At PSX I met Studio Ravenheart, the developer of Seraphim, to talk about their upcoming game for PS Vita and PS4.
Tell us a bit about your game, what is Seraphim?
It’s an arcade shoot’em-up, with an artistic style. Its only been running on Vita for about a week so I’m still getting it optimised.
This was originally a PS Mobile release.
Originally, yes. It was sort of a prototype for the most part, where you would play a single level infinitely until you die. Now we have actual stages going on and there’s going to be a whole campaign. The PS Mobile version only had a loading screen tutorial that explained the concept of the gameplay. It was kind of ugly and it was not as intuitive as the tutorial level on this game.
With the Playstation Mobile version, it’s hard to compare what the game looks like now to what it looked like then. That was four years ago already and all that existed was the minimum viable product of this game. It was literally just enemies spawning, the shooting, the reflectors and the super attack. And that was it. there were no power ups. There was not any of the features that the game has to offer today.
And you did all the art yourself?
That’s correct. I did all the art, all the programming, the sound design and of course the game design.
So what was the inspiration for the game and the look?
There have been many things that have inspired me for the game and the look of it. The look is more inspired by concepts rather than actual examples. The concept basically being abstract expressionism.
Can you tell us about the gameplay?
So with each stage it gives an objective at the beginning and once you fulfil that objective you can progress to the next stage. You shoot enemies with the thumb stick, but you can also use the face buttons or the touch screen. There are rotating constellations around the character, which are to be avoided (when shooting). You don’t want to shoot at those as they’ll reflect your shot back at you and you’ll take damage.
There are enemies of different sizes, so larger enemies will require more shots to kill. When you beat the stage objectives, the game lets you continue to survive as long as you can and get the highest score possible. The enemies speed up and the game gets very fast paced. There’s going to be leaderboards and bonuses in the game. There will be bosses and power ups and in addition to the campaign there will be a score attack mode.
In terms of the controls, are both thumb sticks used for shooting?
Correct. So the three wings on the left of the character are controlled with the left thumb stick and the three wings on the right side are controlled by the right thumb sticks.
The game will be coming to PS4 as well as PS Vita?
That’s correct. Yes. You do see a little bit of lag (on the Vita port), like I said we just ported it over to Vita so it needs some clean up. I’m working on solutions right now. I’ve actually been at it all week long. I’m 36 hours of no sleep at the moment. I’m trying to get it working at full speed as quick as possible.
The art work looks very impressive.
Thank you. A lot of time does go into the art work. I probably spend more time on the art than on the actual programming. That’s not to say the programming doesn’t require a lot of attention.
So what made you decide to develop the game for PS Vita?
Well, having started working on it on PlayStation Mobile, the plan initially was to get my small prototype out there and build on it via updates while the game was sitting on the market and funding itself in part. Of course, Sony shut down PlayStation Mobile, which is fine. Everything worked out because now I’m targeting Vita native and I love working with the PS Vita.
Are you planning on the game to have a platinum trophy?
Yes. I am pushing with my account manager to have a platinum trophy. No promises yet, because I haven’t been promised one. I am definitely aiming for that.
So how have you found the support from Sony when it comes to developing for Vita?
Sony is extremely supportive. I haven’t had the experience of working with multiple platform holders but with Sony they are right there to answer your questions. Sometimes they take a little while, but beyond that they want to see you succeed and they will actually help you in any way they can. If it means getting you access to something you would normally have to pay for or that sort of thing, Sony will help you. Especially if you’re a one man team. That’s my experience.
That’s encouraging to hear. Any closing words for the audience?
Definitely look forward to this game. I’m pouring my heart into it and from what I’ve heard from other people it seems to show. I’m pretty proud of it.
Check out the Seraphim PS Vita Impressions: