海外インディ開発者インタビュー~「Mini Motorways」~


前回「OPUS: 星歌の響き」に続いて、今回は「Mini Motorways」の開発者にインタビューを実施させて頂き、いくつかの質問について回答を頂きました!

また、戦略性が高い道路作り「Mini Motorways」のゲーム概要について知りたい方はこちらへどうぞ。


1.「Mini Motorways」の開発で最も困難だったことは何ですか?また、それをどのように克服しましたか?
私たちは前作の「Mini Metro」を発売した後に多くのプレイヤーに愛されたことを知り、Miniシリーズとしてもう1本のゲームを作りたくなりました。シリーズの2作目として特徴的な要素は変えずに、つまりやりやすく、カラフルで、落ち着く音楽を持つミニマルなゲームにしたいと考える同時に、前作とは異なった新鮮なゲームにすることも目指しました。「Mini Motorways」の開発の初期段階では、MiniシリーズのゲームがMiniシリーズのゲームであるということを定義するために、チームで共通の言語や基準を作りました。例えば、「Mini Metro」と「Mini Motorways」には、ゲーム進行が遅めにも関わらず、プレイヤーが気付かない内に余裕な状態から忙しい状態へと変化させる魅力的なゲームプレイを持っています。次の作品がどうなるかは断言できませんが、Miniシリーズらしい要素を持っていることは間違いないでしょう。

「Mini Motorways」のゲームプレイを開発し始める時に、私たちは交通管理システムにはいくつかの興味深い特徴があることに気づき、それらをゲームに反映できるように苦労もしました。特に信号機を改善することが難しいと感じました。ビジュアルデザインの面では、車がスムーズに停車したり発進したりするとともに、視覚的に満足させる信号の変化が得られるように工夫しました。また、現実の信号機は人が巨大な金属製の箱(車)を安全に操作して街を走るために設計されたもので、小さな自動運転の車が交差点を効率的に通過するためのものではありません。さらに、AIを開発していくうちに、車のAIはすでに他の車に譲ったり交通ルールに従ったりし普通の人よりもはるかに効率的になっていること、現実的な信号機の挙動をそのまま採用すると自分たちが作った挙動より制御しづらいことに気づきました。


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1.What is the most difficult part of the development for Mini Motorways and how do you overcome it?
After releasing Mini Metro into the world and seeing how many players loved the game, we knew we wanted to make another game in the Miniverse Collection. We wanted to keep the essential elements the same, which meant our second Mini game should be approachable, colourful, and minimalistic with a soothing soundscape, but we also aimed to make it different and refreshing. An early part of the process of developing Mini Motorways actually included creating a shared language and set of pillars with our team to define what makes a Mini game a Mini game. For example, one of the things that you’ll find in both Mini Metro and Mini Motorways is slow progressive gameplay that goes from calm to chaotic without the player ever realising exactly when that shift happens. We can’t say exactly what’s coming next for the Miniverse Collection, but we can say that it will have those same identifiably ‘Mini’ aspects to it.

When we began working on the gameplay of Mini Motorways, we found there were some interesting features of traffic management that provided us with some challenges to work around. Upgrades like traffic lights proved particularly challenging to design as, visually, they look great with the satisfying changing of lights as cars seamlessly stop and go in a rhythmic pattern. However, traffic lights in the real world were designed to allow humans to safely pilot giant metal boxes around town, not to make tiny self-driving cars efficiently work through intersections! As we developed our AI, we quickly realised that our cars were already much more efficient than normal people at yielding to other cars and following the road rules, and creating realistic traffic light behaviour often resulted in a controlled intersection being actively worse than a normal one.

To help resolve this, we took a step back from realistic traffic behaviour and looked at what problems the player would face in Mini Motorways and how traffic lights could be a tool to help solve them. After exploring many options, we decided it was better to bend some real-life rules to create a better result for players. Traffic lights now allow cars to accelerate/decelerate faster at controlled intersections, the frequency at which the lights change is based on how busy an intersection is, and cars can turn on a red light if there isn’t any oncoming traffic (like they can in some cities around the world!). Finding the balance between useful upgrades that help players solve problems and upgrades that have realistic and familiar behaviour that people expect was definitely tricky, and this is something that we frequently come back to review as we develop new content for the game.

