An Interview With Hersh Choksi Of The USC GamePipe Lab and Happynin Games
Happynin Games Inc. is a company that spun out of the USC GamePipe Laboratory program. The company created a game called fowlplay, which focuses on a pigeon flying around and pooping on people walking around in a park below.
Users can earn points by avoiding trees and hitting the people below. The pigeon is controlled through the accelerometer. Scores are shared through the integrated OpenFeint community. There are several power ups available to make the game play more interesting. For example, tacos can make the pigeon poop a lot more ammo.
“The development team on this has done an outstanding effort and produced one of the best 3D games on the iPhone to date”, stated Michael Zyda, CEO of Happynin and Director of the USC GamePipe Laboratory in a press release.
I conducted an e-mail interview with Hersh Choksi, one of the heads of the game production:
1. The game’s theme is very entertaining. How did your team come up with it?
The concept of being a pigeon and pooping on the people below originated from a student project for the PC that was built at USC. A couple members of that original team were looking to create an iPhone version of the game, and so we got them on board and began working on what you see now.
2. Sometimes working with a big team on a game can be a challenge, how did you ensure that everyone did their part in a timely manner?
Like any project, we had some ups and downs over the course of the production, but we were lucky to have a group of extremely hardworking and intelligent people who we could rely on to get the game onto the App Store.
3. What role did USC play in the development of your game?
A number of the developers, including myself, are USC alumni, and some of us knew each other from there. Several of our engineers had gained experience on the iPhone platform working on class projects, and of course the original idea started as a student project.
4. How did you design the 3D characters? Were you inspired by any other existing games?
During the early stages of development we looked at a number of different iPhone games to figure out the best way to give the characters a whimsical look while optimizing for the limitations of the iPhone’s processor. We relied most heavily on the style of Minigore, but aimed to put our own mark on it as well.
5. Is Happynin planning to create any additional games?
Currently we are working on an iPad version of the game, featuring high resolution art. A free, lite version of the game was recently released on the App Store as well. Following that, we’ve got another great title in development that we’re excited to share when it’s ready.