not sure we should reveal the lines’ motivation yet. I will say this: who do you think started this ‘war’?
Thanks to Spilt Milk Studios for taking time to talk to us.