Developer: Nomad Games
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, PC
Why Marmalade mattered: Drawing on existing experience, Nomad transitioned from PC development to a multiplatform mobile release within six months
When Nomad Games was formed from the demise of THQ’s Warrington Studio in 2011, the path for the console veterans was clear: diversify and conquer the mobile space.
According to commercial director Don Whiteford: “We had already seen some big console projects at other studios being downsized, and our last two games – Red Faction: Battlegrounds and Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team – had been designed as fast, download-only console games for THQ. We made the decision to switch across to mobile as it looked like big-budget boxed games were going to be increasingly marginalised”.
Having previously worked on a wide range of properties and genres including the Juiced racing series, Nomad’s staff had well-established credentials as a studio-for-hire.
Following their departure from THQ, Whiteford’s team were quickly able to secure a deal with Games Workshop, IP owners of one of their previous games, Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, with a proposal to reinvent the classic 1980s board game Talisman for modern touchscreen devices.
According to Whiteford: “We liked the idea of focusing on virtual board gaming because as a genre it’s very well suited to touch screen controls. Our designer, Carl, is a huge Talisman fan and our artist, Andy, has been a Warhammer miniatures collector and painter since his youth. There’s a lot of passion for the product here.”
Given board gaming’s natural fit with touch screens and the rising importance of both tablets and smartphones, Nomad wanted to ensure that none of the game’s fans should miss out.
Don Whiteford: “We saw tablet-based board gaming growing in popularity and have always considered cross-platform development as an important approach to ensure everyone gets access to the games we make.
“Our background working on console and PC prepared us for this in a way that I think some newer studios miss out on. We shipped Juiced 2 on six platforms, so our minds were set on putting Talisman Prologue in as many gamers’ hands as possible.”
This meant the team needed a development tool that would enable them to satisfy the very high standards of quality expected on Apple’s devices while also delivering performance and compatibility across a range of differently specified Android devices.
Whiteford explains: “We evaluated several options to check for ease of cross-platform deployment and compatibility with our own coding practices. Marmalade was the clear winner for us.”
In spite of their clear mission to target mobile devices, Nomad decided to draw on their previous experience of console and PC development by using Marmalade to deploy to PC first, with the game being made available for download from a dedicated website as well as marketplaces including Intel’s AppUp store.
This allowed them to focus on making the game as complete and playable as possible, before tackling the unknown challenges of deploying to mobiles and tablets.
Whiteford clearly considers using the PC as a ‘soft launch’ platform to have been very productive for Nomad Games: “We targeted PC first, mainly because it offered a more familiar environment and allowed us to concentrate on building a quality game before tackling mobile technology head-on. By the time we deployed to smartphones and tablets, Talisman Prologue was already a tried and tested game – the PC version even works with touch screens.”
Following the completion and successful launch of Talisman Prologue for PC, the process of deploying and testing on three different mobile and tablet platforms was completed within five months. BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices were all supported in rapid succession, attracting critical and commercial success which was helped initially by the existing fanbase of the Talisman property.
Whiteford explains: “One of the key decisions in producing our first mobile game was creating something with a great licensed IP. We’re seeing an increasing number of amazing games with brilliant original concepts struggle to get noticed on mobile, and having a fantastic established product like Talisman to draw on helped enormously.”
According to Whiteford, using Marmalade made perfect sense for Nomad Games to transition from console development to a cross-platform, mobile future: “It would have taken us many months to produce a version of Talisman Prologue for each of our supported platforms, so it’s an enormous saving from that point of view. Marmalade has proved time and again that rapid cross platform deployment is achievable. Often, the game worked as a first build on new platforms.”
At time of going to press Talisman Prologue has reached the number one slot in the RPG and Board Game categories in 27 countries on iOS, and the top 10 in 124 countries.
On Android, the game reached the top 10 highest grossing Brain & Puzzle games in 26 countries.
Future planned updates include cross-platform multiplayer, and a range of expansion packs based on the beloved board game series.
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