Creative director and programmer, Abiyoga Candra, as well as artistic director and animator James Saputra have provided App Apes with some interesting details about their company Jombihead Studio, its productions, and some ideas for the future. The developers have also provided us with some interesting facts about their current project Sybil: Castle of Death.
Though the talented duo have been developing games together since 2006 the name Jombihead Studio only arose three years later in 2009. Jombihead is, according to the developers, derived from the word bi-head, the prefix bi- meaning twice, or in this case, two–two heads to represent the two developers involved: Abiyoga and James. Abiyoga Candra’s main profession is outside the realm of game design, but he does serve as programmer, as well as lends a hand on sound production and all around polishing of apps during production. He has been developing games for about a decade, after gaining an interest in the field playing on SNES and other game consoles. He simply loves video games, and that has lead to a passion for game development. The other head of the two headed Jombihead, is James Saputra, the artist behind the well received Sybil: Castle of Death (Demo), as well as the animator. He, too, works on the sound effects, and works closely with Abiyoga to develop the overall story and scenarios of the game. James currently attends college, working towards a degree in Visual Communication and Design. As for how he got into app development, James states that the idea simply popped into his head while he was, at the time, creating comics, as he found that games are a great medium on which creativity flourishes. James had been dabbling in game design, looking for a way to develop a game since 2004, two years before he met and teamed up with Abiyoga, who introduced James to a tool called Game Maker. Finally, James was able to create his first game, which he called Marble Panic, in which the goal is “to control a marble ball [and maneuver] it to the finish line without touching any obstacles.”
Abiyoga Candra’s history of enjoyment in console games is reflected in his favorite games. He states that as far as mobile apps go, he does not have a favorite, and that he developed the idea of Sybil: Castle of Death with console games in mind. Echoing App Apes own view of the app markets, Abiyoga confesses his belief that “the mobile game markets are flooded with junk apps,” which are full of excessive in-app purchases and ads, and many other things that burden the business with a bad image, and impair the enjoyment of games on the app markets: App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone. As such, Abiyoga’s desire was to deliver a game without those negative experiences and as far as the current Sybil: Castle of Death demo goes, he has achieved that. On the other hand (head), James draws inspiration from NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis games, and perhaps his favorite, and certainly the one that got him interested in game design, was the Playstation RPG titled Suikoden, a Japanese production. He also drew inspiration for the theme of Sybil: Castle of Death from console and PC games such as Tecmo’s Deception and Dungeon Keeper, despite the play and art style of Sybil being far removed from both of those.
Sybil: Castle of Death
Sybil: Castle of Death, a tower defense game with a unique twist, has been in production for more than six months, and the developers still have a lot of features and levels that they want to add. They’ll be working hard up until their planned full game release sometime in 2015.
Just like with their disapproval of the app markets in general, Abiyoga Candra and James Saputra took issue with the tower defense genre of games. They had this to say about their game and other tower defense games:
This is the kind of tower defense game that we wanted to build since we played this kind of game for the first time. When we first played a tower defense game, we asked ourselves why the enemies are so dumb? In some themes of tower defense we can accept that, like if the enemies are zombies or something like that, but if the enemies are human, why are they so stupid? They just keep moving while being attacked, like there’s nothing going on! Sybil is the opposite of that, here the groups of enemies [that come] to Sybil’s castle will have their reasons. For example, in the first wave of the first level in the game, a husband wants an exotic place to have a honeymoon with his wife. They enter the castle to find a room in which to enjoy their honeymoon, and when they get attacked they react accordingly. Also, if player’s kill the wife or husband separately, the wife/husband left alive will give proper reaction. They will check their spouse’s body on the ground, and when they find that their spouse is dead, they will mourn for their spouse.
A lot of thought has obviously gone into the development of the story and the game, and that’s just with the first wave. The honeymoon phase doesn’t literally last beyond the first wave, but it does figuratively, as each following wave of enemies has an interesting reason for visiting as well, and often a humorous reason. The Jombihead Studio developers plan to release the full version of the game with twenty levels that will each consist of four waves, so about eighty waves in total, each with an engaging reason for exploring Sybil’s castle.
Being inspired by console game has lead to Sybil: Castle of Death being designed for bigger screens. Those below five inches might have troubles as it’s hard to fit a four story mansion in so small a space. Tablets are preferred, but other than this, Sybil: Castle of Death should appeal to most everyone. However, with its theme of murder and a good amount of violence, kids and those faint of heart should probably pass over Sybil’s castle and go to a happier, more generic pet hotel or farm instead.
As for tips for developers, Abiyoga and James warn that app development is not an easy business to succeed in, and they express honest concerns that Sybil: Castle of Death may not be accepted or successful in the app market as they may likely be buried beneath Flappy Bird and Candy Crush clones. Still, they will do their best to deliver the best Towdef (tower defense) experience possible. They have a suggestion for those app developers guilty of excessive ads, unoriginality, and pricy in-app purchases: stop it. They wisely suggest that other developers “start being honest with [their] games” and advise that they “don’t put crazy IAP schemes on their apps either, as that will hurt the image of the market.” Finally, the Jombihead Studio developers are, as are many of us, aware that those biding for attention sometimes seek out dishonest means to succeed, but suggest that developers do not sink so low as to put fake reviews/ratings on apps. Those that do run the risk of getting banned on the app markets, or if they are somehow met with lots of downloads, honest and probably negative reviews will sink them sooner or later. It’s a lose-lose.
Finally, when asked about the future of Jombihead Studio, the developers state that their main priority is to deliver Sybil: Castle of Death with the best quality possible. They can’t be certain whether or not the game will become popular, but they plan to do everything they can to give it the best possible chance. Unlike the death in the many rooms of Sybil’s castle, App Apes sees nothing but life in the future of Jombihead, as they certainly have the talent, and the demo available for trial has been quite well received by our reviewers, which you can read by clicking the banner above or the button below. Learn more about Sybil: Castle of Death, as well as Jombihead Studios on their Twitter and Facebook pages.