Japanese developer iNiS has already impressed gamers with innovative console games like The Black Eyed Peas Experience and the Lips franchise. Now the company is focusing its efforts on the mobile gaming space, using the one-two punch of NVIDIA Tegra 3 and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 technology. The first original mobile game from the studio is Eden to GREEEEN, a “tower offense” game that fuses genres like tower defense, Japanese role-playing games and turn-based strategy into a unique experience that was inspired by Disney and Pixar movies. The humor-infused game puts players in control of an army of plants, flowers and trees (18 unit types in all) as they battle invading alien machines across three world areas (20 maps per area). The free-to-play game will expand with new content on a regular basis. Optimized for Tegra devices, the game features high resolution textures, high-quality shaders, tons of on-screen characters and beautiful effects like smoke, dust, fire and real-time shadows from clouds. Keiichi Yano, CEO of iNiS, first dreamed up the idea for this unique game 12 years ago. But he had to wait for technology to catch up to his imagination. Yano talks about the new game and what NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 technology enabled his team to accomplish in this exclusive interview.
What are your thoughts on the role tablets play today in gaming?
I truly believe that we are coming to a day and age that new types of gaming experiences will largely come from these devices and OSes. Touch enables a gaming experience that is incredibly direct and easy. I see new control schemes embracing touch all the time and I'm constantly inspired to come up with cool new ideas of my own.
What's the gameplay experience like for single-player?
Eden to GREEEEN pits players in Eden where machines have taken over the once beautiful world full of vibrant nature for it's natural resources. The player must help mother nature take back what is rightfully hers and restore Eden to its once beautiful self. The goal of the player will be to spread green across the land using flowers, plants and trees. Each map will have different types of goals and through careful placement of units, the player will clear each map and progress through the various worlds of Eden. All the while, the machines will come to destroy any green in their sights and it will be up to players to strategically place offensive and defensive units to combat threats.
What does the new genre “tower offense” mean?
We call Eden to GREEEEN a “tower offense” game and we have several unique innovations that we've brought to strategy and tower defense games. The key innovation is that we've been able to conceive a turn-based system for tower defense which allows a much broader audience to play these types of games because they can play at their own pace. Additionally, the concept of having to spread the area you can place natural units on (natural units can only be placed on green areas) creates more a sense of offensive attack rather than defensive protection.
Can you talk about the multiplayer experience?
The great thing about being turn-based is that we can support asynchronous multiplay. At launch, we will have cooperative asynchronous multiplay, where up to three players can play simultaneously and cooperate to combat the machines. There are special attacks specifically designed for cooperative multiplay that keeps the experience interesting. We also support multiple sessions of cooperative games so players can jump from one session to the other while waiting for other players to end their turns so it never gets boring.
What were some of your inspirations for this game's look?
We wanted highly characterized units as we made a conscious design decision early on to ensure that even with tons of units on screen, you should be able to take a quick glance at the map and know immediately what was going on. The units will let players know their status with various animations so you are never in question as to how you are doing. Fantasia, Fantasia 2000, Flowers and Trees (an old Disney classic) and Pixar films have all inspired the look of this game. The flowers, plants, trees and machines have all been transformed into memorable characters that we hope everyone will enjoy.
How has new technology like Tegra 3 in mobile devices impacted the realization of creativity from your team?
I think the bottom line is that it's always great to have more power. There are always more ideas than we can bring to fruition. Having processing capabilities that are at a high level enables us to think more freely, because we can use the visuals to give pertinent feedback to players in a way that isn't just simplistic or archaic. We can express deeper emotion and that will give players a better sensation and immersion from the experience than just throwing up icons or text. When we can do that, we can be more creative and that always seems to translate to more entertainment value for the player.