gdc 2011

“Finding The Fun” In Infinity Blade

by Meagan Marie on Mar 01, 2011 at 08:54 AM

As the first game to utilize Unreal technology on mobile devices, Infinity Blade straddled the line between big-budget titles and traditional mobile offerings. As such, it’s intriguing to find that developer Chair Entertainment managed to maintain the mobile standard of a quick turnaround from pitch to publishing.

Approached on a Friday by Epic with the opportunity, the team at Chair hashed through potential directions for the game and had a skeletal prototype using Shadow Complex stand-ins the following Monday. From conceptualization to launch, the entire development process weighed in at less than five months/100 work days, taking full advantage of the 12 person team at chair.

Creative Director Donald Mustard explained at a panel this morning that Chair was able to accomplish the task by “finding the fun” in the earliest stages of development. Chair first looked at what genres were popular on the mobile marketplace – physics puzzles, tower defense, card and board games, and console ports – and decided the hook that would differentiate themselves from a sea of clones was the idea of “true swordplay.”

Rapid prototyping allowed Chair to test if the concept worked with one-finger play (a core design requirement), “find the fun,” and move forward at an increased pace. Ancillary ideas and mechanics were tossed out if they didn’t support the heart of the gameplay, making it easier for Chair to avoid being bogged down trying to pigeonhole interesting ideas where they didn’t belong.

As a result, within ten days of Epic’s proposal, Infinity Blade was playable. Impressive to say the least.