Interview: Ace Mathician Developer (Hugo Smits)
Hugo Smits is the lead developer of Goodbye Galaxy Games, the team behind the excellent Flipper and Flipper 2: Flush The Goldfish. Now he's back with a brand new maths related game, named Ace Mathician. We caught up with Hugo to get the low-down on his new DSiWare Platformer...
Nintendo Fans Online: Ace Mathician is your latest DSiWare Game. Can you briefly explain what Ace Mathician is about for our readers?
Hugo Smits: It’s a puzzle platform game where you can change the levels to your advantage by using math!
Most people don’t like math in school.. so why like it now ? Well first off, there’s no wrong answers in this game! Anything you can come up with will have an effect on the world.
If you can’t find the right solution, you can make up with your mad Mario skills by jumping and running!
On the bottom screen you will see 4 buttons/symbols. Those are the symbols you can use to create a formula with. You can only use a symbol once in a formula. Because of this, you will have some freedom in creating your own thing, but at the same time the scope stays limited. This means you can also guess the formula quite easy.
And of course you can reset the formula and try again as much as you like!
HS: Yes! I was born in 1986, so much of me growing up was in the 90s. I played a lot of NES/SNES at my friends. So the art style (I always use pixel art) and the music (chiptunes that will drive your parents crazy) are directly influenced by those old games.
Other than that Ace Mathician has a lot of classic platforming elements, so Super Mario and the army of 2D platformers from the early 90s are all in there ;)
Funny fact; I always like blocky retro pixel art. But in this game it’s even better than normal, because it also resembles a math grid paper that everybody uses in school, I think that’s a neat thing :)NFO: We can see that Ace Mathician is a pretty unique game. But do you think it will survive in such a busy market?
HS: Well, most of that busy market consists out of shovelware. Nintendo did put out some cool games, and Way Forward and Capcom did some really impressive stuff! But other than those games there haven’t been many good ones.
I grew up with 90s videogames, and I really want to show my love for them through my games. That’s why I always use pixel art and chiptunes. But at the same time I always try to make the gameplay innovating and totally new!
I think that combo works really well!
Players can feel nostalgic, while playing something they never ever played before!NFO: Some of your previous games, such as Flipper and Flipper 2 are some of the most popular on the DSi shop. Do they hold any links with Ace Mathician?
HS: I’m really amazed that so many players are playing my games. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. I work 90 hours a week for many months in a row to make those games. But it’s all worth it when people like to play them!
All my games feature my love for the 90s. And they are all REAL games. There are so many Hollywood type of games or art games. I just like real videogames and that’s what I make. So in that sense, Ace Mathician fits perfectly in line with my other games!NFO: May we ask, why you decided to release Ace Mathician on DSiWare not 3DS E-Shop?
HS: Mostly because of financial reasons honestly. I had a complete framework up and running for the DSi while I have to start from scratch on the 3DS. Which takes a lot of time, energy and money.
I’m working on a 3DS project right now though.. so Ace Mathician was my last DSiWare game!NFO: Is Ace Mathician a game for Maths Enthusiasts only? Or do you wish for everybody to be able to get involved?
HS: It’s a very casual game. In fact I think normal players will like it better than math geeks because it doesn’t go too deep. You only have 4 buttons to fool around with, which gives you some freedom you will never get lost in finding the solution.NFO: Would you like to encorporate some multiplayer functionality into your latest game? Maybe even through Nintendo Wifi Connection?
HS: Probably not, I don’t know too many players that really use it. Honestly, I played some Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat in multiplayer mode and it was cool. But that only happens rarely. Not to mention all the games I have in my closet that I never tried in multiplayer.
It’s quite difficult to build it in, mostly because of the strict lot-check issues. It just seems like a lot of extra time and risk for a feature that maybe only 1% of my customers will use (and even than only rarely). So I rather spend my time on creating extra content and or other fun things that everybody can enjoy!Are you a big Nintendo Fan? Will you continue to develop only for Nintendo Systems, or do you intend to move onto bigger and better things?
HS: I’m a huge Nintendo fan, especially with the handhelds. You see, my parents didn’t get me a NES or SNES because my dad wanted to watch TV instead of watching me drop Mario in a pit for a 100 times in a row.
However, after I received my swimming certificate they got me a gameboy as a present. For a long time that was my only console experience I had at home (I played NES/SNES at my friends). I totally fell in love with that gray brick!
It was also the first console I hacked and started to program for when I was 9 years!
So I don’t see myself move on to other platforms, since that would feel like cheating on my first real love! I would maybe consider to port games to other platforms, as long as the Nintendo version stays the definitive/best version.NFO: Have you thought about developing for the Wii U's app store? Some of your games seem well suited to the Wii U's tablet screen.
HS: Yeah, rumor has it that if you know how to develop for the 3DS it will be quite a small step to develop for Wii U. So maybe I will make something on there… but that’s still far away!
I would be happy all ready to just get a 3DS game out the door ;)NFO: Finally, will Ace Mathician see a release in the near future, or is it still under heavy development?
HS: Super near future.. the game is done except for the sound. It’s probably totally finished before the end of march and then it’s all in the hands of the LOT-check crew :)Thanks Hugo, We can't wait to see Ace Mathician arrive on DSiWare, we wish you every luck in the future and hopefully we'll catch up with you again soon...
I just want to quickly thank everybody that bought one of my games, the support really means a lot to me! I hope you guys will check out Ace Mathician and my upcoming 3DS-Ware games!
You can follow me here :
Ace Mathician should be arriving on Nintendo DSiWare soon, plus you will be able to download it on the 3DS E-shop for the mere price of 200 points. We'll have a review for Ace Mathician along very soon.
If you have any questions for Hugo Smits, then post them in the comments below and we'll try and get them to him...