Polara is impossible to ignore. Your first game has you run for a few enjoyable seconds until the main character inevitably drops through a colored barrier to her anticipated death. It’s only then that you realize there’s a another angle to this infinite runner. An innovative chromatic twist that changes everything.
“A lot of the challenge in creating Polara was in solving the problem of having limited funding.”
“Polara came directly from a prototype that Tim [Liszak] concocted that took queues from traditional ’90s platform titles and the challenge found in titles like Super Meat Boy,” Hope This Wors Games’ Dennis Dunn tells us. “Due to control issues and to avoid replicating the same mechanical challenges of Super Meat Boy, the vertical and directional control sets were trimmed down to a two-button scheme that was then expanded upon with the color switching mechanic you’d find in Ikaruga or Outland, but in the spirit of Canabalt.”
That barrage of gaming inspiration gives you a small insight into the action-heavy sci-fi racer, brought to Samsung Apps recently via the 100% Indie initiative. Hope This Works Games found itself a flagship title on the doorstep of its formation, and that instills high expectations for its new life in the indie realm. ”My personal background is in graphic design,” says Dunn. “Jon [Parkins] is an old friend of mine and while he was working at Pseudo Interactive, he mentioned they needed a UI artist. So I applied and got the job working on Full Auto 2: Battlelines for the PS3 launch. Since then I’ve worked at a number of companies, and on a number of titles.
“Hope This Works Games has been an idea that’s floated about since 2006 at Pseudo Interactive, but there was never enough time. Later in our careers, with the layoffs at Tecmo Koei Canada and the urge for independence, Jon and I decided to give it a try. I approached Tim Liszak after a few months of spinning our wheels and he was interested in joining us, working on mobile games, and within two years we’d published two titles.”
Kunundrum and Polara are very different games when you delve into them, but on the surface they share some distinct design facts; primarily using color as an active gameplay element. Contrary to many of the best games out there, Hope This Works Games makes unexpected use of superficiality to add both vibrancy and intelligence to the action. “Apart from the design requirements of keeping every single stretch of the 50 levels interesting,” Dunn explains, “a lot of the challenge in creating Polara was in solving the problem of having limited funding. Almost nothing, actually. Then co-ordinating all contracts and stakeholders in the production, since we’re a satellite company, we don’t have a studio, and taking on a number of roles where the lack of personnel forced me to quickly learn, design, create and produce in order to get things done.”