During a candid presentation at the Pocket Gamer Connects conference in Helsinki, the creative director Heikki Repo, from the iOS game called Oceanhorn spoke proudly on the success of his RPG. He also touched on a few inside app development and promotion techniques that contributed to the title’s accumulation of over 1 million downloads.
“In the beginning we just wanted to make a game that was missing from the App Store,” said Repo. “When I got my first iPhone 3GS, I was searching for a console style RPG adventure, and they were missing from the marketplace. I’m a big fan of JRPGs, and I really wanted players to have that kind of experience. This was a project where we could realize our childhood dreams.”
“Because we were a small team, we needed to maximize our efforts, so we created a 3D title engine called Roc, and we made all the levels this way,” he continued.
“When we were unsure as to whether we could make the game we wanted to make, we started to focus on the features that would have the biggest impact on Oceanhorn – if you want to leap towards the final goal rather than small steps.”
“I wanted art assets I could use throughout the game because it was still a huge task doing such a big game. If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the details and the fine tuning, you’ll end up with a finished game.”
Oceanhorn in One Single Screenshot
In mobile standards, Oceanhorn is a large game. The adventure RPG has an estimated 15 hours of playtime and was created solely by the Cornfox & Bros. three-man development team. It was inspired by the classic Zelda game series. In Oceanhorn players step into the role of a young boy who awakes to find a letter from his missing father, a mysterious notebook and a necklace. The lad must set sail on a journey across the islands of Uncharted Seas to unravel the mystery. Players have to solve puzzles, battle monsters, perform magic, and search for treasure along the way.
According to Repo, one of the most important methods they used during the development of the game was to focus on the essential elements. However the small indie game studio contributes the majority of the title’s success to a single screenshot that captured all of the game’s core features and gameplay. They truly believe that one shot sold the game.
“It was very easy to see what the game was about in one single screenshot,” concluded Repo. “We will try to make games in the future where people know what kind of experience they will have from one single shot.”