Game Dev Stories: Stirfire Studios

Australian concept artist Lisa Rye has been making art for games for some time, and is just about to release an independent title of her own — a gorgeous platformer that turns video-game conventions on their heads. CNET Australia spoke with her about the Freedom Fall story.

Australian concept artist Lisa Rye, also known as Risachantag, has been making art for games for some time, and is just about to release an independent title of her own — a gorgeous platformer that turns video-game conventions on their heads. CNET Australia spoke with her about the Freedom Fall story.

(Credit: Risachantag/Stirfire Studios)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is Stirfire Studios, and how did you get into mobile-gaming development?

Freedom Fall creative director, Lisa Rye.(Credit: Risachantag/Stirfire Studios)

I grew up playing old classics on my father's computer, and kept that love of games to this day.

As an artist, I wanted to combine my passions, so when given the opportunity to go into the games industry back in 2007, I jumped at it and have been making games ever since.

Tell us more about Freedom Fall. What is it about and how does the gameplay work?

In essence, Freedom Fall is a down-scrolling platformer. The player awakens at the top of an impossibly tall prison tower, and must make their way past all sorts of obstacles set for them, in the hope of finding a way to freedom. The player can create various contraptions to help them, and find bombs to destroy particularly nasty traps.

(Credit: Risachantag/Stirfire Studios)

How did it come into being, and how does it subvert gaming tropes?

The game started as my personal project. Most of my career in the games industry was spent working on other people's game concepts, and I was longing to bring more of my own ideas to life. I created a prototype of Freedom Fall in Construct, game-creator software I can highly recommend, and it was that prototype which sparked the team-up with Stirfire.

Much of the game's story is told through graffiti on the tower's walls, which has been left there by the tower's other occupant — a rather creepy and unstable princess. In many ways, the game has a reverse-Rapunzel theme, as the princess wants to keep you in the tower, and certainly doesn't want to be rescued from it.

There's massive competition in the mobile-gaming market — what does Freedom Fall offer that other games do not?

From player's responses to Freedom Fall, one thing that they always mention is the humour and story in the graffiti. So many games go for clichéd stories and dialogue, so they were excited to see what would come next.

The down-scrolling nature of the game also brings new challenges to the platform genre — looking for ways to slow your fall and reacting quickly to dodge obstacles is a real rush. There's also the option to choose different paths in game to suit the player's skill level, so the game is appropriate for both experienced and inexperienced gamers.

(Credit: Risachantag/Stirfire Studios)

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far? How did you overcome it?

I think the biggest challenges came for me back when I was making the prototype on my own with my limited programming ability! I couldn't be more thankful to Stirfire for helping me make this game a reality.

What do you think is the essential ingredient of a truly awesome mobile game?

I always look for fun and challenging gameplay, coupled with great art and a unique story. The art is what hooks me, gameplay is what makes me love it and the story is what will stay with me years later.

What is the best thing about working in mobile-gaming development? What is the worst?

Mobile gaming has become much more mainstream than consoles or computer games, so there's the potential to reach out to a much wider audience.

Working on mobile or cross-platform games, you need to ensure that players will all have the best experience possible on their platform of choice, so this means a great deal more testing for each device.

(Credit: Risachantag/Stirfire Studios)

Do you have any advice to offer aspiring mobile-game developers?

My advice to aspiring mobile-game developers is: get started! There's so many great tools out there to assist game developers, and the best way to learn the skills you need is to build your own games. Be prepared to work long hours and don't give up!

What's next?

I have quite a few more ideas that I'd love to create, so I'm sure you'll hear more from me in the future!

Freedom Fall is coming out in mid-November for iOS and Android, and soon after that on Mac and PC.

Stay tuned to the Freedom Fall Facebook page for updates.

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