Week in Mobile: Why longtime PC developer Wadjet Eye is embracing mobile
For seven years, Wadjet Eye Games has developed and released games for the PC, the native home for point-and-click adventure games. But something has changed. Players are taking these adventures on the go with smartphones and tablets, and rather than dipping one toe into mobile waters, Wadjet Eye is cannon-balling in.
The developer plans to port its whole backlog onto mobile. Point and click is becoming point and touch, tap, swipe.
Sticking to one platform is naturally limiting, says Janet Gilbert, Wadjet Eye’s chief technology officer. That’s one of the reasons the company is tapping into the mobile market.
“We are following the preference of players rather than trying to move players to a new platform,” Gilbert told GameZone. “We like PC. We want to make sure as many people as possible can play our games, and almost everyone has either a PC or an iPhone.”
LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, Phoenix Online Studios’ Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, and Double Fine Productions’ The Cave are only a few adventure games that have nested on the app stores, fighting for space and downloads among the more prevalent match-3s and endless runners. They’re all available on other platforms, including PC.
Wadjet has kept quietly to computers since 2006, so perhaps the more compelling reason is that its players are requesting the addition. That, and the technology has changed.
“The reason we were only on PC was that AGS was only PC compatible,” said Gilbert. “When the engine was ported to iOS, there was no reason not to!
She's referring to Adventure Game Studio, the development tool used to create graphical adventure games, which Wadjet Eye ported to iOS and made touch-screen friendly.
Gemini Rue and The Shivah are already available on the App Store. Porting the studio’s entire backlog to iOS is straightforward but time-consuming, so Wadjet Eye is hiring an AGS programmer to help out. But the process involves other challenges.
“Resonance is going to be tough, because it has lots of enormous graphic resources, which take up a lot of memory,” said Gilbert. “One of the reasons we chose Gemini Rue to port first is that it has fairly simple and small graphic resources. Newer games do tend to be more demanding because people are getting more ambitious with graphic resources. “
Wadjet Eye is currently working on the port of Blackwell Legacy, the first in a series of four games. That doesn’t mean development on other titles has stopped.
“I could easily spend the whole of next year just porting, but I'd like to create my own original game or help Dave [Gilbert] develop his original games faster,” she said.
From this point on, though, the developer’s strategy has changed. Wadjet Eye hopes to launch new games on both PC and iOS simultaneously, starting with the next in-house project.
But the inclusion of mobile platforms doesn’t mean the games themselves have to change. Gemini Rue is the same as it always was, and Gilbert says The Shivah only featured remastered graphics because they were too small for the iPhone screen.
“We hope to keep the experience as close to the original as possible.”