A former senior designer of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has unveiled his new game - and it's not what you'd expect for a man who's worked on some of the most violent games of this generation.
Firefly: The Adventures of Switch is an iPod, iPhone and iPad side-scrolling platformer that's likened to Ubisoft's Rayman series - a far cry from Rockstar's finest.
Leeds indie dev Red Kite Games was founded by Simon Iwaniszak, who worked on Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars at Rockstar Leeds, Red Dead Redemption at Rockstar San Diego and, most recently, LA Noire, again at Rockstar Leeds.
Firefly: The Adventures of Switch is a fast-paced side-scrolling platformer that fuses 2D visuals with retro parallaxing environments and 3D characters. Switch is a firefly who sets out to restore light to Firefly Island after the evil Master Mantis steals all the light orbs for himself, threatening the fireflies who live there and all who rely upon them.
It's a game inspired by the traditional 2D animation of early Disney films and eighties animations such as Watership Down with all the puzzles and platforming you'd expect from the genre.
Using touch-based controls you can have Switch run, fly and shoot, collecting light orbs which are scattered throughout each level. He can use his slingshot to attack the game's many enemies, such as toxic slugs and lethal hornets, absorbing their light orbs in the process. Switch's friends, kidnapped by Master Mantis, are held captive in cages, again, scattered throughout each level. If Switch has found a key he can free them.
Of course, the first thing most science fiction fans will think of when they hear about Firefly: The Adventures of Switch is not a Rayman-style platformer but the much-loved and short-lived Joss Whedon-created TV series.
“There's absolutely no comparisons with it,” Iwaniszak told Eurogamer. “It's something we're slightly aware of. That's why we've added the tag line to the title.”
Isn't he afraid the lawyers will come calling when the game launches early next year?
“To be honest it's not something I've looked into massively but I can't see how when Firefly is an insect. The only thing they ever trademarked in Firefly would be the characters or maybe the fact the spaceship they were in was a Firefly. I can't see how they could have copyright.
“Let's hope not anyway!”
When people buy our game they will be able to get access to everything within it. That's something we're trying to stick to as much as possible
Red Kite games founder Simon Iwaniszak
Red Kite is yet to decide on a price for the game, but Iwaniszak it's going for a cheap up-front cost supported by in-app purchases. The light orbs found throughout the game are its virtual currency, and you can pay real world money to buy more. You use orbs to buy upgrades, such as the super accurate crossbow.
He admitted there's been “a little bit of a backlash” to games that rely heavily on in-app purchases, but promised that players will be able to obtain everything Firefly has to offer if they're willing to play for long enough.
“There are games out there where it's impossible to do that,” he said. “This is something we're very keen to avoid with Firefly. We are doing this business model but we're trying to do it in the correct way. When people buy our game they will be able to get access to everything within it. That's something we're trying to stick to as much as possible.”
So, how long will you have to play to get the crossbow without paying for extra light orbs?
“You might have to play the game for a long time, but it's going to be achievable.”
Red Kite will show a video of Firefly: The Adventures of Switch at the Firefly at the Bradford Animation Festival on Friday 16th November at midday.