Mobile Devices the Future of Handheld Gaming? Dead Space iOS Lead Designer Believes So

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Dead Space made a name for itself on the consoles in 2008. The title was named one of the top games of the year by numerous publications including Game Informer and Game Spot. With a new sequel set to be released tomorrow in the United States, publisher EA Games and developer Visceral Games have high hopes for the franchise. But, they’re not just content with expanding the title’s offerings on the console. In addition to Dead Space 2, the companies have also created a Dead Space for iOS game to also be released tomorrow, capable of play on the iPhone and iPad. This move from console to mobile gaming is certainly not a new one for video game titles, but it is an option that is growing increasingly popular for many game developers as they see the iPhone and iPad growing in prevalence as a handheld gaming device.

“Your phone is something you carry with you everywhere,” lead designer of Dead Space for iOS Jarrad Trudgen said to Techland. “It’s just getting harder to justify carrying two pieces of equipment.”

As a fan of Dead Space, Trudgen said he was excited about adapting the horror, third-person shooter title for mobile gaming.  Wanting to do the franchise justice, he was nervous especially because the team decided that they wanted to bring the horror experience to the iOS platform, something they believed hadn’t been successfully done before. It was one of the major challenges they faced: trying to appeal to hardcore gamers who want the console style experience while trying to adapt the capabilities of the touchscreen. Trudget said a lot of the problems resided in making the controls feel right, especially for someone who was used to playing the game with a traditional controller. “The controls are really precise in terms of aiming,” he explained about the iOS game. “You have to carefully aim and chop the limbs of the enemies you are fighting.”

“It is an area of the platform that does receive criticism especially from hardcore gamers,” Trudget added. “What I think the problem is with that is developers don’t go with the merits of the screen. They’ll stick a joystick on the screen and different buttons. We allowed the players to tap anywhere in the screen rather than have them tap in an arbirtrary point on the bottom.”

He said that although the scope of the game is definitely smaller than a “full-fledged” console title, the game still feels like a Dead Space experience because they kept it a point to work closely with the Visceral Games team. Partially this is because even though the iOS title has an all new story line and brand new art, the environments and art that were used for inspiration came from the original game and his team worked with a writer from the original Dead SpaceDead Space for iOS is intended to bridge the time gap between the first and the second console game. To do this, it borrows elements from both including voice actors from Dead Space 2, and some of the features such as kinesis and weapons from the original game. In other words, it’s a stand alone title that fits neatly in the franchise.

However, one of the problems that established games face in entering the App arena is that many of the users that purchase mobile games might not be hardcore gamers. After trolling several gaming message boards, Trudgen realized that many people were learning about Dead Space for the first time from press behind the iPhone and iPad game. His team determined this was a good thing, especially because they were reaching new people who might have never heard of the title, who then in turn might be interested in trying the console game.  “We’re broadening the audience for Dead Space similar to Nintendo’s success with the Wii,” he said.

“This golden age in gaming,” he concluded.

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