I’m happy to welcome 11 bit studios. They were kind enough to answer a few questions for us and shed some light regarding their future plans and their view on the Mac gaming platform.
As a reminder, the Mac platform is only as good as the games it can offer. And we owe them all to the developers that decided to support it as much as Windows, especially when their Windows version sells many, many more copies (around 95% of total sales, according to 11 bit studios).
This is why it’s always great to hear what developers have to say. Understand why they support our favorite platform and what they expect from it. Some could argue that these questions lose weight if they don’t come from a big-time AAA developer, but given the commercial success of their Anomaly series, This War of Mine and Frostpunk, 11 bit studios have proven they know what they’re doing.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into their answers:
About 11 bit studios
Can you tell us a little about your team? How many are you? Where are you located?
11 bit studios is based in Warsaw, Poland. It was founded in 2009 and the initial team was of 5 guys. Now we’re somewhere close to 40 people and we’re organized in a few groups – one is developing This War of Mine, one is working on a new project, one group is developing Games Republic. Few guys like Pawel from QA and producer Marcin are involved in pretty much every project.
The future of This War of Mine
What are your plans regarding the future of This War of Mine? Paid / Free DLC? A Sequel?
We have just released a very unusual DLC because it’s an initiative of us and street artists oriented completely on charity. Street art pieces made by M-City, SeaCreative, FauxReel, Specter, Emir and M. Waluś, have been forged into in-game artworks you can find on different locations in This War of Mine. These pieces are a kind of commentary on war and the human condition. Anyway, the DLC is on Steam and all our proceeds are given to War Child UK who focuses on helping children affected by wars all around the world. Apart from that, we’re working on a big expansion of TWoM which will be available for every owner of the game for free.
The game’s development
Regarding Multiplatform development… What factors went into the decision of going that route, and was it difficult for a small team?
Our engine (completely in-house technology) is a quite multi-platform engine, and making such was one of the founding ideas of the studio. This isn’t something extremely complicated, yet I cannot judge the difficulty behind it – it’s something for the programming team.
Do Mac and Linux sales justify the extra work involved? Can you share an approximate split of sales per platform?
I certainly think so, because the amount of work is not that big actually comparing to the entire game’s development. And it surely makes sense from a commercial point of view, although Mac and Linux sum up to maybe 5% of sales – Windows definitely is the giant here.
But anyway, the financial factor is not the most important, because it really makes sense to build a connection with Linux and Mac gaming community. They’re very engaged and help us to spread the word about our games. Big thanks here from 11 bit!
The MacOS platform challenges (and future?)
Are there any specific challenges related to creating games on the Mac platform (OpenGL vs DirectX, etc.)?
[I passed this question over to Bartek Brzostek, who created our engine – PM]
There are quite a few challenges related to the Mac platform. Firstly, as you mentioned the rendering API is different. Today OpenGL and DirectX are much closer to each other than they used to, however, they are still different APIs with different shading languages. Secondly, not only GPU APIs differ. It’s the same with sound too. The PC version is based on XAudio and Mac code uses OpenAL. Also, the I/O API differ, as there is no DirectInput on Mac. Maintaining the code that uses two different APIs is time-consuming. Thirdly – the toolsets for both versions are completely different – Visual Studio vs XCode. This requires maintaining two different projects.
As a summary – it’s not difficult, however, it surely needs some work.
Do you see it growing as a gaming platform moving forward?
For sure, because 2014 was the most successful year for us on the Mac App Store, however, it is growing at the same tempo as the entire market grows. So unless anything sudden and unexpected happens, Windows is going to be the most popular PC gaming platform, and far more popular than others combined.
With Apple moving towards integrated and mobile graphics cards, how do you see the future of MacOS gaming? Casual or hardcore?
It’s not a question of hardware, I think. It’s rather dependant on the popularity of gaming as a part of pop culture. The more it’s popular, the more games (both casual and hardcore) are going to be developed. It applies to a pretty much each platform out there, not only Mac.
What is one thing they would like to see Apple include in the next version of OS X to benefit gaming?
What we would like to see in the first place, would be some lightweight rendering API, something like Metal for iOS devices.
A big thank you (and what’s next)!
Again, thanks to 11-bit studios for the time and answers. We sure hope more developers will follow their strategy (multi-platform engines that deliver as many platforms as possible). This is a trend I keep seeing with Unity. More and more indie developers are using it, and therefore going for multiplatform releases. And it’s also important when a cross-platform media site or gaming forum continues to promote this trend.
The rise of mobile games is also helping the development of multiplatform releases. Mobile games are slowly becoming more meaty and worthy of being released and traditional platforms. Genshin Impact and Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells come to mind.
Now we only need more big-time developers to understand the philosophy. To understand that even if sales are lower on macOS and Linux, they both have specific communities that can be more vocal. And that’s always a good thing. I would rather belong to a small but strong community than the opposite. That’s why we’re here anyway right? 😉
Would you like us to interview another developer in particular? All suggestions are welcome!