Everywear Games Interview

Everywear Games Interview

When the Apple Watch was announced there was initially some concern about the viability of gaming on such a small screen. Most people agreed that any games that came out on it would be throw-backs to the early days of mobile gaming, with simple titles like ‘Snake’ and ‘Tamagotchi’ pet care variants rather than the more complex gaming culture we’ve come to expect. Little did we know that a studio specifically founded with the intention of creating titles for the watch was planning to launch the system’s first RPG straight out of the gate. ‘Runeblade’ has proven to be a regularly updated and evolving roleplaying experience that ups the standards of the system’s simple confines. Its creator, Everywear Games, takes a moment to speak to My Boxed Universe.

MBU
First of all a big thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. Can you introduce yourself for those unaware of your work?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Sure. I’m one of the founders and CEO of Everywear Games, the world’s first game studio to focus on smartwatch games. We’ve been involved with games since late nineties and our founders have worked with companies like Remedy, Rovio, and Digital Chocolate.

Everywear Games Founders

The founding members of everywear games.

MBU
What brought the team together and why focus exclusively on the Apple Watch?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
It was love at first sight when Apple Watch was announced last year! Of course it is such a beautiful device, but what attracted us the most was the potential it had for gaming. Smartwatches are the device we use to receive all in-bound communication from our digital life and they have a frequency of use which is simply unprecedented in games industry. So we decided to go all in with Apple Watch.

The exclusive part? That’s because it is still early in the life cycle of the platform and we want to create iconic experiences that really stand out of the crowd. We are ‘obsessively focused’ on Apple Watch, because that focus allows us to create better experiences on that platform. For a lot of people out there Runeblade is their first experience in smartwatch games and we want it to be as good as possible!

MBU
Sales of the Apple Watch have been more or less successful, with them selling extremely well at first and then slowing down considerably. Do you see the market continuing to increase or stabilise into a solid user-base?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Recently at Glance Conf (world’s first Apple Watch conference) industry analysts forecasted again quite a bit more bullish figures for the Christmas period. These things tend to over reach one way or another. We’ve been really happy with the momentum and everything we are seeing is indicating that it’s building up towards the end of the year.

Runeblade Making of

Graphics for Runeblade are hand drawn.

MBU
What kind of install ratio does Runeblade have?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
We recently released a major Infographic with a lot of data points. For Runeblade there range from good to exceptional. Our Day 1 retention averages to 57%, which is impressive, but our Day 30 retention is very good at 25%. So we have a lot of people in the Reddit forums who have been playing the game since April.

Infographic

The figures all add up to a hit.

MBU
What made your group choose an RPG – a notoriously complex game type – as their first endeavour?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
In a sense Runeblade is our signature title as it was the first game we released. So we felt a lot of pressure to show that smartwatch games can be really cool experiences which evolve with players over time. RPG genre had all the elements we were looking for and we wanted to create something more than just a game – we wanted to create this dynamic world with all the classic elements of high fantasy. The end result is completely original, yet fans of Fantasy and RPG games will instantly understand how spells work or what Magical Artefacts do. It was just a perfect match.

MBU
Was production for the Apple Watch more difficult than you expected? What was it like designing for a smaller screen and play length when compared to an average mobile game?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Well, the other reason why we wanted to start with a fantasy RPG was related to production. You see, we have been playing role playing games for the last 20-30 years. So we had a common language with the team and when someone would say things like “Hey, we’d really need to add an elven cloak to the game that would let you sneak past the Guardian Encounters” everyone would instantly know exactly what that meant. Of course we wanted to fit everything to the lore of Runeblade we named this particular item as “Arai Cloak” but I’m sure you’ll catch my drift.

In terms of production the biggest challenge was to change the mind-set. Creating games for smartwatches is fundamentally different from developing mobile or console games. People play these games in 5-15 second increments, almost a glance based game play, and yet they need to build into a satisfying long term experience over days, weeks and months. That’s very, very different from anything we’ve done before and probably the most exciting design challenge in games in 2015.

MBU
Can we expect to see continued support and new content on Runeblade or are you guys hard at work on another title at the moment? You’ve supported it extremely well to date.

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Yes on both accounts! We’re doubling down on Runeblade. “Season 1” story arc came to an epic conclusion in The Forgotten Halls update which we just shipped for Christmas. “Season 2” of Runeblade will launch as new update roadmap early next year and we have big plans for the game in 2016.

We also just released our second game, which is called Time Unit. It is the first superhero game on Apple Watch and exciting completely new core mechanics that are optimized for smartwatches. Apple is featuring it as #1 in games in US Watch App Store and you can check it out HERE

MBU
What are the inspirations behind Runeblade? Did any specific titles inspire you?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
While we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from different fantasy themes, we did want to create a completely original story and lore for Runeblade. So it’s heavily inspired by actual RPG campaigns and creations which our story writer has done in the past. Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder are good examples of RPG’s we’ve played in the past (and are still playing), but there’s a ton of other systems that we have enjoyed playing as well.

Runeblade 3

Players literally place runes on to their blades. It’s more than just a title.

MBU
Runeblade is the first RPG on the watch but a second (Watch Quest) was announced at almost the same time, was it a race to the finish line to nab that coveted first place?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Yes! Early part of the year was adrenaline filled as we really wanted to make it to the launch of Apple Watch. So seeing Runeblade featured with a global hero slot when Apple Watch shipped was an amazing moment for everyone in the team. It’s also been really hectic since. On average we have released a new update to Runeblade every 12 days since April.

MBU
The game uses a companion app on the iPhone, was that always the plan?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Yes. Last fall we were brainstorming design approach and realized it’s very easy to fall into a trap of “hey, let’s turn this part into a mini-game which you can play on the iPhone”. That felt fundamentally wrong for new Apple Watch users. So very early in the design we made the call that 100% of the game play has to happen on the watch itself. This forced us to solve a lot of UI issues and now it feels intuitively right.

Runeblade 4

Some iPhone compatibility is available, but this is an Apple Watch game.

MBU
Will we see a Runeblade 2 in the future?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
We are launching Season 2 early next year. While this is delivered as updates to Runeblade it has a brand new story arc for levels 1000 to 2000 and we’re adding completely new game play mechanics and features. Should be fun!

MBU
Will Runeblade be ported to other systems? A desktop version for bored lunchtime workers in offices perhaps?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Perhaps one day. But for now we are obsessively focused on Apple Watch and smartwatches in general.

MBU
Was there any content you had to cut from the game and would have liked to see?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
Not as such, but there’s a lot more ideas that we have and different avenues to explore. We will be adding these to the world of Runeblade through updates during 2016.

Runeblade 1

Combat takes in different creatures and locations.

MBU
Has Runeblade performed to your initial expectations?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
It has exceeded them in many ways. In a sense Runeblade is turning into a poster child of smartwatch gaming and that’s amazing!

MBU
Do you have any advice for budding game developers?

EVERYWEAR GAMES
We are strong believers in focus. Focus matters and makes all the difference in the world. Doing one thing exceptionally well is always just so much more valuable than doing a lot of average things.

Runeblade 2

A female protagonist gives the game a narrative focus.

MBU
Thanks again for your time today. For those who want to know more about Runeblade, you can find its official website HERE and read up on Everywear Games on their home page HERE.

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