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PSP Fanboy interview: David Geudelekian, N+

Continuing our previous chat about N+, the upcoming PSP and DS platformer is David Geudelekian from Atari. As a producer, he helped bring the indie game over to the handheld scene. Find out more in our exclusive interview.

What caught your eye about N? What made it so appealing to bring to the console side?
David Geudelekian:
I had been playing N since 2005, and on top of simply being one of the greatest platform games of all time I had always thought that this would make an excellent portable game! The organization of the gameplay into 5-level episodes make for an excellent translation to portable gaming with each level usually lasting under a minute and each episode just over the two minute mark. The simple but stylish graphics would translate well too, and even the run-and-jump gameplay seems perfectly suited for the often interrupted attention-spans of the average portable gamer.

Gallery: N+

Do you think there's a market for indie games in the handheld arena?
David Geudelekian:
Absolutely! There is already the success of casual indie games in the handheld and mobile phone market. Now not every indie will be a perfect fit with handhelds but I think a lot of the features that tend to define an indie game; size of project, scope of complexity, graphical presentation, etc... all seem to lend themselves well to the specs of the current handheld consoles. More importantly, I feel as though there's a lot more creativity and innovation in handheld and online-console space than in the standard boxed-console games space making the handhelds excellent bedfellows with the original concepts that are being created by the indies.

Sony recently opened up a downloads service for PSP. Do you this as another avenue for indie games to be developed for?
David Geudelekian:
I would hope so; the PSP has some very competitive features that would lend themselves very well to the indie space. Other than just the aesthetic and mechanical differences between the PSP and the DS, the PSP has permanent expandable memory allowing indie game designers to really go nuts and concentrate on refining their ideas rather than having to work around memory issues or the like. Likewise, the PSN has fewer restrictions on their incoming content (likely because it's struggling to catch up to the well-established XBLA) but again, on the PSN right now the indie designer has far more freedom to create the game that they imagine, whatever the size and shape.

Finally, what attributes are you looking for in a potential game to publish? Any advice for would-be devs out there?
Mare & Raigan: My ideal game would love movies, long walks on the beach, and holding hands.
David Geudelekian: I'm always looking for gameplay and passion first. If I see an idea, demo, or game out there that is fun and playable and is dripping with the love of its designer or design team, I'm usually 90% sold. Passion is crucial; it's often the big thing that separates the established market from the indies. Much like an unsigned band toiling away in their basement, garage or practice space; the indies have the opportunity to take as many months or years to refine and pore over their "album" without the mass-market concerns of making a street-date or meeting a certain expectation from outside forces. My advice for would-be devs is to really think about what "going mainstream" really entails; its potential benefits and detriments. Basically, once you decide to try to go mainstream, you will have a lot more cooks in your kitchen. The publisher might have loved the game that brought you to their table, but might immediately start mentioning ways in which they would want to see it changed. My advice for up-and-comers is to balance your passion and protectiveness of your baby with the reality of what you wanted to get out of taking the game mainstream in the first place; you probably wanted a lot of people to see and play it, you might have even wanted to have most of those people buy it and play you, generally you probably wanted the world to know. Just know that these desires will inevitably change aspects of the original idea, so my biggest piece of advice is to approach the publisher with an open mind and a willingness to at least come to the table. So many issues can actually be vetted out to the mutual benefit of both the publisher and the original design, the important thing is to stay communicative and willing to compromise because in the end you will always own and have made your original baby and nobody can take that away from you

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