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Infinite Interactive

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One of the more interesting acquisitions to happen in recent times was the one by Firemint late last year of fellow Melbourne games developer, Infinite Interactive. The announcement arrived with a delightful comic, sparking the imaginations on the possibilities that the joining of these two creative forces would bring.

Unfortunately, that potential was never realised to its fullest and with yesterday's big news on the merger of Firemint and Ironmonkey Studios by EA, many wondered what became of Steve Fawkner and Infinite Interactive portion of Firemint.

As it turns out, the Firemint and Infinite Interactive deal wasn't so much as an acquisition. In a news report by Joystiq, Steve explained what the arrangement with Firemint was...

There was never an actual acquisition of Infinite, it was more of a merger. It was all amicable stuff – as much as it would be fun to have a bit of a scandal. Unfortunately there isn't one...

I think everybody agreed that Infinite does its best work when it's independent, and so we headed back out into the wilderness to work on our own stuff again."

Infinite Interactive quietly split off from Firemint in January, this year, and when Steve was prompted on what the newly independent studio was working on, he revealed that there's a strong possibility that the next game they release will be Puzzle Quest related since he still holds the rights to that property and that he's still passionate about games that have a combination of fantasy, puzzle, strategy and tactical elements.

News

Infinite Interactive founder, Steve Fawkner, discusses in a bit more detail to smartcompany.com.au how two well-known Melbourne-based games developers, Firemint and Infinite Interactive, came to the idea of a merger and how they handled integrating two separate game companies into one.

While the idea of merger between the two companies came about around 2004 or 2005 and was discussed many times by the founders of both the companies, it was only at the end of 2010 when both studios found themselves in-between projects that they were able to start the transition.

So what happens when you combine two game studios, each with slightly differing cultures, studio logistics and work practices? It turns out the two studios had similarities in many aspects and not too much needed to be changed, although planning and preparation was made beforehand to inform staff of the implications of the change to their wages and entitlements, and making sure that staff were eased into working in the new environment with new people...

(Steve)You don’t want to take people out of their comfort zone too early. You want to make sure that no one has been thrown into a job they don’t understand or that they’re working under a manager they’ve never worked with before or have expectations that aren’t being managed.

Were they any particular things employees were worried about?

(Steve) People were worried about their jobs, their incomes, their entitlements, very reasonable things. The answer in that situation cannot be “I don’t know” or “I’ll check and find out”. You need to have answers to those 20 questions you’re always going to get.

Otherwise you simply look like you don’t know what you’re doing. There are laws for all this type of stuff, for existing entitlements, payouts and so on and it’s just a matter of checking out the legal stuff before you go ahead.

For the entire article, head on over to smartcompany.com.au

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Submitted by souri on Wed, 05/01/11 - 1:18 AM Permalink

Just a bit of curiosity, does anyone know if Infinite Interactive retained the rights / ip of Puzzle Quest, or was that handed over to D3 (and later Namco Bandai) as part of the initial publisher agreement? D3 had the publishing rights to Puzzle Quest, and when they were bought out by Namco Bandai, Namco took over the rights to distribute Puzzle Quest 2, didn't they? Did these publishers take over the duty of doing all the ports?

It's certainly an interesting alliance of two well known Melbourne games studios, and as the graphic art from Firemint suggests, there's great potential for some really interesting types of games to come out of this.

What is interesting is the differing paths that both these studios took. Firemint started off primarily doing work-for-hire licensed games dev in the handset space (of which they really excelled at) and fortunately with the monumental success of their own original ip, Flight Control, Firemint have been able to move on from work-for-hire dependency and into self publishing their own games from 2009. Had they stayed as hired guns and doing licensed handset games for the likes of EA, it's a possibility that they could have been left in a position for acquisition like IronMonkey Studios.

The rewards of self publishing for Firemint are obvious, and it was extremely timely too since the bottom fell out for work-for-hire around the time Flight Control was released.

Infinite Interactive leapt right off the bat with Puzzle Quest which was an awesome and original idea that garnered a whole lot of critical acclaim. Infinite did what was common then and shopped the game around to find a publisher to fund and distribute the title, and as publishing deals like these usually go, the ip is handed over. This was in 2007, well before the Appstore and the self-publishing phenomenon, and the target platform was initially the DS and PSP.

