Spunland is that kooky...errr...weird....uhh...strange....well, fun space in EU. It has people scratching their heads when they first see it, but if you persevere, you get addicted. It's the brainchild of one of Home's new breed of developers, Madmunki. Dave Dow, a director at Madmunki was kind enough to sit down with us and tell us all about Madmunki and Spunland.....
YPSH : Thanks for your time Dave and stopping by YPSH to visit with us.
DAVE DOW : You’re most Spunly welcome.
YPSH : Dave you attended the University of Strathclyde and got a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English Literature . Was that before your first introduction into the gaming industry?
DAVE DOW : Oh aye, that was a long time ago. Sometime later I did an MSc which got me chasing digital rabbits rather than just papery ones.
YPSH : Was that as Lead technical Artist at Intrepid\Lionhead Studios? What projects were you invloved in there?
DAVE DOW : My first job in games was with Codemasters’ short lived London Studio (Prince Naseem/Mike Tyson boxing got made there), although the first thing I ‘properly worked on’ was Micromaniacs for the original Playstation. Intrepid was a satellite of Lionhead – for my sins I worked for 4 years on the stupidly ambitious BC (developed for the original xbox), which sadly never saw the light of day. I say for my sins, but it was a great job, with great people and I learnt a ton. Funnily enough BC had an eco system too, just not a Spun one.
YPSH : After Intrepid, you left for Kuju Entertainment. How did that come about and what were your responsibilities and projects there?
DAVE DOW : Hmm. I and the most of the team got made redundant when BC got canned. Several colleagues and myself set up our own company and tried to make a stupidly ambitious Sci Fi game with very few people, having failed to make a stupidly ambitious, prehistoric one with quite a few more. I started doing contract work for Kuju towards the end of that – The most substantial project I did there was Dungeons & Dragons Tactics for the PSP as Lead Artist. That was also the first time I had the pleasure of working with Mark Jagger, the other half of madmunki (he says hello by the way).
YPSH : Hi Mark! After that, you did a short stint with Weirdwood. Tell us about that.
DAVE DOW : Weirdwood was great. I joined the two founders as Art Director when their previous one left. We (and a couple of other mates) made a six-axis controlled PSN game called Paperwings, which is another – ‘sadly never saw the light of day’ case. The real tragedy with Paperwings was that it was so nearly finished, and it was so much fun. There’s a quality video of it on YouTube, being controlled with a wiimote ...
YPSH : You then got an MS (Master of Science) in Computer Graphics at University of Teesside. That brings us to Doublesix. In 2008 you started a four year run with Doublesix, makers of Burn Zombie Burn. You had the title there of Creative Lead. What all did that entail?
DAVE DOW : It essentially meant I wore an Art & Design hat, as it were – which funnily enough is what they called art class at school . I worked on a bunch of stuff, from iPhone games to All Zombies Must Die (PSN/XBLA/PC).
YPSH : Did you work on the PlayStation Home space for Burn Zombie Burn?
DAVE DOW : Aye. That essentially came about because the boss pointed me in the direction of the Home toolkit and said ‘go make a Home Space for BZB’. So I did that, with a little help from my friends. That was really fun and one of the few times I’ve had so much creative freedom.
YPSH : Was that your first introduction to Playstation Home?
DAVE DOW : It certainly was. It was quite a while ago.
YPSH : What made you leave Doublesix and and start your own venture?
DAVE DOW : The spinning of the spun I think.
YPSH : Madmunki was started in April 2012. Your partner, Mark Jagger, also worked for Doublesix. Was your first idea to create Spunland or did that idea come along later?
DAVE DOW : Spunland was the whole idea.
YPSH : How do you and Mark split up the work at Madmunki?
DAVE DOW : We take equal share of the boring bits. And the Spun bits.
YPSH : Getting back to Spunland. What was the inspiration for Spunland?
DAVE DOW : All the awesome things we’ve seen and played with, that we can still actually remember.
YPSH : Spunland was somewhat of a surprise to PlayStation Home users. There are no instructions when you enter Spunland. At first glance, Spunland can be a bit daunting to figure out. For those who haven't tried it yet, can you give us a thumbnail sketch of what to do at Spunland?
DAVE DOW : Can I be cheeky and just direct your readers this link:
Spun To Do 1
YPSH : Sure. Good reference. If you wanted to to achieve all the goals you had to keep playing it as your points were not saved. Many users have figured it out and have gone on a multi-hour binge to do this. Was that by design?
DAVE DOW : Hangs head in shame. Spun Points only really became something fairly late in the development when we added the rewards and I, hangs head in shame again, thought putting a save in was a much more elaborate process than it turns out to be. I'm on it now - it's coming soon - that's a spun promise...
YPSH : Spunland is due to be released in the North America region of PlayStation Home soon correct?
DAVE DOW : Well there are a few paths to walk and bridges to cross, but essentially yes. Unless a boat sinks or banana floats or something.
YPSH : Do you and Mark have plans to expand or update Spunland?
DAVE DOW : Absolutely! The first thing is the save game, but it’ll be a fairly spun save. That will hopefully be in the next month along with the tiny beginnings of bringing the Spunners to Spunland. Beyond the proliferation of Spunners we’ll develop it according to how its used, what fun we can see people make with it. That’s one of the things exciting about Home, its kind of alive, you can change it.
YPSH : In general, what future projects do you see Madmunki producing for PS Home? Personal spaces? Virtual items? More public spaces?
DAVE DOW : More Spunland and more Spun stuff. We’ll sell the full range of Home items, and where possible have them interface with spunland in some way, but really its about exploring how spun spunland could be, and that could take some time.
YPSH : Do you have any plans to release games for other platforms? Mobile?
DAVE DOW : That's simply depend on the future spinning of the spun.
YPSH : Do you see Madmunki continuing to produce items for the PS4? Vita?
DAVE DOW : I can generally only see spun things, but all of the above sound great.
YPSH : We have now seen the specs for the new PS4. What do you think the PS4 will allow you, as a developer, to do that you couldn't do with the PS3?
DAVE DOW : Loads of stuff I’m sure, but we’re still being kept fascinated and busy by the PS3 right now. For better or worse we’re mad munkis , not fast munkis.
YPSH : If you could peruse your dream project, what would that be?
DAVE DOW : This is my dream project, are you kidding? How could it not be?
YPSH : Again Dave, many thanks for sharing your thoughts with our YPSH readers. Spunland is a unique and fun idea and we wish Madmunki continued success.
DAVE DOW : Well, let me say thanks for your interest! It's a real privilege as a developer to get to create things where you can actually experience it with the players. Spunland is a long term project for us, and we are mad keen to get feedback to help develop it. If anyone has any bugs to report, features to request etc then please post on our Facebook - we check it pretty regularly: www.facebook.com/Spunland . Big Spun thanks again! Hope to see you in Spunland soon [/COLOR]
NOTE: The new Spunland Cottage was released this week in EU.
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A Chat With David Dow Of Madmunki About Spunland
Dave Dow, a director at Madmunki was kind enough to sit down with us and tell us all about Madmunki and Spunland.....