Everything you need to know about Old City-based Cipher Prime can be found on the company’s business cards.
“We don’t take out titles too seriously … it’s really who can get a particular job done faster,” says Dain Saint whose official title is technical director. However his business card reads “Time Traveling Hobo.” Creative director William Stallwood’s card? “Pink Deluxe.” And Content Developer Kerry Gilbert’s reads “Resident Hipster.”
The company, which started a freelance Flash shop, doesn’t take itself too seriously yet has been impessively prolific over its three year lifespan, releasing popular Flash games Auditoirum and Fractal.
However, the company has been making waves throughout the independent gaming community this week with the release of Pulse, an addictive music-based touch game with striking visuals for the iPad. The game has been featured on the App Store, in Kotaku, on GameSetWatch and on the cover of Inde Game Magazine giving Philadelphia indie game makers one of its first hits.
We sat down with the three guys as well as marketing coordinator Suzy Grimberg to talk about how Cipher Prime plans on boasting Philly’s indy rep, in both the video game and music industries.
How did you guys come together?
Saint: We’ve been around for about three years and we started out doing some high-end Flash work for some local Pharma companies.We met when at a Super Smash Brothers party when we played a game of “Smash for Shots” where you take a drink everytime you win, which is a natural handicapping system. At some point during the night [Stallwood] and I began showing each other our portfolios.
See the Cipher Prime’s interview with Indie Game Magazine, which put the company on the cover of this month’s issue.
As often happens at 2 in the morning.
Stallwood: We were geeking out.
Saint: We said we should get together and do somework. Months later I was looking to start my own company when [Stallwood] called me and asked me if I wanted to start a company. I already had all of the paperwork filed for mine so we joined up… We later created a digital business card to show off what we could do in Flash, and that ended up being Auditorium. [Stallwood] said that it would take two weeks and it took eight months.
Gilbert: He always says two weeks, and I always believe him [laughs].
So how did you get into games?
Stallwood: Pulse was interesting, it was always meant to be the idea it was. It hasn’t evolved at all, we wrote it on a napkin and prototyped it in three days.
Not two weeks?
Gilbert: This time he was actually right about the two weeks.
Stallwood: Within three days we made the engine and three tracks with a primitive design and at the end of October after we went to IndieCade. After getting back from there we said “We really have to make something of note.”
Saint: We realized this was an idea we actually wanted to complete.
Stallwood: At the same time we were working on three other games and five or six client jobs. Our big ramp up time was programming the gradients in the concentric circles. We aren’t game developers naturally, we’re more Flash developers. We slapped the audio engine together in three days but drawing circles and doing gradients took forever.
Speaking of audio, tell me about your partnership with local bands?
Stallwood: We wanted to reach out more locally and a big problem with Pulse is trying get beyond our original eight tracks. So every month we want to make levels with the songs of local Philly artists.
Saint: There is so much talent in the city. I was just at karaoke at National Mechanics and I swear eight out of the ten people there knocked it out of the park. And this is people at a bar on Tuesday night. So the actual indie musicians are incredible. So this is way to show off the game talent in Philly and the music talent in Philly.
Stallwood: We’re also trying to pimp them out to local newspapers and sites.
What are your thoughts on the local video game scene?
Stallwood: A lot of the local talent have made games, there’s been about 20 so far. I’m really excited about Final Form’s game, Jamestown.
So how is Pulse doing?
Stallwood: It’s the number one music game on the iPad and we were named iPad game of the week by Apple.
Saint: We were also named gaming app of the day by Kotaku.
Stallwood: We are the 20th highest grossing iPad app and the eight highest grossing game. The numbers are good.
What else are you guys working on?
Stallwood: We may revisit Auditorium to make an Auditorium 2. We also have three other games that we are working on: a shooter style game, a social game and a couple of other games. We also have a different website for each game so we are trying to put that all in one place. We want to get the company in place where all we do is make games.