Snipers vs Thieves and PlayStack

 
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In our previous blog posts, you may have seen us speak with our CEO about his tips for pitching to publishers, and our Head of Community about what it’s like to work at PlayStack. However, with their new game launching globally today, we spoke to the Executive Producer of Snipers vs Thieves, Jan Lechner, to see what working with PlayStack was like, and get the low down on their awesome game.

 

PlayStack

Hi Jan. Can you give us a brief overview of Snipers vs Thieves?

Jan

Snipers vs Thieves is a real time multiplayer game. It’s asymmetric, so we have created a scenario where one player plays against 4 others. One player is playing as a sniper defending a bank, and the other 4 players are playing as thieves trying to rob the bank. The success of defending your bank and robbing other player’s banks builds up accolades, unlocks prizes and determines the player’s rank in the competitive game mode.

PlayStack

We love the sound of that, how did the game come about?

Jan

A lot of our team have a background in action games, so there was always an affinity within the team for creating action orientated games. We were naturally drawn to that when we started working with mobile, and felt there was an opportunity for a real time multiplayer in the market. We wanted to do something fun and light-hearted that would appeal to a wider audience. A game that is easily accessible and offers instant fun to new players while offering depth and complexity to the engaged player.

Early character concepts (Snipers vs Thieves)

Early character concepts (Snipers vs Thieves)

PlayStack

And how did the idea develop?

Jan

We were looking at our target platform, and tried to get a good understanding of its limitations and opportunities. We realized early that the controls and high APM (actions per minute) in action games are a big challenge for a mobile game. We had tried different control schemes before and weren’t quite satisfied. So, we decided to approach the problem from a different direction and limit the actions that the player needs to perform at the same time. The idea was to split the default actions of a shooter game into two distinct game modes. In one mode the player is stationary and can fully focus on firing and stopping the opponents, then in the second mode the player is focused on escaping by navigating from A to B, trying to escape from a deadly sniper. An early prototype was great fun but we realized that more targets for the sniper were even more fun which lead to the asymmetric concept. From there the game idea evolved into what it is today.

PlayStack

How was the development process?

Jan

We took a very software driven approach. Starting with a very early prototype, we always wanted to have a playable version of the game. New ideas, if possible, were tested in software before changing the design. As result we had a long pre-production period, but we felt that we were creating something that really made sense. Once we had locked down our design, we went through a very iterative production process to build the game. As soon as we released the game in soft-launch, we used data and user feedback to constantly challenge our ideas and priorities.

PlayStack

What other games influenced Snipers vs Thieves??

Jan

In some way, every game we’ve worked on previously shaped Snipers vs Thieves. And everyone here is a gamer and has a long history in games development, so there is also a lot of experience to draw from. TF2 was a great inspiration in terms of style and tone of the game. We also looked closely at many other sniper and shooting games on mobile like Deer Hunter or Killshot. But inspiration also came from outside games, the artist Willie Real influenced the art direction, movies like Mars Attacks the humour and comics like Inspector Gadget the crazy equipment in game, to name a few.

 

Early developemnt for Chinatown map (Snipers vs Thieves)

Early developemnt for Chinatown map (Snipers vs Thieves)

Developed Chinatown map (Snipers vs Thieves)

Developed Chinatown map (Snipers vs Thieves)

 

PlayStack

How have you found working with PlayStack?

Jan

We are very much enjoying to work with PlayStack. Since we first met Harvey, we’ve felt they have a similar idea of what a good game should be and how it should presented to its audience. They’ve built a team that share the same passion for games, and it’s great to work with people who do not only have the business knowledge but an interest in making great games.

We are in constant dialog with their product and community managers, which for us has been fantastic. They provide lots of useful information about problems and requests from our players which helps us adjusting our plans and priorities. The PlayStack team is integral to understand our community as a whole and not just the louder minority voices. They’ve also been brilliant to bounce ideas off. They bring lots of experience and expertise to the table, and it’s been a close collaboration that has been incredibly valuable.

PlayStack

Has it differed from your expectations in anyway?

Jan

Not really. They are delivering on what they have promised. PlayStack have done and are doing what we expected them to do.

Their community centric approach is one of the main reasons we decided to work with them. Their ambition to build a base of loyal and dedicated players as early as possible was very compelling for us. Our soft launch phase showed how valuable it is to build that player base. We can engage with our community and have a dialogue with players which helps to understand their problems and requests.

 

Early UI development(Snipers vs Thieves)

Early UI development(Snipers vs Thieves)

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PlayStack

Thanks Jan. And finally, what games have personally impacted your career/gaming life?

Jan

That’s such a difficult question. It all started with some great games on the C64 when I was really young, like Bruce Lee, Boulder Dash, H.E.R.O. and more. Later I lived through all the different console generations with classics like the Mario Series and Earthworm Jim, or Resident Evil and Wipeout. At some point PC gaming became a big part of my life with games like Half-Life, Gothic, Counter-Strike, Guild Wars, etc. Multiplayer games made for a completely new and different gaming experience. More recently, mobile hits like Clash Royale, 8 ball pool or King of Thieves are fascinating me, but also smaller games such as Framed, The Room are amazing – I could go on forever, the more I think about it the more games I realise I love and have impacted me personally and professionally.

PlayStack

We’ll stop you there then. Thanks Jan, and best of luck with Snipers vs Thieves.

Jan

Thank you!

 
Edgar Khoo