Of course, I'm talking hypotheticals here, but one wonders where Infinite Interactive could have taken the Puzzle Quest ip themselves if they had the opportunity to self published years later on the appstore the way Firemint did with Flight Control, and follow through with the porting / outsourcing onto the myriad of other platforms out there. I'm sure following up with Galactrix and Puzzle Quest 2 would have propelled Infinite Interactive to the heights that we see Firemint and Halfbrick at. But hey, this is why this acquisition is so interesting, as it means they could do a Puzzle Quest-like game with the full support and vigor of Firemint's marketing abilities and Firemint's brand power behind it.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 05/01/11 - 3:59 PM Permalink

That's actually really great to hear. It's a really valuable ip to have, and here's hoping they can exploit it the way Pop Cap have managed to exploit Bejewelled for $500+ million :)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/01/11 - 1:38 PM Permalink

Should be interesting. I'm a big Puzzle Quest fan, and Firemint has been doing some really interesting things lately too.

I think the thing that makes me happiest about this story is that the people involved sound like they're actually excited to be working together, instead of the usual 'it's just good business sense' angle we usually get.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/01/11 - 1:52 PM Permalink

When I worked at II, Steve and Rob always had a good working relationship so it was one of those matches made in heaven really. I am curious if Steve sold his IP or not, he'll no doubt license it in any case to the Firemint guys.

My only concern with it, is Steve is used to being the boss so hopefully he'll be managing his own team.

Games studio Firemint today announced that it has acquired fellow Australian studio, Infinite Interactive. The move further boosts Firemint’s strength in designing and developing original games, while providing the Infinite Interactive team with a channel for independent publishing.

Firemint was founded by Rob Murray in 1999. It became a highly regarded work-for-hire mobile games studio before shooting to fame with iPhone hits “Flight Control” and “Real Racing” in 2009. Firemint has recently expanded to additional platforms including Nintendo DSiWare, Sony PlayStation Network, and Steam (PC and Mac). The studio now works exclusively on self-published original games.

Infinite Interactive was founded by Steve Fawkner in 1989, and is best known for the “Warlords” and “Puzzle Quest” series of games, both designed by Fawkner. Fawkner is one of the games industry’s pre-eminent innovators, and has created more than 30 games in a career spanning more than 25 years. He takes on a product management position at Firemint, and will continue to work with his current team on a game already under development.

Murray said “I’m incredibly pleased to welcome Steve and his team to Firemint. Steve is an outstanding game designer and our two studios evolved very similar philosophies of developing addictive, fun and polished original games. By bringing our studios’ talents together, we will be able to create even more awesome games – and more of them.”

Fawkner commented, “Firemint has had huge success designing, developing and publishing great original games. By joining forces, we now have a way to further develop some of the exciting new concepts we’ve been working on. This new position really frees me up to focus on game design and I can’t wait to get stuck into it!”

Murray and Fawkner first met in 2003 and in early 2006, Fawkner showed Murray an early version of Puzzle Quest, which he had prototyped over his Christmas holiday. Murray explained, “Steve and I have been talking about working together for a long time, and I remember him showing me an early version of Puzzle Quest. This inspired me to make a game during my own holidays two years later, which was Flight Control – and now, another two years later, we’ve finally found a way to work together!”

Both studios are based in Melbourne, and will be consolidated in one location at Firemint’s recently expanded offices. All games developed by the studio will be released under the Firemint name. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

About Firemint

Firemint creates fun, addictive games. Founded in 1999 by CEO Robert Murray, Firemint is located in Melbourne, Australia’s games development hub, and employs 60 people. Firemint is the only developer to have been awarded Apple Design Awards for two different apps in one year, for Real Racing on iPhone and Flight Control HD on iPad (2010). Firemint’s accolades also include the Independent Games Festival Mobile award for Technical Achievement, International Mobile Gaming Award for Excellence in Connectivity, Pocket Gamer Best iPhone Developer, IGN’s Best of E3 Award and IGN Editor’s Choice Award.

News

Bejeweled is a puzzle game phenomenom. Making over $500 million dollars in revenue for PopCap, it is one of the top 10 bestselling videogames of all time. It's also one of just two puzzle games that have been inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame (the other is Tetris) and the Guinness World Records has Bejewled listed as "The Most Popular Puzzle Game Series of the Century."

Of course, when a game idea reaches this amount of success, it inspires a substantial number of copies and clones in the games industry. For Chief creative officer and one of the founders of Popcap, Jason Kapalka, many of them were "depressing". One game, however, managed to do something special with the match-three puzzle idea, and that was Infinite Interactive's Puzzle/RPG hybrid, Puzzle Quest.

From an interview with the Escapist magazine....

Kapalka's a fan of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, the match-three-RPG hybrid developed by Infinite Interactive and released by D3Publisher in 2007, and admits that he wishes he'd thought of it, calling it "a really cool idea."

PopCap came out with a Puzzle Quest inspired game in cooperation with RPG giants, Square Enix, called Gyromancer. For Kapalka, it was an interesting experiment which showed that making a Puzzle Quest type of game certainly isn't as easy as initially thought...

