Exclusive Interview With Creators of OlliOlli

We've been following Roll7 for a long time now in their production and now release of their side skater, OlliOlli. Thomas Hegarty over at Roll7 was kind enough to take some time to answer a few of our questions. Read the interview inside!…….

OlliOlli has certainly made some news after its release last month. We gave it an 8/10, and Metacritic gave it an 80 based on 48 critics. That's great! The journey was long, the path was a challenge. I asked Thomas Hegarty a few questions about the process and what is happening post-release. Here are his responses:

What made you want to start making video games? Particularly a skateboarding game?

Skating has always been a big passion of everyone at the studio, I personally was never that good at skating but John and Simon the other directors of Roll7 were very good, John was actually a sponsored skater in his youth as well as an avid video gamer so the two passions were bound to merge at some point! I grew up playing the Spectrum Zx 48k and the Amiga 500 (with the obligatory extra disc drive) and it always seemed to be the simpler arcade games that caught my attention, remember Target Renegade?! John our Gameplay Designer has always created arcade style prototypes, simple games with short bursts of gameplay that quickly become addictive. When the studio first started out we always planned to make our games but it took nearly 5 years before had built up enough money to turn one of our concepts into an actual fully released game!

What made you want to develop games for the PS Vita and not other handhelds out there? Was it your first console of choice? (vs mobile for example).  

It’s easy to get lost on the mobile platforms which is what happened to our first game release, an iOS title called Gets To The Exit, despite some good reviews it barely sold. That experience made us consciously move towards either console or Steam. It was our meeting with Sony that sealed the deal for Vita, we had OlliOlli as an iOS concept demo (never released) and the transition to Vita seemed like a really good fit for the game and the feel of the Vita’s analogue stick really lends itself well to the trick system.

What were some of your troubles with developing for the Vita/Sony? You got your initial release pushed back a bit. What were some issues?

The step up to console was huge and we definitely underestimated how difficult it would be. We decided to build or own engine, ( a decision which in hindsight we wouldn’t do again!) and it took us almost two months just to get objects rendering on screen. However that was all good experience and the team are better for that. We initially planned to release in November but as you say we did have some issues, these were with the Sony QA process and their TRC’s. Again we had underestimated how strictly these needed to be implemented. Once we had all of those signed off we went back in at the third attempt but we then discovered a completely new issue with the Daily Grind, once it had cycled the 50 spots, it got confused and started allowing people multiple goes at the Daily Grind which kind of defeats the point. It was an easy fix but taught us another valuable lesson about testing, if you have something that runs over 50 days, you’ve not properly tested it until 50 days are out!

a great promotion that ended the 13th... the best Daily Grind won a bunch of cool items!
What were some benefits for developing at Sony? Are they really pushing the "indie" scene?

The benefits are huge, the support network alone is great, they gave us loads of great advice on gameplay and creative decisions, all of which we could choose to take or leave and the tech support was great as well. We had huge issues with our Sound Engine, which they came out to help us with twice.

There is definitely a genuine passion for the Indie scene within Sony, as a small developer they have really made us feel part of the PlayStation team and their enthusiasm helped drive us on. They also helped with our marketing push. We did Self Publish but in North America we were chosen to be part of the Vita Play promotion which is still ongoing. I get the impression that Sony wants to foster a very creative scene that can only benefit developers and players

What is the future for Roll7? Are you planning on pursuing other consoles besides Playstation? Will we see OlliOlli on other consoles? Or a sequel? Are you busy enjoying your lives without a constant deadline looming? Or are you busy planning your next steps?

I long for the day where this is not a deadline looming, though in all honesty we’d probably go mad if there wasn’t some crazy target ahead of us. We’re already working on our next projects and whilst I can’t say much right now we’ll definitely be working on PlayStation consoles again in the near future. As for OlliOlli on other consoles, right now we’re focusing on the Vita launch and we’re really pleased with the reception it’s got.

How did you choose the soundtrack for the game? 

The OST is comprised of tracks that we listen to at the studio, we did originally want to go with a more stereotypical skate rock style but once we had in the game it became far too distracting. OlliOlli is all about flow and the music we chose allows you to get into that flow and not be distracted, we feel the ‘jazzy vibes’ all contribute to you busting some serious combos.

What was the most fun part/rewarding part of your game development? The little victories? The release? 

We actually went out as team only last Friday, and that was the first time we had all of us together since December. It was great to get together and reminisce about the dev process the good and bad, we also found out that night that we got GameSpot’s game of the month so that was a pretty great moment! One of the odder moments of development was when Nikos our lead programmer had just got the level editor working, he gave the Vita and said ‘have a go of this’ He’d basically built a 2 minute long handrail, it was a great sensation to grind continuously (no pun intended) and we toyed with having it as a final level but it didn’t quite make the cut.

This was surely some good news in January!

Thanks, Thomas! It is great to hear a success story for our favorite handheld. We wish you continued success in all you choose to do. 

Did you get a chance to play the game yet? What did you think? Do you have any questions to forward along to Thomas and the team over at Roll7? Let us know below!

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