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Interview - Cosmonaut Games

Game Info
5 Spots Party

WiiWare | Cosmonaut Games | 1-4 Players | Out Now | 500 Wii Points
Controller Compatability: Wii Remote (pointer)
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2nd October 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

You may have seen our review of WiiWare title 5 Spots Party back in August, where we noted how the game focused on a very specific section of the gaming audience: the casual gamers. It had an interesting premise, if not one that was too complex, but it was also surprisingly fun, in particular when playing with friends. In order to find out more about the title and it's general reception, we got in touch with the developers of the game, and took a glance at the WiiWare and online services, and the possibilities of future games from the developers.

Would you mind taking a moment to introduce yourself?
My name is Jose A. Giacomelli, I’ve worked in IT since 1989 and I started developing and supervising games in 2000. Since then, we've developed arcade machines, redemption machines, we’ve published PC games for retail market and made investments in online games (casual games).
    I’m a hardcore gamer: since 1983 I’ve enjoyed videogames; from Space Invaders, Pacman or Galaga, to Halo, Starcraft or Command and Conquer, through spectrum’s games, amiga’s games, Atari, MSX, consoles… Right now I’m working in 46TSM, the Research and Industrial Division of MGA Group in Spain. We release our games under the brand Cosmonaut Games.

What motivated you to bring 5 Spots Party over to the WiiWare service? 
We believe strongly in online distribution. We thought WiiWare Service is very similar to the known casual online market. So we decided to release 5 Spots Party game to know better how the service works and bring to the Wii players the opportunity of enjoy this game.

What kinds of challenges were you presented with, working towards the final product?
One of the most important challenges for us was to ensure the simplicity and the entertainment of the game. 5 Spots party was a number one in the Casual market, and here we have reused the same technology, and included a special feature, the multiplayer competition (party mode) that lets player compete each other, which is very fun.
    Also, there are 333 different photos, each one with different combinations of fun mistakes; we developed 10 different mistakes in each photo and our “spot algorithm” shows different patterns of mistakes every time. Really, it is nearly impossible to see the same mistakes repeated in a photo.

What do you like most about the service? How do you think it could be improved?
The WiiWare Service is great. For developers it is very easy to start working with Nintendo. They help you in all the developing process and it is really easy to achieve your goals, but, of course, the service can be improved. There are more than 70 million Wii owners around the world and only a bit percentage knows about the service. I think Nintendo should do some marketing actions in order to improve service’s sales.

When you first developed the game on the PC, what inspired you to make a game out of this simple concept?
In 2004, the original 5 Spots was released in its PC version. We distributed it under Real Arcade service, across the internet. It was a success, but why did we do this simple concept?
    At those moments, we’d just finished another game: Golf Adventure Galaxy, a minigolf challenge that takes place across the Universe, which was 18 months developing a fairly complex 3D game for the retail market. It was a failure. We didn’t find publishers and we were very worried about it, but eventually we were being able to release the game in casual world, which was when we made our first contact with this market. It was perfect for our situation: simple games, 6 months of work, great incomes… We studied all the different games in the casual market and decided to develop 5 Spots as a good game for the casual gamer’s target.

How has the overall response been thus far amongst critics and the gaming community? How have the sales you've received so far compare to what you expected?
The response of the game community has been very good! We know that our main target is families, children and casual gamers. This is Wii: a lot of different targets playing a wide set of different games.
    I also understand our game’s critics. They want arcade, simulation, strategy… but 5 Spots Party gives the opportunity to play another kind of games and enjoy playing it with friends.
    I can’t talk about sales, but at this moment we are happy about it. The actual sales give us some great information about the service’s possibilities.

In what ways does the game stand out amongst the pool of puzzle games on the service?
5 Spots Party is the only game in the service where the objective is to find 5 differences. It’s a long game; we’ve worked very hard developing 3,300 differences across 330 photos. The player can play again and again to achieve a better score or compete with other guys (up to 4 payers) and they won’t see same differences in the same photo twice! It’s very simple and everybody can play with it; photos and mistakes are fun. And, of course, we have 5 different game modes.

What are your thoughts on the "hardcore" and "casual" audiences? Did this present a challenge for you as you considered whether or not it would be received well?
Yes, of course. Our next developments should reach both audiences. We think we can get a better success targeting our games to all audiences. The WiiWare Service is a little bit different from Casual Games market, since the hardcore gamers more often have the console connected to Internet. Now, we will continue selling 5 Spots Party and working with Nintendo to achieve our goals.

Did you ever consider allowing players to import their own photos, perhaps off of the SD Card?
Yes! It would be great. To do it we need their photos and an editor. It’s a true possibility for future versions of the game.

Do you see yourself pursuing the service again in the near future? Do you already have something in the works?
We are working on different ideas. I can’t talk about them but I can reveal they are arcade games. I hope we can talk about them officially in the upcoming weeks.

Do you think you'd like to take advantage of online capabilities in future WiiWare titles?
It’s difficult to think about online when you are developing games for the WiiWare Service. The online process takes a lot of time and we need to adjust our budgets very well. However, I’m sure we will need to offer online gameplay in some games in order to improve and socialize the player’s experience.

What do you think about the DSiWare service so far? Do you think there's some potential there?
We are working right now to achieve the official Nintendo developer license for DSiWare. We have a lot of ideas to develop games in this platform. It is growing, so its potential will be really important in next few months.

In conclusion, is there anything else would you like to add?
Thanks a lot for give me the opportunity of explaining the 5 Spots Party developing process. At Cosmonaut Games we are working hard to release a new game next year and I hope all gamers can enjoy it.

Whilst the game may not seem too outstanding, it's clear that the developers certainly have some good thoughts when it comes to the WiiWare service and gaming itself. For the time being, there isn't too much we can say about the quality of their downloadable Nintendo titles since we only have 5 Spots Party to play, but if we were to go by what Cosmonaut have been saying here, it seems that we can certainly look forwards to their upcoming titles... even if we don't know much about them at the present time. Thanks to Jose for the interview, and we wish good luck to you all in the future!

5 Spots Party
Review | Interview | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature
Jose A. Giacomelli was talking to KnucklesSonic8
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