Interview with Pavel Tovarys Producer of Undercroft for the iPhone

RPG iPhone Interviews

G’day everyone MasterAbbot is back with another interview for Capsule Computers.

Today we speak to Pavel Tovarys producer of  Undercroft over at Rake in Grass studios for the Apple iPhone/iTouch.  If your not aware of Undercroft check out the review HERE

Pavel was very generous in donating a free promo code for Undercroft to give away to one lucky reader.  Have a read of this interview and then let us know what  you like about Undercroft and what you would like to see in terms of updates in the future or even better what you would like to see in Undercroft 2 that didn’t make it in Undercroft.

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INTERVIEW

 Capsule Computers Question 1 Tell us a little bit about Rake in the Grass Studios.  How were they created, the origin behind the name Rake In The Grass, when was it first established, and how many employees does it have today.

 Pavel Tovarys – Rake in Grass is a very small studio – our core has only 3 members.  But all of us are game developing veterans.  We have started to develop games in 8-bit era, so 15 (and more) years ago. But the game developing was only a hobby for us until last year. We joined Rake In Grass about 8 years ago and we started our professional career 3-4 years ago.

 Capsule Computers Question 2What do you believe have been your greatest challenges designing games for the mobile phone market ? Especially games for the iPhone/iTouch.

 Pavel Tovarys –  iPhone is a strong platform with unique features giving a lot of freedom to a developer. For example, the touchscreen allows us to create any interface we like. The freedom is great, but it’s also challenging. When you can do “anything” you have to think very well, what to do exactly. Therefore the hardest thing probably  is to optimize the interface and the whole game, so it uses all the advantages of the hardware and avoids all the shortcomings.

 Capsule Computers Question 3What do you believe is the main reason why the Rake in The Grass games are such a success ?

  Pavel TovarysHonestly? We have no idea. Our primary motivation is to create games we like to play, to bring to life ideas that we find interesting. We are not just making money, it’s not just a job for us. Thanks to that we create things that are slightly different from the ordinary casual games that dominate the market today. Also we invest a lot of effort and developing time to make the games as quality as possible. Maybe the effort and genuine interest in what we do shows up and appeals to players.

Capsule Computers Question 4 For people that don’t know anything about, Undercroft.  How would you describe the game to them and the meaning behind the games name.

Pavel TovarysWe always struggle with names for our games. It’s hard to concentrate the essence of a game into one short title. Undercroft does not refer to anything specific. It’s just another word for a crypt and we felt it suits well the character of the game. Undercroft is a RPG in which you control a bunch of heroes on their quest for glory. You travel many places, explore dark dungeons for long burried treasures and fight hordes of beasts, monsters and magical creatures. The visuals are darker (people who dig Halloween atmosphere will probably like it), but the story and quests are actually light and humorous and full of parodic moments. Undercroft is easy to pick and easy to play RPG with a lot of fun.

Capsule Computers Question 5What extra features/modes/ etc did you add to make Undercroft stand out in the crowd of other RPG style games that are out in the market at the moment.

Pavel TovarysFirst of all players control a party of heroes. It’s great to combine powers of specialized characters. Your mage is truly a mage and warrior is melee combat expert and nothing else. You don’t have one hero that knows a little of everything and do everything. Party management is much more rich and fun. We are especially proud of the interface that is easy to use, despite the fact the game is quite complex.. 

I also like the turn-based combat and square divided maps. Some may find it obsolete and disadvantageous, but it makes the exploring more lucid and adds to tactical depth of the battles. In combat, there’s no rush and you can think out your next move. But in the same time you can play it really quickly with almost real-time feel, if you are sure about the dominance of your party. No unnecessary hindering.

The game has a lot of items to loot, a lot of quests to complete. I’m sure many players also like the humorous tone of the story and dialogues.

Last but not least thing I want to mention Undercroft has a great replay value. You can try to beat the game with many party setups. After you finish, you can try again with all spell-casters, or maybe a “ninja squad” of four assassins (of whom each can have different specialization). You can even go with one lonely hero, if you think you are up to the task.

Capsule Computers Question 6 How long was the development cycle for Undercroft.  Could you briefly explain the start to finish phases: storyboading, concept art etc

Pavel TovarysIt was quite long. The original Pocket PC version took about year to complete. We needed several months more to get it to iPhone, because large portions of the game were remade. We usually do not have strict production phases. There’s always a long discussion about what game to do next, then a rather short time of preparations when concepts and very basic design docs are created, but we mostly create and change things as we go. It’s a sort of controlled anarchy :).

Capsule Computers Question 7 What engine / technology is used in getting Undercroft up and running on the iPhone, how many developers / programmers were involved in creating Undercorft.

Pavel TovarysIt’s an in-house engine created by Jiri Prochazka. He’s also the one programmer that coded the whole game. Petr Tovarys then ported the PC development version to iPhone.

Capsule Computers Question 8Where there any issues or speed bumps along the way in creating Undercroft ? And what did the development team do to overcome them.

 Pavel TovarysThe biggest issue was the interface. We tried some other games and we didn’t like the small and hard to hit buttons and overall confusing complicated layout. It’s a main problem of RPGs that you need so many things, items and information on the screen. And of course no one wants a screen covered with tiny buttons and even tinier texts. We had to create an endless line of concepts and when the best looking was chosen and created, we were willing to change and improve many of it’s features in several iterations. It was very time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but necessary.

Capsule Computers Question 9What was your main reason for creating a fun and exciting RPG game like Undercroft ?  What other games if any were influential in aiding the creation of Undercroft.

