Hardlight Studios talks to us about Sonic Dash, their canceled Vita game and much more

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Hardlight Studio‘s Chris Southall and James Booth both took the time out to give us a short interview about their newly released mobile game,  Sonic Dash. The addictive score based game has been draining the battery on our phones here at SEGAbits, so naturally we had burning questions that needed answering!

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SEGAbits: Can you explain what a typical day at work is like for you?

Hardlight: From the perspective of a QA Tester, during Sonic Dash, a typical day usually starts off in a potential panic. With both SOE testing the game through the night and SOA getting stuck in too, our QA team tends to be quite busy in the morning with all the latest bug reports from those teams. After going through those and assigning them out to fix, we then get started on implementing some features of the game. These features are usually passed around a few times from the art team, to the programmers to the designers, getting more polished and refined along the way before finding themselves into the game. With mobile development, it is a lot quicker to get features into the game, so every day we can see the game progressing.

“…there’s a lot of love for a range of Sonic Universe characters in the studio”

Does Hardlight work with Sonic Team in any capacity?

Yes, in all aspects of sign off about any Sonic content we check with Sonic Team, we’re also talking with Sonic Team all the time about suggestions or ways to implement things in the game design – it’s their IP!

What are the differences between developing a game on the iOS and Android platforms?Which one is easier? 

There’s a very large range of devices out there running Android, with all sorts of resolutions / memory & graphics hardware, so it can be time consuming to support, especially figuring out ways to not work to the lowest common denominator whilst still supporting lower end devices.

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Are there plans for more areas in future updates? 

Definitely, although we can’t go into specifics at this stage

Will all stages be Sonic Heroes inspired? Can we expect any unique stages created exclusively for Sonic Dash? 
We’d always lean towards using places from the Sonic Universe already in existence – there’s such a wide range of rich environments there already, it just makes sense.

How is a decision reached on the character roster in a Sonic title? 

It’s pretty simple – there’s lots of arguments basically. Past the most essential choices (Sonic, Knuckles, Amy), there’s a lot of love for a range of Sonic Universe characters in the Studio – ultimately we look at what fans are asking for from previous titles, what we feel will map well to the game & finally, where we have the data, we look at how much characters are played in more recent titles to gauge where we should spend our effort.

Is there any other SEGA IPs that the team would want to work on and why? 

There’s lots of choices – I think it’s ok to say there’s a couple of IPs we are looking at right now.SonicDash

So far both of your recent games have been mobile, is there any plans on doing any console titles? 

Really Hardlight switched from being a console/tech support team about 10 months ago, so rather than thinking console, the aspirations in the game designs coming up are to build on the experience we got so far building for mobile & going way past that next time. It’s fair to say we were not amazed when people used words like derivative in places for Sonic Jump & Dash, and whilst we’re pretty happy with the quality in what we put out so far, I’m confident we can surprise & delight people in more ways next time out!

Before the announcement of Sonic Jump or Sonic Dash, your team had a job listing for a PlayStation Vita game. Is that project still in development?  Might it ever see the light of day, if not on Vita then on iOS and Android? 

Good question. Yes, we’d done a fair bit of work on something really original and really interesting – it didn’t quite map to SEGA’s shift in focus for us over to mobile/handheld in early 2012, but it was looking really good & so we are thinking on bringing that back in some form somewhere later, yes.

Will you guys still be updating and supporting Sonic Jump? 

Absolutely – we are quite a small studio (from the standpoint of an international internal publisher at least), and got pretty stretched finishing on Dash, but we will be supporting both titles with updates in the future, in addition to starting up on other stuff…

I want to thank everyone at Hardlight Studios, especially Chris Southall and James Booth for doing the interview. You can follow Hardlight Studios on their Twitter or Facebook to get the latest news on Sonic Jump or Sonic Dash updates.  Sonic Dash is available now on iTunes and is coming soon to Android. 

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2 responses to “Hardlight Studios talks to us about Sonic Dash, their canceled Vita game and much more

  1. They just summed up the console and pc environment by talking about phones. Apple is the consoles that have a specific set of specs. Where as android is PC, with a huge variety of specs, making it more difficult and time consuming to program for all possibilities. I guess Windows Phone 8 is Linux, and my N8 Symbian is DOS 🙁

  2. Ungibbed says:

    Pretty much sums up how I look at mobile development. iOS devices also have better visual effects thanks to being a common platform. Nothing shows this more than flagship titles from Gameloft. Take N.OV.A. 3 as an example.

    Between my far newer Galaxy S3 it lacks depth of field focus effects shown on my far older iPhone 4S. Along with heat/haze effects and many other small details that are taken for granted on Apple’s far more controlled design and being able to do far more with less. My iPhone dual core A5 @ 800 MHz and my Galaxy S3 dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon series 4 at 1.5 GHz.

    The layman obviously thinks the newer phone would look better, but with so many hardware differences among Android phones, they are pretty much the PC of the mobile world.

    I can’t speak for the abilities of the WP8 platform other than it being a marketing disaster! RIM is back with a incredible phone, I have a feeling it will quickly surpass the WP8 platform as the new BlackBerry, like the iPhone, is a closed platform. OS and hardware out of the same hands.

    When it comes to Symbian S60 and others variants, I thought Nokia gave up on it entirely as it lies in the old folks home along with the newly retired legacy BlackBerry OS which is being dropped like a bad habit.

    I do hope it doesn’t spell the end for gaming portables such as the 3DS and PS Vita, but mobile games are low risk profit machines with monetization being a focus in nearly every current mobile game on every platform.

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