Interview with Horn Developer, Phosphor Games

By John Gaudiosi ( - Tue, Dec 4, 2012

NVIDIA Tegra 3 device owners will be getting an enhanced version of Phosphor Games new action adventure game, Horn, which was selected by Zynga as a premiere title in its mobile developers program. Based loosely on the Old English tales of King Horn, gamers will play as a young blacksmith's apprentice named Horn, who is the key to saving his kingdom from an evil curse that’s turned his village into monsters. Chip Sineni, director at Phosphor Games Studio, explains how Tegra 3 makes this beautiful game more breathtaking and exciting in this exclusive interview.

How have you worked with NVIDIA on this game?
We were pretty happy with how Dark Meadow turned out for Tegra 3, so early in the development of Horn we knew we wanted to get NVIDIA involved with making it extra special.

What have they provided in terms of tech that has helped with development?
NVIDIA is great at analyzing your game and letting you know where you can optimize, as well as hooking you up with hardware partners to get the most out of specific devices.

How does your game make use of Tegra technology?
In general, we are pushing mobile hardware very hard, and Tegra is the only Android platform that can run the game with all its bells and whistles. In particular, on Tegra we can do a cloth-based scarf that moves with the player, repulsion particles that dynamically float way when the player gets near, and physics objects the player kicks and interacts with.

How does this impact the gameplay experience?
All of this makes the world come alive and makes it feel like something is always happening. It contributes to everything feeling more rich and dynamic.

What are the challenges of developing for Android devices today? How does NVIDIA help with this?
The different platforms you have to support can be time-consuming, but with Tegra you have a great standard that lets us focus more on supporting great features than trying to get it to work at all.

Can you talk about the gameplay experience and how consoles have inspired you?
The game is about navigating a space, puzzle-solving and combat. Zelda is a game we took a lot of influence from with the way the puzzles integrate with the core gameplay. Consoles games like Uncharted,Tomb Raider and Enslaved were also influences. In particular, we looked at the way the player performs different actions seamlessly without special buttons.

What are your thoughts on what can be done with tablet gaming today?
You are really only limited by how much development time you can spend on a tablet game. Otherwise, there is no reason a game shouldn’t be as rich as a PC or console title.

What were your goals heading into this game?
The goals for Horn was to make a game anyone could pick up and play, yet have the depth of a classic console game.

What does Horn bring new to the genre?
From our point of view, the genre doesn’t exist yet on tablet! In terms of action adventure in general, the ease of use with how the player controls the character, the armor system is pretty new, and the combat, itself, has never been quite done like this.

Can you talk about the story and the game universe?
You play as a young blacksmith's apprentice named Horn who wakes up to finds your village and lands over run by large armored creatures. It is revealed these creatures are actually the people and animals from your village transformed by a curse, and you alone have the power to free them. On your incredible adventure you carry the loud-mouthed head of one such fantastic creature with you - a somewhat uncooperative and ill-tempered but grudgingly helpful sidekick. Along with this new companion you must use your sword, crossbow, trusty musical horn, and wits to explore the lands, defeat the enemies, and solve puzzles in your quest to undo the curse that engulfs your homeland.

What are some of the environments players will engage in?
We wanted to convey a lot of classic archetypes- the misty forest, the old European temples, the beach, the snowcapped castles, lava, etc. We felt like we really needed to hit these classic locations to make it a proper Hero's journey.

How is the combat different than other games?
One thing we wanted to do early on was keep combat very dynamic, so we allow you to roll around the enemy and get into different positions. With that, we really wanted to give purpose to why you spin around, so we have destructible armor on enemies, and under the armor there are weak points you want to hit. It gives each combat a slightly different feel.

What do you think tablet gamers will really like about this title?
There is nothing really like it on tablets. Horn is a pretty deep and rich experience that normally can only be found on a PC or console.

How do you see tablet gaming evolving over the next five years?
Tablets get so powerful every year that it is hard to see tablets being separate from PC or console. They all might be the same. Especially with the way you can already hook up a Tegra device to a TV and use a controller. I think that is the future of gaming. You use your device on-the-go, or on a bigger set-up at home.