I was interested in talking with Lee Perry, former lead gameplay designer at Epic Games, because his new work with indie studio BitMonster’s first project casual adventure Lili, is such a complete departure from the team’s previous work. The new indie devs behind Lili are six Epic alums, all with experience on the Gears of War franchise, turning their talents to casual iOs adventure game.
Young Lili is a student, researching the island’s magical plants for a school project, and discovering more about herself along the way. The focus seems to be story and environment, and most surprisingly for ex-core developers, promises a non-combat system of defeating enemies. Perry says the game will be is midway between Halfbrick titles (developers of Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash, etc.) and more story-driven sword-and-sorcery games. Looking at Lili’s gorgeous and cartoony tropical environment was, to me, slightly reminiscent of Zelda or even a Monkey Island, complete with silly dialogue and NPCs. Although the game is family-friendly, it’s more a game for players to share with their kids, and not a “children’s game” for parents (and aunts and uncles…) to sit through.
Perry was deliberately vague on the game’s promised non-fighting combat, although he would tell me it’s entirely bloodless and responds to how people are already use their phones.
BitMonster’s future goals are a series of shorter-term projects that will offer high-quality graphics and production values for mobile gamers. The studio brings a lot of experience in the Unreal Engine, and I’m pretty excited to see those graphics turned to indie RPG settings instead of ever more realistic gore.
While plenty of developers and publishers at Casual Connect have referred to the App Store popularity lottery, or to submitting games to the randomness of app popularity, Perry believes the App Store is a meritocracy, and good, innovative games can succeed.
“There’s never been another platform where you can release cool little indie titles and have the chance for it to take off.” Perry says. He points to the the top apps, and adds that “little projects created by random people are doing well — where else can you find that?”
It’s great to see ex-core developers enthused about turning to a creative indie project, and of course I’m interested in seeing the Unreal Engine used for goofy island residents and gorgeous, escapist environments in Lili.
Source: The Indie Game Magazine – Leaving Core For Indie: BitMonster Games