As an experiment, I don't know if it was completely successful but it was interesting. What it also proved was that Puzzle Quest was a lot harder to do than it looked.

News

Jungalist caught a post E3, post Puzzle Quest 2 interview with game development veteran, Steve Fawkner, for a three-part feature at Kotaku AU. Kotaku AU readers provided a great range of questions for the Infinite Interactive CEO and Lead designer that touch on the big issues, news, and features concerning Puzzle Quest, Galactrix, and the recently released Puzzle Quest 2. From the Kotaku AU interview...

Why do you think Galactrix didn't do as well as Puzzle Quest?

(Steve F.) We kind of put that down to a couple of things. Firstly, the move to a sci-fi setting. I think sci-fi, for a game of that sort, doesn’t have the same broad appeal that a fantasy setting did.

Secondly, the kind of mechanics behind the game were a little harder to grasp. For casuals, and even some of the hardcore folks, didn’t grasp those mechanics as quickly as they should've done.

Additionally, for the third installment of the feature, Steve provides some of his thoughts on the current state of game development in Australia. It's a hot topic for an industry gradually making its way out of the mayhem caused by global financial crisis, and he describes how tough it is for the industry still when there's simply not much investor money going around.

Steve is enthusiastic about the independent games development space and the opening markets and opportunities it provides to smaller indie developers, however, he echoes the sentiments of many that some of the popular markets are simply too busy and noisy (like the Apple appstore), whilse Facebook is still a rich opportunity for developers who are ready to provide a more compelling game experience than the current offerings...

...Facebook has already had its first verve, its first wave of applications. I think there’s another one coming on Facebook, with better quality games. The games on there at the moment are lacking in terms of basic game design principles.

But they’re good enough to make a lot of money, so when the second wave of good games hits Facebook, there’s going to be a huge opportunity for indies there.

A fantastic feature from Kotaku AU, highly well worth the read! Head on over to Kotaku AU from the links below:

Part 1: Steve Fawkner On Time-Travelling Pirates
Part 2: Steve Fawkner On Improving A Classic
Part 3: Steve Fawkner On The Future Of Aussie Studios

News

When Infinite Interactive published a playable flash version of the highly addictive puzzle-RPG hybrid, Galactrix, many wondered when the Melbourne based developer would dip their feet into the Facebook app space, where casual games like Bejeweled are raking in some serious player numbers.

Well, it looks like Infinite are making some headway there, as they've just released a demo application on Facebook of their upcoming follow-up to Puzzle Quest, Puzzle Quest 2. The demo serves as an introductory to the gem matching, spell casting nature of Puzzle Quest 2, and it's assured to get many hooked until the full release on the Xbox LIVE Arcade platform.

(press release)
US, April 29, 2010 - LOS ANGELES - Launching today for the first time ever, players will be able to match up with friends or play on their own in the Puzzle Quest 2: Mage Trainer open beta test on Facebook from D3Publisher. The Facebook application can be accessed at http://apps.facebook.com/PQMageTrainer/ or from the Puzzle Quest 2 fan page located at www.facebook.com/PuzzleQuest2 and is a prequel to the upcoming hit video game, Puzzle Quest 2 on Xbox LIVE Arcade for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Nintendo DS system.

The Puzzle Quest 2: Mage Trainer application will introduce players to the basic puzzle board gameplay tactics and spells using a variant on the Sorcerer character class that is one of the four classes featured in Puzzle Quest 2. The application will serve as a demo and training tool for the novice Puzzle Quest player to get familiarized with the game and the fun of puzzle adventuring. Experienced players will find the competition stimulating and challenging as they acquaint themselves with the all new weapon attacks and uses of the purple gems that is featured exclusively in Puzzle Quest 2 while in pursuit of their friends' top score on the leaderboard.

Developed by Infinite Interactive, Puzzle Quest 2 is rated "E10+" (Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Theme) by the ESRB for Xbox LIVE Arcade and Nintendo DS. For more information on Puzzle Quest 2, please visit www.puzzle-quest.com.

About Puzzle Quest 2
Puzzle Quest 2 is a brand new adventure from Infinite Interactive, the award winning developer of the supreme puzzle-rpg experience. Featuring a hallmark blend of match-3 gem matching and fantasy, Puzzle Quest 2 offers a captivating, rewarding, and accessible journey for players of all skill levels using all new weapons, spells, shields and more as players make their way to reclaim the once peaceful village of Verloren from the evil clutch of the demon Gorgon.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/12/09 - 10:55 PM Permalink

If you worked with Steve you know how hard he attempts to make sure his existing staff are employed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/12/09 - 10:57 PM Permalink

EA Melbourne apparently also just let go 2 people, from what I've heard just bad luck and the projects the 2 happened to be working on got canceled.

