In the past, AppSpy has been very clear about how much it loves Raptisoft's work, be it Solomon's Keep, Boneyard or even quirkier titles like Robot Wants Kitty. As such, the news of an updated and expanded version of Boneyard, dubbed 'Solomon's Dark', has been welcomed with open arms and even snippets such as the following video can't sate our excitement.
What makes the news even better is the circumstances under which Raptisoft has been making the game - and indeed all of its games - with one man running the show (albeit with outside help as needed). In a fascinating interview with AppsJP, John Raptis discusses his beginnings in developing for the App Store; why the Solomon series is getting a complete overhaul (complete with a teased 'trilogy' sequel); and where Raptisoft will likely head after the titles are completed.
AppsJP: First of all, thank you for taking our interview. Could you tell us your more about yourself please?
Raptisoft: Sure thing! I'm John Raptis, just turned 40. I have a wife and two children. I'm the only full time employee at Raptisoft, though I do make use of contractors and various helpers. All in all, Raptisoft is a *very* small company, but since I am both an artist and a programmer, I can still get a game out, as long as I can find a musician... Currently, I am working on an expanded remake of Solomon's Boneyard, called "Solomon Dark". Future plans include Hamsterball 2, a remake of Solomon's Keep, Hoggy Deluxe, and Son of Solomon to round out the Solomon's Trilogy.
AppsJP: What motivated you to develop an app on the AppStore?
Raptisoft: Writing games is not just a job to me-- it is a calling. When I finally grow too old to keep up, I think I will either descend into madness or perish. That said, during the early 00's, the place to be if you wanted to write video games was writing casual PC games. Around 2008-2009, that market fell to pieces, and it grew very difficult for a lone-wolf programmer to make a decent living at it any more. So there I was, an entertainer without a stage! So in 2009 I began to explore the iPhone as a better place to reach people with games. At first, it was very nice, because the iPhone's limited memory and speed meant you could write very small, neat games quickly. I wrote a little experimental game ('Get Lucky') in two weeks. I wrote Hoggy in two months. Solomon's Keep and Solomon's Boneyard took three months each. It was quick, and fun, and holy cow people were buying! By comparison (now that there is more memory and processor available on iOS) Solomon Dark has been in the works for six months and probably won't be done before eight.
AppsJP: Let me ask you about Solomon's Dark. What made you to develop this sequel of Solomon franchise?
Raptisoft: First, let me say that my Solomon games are actually older games. I started Solomon's Keep in 2001, after completing Eggsucker. When I went to work for Popcap games, they wanted me to shelve it (because it wasn't a casual game) and I did. I always knew I'd go back to it one day. So the game design for Solomon's Keep has percolated in my mind for a long time. It became a precious thing to me -- the game I would do one day when I finally had all the resources I needed. Early in 2010, I suddenly realized I was never going to get all the resources I needed. I decided I could write a "mini" version of the game for iOS, and see if that got it out of my system. The limits of the screen and memory were actually kind of fun; the limits produced good things, like the randomized skill system, as well as bad things, like the graphical sameness. I want Solomon to get better treatment than that. I want Solomon to have enough memory and processor to do nicer lighting, more varied backgrounds, more skills, more everything, better everything! I wrote the original Solomon's Keep and Solomon's Boneyard unsure whether they would find an audience and make money -- now that I know that people who like them, I want to do nicer versions as a thank-you!
AppsJP: What are the appealing points of Solomon's Dark? Do you think it's going to come with higher play value in comparison to your earlier apps? Are you confident you'll be able to satisfy those who were loyal to previous Solomon titles?
Raptisoft: I guess this is most easily expressed as simple bullet points. Solomon Dark is Solomon's Boneyard, with:
* Much, much, much better visuals
* Lots of new monsters
* A gigantic skill system
* A mini-editor so people can make and share their own graveyards
* A whole new item system (much more interesting magic items!)
Some people have expressed dismay that I'm redoing Boneyard instead of Keep, but Keep is coming. I wanted to do Boneyard first to get the multiplayer technology working. Since Boneyard/Dark takes place in a single play arena, that is easier to synchronize, and I don't have to worry about things like the states of different floors in the Keep and what not. Dark also takes place about three months after the events of Solomon's Boneyard, so it's a little different. The university is taking the ascendent Solomon Dark a little bit more seriously. The wizards are better prepared. I think anyone who likes Solomon's Boneyard will enjoy this. Even people who prefer Keep should enjoy it, because even though it's a single Arena, the mini-editor allows you to set up events and situations that can be used to build a very small adventure. Using the technology developed for Robot Wants Kitty to share online levels, and seeing the genius of the levels people have uploaded there, I have great hopes for the long-time playability of Solomon Dark!
For more of this interview, head over to AppsJP and read the whole thing for yourself. A big thank you to iHait and AppsJP for the translation.
Solomon's Dark is tentatively slated to appear some time around October - we'll definitely be keeping an ear to the ground for more news as it's released!