Three years ago, Sony shuttered British-based developer BigBig Studios as the Japanese giant sought to reallocate resources more effectively across its roster of first-party studios. It marked the end of a fruitful five-year stint for BigBig, which carved out a reputation for compelling handheld titles courtesy of Pursuit Force and Little Deviants.
Fast forward to the present day and you have a scenario wherein some of the studio’s scattered seeds are beginning to form their own creative companies in the industry, including one Richard Ogden. Having worked under Sony since the PS1 era, the developer made the bold decision to strike out on his own, while continuing his longstanding relationship with the publisher by bringing maiden project Minutes to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
But before jumping back on the horse, Ogden took some time for himself following the closure of BigBig in 2012.
I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do next. I went travelling around (literally) the world for 3-months. When I got home I had the game-making bug again so set about developing an idea. That one got binned eventually but then I started on “Minutes.”
What’s in a Name?
Sure, company names are important — essential, really — particularly for independent studios striving to stand out against the white noise. For Red Phantom Games, though, there isn’t necessarily a story lurking behind the studio’s branding; rather, Odgen settled on the title for its simplicity and effectiveness. After all, the proof is in the pudding, not a fancy moniker.
It was just a name that popped into my head at some point in the past. I didn’t think about it too much. You can agonise over name, branding and logos way too much. I figured it didn’t really matter – it’s simple and solid enough. It’s the games that I make that are important.
Meet the Team
Our other indie spotlights have lifted the curtain on an array of low-key, passionate teams, but for Red Phantom Games, Richard Ogden is flying the flag as a one-man army, assuming the roles of founder, director, designer and programmer.
I don’t have an office and work from home. That means I can work when I like. I’m not a morning person so generally lie in and work a bit later in the evening.
Recent Game Highlight
Though it bears semblance to other genre pieces such as Ikaruga, Red Phantom Games’ premiere title is a bullet-hell title with a palpable indie feel. Kicking narrative to the kerb, Minutes is an abstract puzzler where gameplay is king, allowing players to manoeuvre a circle around the vivid screen to collect light energy sources. Here, Ogden provides some background about its style, difficulty, along with the game’s recent launch back in February.
Minutes is an “avoid-em-up”, a bullet-hell game where you can’t shoot back, it’s minimalist and focused on gameplay as opposed to experiencing a world, story, cutscenes and suchlike. It’s a challenging, score-chasing game with a cool and simple risk-reward mechanics, clean visuals and a great soundtrack.
It’s a tough game but not as tough as it was. I reduced the difficulty for the recent U.S. launch and patched the game for Europe. I think the balance is better now. It’s nice to have the opportunity to act on player and reviewer feedback. The game is available on PS4 and Vita (Cross-Buy) and the latest trailer is here.
A huge thanks to Richard Ogden of Red Phantom Games for providing us with the information found in this feature. To keep up with all of the studio’s work, you can follow them on Twitter @RedPhantomGames.