Submitted by Brawsome on Fri, 11/12/09 - 12:07 PM Permalink

Oh man, that sucks to hear!

The rising Aussie dollar is really hurting development at the moment, considering the US usually the one paying for Australian game projects. Consider a medium sized project at US$1,000,000. Earlier in the year at an exchange rate of 0.7 that would mean AU$1,428,571 to the Aussie developer, now at an exchange rate of 0.92 it means AU$1,086,956. A difference of $341,615, that's a lot of money that developers could have been using to retain staff. And I'm sure many of the larger games companies have much larger budgets than that for their games.

Games I pitched in May now can't be made for the same budget, so features have to be cut to come in at the same budget. Not only that but consumers want to pay less and less for games. Last year a casual game could sell for $19.95, this year the standard is $6.95 for the same size game. So what can developers do? Make less game for less money or make games that would appeal to more of a mass market. It makes it hard to make niche games in genres like adventure games.

Come mid 2010 when my game comes out I'd like to make a stand and charge $19.95, but whether publishers will put the game on their site at that price is another matter.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 3:17 PM Permalink

Its crazy - the long term rate has always been around 0.75. Its been 0.9 not just for a few months, but for several.

After my kid is born I've decided to move back overseas. My career here is finished. Can anyone envision AAA development happening again?

- Another Unemployed Aussie Game Developer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/12/09 - 8:43 PM Permalink

Ive gotta vote +1 for Steve. He is a machine. I'm at the infinite christmas party right now. Instead of going to the party, Steve is locked in his office, drinking red bulls like crazy and working solid, because he got wind of some work with a publisher and he figured he might be able to save some of those jobs. Go Steve!!!!

Submitted by NathanRunge on Sat, 12/12/09 - 12:17 PM Permalink

I have to say, I am very impressed with his determination to assist his company and employees. I was just lamenting the apparent loss of honour amongst employers (remembering the lost days of Elixir), but I can see it's still around in a few individuals.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 1:13 PM Permalink

Yeah, delude yourself that he's a great guy. He's just a another incompetent middle manager who has screwed up. He's never done anything in his career except sponged off the hard labour of his underpaid employees. He's only working now so that he can line his pockets with a bit more cash from this slave-labour industry. The sooner we get rid of useless greedy corporate fatcats like this guy is, the sooner we can make some real games in this country again.

Submitted by souri on Sun, 13/12/09 - 1:38 PM Permalink

The problem I have with this comment, and it's been a problem with a lot of the trolling comments we see on here, is that no significant insight is provided, no citation given, and all we have is a broad, sweeping comment.

Do you even know Steve? Have you worked at Infinite or know anyone who's worked there? I somehow strongly doubt it. I mean, you're saying these pretty damning things about Infinite whereas everyone in the industry would, without hesitation, have only nice things to say about them. If you're accusing Steve of exploiting his employees - well, you must have some super secret insider knowledge that we'd all love to hear about. So where is it? Perhaps it's time to start up a wordpress blog and jot all that insider knowledge down, I think.

When you say something like "He's never done anything in his career except sponged off the hard labour of his underpaid employees" - do you even realise that he started up Infinite Interactive only relatively recently in his career?

Look, there have been cases of employees getting exploited recently, Fuzzyeyes and Interzone definitely, but if you're going to accuse Infinite Interactive of that and provide absolutely nothing to back yourself up, don't be surprised that most people here is going to consider your post as nothing but the troll post that it is.

Submitted by mayo on Sun, 13/12/09 - 5:20 PM Permalink

I've been working at Infinite since April, and without hesitation I can say that everything anon says is garbage. Steve treats all of his employees with a great deal of respect, and we're certainly not exploited.

Calling him a corporate fatcat gave me a bit of a chuckle, couldn't be further from the truth.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 7:20 PM Permalink

I've worked with Steve and like any manager he has his good points and bad points. I wouldn't say he has attempted in any way to exploit any of the staff member. He runs from the philosophy "In my business decisions I have to make decisions that allow me to go home with a good conscious"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/12/09 - 11:17 AM Permalink

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the Australian games industry has reduced in size by 50% over the last year or two. I am overly concerned that if this trend continues we will have very little of an industry to speak of come a year from now.

Being an industry with several export awards at the state and even federal level, droves of Australian workers having no option but to work internationally and very little job security... i would like to think our industry may very well be at a point of needing some government assistance before there's no industry to assist.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/12/09 - 4:33 PM Permalink

Perhaps..

Although I think the reduction in size & numbers of big name studios and pushing a lot more developers out there has created a lot more indie developers.