2013年に、Dinosaur Polo Clubの共同創立者であるPeter Curry氏とRobert Curry氏兄弟は、Ludum Dareゲームジャムに参加し、週末中に一つのゲームを作ることを目標にしました。そこから生まれたのが「Mini Metro」で、Dinosaur Polo Club設立のきっかけにもなり、それ以来は会社としてゲームを作りながら成長してきました。


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2. How did you find your development team members or found your studio?
In 2013, our co-founders of Dinosaur Polo Club, brothers Peter and Robert Curry, decided to participate in a Ludum Dare game jam, with the goal of making a game over the span of a single weekend. What came out of that would go on to become Mini Metro, which sparked the creation of Dinosaur Polo Club and we’ve been growing and making games ever since! 

New Zealand is a small country but our games industry is thriving, and we’ve been lucky to gather our squad of dinos from both near and far. One of the goals of our studio is to create jobs and opportunities for talented locals, and with the borders being closed, it’s more important than ever before for us to support our local games industry community as it continues to grow into a stable and sustainable place for others to grow in their careers.

私たちは「Mini Motorways」を2021年7月にSteamでリリースする前に、2019年9月にApple Arcadeでリリースするユニークな機会を得ました。これは時間軸的にはかなり異例でしたが、Apple Arcadeで素晴らしいコミュニティを作り始める機会を与えてくれたおかげで、プレイヤーのフィードバックに基づいて新機能を追加したり、コアシステムを改善したりすることができました。また、口コミ効果やゲームの根強い人気により、良い経歴を裏付けた上でレビュアーやインフルエンサーにゲームを紹介することができ、プロモーションの良いスタート地点に立つことができました。

「Mini Motorways」のプロモーション活動は、アメリカのStride PRの協力を得て、インフルエンサーを中心にいくつかのバーチャルフェスティバルに参加する形で進めました。幸いなことに、PAX Online Eastの開催時期がちょうど発売週と重なったこともあり、発売直前にPAXに出展できたことで大きく盛り上げられました。

プロモーション活動に力を入れましたが、他の多くのインディ開発者と比べて非常に恵まれたと思います。なぜなら、「Mini Metro」が好きなコンテンツクリエイターの方々がいることで、より容易く宣伝してもらうことができるからです。成功したゲームの続編を出すことはそれなりに多く期待されていて背負うものも多くなりますが、その代わりに大きなアドバンテージにもなりました。

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3. How did you promote Mini Motorways before release?
We had a unique opportunity with Mini Motorways in that we released the game first as part of the launch of Apple Arcade back in September 2019, followed by a launch on Steam in July 2021. This was fairly unusual timeframes-wise, but it gave us the opportunity to start building a wonderful community on Apple Arcade who helped us refine the game with new features and improve core systems based on player feedback. The word-of-mouth effect and the game’s base popularity gave us an excellent starting point for promoting it prior to our PC launch because we were able to showcase the game to reviewers and influencers with a good CV backing it up already, so to speak. 

Our promotion campaign, which we organised with help from the wonderful Stride PR out of the USA, was primarily influencer-based and shored up with attending a couple of virtual festivals. We were very fortunate that the timing of PAX Online East dovetailed exactly into our release week, so being able to showcase at PAX just before launch generated a lot of hype.

While we did put a lot of effort into the promotion campaign, we were also in a very fortunate position compared to many other indie developers t – we had a long list of content creators we could approach who had already loved Mini Metro, and while releasing a sequel to a successful game comes with its own baggage and expectations, it also gave us a significant advantage.

