Below is an excerpt from an interview I recently published with Joel Kinnunen and Jukka Kokkonen from Finnish game developer Frozenbyte. The full two part interview can be found here: Cheesetalks.twolofbees.com
Last year, the puzzle platformer Trine passed 1.1 million sales. Can you talk a little about how Trine has grown in popularity since its initial release? Are there any significant events that have helped the Trine user base expand?
Joel: Trine was a sleeper hit. On this side we like to think that we made it a success despite the odds, really. The launch certainly wasn't huge, but it wasn't too bad either, it did well on the PSN. Steam is where we made most of our revenue though, and that's been a gradual rise. I think Trine brought us around the same revenue year-on-year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, which is quite amazing - it was because of the big sales on Steam in 2010 and because of the sales and Humble Bundle in 2011. Trine is our first game that has clearly made a profit, and it was that success that helped us self-fund Trine 2.
Linux versions of Frozenbyte's games have been available since 2009, but Trine 2 is the first game to have a native Linux port developed in-house. How did the decision to handle a Linux port internally come about?
Jukka: At least technology-wise, we had already gone with a major engine re-write for Trine 2. And as we did that, writing portable code was one of the major points of focus. So with an engine that was already portable to various other platforms, Windows, Xbox 360, PS3 and Mac OS X, it seemed like a rather easy task to port it to Linux as well. Specifically the relative similarity of the Mac port made the Linux port seem like a feasible thing to do.
Joel: We also wanted to be able to provide proper support for the Linux versions. There will always be problems and if we're going to be serious about Linux, then we need to be able to help our customers directly.
Has developing a Linux port internally proved to be a positive or negative experience? In what ways has it compared to the processes and results of outsourcing?
Jukka: At least now that the engine was in much better shape than in Trine 1, and much more portable to begin with, doing this internally was a positive experience. Outsourcing always adds some communication hurdles and management overhead, and with a good base code for the porting to begin with, it can often actually be faster to just do the port yourself, rather than write all the specifications, handle source code and data accesses, etc. for outsourcing. I think that in general, with Trine 2, the amount of effort that we would have saved in programming time by outsourcing, would have mostly been lost in the added overhead. This was somewhat different than with the old Trine 1 engine.
Joel: From the management perspective, everything has been very smooth. We - or rather, Jukka - knew what we were doing, and there's been only a few things that we've needed to check together. That's vastly different to some of the outsourced stuff we have done.
Are there plans to add multiplayer support for the DRM Free version of Trine 2 to the Steam version?
Joel: There are. :) We have plans related to these and we'll be announcing something soon-ish...
Will the upcoming Trine 2 expansion be a continuation of the Trine or Trine 2 stories, or a self-contained adventure?
Joel: It's a continuation from Trine 2. It's a "so the heroes were returning from the adventure" kind of a tale. I'm confident that the expansion will be our best story telling experience, we're still trying to integrate our story telling process into the game/level making process and Trine 2 suffered from that a bit, so with the expansion it looks like things will fall into place a little better. I guess we'll see!
Where do you see Frozenbyte in two years' time?
Joel: Hopefully we'll have just released our next big game! I hope we'll have been able to self-fund it all, and not be completely dependent on its commercial success either. I imagine we should have one or two new projects going on as well.
Don't forget, you can read the full interview (and my reviews of Trine and Trine 2) at Cheesetalks.twolofbees.com