There is a lot more indie activity at the moment then there has been for the past couple of years. iPhone in particularly is buzzing, mainly I guess due to the fact that development costs are low, with the rewards potentially high.

I'm sure there is a bunch of jaded developers who have had enough with the ups and downs and have left the industry to work elsewhere in the IT / Design Sector. But I think we will see a resurgence when we come out of this "recession". We will have more smaller studios, creating quality games. It will be good for the industry in the long run, more spread of creativity, more eventual jobs.

We all just need to do what we can for now - and get through this. Just my two cents.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 5:17 AM Permalink

Australia need to look at Montreal in Canada as an example of how it is done right. Thq are opening a studio that will employ 1000. Ea employ over 300, ubisoft are easily over 1000... The assasins creed dev team is 400 strong. How does this happen? Govt incentives, 40% of each employees salary is covered. Australias dollar is better value than the Canadian... So it isn't the only reason. The govt in aus need to stop living in the past and need to look at new industries to grow the nation and appeal to the younger generation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 9:49 AM Permalink

Polititians only care about voters. If throwing billions into videogame development comes at the expense of say... aged care, then people will vote against it. As it stands Christians are the majority so pollies pander to them with things like censorship, homophobia, xenophobia, and other backwardsness in order to get easy votes from a large pool of people. So no - you will not be getting government support for videogames. Unless the Greens or the Sex Party rule the roost maybe.

Submitted by NathanRunge on Mon, 14/12/09 - 10:09 AM Permalink

Quite frankly video-game development shouldn't come before aged care, but that is completely besides the point. Within the Australian political system, the people do not vote on such issues. If you are meaning that people will not vote for a politician who supports video game development in his/her election campaign, then perhaps not. I doubt any party would bother talking extensively about video games, however, as quite frankly we're not extremely important on the national agenda. We're a reasonable industry, to be sure, but we don't even register on the radar next to health care, taxes and foreign relations.

I find it interesting you're choosing to blame your problems on Christians though. It's a popular pass-time lately, and a little disappointing. Firstly let's get the facts straight. It's difficult to gauge the actual Christian population of Australia with any degree of accuracy, so let's look at the 'active' Christians, shall we? The population of Australia is estimated to be just a little over twenty-two million (22,000,000). The number of church-going Christians is about one-and-a-half million (1,500,000). That's a little under 7% of the population, which is hardly a majority. In fairness, the number of people who are self-declared Christians is much higher, but their involvement (in large) with politics as Christians is hardly going to be significant if they don't even attend Church on any regular basis.

Moving on to the characteristics you associate with Christianity: censorship, homophobia, xenophobia and backward[s]ness. I'll give you homophobia, a lot of Christians are indeed quite homophobic. That said, that particular trait has very little to do with video game development at all. Censorship... really now? Are you really that desperate to pin all your troubles on Christians? I find your post quite distasteful. Censorship has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity and you are quite deluded if you think otherwise. To blame Christianity, solely, for those that attempt to force a moral code upon others is no different to blaming Atheists for all situations in which people lack morality. It's an invalid point based upon religious persecution and prejudice on your part. Xenophobia, again, has nothing to do with Christianity. This particular claim is groundless in its entirety, as is your last point of 'backward[s]ness'. Unless you intend to provide some form of supporting argument to these claims, what you are saying is simply trolling and is, in fact, religious persecution. Disappointing.

Also, I hope with every fibre in my body that neither of those parties ever holds government. Quite frankly they wouldn't know what to do if they did.

Submitted by Blitz on Mon, 14/12/09 - 4:59 PM Permalink

Censorship is a main goal of organised religion. Censorship is a form of thought control, thought control is absolutely critical for organised religion to survive. Certainly some religions (and shards of religions) are less conservative than others, but choosing what people are able to see, hear, and talk about is only positive for them. Even the bible is a supreme work of censorship, and there are dozens of different versions of the bible each with their own edits to support that particular shards views.
I can understand the original poster target the christian group, as i'm sure it would be by far the largest religious group in australia (other religious groups probably don't hold enough sway in politics to be worth mentioning).
I wrote a bunch more, but decided to delete it...this ain't really the place for religious arguments.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 7:07 PM Permalink

Yeah, its the moral brigade who push censorship. A large part of such a group would be made up of those who are religious.

There is a large group of peole out there who want their values enforced. 'Christian' values are a large part fo that.

Were it not for religious groups, I doubt censorship would be an issue.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 7:49 PM Permalink

Active (lobby) groups that push for Christian values are a big factor on what politicians choose to support -- like incentives for videogames and censorship of them. However, there motives aren't necessarily promototed as being Christian, but rather, as morally right and virtuous. They're aware of just how much stigma there is out there about their fundamentalist views, why they choose their wording very carefully, by describing themselves as conservatives with 'family first' values -- they often neglect to mention that their values are hardline Christian.

