You are in command of a fleet of five ships, each with its own destructive capability. The enemy is well cloaked in the darkness yet you have a hunch about its coordinates. You send a scout ship to verify the position, startling the foe out of hiding. Your Destroyer quickly aims and launches a missile attack; the explosion lights up the black sky in orange flames as the enemy ship is incinerated. This is an age where man has taken refuge in space for survival, where corporations rule, and where you determine the outcome. With both sides hiding in the darkness, finding the enemy is half the battle and annihilation of the enemy fleet is the primary directive.
That, in a nutshell, is Galaxy Feud, a turn-based space strategy app developed by Tumbling Heads, an indie game development company located in Boulder, Colorado, that focuses on innovative apps for the iPhone and iPad. The idea for the game, as Tumbling Heads co-founder Martin Soederhamn says, originated with “a couple of guys in a basement.”
In a chat with Freelancer.com, Martin reveals his passion for game design, the story behind the game, and how Tumbling Heads can play in the same league as major developers through Freelancer.com.
How did you get involved in game design?
About eight years ago, before the existence of apps, I came up with an idea for a strategic trivia game. I thought, and still do, that existing trivia games all rely on too much on luck of the draw. So, I created a game without dice and with a way for players to strategize their way to winning. I created a prototype of the board game, but was unable to find the funds needed to create such a game for the public. You need around US$200,000 to produce the first batch of games, create molds, find a distributor, etc. Your only other option is to approach a big game developer like Hasbro and hope to sell it to them. If you’re lucky enough to sell the idea, there’s no guarantee that the game will ever reach the shelves. Once the app craze really started it was clear that this was the route we were to take.
Galaxy Feud is the first game in your product lineup that includes a collection of carnival games, a time travelling adventure, and trivia games. What sets it apart from others of its kind?
Galaxy Feud is similar to the well-known pen and paper game Battleship, but with a much larger scope and limitless gameplay strategies. As a multiplayer game, it offers 90 skills, from tactical defensive skills to devastating nuclear attacks. You gain XP points and credits from every battle. As you earn experience, your rank increases and new powerful weapons and skills become available to you. You can use the credits to upgrade your ships. Plus, there are cool weapon animations and 3D ship models, epic soundtrack and visually appealing space environments.
How did Galaxy Feud come about? Why is it your flagship product?
My brother-in-law and I were watching the Battleship movie and thought it would be fun to take the traditional Battleship concept and build on to it with special weapons and skills. Initially we created a pen and paper version trying out hundreds of skills, but it was very complicated. The concept took us hundreds of hours to detail out—game mechanics, progression, money and experience tables, screenflow, and more. When we were ready to start making the game come alive we had close to a hundred pages explaining every detail of the game. We don’t consider our game to be a Battleship game as such anymore, rather a distant cousin.
We thought it had the potential to make it our primary mission, so to speak. Also sci-fi is experiencing a comeback in the entertainment industry. It seemed the right time for an all-out sci-fi adventure for the iPhone.
It involves plenty of CGI and 3D animation. How were you able to make things work within a tight budget?
We utilized some of the great talents on Freelancer.com and found the perfect guy for the job. Julian Tramacera is a very talented 3D animator from Argentina, and he immediately had a good understanding and appreciation for what we were trying to accomplish. We ended up with 10 animations for just US$450. If these had been done by a professional studio, I would have expected to pay a minimum of US$4,000 to have these videos done.
All things considered, the entire cost of the features needed would run to around US$8,000 offsite, which in reality is incredibly cheap but at the same time way out of our budget. At Freelancer® we will probably spend US$1,500. There are still a few things to go. We got the game story written by a freelancer, the illustrations, texturing 3D models, and all animations done on the platform. And we are about to find some talent for the soundtrack there as well.
What makes you come back to Freelancer.com?
Great talent who can work within our budget. We are now ready to publish a game we are very proud of—a game that looks like it was produced by a major developer, not a couple of guys in a basement. We’re ready to battle the likes of EA and Activision. All these for a fraction of the cost had we approached professional studios directly. We will always come back to Freelancer® and are very excited to meet other talents from this amazing community.