Concerning the success garnished by the many independent video game scene over the eighth generation of gaming and beyond, this interview focuses on something even more significant to me on a personal level; an interview that had been a long time coming, and that I’d been particularly excited about conducting, The video game development scene in Liverpool has seen stability since the home computer era back in the early 80s, with programmers such as Matthew Smith and companies like Imagine Software taking center stage with ZX Spectrum games such as Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Stonkers. This momentum was carried on across generations of gaming with the likes of Psygnosis finding success throughout the fourth and fifth generations with Wipeout and Lemmings until unfortunately folding in 2012. But since, the indie development scene in Liverpool has thrived, with many studios having been founded within the city such as Mechabit Games, Space Lizard Studios, and the subject of this interview Milky Tea Studios.
Founded in 2005, Milky Tea began as a designer of advertisement campaigns for companies like Lloyds TSB, Sony, Toyota, and even the NFL at one point. But then in 2015, they released their first full game Coffin Dodgers, a kart racing game with a dark sense of humor. It saw release initially on Steam and was then later ported to eighth-generation consoles, such as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. After releasing an Android exclusive game named Roller Rally, they have most recently put out a game very different from anything they’ve ever developed. HyperBrawl Tournament is a multiplayer game taking place across an interdimensional universe whereby play football using melee combat to attack the opposition and score as many goals as possible. It has since garnished critical acclaim having been subsequently released on multiple consoles.
A while ago, I contacted the head of player engagement at Milky Tea Studio Simon Whitham to ask him a few questions in regards to Milky Tea Studios, HyperBrawl Tournament, and the company’s opinion on the current development scene in Liverpool and what the future may hold for the many promising developers based around the city. Here’s what Simon Whitham had to say about Milky Tea Studios:
What were the influences behind your latest game?
The three biggest inspirations behind HyperBrawl were Speedball, Mario Strikers, and Rocket League, for us we really wanted to build a casual sports brawler that kept players quick on their feet but also was easy to pick up but hard to master.
What has been the most exciting aspect of developing HyperBrawl Tournament?
For us, one of the most exciting developments for HyperBrawl was our soundtrack and audio design, for the audio production and music composing of HyperBrawl Tournament we worked alongside legendary music composer Steve Levine and through our partnership we’re able to work with Sony/ATV and Sony Masterworks to get the official soundtrack released on Spotify and Apple Music which for indie developers is unheard of.
Throughout the development of the HyperBrawl Tournament, our team also worked alongside the team at Omnio and legendary music composer Steve Levine to become the first-ever video game in history to use this revolutionary music industry and nightlife technology within interactive media.
Using Omnio, we were able to take the audio design of HyperBrawl Tournament and enable players to feel audio and experience music the way it sounded when originally recorded in a way that has never been done in video game development before and displays what is possible with game audio in the modern era.
To convert the tracks of HyperBrawl Tournament our team and Steve Levine passed each of the games audio tracks through a black box provided by Steve containing a unique chipset that utilized a special algorithm to remaster the sound for our team and create audio that is both reactive to the players actions in the game world but also matches the audio to what is happening in the present moment.
What has been the most challenging aspect of developing the HyperBrawl Tournament?
I’d say the most difficult aspect of development definitely was online multiplayer, multiplayer is always a challenge for any indie developer and there are a lot of different systems that require perfect balancing so the process of getting those right can be a lot of trial and error.
How satisfying has it been seeing both HyperBrawl Tournament and Coffin Dodgers garnish as much critical and commercial acclaim as they had done?
It’s always great seeing the gaming community loving your titles, with both HyperBrawl and Coffin Dodgers we’ve seen some of the biggest YouTube and Twitch stars within the gaming community play our titles and it’s always so rewarding to see the organic reactions of the community.
Have there been any ideas from either game that had been scrapped or reworked throughout development?
There are always features that sadly don’t make the cut when it comes to game development. We’ve had many great ideas that we would have loved to see in HyperBrawl but can’t comment on I’m afraid.
Have the team considered bringing HyperBrawl Tournament to VR, as you did with Coffin Dodgers?
I would say we would never rule this out 😉
What are the developer’s characters of heroes of choice whilst playing HyperBrawl Tournament or Coffin Dodgers?
Our personal favorites are Tristan, Shade, Bazooki, and Rip Deadly.
What’s next for Milky Tea Studios?
All the exciting things, new games, new updates, and more 😉
Are there any particular genres of gaming that the collective studio would like to develop a game for in the future?
We’re already working on our next games and you could say one of the genres is one we’ve always wanted to work on….you’ll just have to wait and see now won’t you hehe.
What is your opinion on the indie game development scene in Liverpool?
The games industry in Liverpool is criminally underrated we have Sony, Lucid Games, Firesprite, and many more top players within the games industry all within a stone’s throw of each other, it’s so great to have so many of our peers all within the Baltic Quarter and surrounding area, there is a very strong level of community and collaboration between us all.
As developers based in Liverpool working on a game based heavily on football, is there an equilibrium of Liverpool and Everton supporters at Milky Tea, or is it more geared towards one of the two?
We are all Liverpool supporters anything else would be criminal 😛
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Research is key, look at the market, what the demand is, and what audiences are asking for on Steam and other platforms, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making a game that you love but not what the community wants.
Remember research is everything, make sure to look at where the market is at and how you can improve upon the formula to make a truly great experience.
Do you have anything else to add?
Remember stay awesome 😀
Lastly, I’d like to thank Simon and Milky Tea Studios for taking the time out to answer my questions and to wish them the best of luck with HyperBrawl Tournament as well as what their next project may be, Milky Tea, along with the many other indie developers based in Liverpool, have shown a great deal of promise in the games they have developed and demonstrated an emphasis on variety in games design, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. If you wish to download either Coffin Dodgers or HyperBrawl Tournament, you can do so via the link below as well as the Nintendo eShop, the PlayStation Network, or Xbox Live:
But regardless, I hope guys enjoyed this interview, and for any scousers out there reading this, I hope you guys feel as optimistic about the development scene in Merseyside as I do.
Scouse Gamer 88