Pavel TovarysWe love these kind of games. We grew up with classic dungeon crawling RPGs like Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Lands of Lore and many others. We was driven by selfish motivation to recreate that oldschool feeling we miss in nowadays RPG games. The major influence except the aforementioned games is also the magnificent series Might and Magic and Diablo.

Capsule Computers Question 10 How would you describe the game mechanics of Undercroft.  What do players need to do to succeed.

Pavel TovarysIt’s similar to other RPGs. You explore the area, get quests, fight with monsters and are rewarded with money, experience and treasures. One big part of the Undercroft experience is exploring. Prepare for deep dungeons, snowy mountains, fiery pit of lava, dark forests and more.

Another important element is party management. You have a party of specialized heroes, who have to cooperate in order to succeed. Different heroes need different equipment. What is a junk for one, is a treasure for another. Enemy that is a deadly thread to warrior is an easy target for a mage, and vice versa.

In order to beat the game you need to build balanced, well equipped group. You need to use resources like money and potions wisely. It’s always good to concentrate on few skills for one hero and build a master of chosen specialization. You can follow the main quest only, but it’s always profitable to do side quests to gain more money and experience.

Capsule Computers Question 11 Are there any patches or updates planned for Undercroft, if so what will be included in the updates.

Pavel TovarysOf course this game is too big and complex to be bug-free. We plan to release patches and also to tweek the balance according to players’ feedback. We also have some material prepared for a huge update, but this is a question of more distant future. We still don’t know, if this oldschool gaming experience is what the iPhone players are looking for. Game like Undercroft is much harder to create than usual platfomer or action game, so we have to wait for the reception, before we move any further.

Capsule Computers Question 12 Please explain the list of characters currently available in Undercroft,  Classes, Skills, etc.  Will there be new characters available in future updates.

Pavel TovarysThere are five classes. WARRIOR is your classic melee tank. MAGE is also exactly what you would expect from the character. PRIEST can be a healer/spellcaster or he can be trained into a strong crusader and damage dealer, especially against undead and demons. SUMMONER deals with black magic. He is a very variable character. He can fight enemies with powerful spells, or he can concentrate on shapeshifting and attack transformed into a terrible beast, or he can specialize in summoning skeletons or creation of golems. ASSASSIN is also very variable. He can become a deadly martial artist fighting unarmed or with staves. He can use exotic weapons unseen in many RPGs, like chains, flails or whips. Or he can be turned into a warrior with strong ranged attacks, who masters bows, crossbows and throwing weapons.

There are too many skills and spells to describe here. Please visit the game’s web for more info: http://undercroft.rakeingrass.com/handbook_iphone/skills.php

Capsule Computers Question 13 Trophies / Achievements are what drive a number of players to play games now-days .. Does Undercroft have goals to accomplish  or achievements to unlock.  And if not will there be any possibilities of adding them in future releases / updates.

Pavel TovarysUndercroft is an RPG in classic style. You don’t get anything for killing 1000 wolves or revealing the whole map of some level, but you get a lot of optional quests, hidden buttons, secret areas in dungeons, puzzles, treasures and unique weapons. You can fly through the game or you can explore the areas and get much more.

Capsule Computers Question 14What can players / consumers expect from Rake in The Grass Studios moving forward.  Are there already plans or upcoming games that you are able to let your fans know about ?

Pavel TovarysWe haven’t finished  plans for the next year(s) yet. We want to release a sequel of Be a King in February. We have a few other ideas for the future, but first we need to finish all our arrears and take some time to relax and find power to the next year 🙂

Capsule Computers Question 15 Finally.. What do you love most working at Rake In The Grass ?

Pavel TovarysFreedom. Nobody commands us and we can create any game we want.  And because we are a small studio and we don’t work on AAA games, we are not frustrated due long (yeyars and years) developing time etc.

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Thank you once again to Pavel Tovarys for this detailed and excellent answers to Undercroft.  I would urge everyone out there to grab a copy of Undercroft, help support Rake in Grass studios.  I personally hope to see an Undercroft 2 or extra expansion update in the furture.  But all this will rest on its success.  And that in turn lays in our hands.  Let us know what you think of Undercroft in your comments as stated at the begining of this interview.  I have a copy of Undercroft to give away to the best comment.

Grab your copy now from App Store :  DOWNLOAD UNDERCROFT for only $4.99 US

Thanks for reading.

Play Hard Or Don't Play At All
  • Wow, I just downloaded Undercroft Lite version and was amazed at the gameplay!!!!! 🙂 AWESOME! This is such a fun/addicting app I keep replaying it lol. Features of the app are nice, graphics are nice and unique (fit with the style of the game perfectly) sounds are cool, and most of all, the gameplay is really fitted well to the iPhone and iPod touch. For future updates, MINOR bug fixes, I haven’t noticed much of any problems though, and mayb some more levels? Idk because I do not own the full version, but would love to win the promo code!!! As description has it, 20 hrs of gameplay sounds great to me. 🙂 one of the most well-developed, thought out applications in the App Store. Keep developing, because you guys sure know what you are doing!
    Thank you,
    ~iTouchAppReviewers

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  • Joshua Arnao

    Party managment seems way cool! Great review.

  • Stephanie

    Oh how I have missed the old school RPG. I have already played through Undercroft on EASY and now I will go for NORMAL. I hope it does so well that there will be multiple additions to this game. It was great being able to use my IPOD while traveling to play this game. I recommend this game for anyone who loved Might & Magic 4 & 5. Please make more games like this one!

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