MS: THE SANDBOX Evolution is your second game from the THE SANDBOX SAGA – and is the 8th game of the studio. Was there many things from the development of this games – ideas, gameplay mechanics etc – that carried over to this new game?
SB: Of course! We are more experienced than 4 years ago and we applied our experience and knowledge, as well as best practises from each previous game we did, to The Sandbox Evolution.
MS: What is new?
SB: We’ve kept the original spirit of the game which is to let players initiate their godly powers to build their own pixel worlds – or destroy the universe using over 170 elements. And then we wanted to go further, that’s why players can now not only create their very own pixel universes, manipulate and discover natural elements and interactions, but we’ve also expanded the game’s concept by letting players create their very own games by adding controllable heroes! The graphics are still 2D pixel art, but in a much more modern and appealing way, for those who were not fans of retro-style graphics.The size of the worlds are much larger and this is making a huge difference as well!And there are new cool elements, they are really worth trying!
MS: You are introducing a female character, that’s cool. What’s her role?
SB: Gaia, she is the goddess of earth and she will be guiding the players to grasp all the skills to become a master creator. She is strong and eager to teach you!
MS: We’re very close to launch… how are you feeling?
SB: Excited! It’s show time after almost 2 years in the work, we hope that the sequel will be up to the players expectations!
MS: You have your development team in Argentina. Why did you decide to work in Argentina?
SB: The founders of Pixowl have always had strong roots in Argentina with the 2 previous startups being developer here in Buenos Aires. Also, Onimatrix, the creator of the very first version of The Sandbox, is a local developer. There is a lot of talent here and we’ve assembled the original team around him to make the game you now are all playing!
MS: How many people do you have at the studio? Was there any overlap between the development of this game and your other titles? If so was it difficult to split your focus ?
SB: We’re now 35 people in the studio in Buenos Aires. But only around the last months was everyone working on The Sandbox Evolution. We have had other projects in parallel such as the first The Sandbox game as well as Peanuts: Snoopy’s Town Tale last year, so it was half and half.
MS: Have you watched people playing the game yet? Have you seen any reactions?
SB: We are making the game for a very specific audience and it is key for us to make sure we are not missing any details on understanding how they play and why. We’ve put the game in Beta/Softlaunch for several months, allowing us to collect metrics from thousands of players. Going one step further, we’ve also been running somewhere close to 50 playtests. We’ve got literally hours of video recordings of players going through the game, from tutorial to campaigns and gameplay! This has been a very interesting process for us to help understand better what was going on in a player’s mind and refine, polish and improve the game accordingly. We’ve had very positive reactions of course, but also we acquired a lot of knowledge on what was not obvious to players and could make them fail and quit the game.
MS: Are there still going to be surprises for people when they play the game?
SB: Of course! And in future updates. We announced recently a partnership with Bandai Namco. This will bring popular characters to the game 🙂
MS: The Sandbox was downloaded over 16 million times… You have a huge community following you, did they somehow became part of the new project? Did you add any suggestions from your Fans? Was there anything that fans requested that you guys weren’t able to put in?
SB: Definitively! The Sandbox entertains almost like a love story with its community and many times in the past we have been involving the community into deciding what would be the next update or what ideas they wanted in the game. A concrete example that comes to mind was when we offered to make an update about either Fireworks or Giant Mutant Monsters. The community voted for the later and we followed that decision, which made the game even better overall and pleased the players! From choosing the next update, suggesting new elements and campaigns or voting for the winner of our weekly contents, the community has always the last word! We make the game for the players and they feel it! The #1 suggestion from the fans that we did when working on The Sandbox Evolution was to make worlds bigger than the screen. It’s really a major game changer. We’ll be continuing this process with The Sandbox Evolution of course and we hope that as the game allows many more things thanks to much modern graphics and capacities (larger worlds, more realistic physics), we will receive tons of feedbacks and suggestions again! Regarding things we didn’t put… it is only a matter of time 🙂 These will be coming as we release future updates
MS: The game is currently set for a release on Android and iOS devices… Is the game going to be a Mobile exclusive, or are there plans to possibly port the game to PC or consoles somewhere down the line?
SB: We want the game to be available on as many platforms as possible. The PC version is coming beginning of July in Early Access, stay tuned!
MS: There was a very successful campaign on Greenlight… how was that experience? how the community reacted?
SB: The game was greenlit on Steam in less than 24 hours after we started the campaign, it’s been a blast! Our community has definitively played a huge role in reaching this milestone.
MS: Thank you Sébastien!
Founded in 2011 and headquartered in San Francisco, CA, with development studios in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pixowl, Inc. is a mobile game company. Pixowl’s experienced international team of dynamic innovators strives to meet and exceed the desires of mobile game players worldwide by blending exciting gameplay, comic book art and character-driven storylines. With the success of its iOS games, The Sandbox & Garfield: Survival of the Fattest, Pixowl has already established itself as a leader in casual mobile games. For more information about Pixowl, please visit www.pixowl.com or friend and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.