Chia Jinlence is lead programmer for Jump Smash 15, released by Mediasoft Entertainment in April. In this postmortem, he details his work on Jump Smash, as well as his transition from indie developer to a programmer at Mediasoft, one of the largest developers in Malaysia.
For the last three years that I’ve been at Mediasoft Entertainment I’ve quickly seen it grow from a studio of five to almost 70. Our first game, “Ninja One Shot,” was ranked one of the Top 100 mobile puzzle games in four countries. Encouraged by our success, we pumped out a slew of about 40 casual games in the next two years. Not all the games ended up doing as well as our first did, and in retrospect it all was a learning platform that led to the development of Jump Smash.
We quickly realized that in order to attain international recognition and longevity as a studio we had to create a game that was bigger than ourselves, a game that could inspire fans and create an IP that would grow to become more than just a simple mobile game. It needed to traverse platforms and be incorporated as a lifestyle that was synonymous with gaming.
The Jump Before the Smash
The goal for our next game was simple: make a game that would be recognized worldwide. What was popular in games at that time in the Southeast Asian region were things that mainly revolved around RPGs and intricate story lines, mostly a trend started from the Japanese market that was dominating Asia at that time.
There was no way for us to compete with companies such as SquareEnix or Nintendo, so we turned to another avenue that was still as yet untapped by the South East Asian market. Badminton was the key choice for us; it was already incorporated into our company as a sport activity and something that was close to home.
At the time, however, doing a realistic badminton sports game was a risky option. The biggest gaming companies had already dominated the overall sports game markets with franchises such as FIFA and NBA2K, so it was fairly daunting to go head to head with games of that caliber.
Thus, the idea for Jump Smash was born, a realistic 3D badminton game that would incorporate characters from all over the world.
From Indie to Corporate
I’ve always loved games, any games, any console; I’m that sort of gamer. I think there’s something to be learned in any game, no matter how big or small, and I was excited to try and learn something new with Jump Smash.
Previously I worked in a small group with a couple of other indie guys and together we made a couple of half-decent social games. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from them, but it was difficult to really make headlines with those games. Enter Mediasoft and Jump Smash.
There’s a huge difference moving from indie to corporate — a lot more red tape, for one thing. If I needed to make a decision with my old team, they were just sitting across from me and we would handle it there and then. But now I had to schedule meetings and send out emails; it was a completely different discipline I had to adopt.
Everybody Loves Research
One of the trickiest things we encountered in Jump Smash was the development of the gameplay. The game took a year to develop but in fact about four months was dedicated just to the research and development side of everything.
Being one of the first badminton games was initially a great idea, until it came down to the research. There weren’t a lot of games to check out and for the most part we came up with everything including gameplay, user interface and features on our own.
My favourite part has to be the art style of the game. I know it sounds strange coming from a programmer, but rather than realistic characters, we opted to do anime characters. Not only could we get more creative with everything, but the animations could be a lot more exaggerated. I have to say I’m particularly proud of the “Supershot” scenes.
It’s Not Over Yet
It’s every game designer’s dream to work with a team that has just the sort of synergy that we do. Everybody loves doing what they’re doing and there’s a sense of trust and understanding, so everyone is on the same page. In my role, I like assigning them the areas that they want to work on. It’s better this way — they’re more interested, and if they want to add in more features within deadline, then all the better.
The game has been launched for a couple of months now, and even though I’m working on other projects, I have a lot of attachment for Jump Smash 15. Every day I check the game reviews and comments to keep making improvements the game. It was a surprise actually when we got voted “Best New Update” on the iOS store in over 12 countries.
It’s been an amazing experience for the whole team to just watch our game spiral out of control to reach people from all over the world. We have a whole line of Jump Smash merchandising apparel, a Jump Smash comic book series, and there’s even talk of turning it into an animated series.
Jump Smash has become everything we wanted it to be and more, and we’re looking forward to our next challenge of porting Jump Smash onto the Playstation 4 next year.
If you have any comments or questions about Jump Smash, email the developers at email@example.com.