LuGus Studios Interview
One of the founders of the Belgian based developer, LuGus Studios, Kevin Haelterman has provided us at App Apes with some interesting information on the indie game developer company, their most recent project, Pinball Planet, as well as some tips for other indie developers and ideas for the future of LuGus Studios company including a projects that has received the go-ahead on Steam Greenlight. From there website, LuGus studios considers themselves, “a young and dynamic team of talented people [who] aim to create fun, innovative and artistic games and experiences that have more to offer than entertainment only.” They “create ‘applied games,’ also known as ‘serious games,’ with a strong focus on usability, fun, and strong visuals.”
Below is a group photo of the LuGus Studios team and beside that, a small collection of previous character works from projects such as Fractured Realm, Super Gerrit, and Project Baxter.
LuGus Studios was founded in 2011 by Kevin Haelterman, Tom Lissens, and Robin Marx, where the team at the time focused mainly on developing games for other companies, focusing largely on the business-to-business market rather than the business-to-consumer market that many indie developers are more accustomed to, and in doing so they ensured that they had the financial means to invest in their own products occasionally, namely Pinball Planet and some games on the PC and Mac platforms. Despite serving as one of the artists if LuGus Studios, Kevin Haelterman mainly performs business related work for the company. Other than the hard working Kevin, LuGus Studios has grown from it’s more humble beginnings and now employs approximately ten individuals who all work together to bring great apps such as Planet Pinball to the app stores. The team consists of programmers, artists like Kevin, and sound designers. Each member of the team is someone who has held a passion for the field for some time, and decided to turn their hobbies into a career. On top of their development talents, Kevin states that each member of the team also brings an eagerness to work, and states that each member “has been instrumental in creating the game (Pinball Planet).”
As for inspirations, Kevin Haelterman states that he is a fan of Jetpack Joyride and that he has played it for a countless number of hours. He admits that Jetpack Joyride is a completely different game than Pinball Planet, but that it nevertheless served as the main inspiration for the LuGus Studios pinball production in terms of features. Kevin clarifies, saying, “When we started working on Pinball Planet, we knew we wanted to have power-ups and challenges just like Jetpack Joyride.” And the team certainly delivered these power-ups and challenges in the form of unlockable achievements and purchasable boosts. Other games that Kevin enjoys include the well known Angry Birds by Rovio Mobile ltd., and also Papers, Please developed by Lucas Pope, but it isn’t clear whether these games served as direct inspiration for Pinball Planet. However, both are also casual games, so in that aspect alone, the games are alike.
Pinball Planet was developed using Unity 3D engine, which Kevin explains is “a powerful engine that enables us to develop games for different platforms at the same time.” In addition to Unity 3D, the LuGus Studios teams also uses Photoshop and Blender in their productions. Using these tools, the team have developed a beautiful and fun product with promises of many more to come. Kevin describes the final product that is Pinball planet as “a typical ‘in-between’ game” meaning that it serves as a way to kill time and have a little fun here and there. He himself plays the game while on the train, in the dentist’s waiting room, or just as home when he finds himself bored. “It’s perfect for short play sessions, but thanks to our power-ups and challenges, it’s rewarding for the players who prefer deeper game play, too.” With a belief shared by us at App Apes, Kevin states that that is exactly what a mobile game should offer.
As for audience, Kevin claims it is for anyone who enjoys casual games. People of all ages, and from all over the world can find enjoyment in it, but Kevin also confesses that the game won’t appeal to absolutely everyone. Those who expect a detailed pinball tables simulator may need to look elsewhere, as that was not the goal when developing Pinball Planet.
When asked if he has any tips for other indie developers, Kevin suggests indie developers simply, “Do what you love to do and make the games you would love to play. If you stay true to that goal you’ll make a good game and good games always get noticed somehow. Sure, not everyone will like your game and gamers can be very harsh, but always keep in mind there’s no such thing as the perfect game for everyone.” Kevin also warns that making a good game is not always enough to be successful, for it needs attention. He suggest discussing your game with the public, and also utilizing forums, blogs, as well as social media networks. Interesting screenshots and a professional trailer can go a long way in helping to accomplish this goal of publicity. They may take a lot of time to create, but Kevin claims that in the end, it’ll all be worth it.
As for the future of LuGus Studios, Kevin had this to say, “For us, making games is all about passion. We slowly want to evolve from a company focused on business-to-business, to business-to-consumer. This means we want to start doing more of our own projects and make more games like Pinball Planet (Pinball Galaxy?).” Supporting this is LuGus Studios reveal that they have other projects in progress and some which are soon to be released. Currently the team is polishing and finishing up work on an earlier version of one of their PC and Mac games, Runes of Brennos, which got the go-ahead on Steam Greenlight, according to Kevin. He adds, “We are thinking of releasing it on Early Access in the very near future,” so keep an eye on that and get updates on the progress of LuGus Studios projects on their website, and on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.