The next dimension of entertainment and creativity is coming. Soon, anyone will be able to build entire cities simply by using the power of logic…along with an iPhone. Developed by Mind Factory Studios, Little City is a mind-bending puzzle game created with MAXON's CINEMA 4D. (Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2Dy3-SwFHg.)
"We really think it's a fun, interesting logic puzzle game that engages, challenges and exercises players' brains much more than other puzzles," says Mind Factory's co-founder John Bair. Along with business partner Trevor Rice, Bair began developing game titles for IOS and PC about nine months ago. Rice, who shares Bair's passion for games, serves as the company's programmer.
Before starting development on Little City, Bair and Rice did extensive market research to determine what types of iPhone applications were selling well and what seemed to be holding people’s attention. The trend was clearly toward puzzle games that could be turned off and returned to easily with levels taking just five to ten minutes to complete.
They paired this trend with their desire to create a simulation-type game in which players could build a city. “It dawned on us that the classic game Sudoku hasn’t gone away,” says Bair. “It’s in newspapers, books and magazines, so we took that concept and gave it a twist to get Little City.”
Bair and Rice have big plans for Little City. So far, it has been released on iPhone. And Little City HD is now available for the iPad, too. From there, the game will transition into other markets, with mobile devices and home consoles as possibilities.
Little City lets players build up to 100 cities using 25 different game tiles. “It gets pretty intense and detailed and it’s all logic based, but it’s really accessible because it starts off very easy and the difficulty ramps up as you play,” says Bair.
Bair used C4D to pre-visualize everything from how the game would be played to how the screens would interact with the menu interface. Rice then used Bair’s pre-vis to build the game. Having tried various types of 3D software over nearly a dozen years, Bair has now made CINEMA 4D his software of choice because “it’s easy to use and enables me to get work done quickly”. They chose Unity3D as their game engine and created a simple plane with specified UV coordinates from C4D so they could apply textures directly on to the plane in Unity3D.
For Little City, Bair borrowed visual elements from recent gaming history to create a 90’s retro feel, including a Super Nintendo inspired, two-dimensional, 16-bit look. This seeming ode to pixel art is part of the charm of the game, Bair explains, adding that players also won’t be overwhelmed by a busy 3D environment with too many graphics. .Bair animated every screen in the game long before the programming phase began so he and Rice could be sure what they had dreamed up could be accomplished. If something didn’t work, he went back to CINEMA 4D to try a new idea. “I just opened up CINEMA and very quickly drew and animated sketches to show Trevor,” he recalls. “He would immediately know what I was trying to do and go and build it in code. Using C4D for pre-vis saved us a good month of pre-production I’d say.”
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Article by Scott Strohmaier
Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
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