One of the beautiful things about investigating local industry is that you can interact with enthusiastic, like-minded people in person. You’re not solely reliant on a virtual wall in order to further conversation and can offer genuine reactions to topics and work you’ve had the chance to preview.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Anton Falconbridge, the managing director of Rantmedia. Late last year, the company re-imagined Vectrex and brought it back to iOS. The re-release met critical acclaim and instantly made the company a household name.
I asked Anton a few questions about working in Wales, but also how Vectrex has changed Rantmedia and what the future holds.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you introduce yourself and talk a bit about your role at Rantmedia.
My name is Anton Falconbridge. I’m the MD at Rantmedia – we’re the premier specialist mobile agency in Wales, and have been creating engaging apps since the start of the smartphone revolution in 2008. In that time we’ve worked with a lot of great national and international brands to help them make the most of mobile. We cover the whole app spectrum including enterprise/internal, brand raising and ‘product-for-sale’.
You’re now presenting as Rantmedia Games. How much time are you able to invest in creating games? Is this now a full-time position?
Games are definitely a passion – for a number of reasons: Games occupy the highest order in a number of disciplines – great care and attention must be taken at all levels of the user experience, they tend to be highly interactive, graphical, and from a technical/development perspective they are often about pushing the boundaries as far as possible. There is also a huge scope for innovation – both in game mechanic, and in interesting ways of using the many input options open to you with a mobile device.
We started creating games for mobile in mid 2011, and in 2012 decided that we wanted to take things to the next level. We created a new games studio – called Rantmedia Games – and set about creating some great games. Our emphasis is not one of churning out lots of mediocre titles – our objective is to concentrate on delivering highly polished and unique games. It takes time, but it’s worth it – our latest game, Vectrex, was featured internationally on the App Store by Apple, and covered in around 300-400 news outlets all over the globe.
Why do you feel Wales, as a country, isn’t a high-profile hotspot for games development? Do you think it ever will be?
I actually think that Wales is very much up-and-coming as far as a hotspot for games development is concerned. There’s a lot of momentum at the moment, which is great – there is a Welsh BAFTA award for games, and events like the Wales Games Development Show help bring everyone together. Not to mention lots of other regular meet ups which are happening all the time.
How much time did you spend building Vectrex? Was this a labour of love for you and the team?
Vectrex took around 11 months from start to finish, so it was a reasonably major undertaking. We nailed the core gameplay within the first couple of weeks or so, and the rest of the time was spent optimising, and devising/creating a compelling user experience around that core gameplay. The level of polish and care around elements of the interface was immense, as well as coming up with genuinely innovative features like using an extra device as a controller. We certainly put a lot of ourselves into the app – we wanted people to feel that it was a lovingly-created game.
Tell us a bit about the success of Vectrex and the reaction to the game since launch.
The reaction was crazy! Around 6pm in the evening on launch day we found out that we had been featured by Apple – internationally – which put us on the front page of every App Store in the world. Our twitter account went crazy and we were receiving comments, questions and feedback faster than we could respond. We got some great reviews in places like CNET (Top 20 Free iPad apps. Period), engadget, TUAW (who made us ‘daily iPhone app), Touch Arcade and Kotaku, along with lots of mainstream press. The main thing was having loads of people enjoying playing the app – it’s very gratifying having lots of people gain pleasure from your creation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects now Vectrex is finished?
We have got a LOT going on. We’re working on a number of games right now. At the Wales Games Development Show we’re letting attendees have a go on a very early demo of one of them – Super Gravity Boy.
Congratulations on your incredible success and thanks very much for your time.
You’re very welcome!
For more information on Rantmedia Games, Vectrex and all other upcoming projects, visit here
To download Vectrex for iOS free of charge, go here
The Wales Games Development Show will be held on June 26th in the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Expansive will be there throughout the show, offering live updates, previewing games, interviewing people and producing news pieces. For more information, visit here
If you want to support games development in South Wales, learn more here