Then there are the more secretive 'lobby' groups (or cults) who support Christian politicians and factions, like the right-wing Christian 'Exclusive Brethren' who supported the former prime minister John Howard and his (Christian) Liberal party, with sizable 'donations.'

If you don't think that they have a part to play in shaping society through media and politics -- with some nasty changes to federal and state laws that have actually erroded our freedoms in the name of protecting our 'way of life' -- then, you've been eating retard sandwiches ;).

And no, they aren't in the 'majority;' they don't have to be.

Submitted by NathanRunge on Mon, 21/12/09 - 7:20 PM Permalink

I elected not to respond to the first reply to my message, despite the poster attempting to have the last say before ending a debate, because he/she was right that this is not the appropriate place to hold a debate on social and religious issues. Obviously you have far less restraint and respect for the purpose of the forum than myself, or the aforementioned poster who I will acknowledge has acted with some responsibility.

You can whine all your like and blame others for the problems that befall your small world of video-game development and free access to porn, but have you stopped to question your own role in the process? What you have supplied examples for is a SMALL NUMBER of people, Christian or otherwise, that have actually stood up for what they believed in with their voices and their money. I am a Christian and I strongly disagree with censorship and deciding what is appropriate for others, that is their choice. Some Christians disagree, just as many Atheists disagree. If you want your voice to be heard, the first step is to actually tell someone with some authority and actually do something about it. People cry that the video game industry doesn't get tax incentives. Do you think that just happens? Go out and ask for it if you want it. You don't like censorship? Neither do I, let's organise ways around it and make sure the government knows it won't stand. Regardless of your view, stand up and take responsibility for your own situation. Stop whining and blaming others for your problems just because it's convenient.

My name is Nathan Runge. I'm a Christian. I don't like censorship. I support an R18+ rating for videogames. That's me taking responsibility for my words and actions. Your post - that's whining and crying whilst hiding behind a wall of anonymity.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 6:46 PM Permalink

So in a fee market we need to rely on govt handouts..... now there's a business model that is bound to work!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 7:26 PM Permalink

Rely?

No one said we shoudl rely on handouts. But if the Government invests in new industries, then there will be new industries.

The games industry has gotten thsi far wihtout much help. With some additional investment it could turn into something bigger. We are an export (and therefore porductive) industry.

This country needs more of those.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/12/09 - 10:05 PM Permalink

I think people who think government handouts will fix the problem have their heart in the right place, but their brain most definitely in the wrong one.

The industry in Australia is fine on a skills and productivity level, but what has become abundantly clear over the past year is that there is no means or mechanism for employees in the industry to protect themselves from shoddy business practises in a "fee for service" environment. There are plenty of state and federal level employee protections in place, but the fact is they simply don't cater to employees working for overseas publishers or management. Some of the things we've seen in the Australian industry this year would see directors lead away in handcuffs, "OneTel" style, but the fact is too many companies are run by remote control, from overseas interests who have no interest in the well being of their staff, and no real grasp of what it takes to make games, at the coal face. These guys don't fear the thought that their employees might not get their entitlements if things go tits up - It's just a game to them, ironically. As an aside, everything I've ever heard about Steve suggests he is the complete opposite of what I've just described. If anything we need more middle management like him - someone who is capable of making hard business decisions like letting people go, but who simultaneously works his arse off to try and protect his people.

Souri mentioned Interzone - and that's a prime example, and mostly an untold story. There's dozens of people there who are all owed months and months of superannuation and in many cases back pay, many former staff are taking legal action, and meanwhile the directors sit overseas sipping pina coladas, selling the remaining staff lies until their game ships, then presumably they'll wind up the company and vanish into the night (to Ireland), and never live up to their expectations under Australian workplace law. The Government doesn't care, by the way - I know for a fact that multiple complaints have been made to ASIC and the ATO about Interzone, and nothing has been done, the company still operates today (have you ever seen a two-legged dog?).

Now ask yourself, honestly, how would government subsidies have helped in that situation? Interzone DID get a handout from the West Australian State government - who are probably pissed off now because they realise they were exploited just like the employees, and that they probably won't see their investment back.

If we have an environment where borderline white collar crime in management in the aussie industry is acceptable, government handouts will just attract -more- fatcats to the table, who are more than ready to exploit a skilled, but relatively low cost (even with the rising dollar) workforce, and enjoy government handouts for their trouble.

Tax breaks? Now that's a different story.

