10 Burning Questions with Václav Sahula, lead designer for Rune Legend

If you’re a fan of Thor you know about the Norse God Odin. In Rune Legend you follow Odin on an epic journey through a land full of puzzles and adventure. This is a great game made by Dreadlocks Ltd, and to talk to us about it is the lead designer Václav Sahula.

1. How did you get started with Windows Phone?

It was about a year ago. We were deciding among existing platforms to begin with mobile games development. From a technical point of view there isn’t great difference, most tools can be used on multiple platforms nowadays (and our programmer is very flexible).  Thanks to him we could choose freely whichever platform suits us. As newcomers we wanted to choose a smaller platform to gather more experience among fewer developers and to avoid the Android and iOS jungle in the beginning. And that‘s when the Windows phone came on our minds.

2. What phone do you personally use?

That’s the question. My taste is a little bit out of date. There’s no smart in my phone, I still use an old Sony Ericsson S312. That means no appstore or apps, no cool features at all. Calls and texting is basically all I expect from my phone.

3. What was your biggest challenge in developing Rune Legend for Windows Phones?

Rune Legend was the first game I have designed commercially.  We made it night by night after work. I would not call it a challenge, but rather the uncertainty. I wasn’t sure that our work will be reasonable and people will like it. I wasn’t sure about the design and producer decisions I have made during the development and lot of other things which we have faced for the first time. So, the biggest challenge was I myself.

4. Do you have any ideas for any more games on the way that you’d care to share with us?

Sure. We have some ideas.  We don’t want to end up as a one game studio. I cannot tell you much, just that now we’re working on two projects. Both are in a very early phase of development and none of them is puzzle like Rune Legend. We want to try something different.  Our future games should contain more action, fun and sense of humor. We also plan to use the third dimension.

5.  Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)

Our strongest thought on this is far from complicated. We believe that a good product always finds its customers. A simple “love at first sight” feeling always has a strong impact, so we put tons of effort into the visual experience. And not to let the first impression fool you, we take our time to  create catchy gameplay and to minimize the number of bugs…

We rather invest our resources in the development than in the advertisement. Players seem to like it, because we have them for smart people that don’t make decisions based on someone’s marketing strategy.  And it works! We keep receiving very positive reviews. Our ratio between downloaded trials and purchased games serves as evidence for itself. This way the only thing we need to do is raise awareness of the game.

Rune Legend is still quite shortly on the market, but once we release the iOs, Android and Windows 8 versions, we’ll be likely to share some of our data with other indie developers.

6. What do you want to see in Windows Phone 8?

A young and progressive platform that will help Microsoft to catch up with platforms that already have their name in both smartphone and tablet business. Then of course, at least one game on WP8 marketplace.

7. Do you develop for other ecosystems and how does Windows Phone development compare to those?

Everything seems to be easier when it comes to Microsoft. They seem to find a working compromise between absolute freedom and excessive bureaucracy. The only downside is still the small percentage of overall number of smartphone users.

Just now we’re porting the Rune Legend to iOS and Android. As far as I see it, they both represent extremes in what I’ve mentioned before. Android serves as a living hell when it comes to device compatibility. And on the contrary, Apple personifies a bureaucratic wasteland for an inexperienced developer.

8. If you could give one tip to fellow Windows Phone developers, what would it be?

I don’t feel like a mentor or something. It will sound a little cheesy, but I’d advise them to believe in themselves and the projects they create. Not to give up and above all not to be afraid of trying things they’ve never done before.

9. Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

I once bet with my friends that… nevermind. I have this dream of writing a graphic novel. But I’m afraid I’m just too lazy for that. I simply like the dream.

10. (Silly Question) What’s your favorite snack food?

Pizzas and baguettes during the day. Cheese and red wine by night.

Rune Legend is available for $.99 and free trial. Give it a try, it may be your only chance to be a god!

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