Mediocre is a small mobile indie studio in Malmö with a focus on highly polished, physics-heavy and non-violent games for iOS and Android. Despite garnering widespread praise and commercial success for their smash hit game…err Smash Hit they maintain a level headed approach to development with an emphaisis on keeping things small. This is their profile!
Could you chart your entry into the industry and the formation of Mediocre?
Henrik and I have known each other for more than twenty years. We worked on a lot of smaller game projects for the Amiga home computer back in the 90’s, but none of them were ever released. We teamed up professionally in 2010, following the release of the first iPad with a dedication to finally get a game released. The result was Sprinkle, a water physics-puzzler that became quite popular. We have worked full time with Mediocre ever since.
What would you describe as the company philosophy to development and as a team?
One thing that I believe had a lot of impact on our games is the fact that we aren’t really gamers ourselves. We’ve always enjoyed making games, but we’re not passionate gamers. It’s both a strength and a weakness of course, but it might make it easier to see ideas from a new angle and judge our own work with a critical eye. We also tend to spend a lot of time on polish. Especially on Granny Smith and Smash Hit there has been an insane amount of work on tiny details that most players won’t even notice.
You appear to always adopt a laid back approach to marketing by letting your games do the talking, has that always been the plan and has the success of both Smash Hits & Granny Smith changed your personas?
We do what we can but marketing has never been our strong side. We’ve been very fortunate to be heavily featured by Apple and Google, but it’s a conscious decision to spend a lot of time on polish to make each game really stand out and focus on quality instead of quantity. That increases the chance of getting featured and no marketing can compete with a feature slot.
What challenges do you face now as opposed to before the success of your most recent releases?
Smash Hit reached the top of the charts in most countries during release and was the most downloaded app on App Store that month, which puts a lot of expectations on our upcoming releases. We’ve spent a lot of time prototyping different ideas for the next title, but it’s hard to decide. We cannot really count on making another equally successful game.
Physics based game play seems to be at the forefront of your titles, has this always been intentional? Are there any elements that are a stable of a Mediocre game?
I have a background working with physics engines for many years, so we have a technical edge there, but playing with physics also gives a certain playfulness to a game. It’s important that a game isnot just fun to play, but also fun to just play with.
You’ve chosen to focus on mobile platforms. Why is that and is the varied revenue generating models that platform presents part of the attraction?
I think the biggest reason is that we’re not gamers ourselves. I personally have never owned a gaming console, so I don’t have that emotional connection. We were both intrigued by the tablet as a platform with it was released, and the creativity unleashed by the touch interface. The mobile gaming market is very young, things haven’t really settled in yet. That makes it more interesting.
How would you describe the indie scene in Sweden and the Nordic region? Is there a collaborative spirit?
There are so many great indie games coming out of this region, but I’m not sure in what way it’s connected to the Nordics. It’s probably a combination of different factors, but I like to believe the demo scene has played a big part. A lot of people probably don’t see us as the typical indie developer. We don’t go to game jams for instance, and our games don’t have retro graphics or chip music. There are unfortunately a lot of expectations on what an indie game should be these days. It’s almost like a genre of games rather than being truly independent and doing what you believe in.
What areas of the scene could be further developed?
The scene is very loosely defined but there is some sense of community. Perhaps it could be a good idea to strengthen that community and to encourage exchange between studios.
Who are the developers you look to for inspiration in Sweden and the Nordic region?
Simogo is obviously a very interesting indie developer. Limbo by Playdead is one of my favourite games. Rymdkapsel by Grapefrukt games is also something we’ve enjoyed much.
If you could impart a word of wisdom to a new industry entrant, what would that be?
Do not copy someone else’s game. Do something really small and make it extremely polished. Make it run at 60 FPS.
What are you currently working on and when can we expect more details on it?
We are still prototyping different ideas, but we have a strong candidate now. We’re aiming at a smaller project this time, so we should be able to announce something within a few months.