Bottom line : Until the Aussie industry matures to the point where it can raise its own capital, manage its own publishing, and develop more original IP, rather than fee for service jobs, we really only have ourselves to blame.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Blitz on Mon, 14/12/09 - 5:05 PM Permalink

Excuse my lack of business knowledge, but why do you describe Steve, the person who owns and runs the company, as middle management? I would personally have considered him to be upper management...there's no-one higher in the company than him afaik. Middle management would be the producers and leads i would have thought? Sorry if this sounds like a nitpick haha.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/12/09 - 6:35 PM Permalink

Well.. I guess I meant middle management in the wider sense of studio heads who have to answer to Publishers or overseas interests. But my apologies for the mistake, clearly he's upper management.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 3:56 PM Permalink

Not exactly "rely" on government handouts. But it's worked before. Just look at how Canada's development scene is booming since they started their government incentives. No reason why that kind of thing can't work here. But our government's too busy giving out money to make crappy movies about outback Australia.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/12/09 - 7:57 PM Permalink

You can handout as much money as you like, but if you insist on giving that money to the wrong people... then you might as well of used it to wipe your arse with. The reality is, is that the way things are done in Australia, is that money which should be going towards establishing new IP and new studios, to give them a break, give new approaches a chance, and grow the industry. More often than not, is given to an established studio so that they can remain afloat. They may state it is so as to do exactly what I have just said, but it is nothing more than BS. These are studios that have had their chance, and by all their own hype, should be able to stand on their own two feet. Yet their practices and reliance on 'fee-for-service' work, has made them a joke to local developers, and have damaged the credibility of the local industry globally.

Are we tired of these stories yet?

Kotaku AU have reported that Melbourne games developer, Infinite Interactive, had shed a quarter of their staff today. Infinite Interactive CEO, Steve Fawkner, responded with a more correct figure and the reasons behind the reduction in staff numbers.

We actually let 6 people go today. It’s always terrible that people need to be let go, but this was part of a small downsize after a large project (Puzzle Chronicles) finished with Konami. Ordinarily, we’d keep everybody on staff while we started our next projects, but with the rising Australian Dollar, unfortunately we can’t.

The Puzzle Quest 2 team has been unaffected by this and it’s definitely full steam ahead for them – the game is looking and playing fantastic.

So, it's not quite the alarming news as it was initially, but quite sobering, nonetheless.

News

Gamepro have revealed what a blurred out portion on the front cover preview of their January 2010 magazine is, and it's none other than the sequel Melbourne's Infinite Interactive's popular RPG / Puzzle hybrid, Puzzle Quest.

Not much more than that is known about Puzzle Quest 2 at this time unfortunately, but they do have a high resolution screenshot image of the new game which has many concluding that it's coming to Xbox 360 via Xbox Live, although it seems likely that Infinite Interactive and D3 Publisher will be planning to release it on as many formats as possible.

News
Submitted by designerwatts on Fri, 25/09/09 - 3:19 PM Permalink

it looks a bit meh.

This game has some very good art to back it up but from what I can see by looking over the gameplay screen it doesn't look like they tired to add their own twist to the original. I could be wrong of course. But it just strikes me as an uninspired attempt on pop-caps behalf to get a market share of casual bejeweled / puzzle quest players.

Also the world map looks like ass.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/09/09 - 10:17 PM Permalink

TBH there are some effects in those screen shots that the infinite engine does not seem capable of at the moment. i.e. neither galactrix or puzzle quest presented near the level of special effects presented in those clips.

I suspect its time for the Infinite engine to get a bit of a upgrade.

Submitted by Sabre070 on Sat, 26/09/09 - 1:04 AM Permalink

I can't wait for the pokemon franchise to take one of these styles..

Just see it, you have you're different pokemon that you summon and each has different abilities.. You summon pokemon normally and have the normal pokemon style game though mana is gained of the board..

Hey Nintendo! Make this game and give me some of the profits. :)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/09/09 - 12:30 AM Permalink

An' match 3 was original? Come on, people have been copying Bejeweled for ages which I'm sure is a copy of another game. Feel for Infinite for how similar th' artwork looks but then again they're not too good at crediting their game designers either hey -- so who's black?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/09/09 - 4:10 PM Permalink

Sheesh - you accidentally leave an ex-employee's name off a credit list once... I sense I'll be apologizing for that forever...

But I guess "it only takes one goat" as Luigi the Goatf*&%er said... :-) heh

Cheers

-Steve

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/09/09 - 5:34 PM Permalink

Well at least you're honest enough to admit it which is admirable. Personally, I'd find it quite a big deal since it's th' currency for getting work in th' industry however one could always make amends through Mobygames perhaps. I suppose I've had my rant an' said person in question is far more gracious than to make a big deal of it. Respect for that, I'm all about th' powered underpants in ways though probably shouldn't get so caught up in local disappointments.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/09/09 - 4:17 PM Permalink

On the subject of Gyromancer though, it looks gorgeous, and I'm always happy to have someone raise the bar in some area of a genre we work in... it makes us all work harder to be better!