2013年にスタジオを立ち上げた当初は、非常に小さなチームで構成されており、「Mini Metro」の開発初期段階は自身の貯蓄で資金を調達できました。ゲームのコンセプトが好評だったため、予約注文を受け付けることができ、外部資金なしで開発できる期間が延長され、Steamでのアーリーアクセスまでこぎ着けることができました。その後は「Mini Metro」のアーリーアクセスによる売上で開発を継続し、Steamで完全版をリリースし、さらにモバイル版もリリースすることができました。

チームの規模を小さくすることで、初期の段階でも十分な収入を得ることができました。逆に、急激に規模を拡大すると生産量や開発速度が上がりますが、その分達成しなければならない成功のハードルも高くなります。私たちは「Mini Metro」が複数のプラットフォームでの収益性が確立されて初めて、安心して新しい人材をチームに迎え入れることができました。そして、スタジオとチームの経済的安定を確保するために、スタジオの重要な柱の1つを設立しました。

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4. How did you fund the budget or overcome any budget difficulties for your first game of the studio?
When the studio first started back in 2013,  it consisted of a very small team, and we were able to use savings to get us through the early development phase of Mini Metro. The concept proved popular enough that we were able to accept pre-orders and that extended the time we could develop without external funding and got us through to the Early Access launch on Steam. From there Mini Metro earned enough for us to continue with development and release fully on to Steam, followed by a  mobile version of the game.

By keeping the team small we were able to earn enough to keep going during the early days – scaling up too quickly increases your output but also the level of success that you need to achieve. Only once the earning potential of Mini Metro was established on multiple platforms did we feel comfortable bringing new people on to the team, and we established one of our essential studio pillars which is to make sure we have financial stability for the studio and our team.

5.「Mini Motorways」のローカライズに使用する言語を選ぶ際の主な決め手は何でしょうか?
私たちは、より多くの人がゲームをプレイして楽しむために、障壁をできるだけ取り除くことを常に重視しています。なので、「Mini Motorways」ではリリース時に14つの言語に対応し、「Mini Metro」では28つの言語に対応できるようにしました。


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5. What are your main deciding factors when choosing a language for localization of Mini Motorways?
It’s always been important to our studio to remove as many barriers as possible for people to play and enjoy our games. This is why when we were developing Mini Motorways it launched with support for 14 languages, and Mini Metro has grown to support 28 languages.  

We always take our community of players into consideration when adding languages to both of our games. When players reach out to us to request a language we don’t currently support, we definitely take that seriously and add it to our list of suggestions to investigate! Unfortunately, we do have to be mindful about the sustainability of updating our games as we continue to add new content, so when we’re considering a new language we look at a lot of things like the scale of the task to implement it, what new impacts it might have on our localisation tools and systems and how this work might fit within our timelines for future updates.


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6. Do you have any advice for other indie game creators?
・Be realistic about your capabilities. It can be tempting to shoot for the moon and ignore reality, but it can be creatively liberating to accept the scope that you can achieve and work within it.
・Understand why you’re making games and what your goals are, and build this into all of your decisions. If commercial success is important then this will mean you’ll make different decisions than if you’re making a game just for you and your friends.
・If you’re collaborating with other creators, make sure everyone’s goals are aligned. It’s easy to assume that everyone on a team is in it for the same reason which can lead to disagreements later on down the road.
・Have a plan for post-launch. When you’re in the middle of development it can feel like the launch is the finish line, but really it’s just another starting line. Develop sustainably and make sure there’s enough left in the tank after launch!
・If selling copies is a goal, then the most important thing you can do is market your game as early as you can. Post about it publicly as soon as you can and you’ll not only build awareness and excitement but also get valuable feedback early enough for you to make use of it.
・Don’t forget to enjoy the small victories along the way. Celebrate creating features, celebrate when your team members learn something new or when you fix a tricky bug. Focusing only on goals like “ship the game” and “exceed this sales milestone” means you could go a long time without a win, and that’s a recipe for frustration and burnout. 

今回ご協力いただいた「Mini Motorways」はこちらからプレイ出来ます!