Cheers

-Steve Fawkner

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 28/09/09 - 5:39 PM Permalink

We're seeing more an' more of this happening now though which is a worry. Companies with eerily similar ideas to other titles from smaller developers or even independents [ re: Enemy Airship / Hudsonsoft shadow gameplay ] that are able to bring titles to market with larger teams based on indie prototypes. How do people feel about this? It seems at th' end of th' day, th' players don't care anyway.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/09/09 - 2:44 PM Permalink

Luckily I think Infinite's made a big splash with their brand of game and it'll take more than a similar game with flashy graphics to debunk them.

If anything it'll probably drive sales as new players get introduced to the formula and find they want more!

Scott.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 30/09/09 - 11:16 PM Permalink

It makes me wonder how they'll tackle the issues that the original game had, particularly with the perception of cheating. I'm sure everyone knows by now that there was no cheating implemented into the AI, and so I assume it's either inherent with the game design or just players perception.

Anyway, I can't think of any two bigger companies in the casual & rpg field, and I would be bitterly disappointed if they couldn't come up with their own twist or new features.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/10/09 - 5:43 PM Permalink

Interestingly, they have sidestepped the cheating issue by not having an AI player.
It is really a single player game where you win by matching "damage" gems, and lose by matching "fail" gems. Quite clever, because whatever you do feels like your fault, not the fault of some "cheating" AI. Still not the same as PQ though.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I wonder how Steve Fawkner and Infinite Interactive feel after hearing the news that casual game giant, PopCap games, and RPG mega giant, Square Enix, have combined forces to create what looks like the ultimate Puzzle Quest:Challenge of the Warlords clone called Gyromancer.

The match-3 puzzle and RPG elements are there, as well as spells, combos, story mode etc. Heck, it's even in the fantasy genre as well.

Take a peek at the trailer below:

Here are some details on the game:

STORY
Rivel, leader of the rebel faction Temperance and sorcerer vessel of the Godseye, follows Qraist, the countslayer, into the enchanted Aldemona Wood. The wood whispers to the two. For Rivel, the wood holds the key to his locked memories. For Qraist, the wood holds his calling -- to be its master. Unbeknownst to either, the nefarious Everett watches quietly from the shadows. Within this enchanted wood, severed from the outside world by ritual, lie mysteries and answers, knowledge and wonder. Each enters in search of something -- but what is it they will find?

FEATURES

* Assume the role of Rivel, a deadly mage, as he rids Aldemona Wood of a brooding darkness through over 10 compelling game stages
* Experience an all-new battle system based on the popular puzzle game Bejeweled Twist
* Command over 50 unique beasts! Powerful new beasts can be acquired as players gain levels in battle
* Search the map for items, coins and new beasts to join Rivel's fight
* Participate in the online ranking system to register high scores

Location
News
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/09 - 10:31 AM Permalink

I'm guessing these positions have been filled?

i know some experienced people are looking for work now.

Submitted by souri on Tue, 04/08/09 - 12:40 PM Permalink

I don't know if they are filled - they were put up only over a week ago. However, considering the amount of views this job has on here, I would say it that they've got a tonne of interest already and are slowly sifting through the applicants at the moment. Just send in your short cover letter and CV now while you can if you are interested.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/09 - 3:06 PM Permalink

Hi all,

These positions have now been filled. Thanks to everybody that wrote - we received over 200 applications, many of them extraordinarily awesome! We tried to write back to you all, but some emails have bounced. Some emails that came in after we filled the positions may also have been missed.

Cheers

Steve Fawkner
Infinite Interactive

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/08/09 - 1:02 PM Permalink

I didn't apply for this or anything. I just wanted to say that it's awesome when companies make an effort to get in contact with everyone who sends in an application.

Job hunting can be an arduous and often disappointment-filled adventure. It sucks to be left wondering for weeks on end whether your application even got through, only to give up hope because no one ever responded.

Thanks for taking the time to ensure your applicants feel valued :-D

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

An opportunity exists at Infinite Interactive for a number of short term casual QA positions.

Preference will be given to applicants who have had some previous QA experience, but these positions would also suit a junior, recent graduate, or relatively-inexperienced person.

Duration of the position will be at least 4 weeks, and probably no longer than 6-8 weeks.

Please send a short cover letter and a CV to jobs@infinite-interactive.com

Thank you!

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