Exclusive Interview: Island Officials \”Nintendo Provided Plenty of Support\” for Orion’s Odyssey

Orion’s Odyssey is one of Kickstarter’s latest success heading exclusively to a Nintendo platform. To find out more about the game, and the developer behind it, we\’ve interviewed Ryan Morrison, the CEO from  Island Officials….

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Can you explain to our readers who Island Officials are, and what games they may have played before from you?


Island Officials is a diverse group of developers from the southern New Jersey area who have been developing games and mobile applications since 2008. Prior to Orion’s Odyssey, we developed the predecessor, \’Hands On! Tangrams\’, as well as a number of mobile apps. This quarter we plan on releasing a PC game called Pixel Lincoln and a iOS Android title called Frantic Frog.
What did you play when you were growing up? Do you have a favourite game, system or gaming memory?


One of the things we pride ourselves on is that our team comes from vastly different walks of life, each with their own experiences and influences which inspire their work.  Games like EarthBound, Mega Man, Resident Evil, Splinter Cell, Rampart, Fire N Ice, Sonic, Mario, Final Fantasy, Halo, Silent Hill, Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock and more are all talked about regularly around the office.
Orion’s Odyssey is billed as a comedy-puzzle game for DSiware and the 3DS eShop, but what actually is Orion’s Odssey?


Orion’s Odyssey is a puzzle game that tells the story of a robot named Orion who finds he has the unique ability to create anything he can imagine as long as he understands the basic geometry of the object. He decides to come to Earth to use his ability and help people with their various problems and make a few friends along the way. The player assists Orion by creating the items he makes using pattern blocks on the bottom screen. However, Orion only knows about the planet through research he’s done on his spaceship, so his solution to problems and the items he makes for people tend to be rather unique.

You had originally planned to release this on a cartridge and alluded to fact on your Kickstarter page the market has changed and you were having trouble finding a publisher. Why do you think this is? Do you think Nintendo could do anything to regain this lost market?

As mentioned on the Kickstarter, it wasn\’t really a matter of the game itself, it was the Nintendo DS format. We began developing the game when the DS was still a big ticket item but only months before the announcement of its successor, the 3DS. Now that the 3DS is out, retail space for Nintendo DS games has shrunk and publishers are, understandably, moving on to the next big thing. While we believe that the original DS still has a lot of life in it, with over 100 million units sold and many users who haven\’t moved on to adopt the 3DS yet, we also understand the tough business decisions made by publishers and retailers who need to cater to those who have as well as push the 3DS to the same heights as its predecessor.
Does the game make use of any of the DSi or 3DS’s unique features? Did you add Streetpass for the 3DS version for example?


The game is true to its original vision as a Nintendo DS title. As such, no features have been added, it is very much the same game that would have appeared on an NDS cartridge.
When will the game be released and what is next for Island Officials?


Now that the game is funded, our next step is going through the Nintendo submission process. Although we don\’t have an official release date, we are estimating an October 2013 release. Prior to that, we have Frantic Frog, an arcade-action game for Android and iOS devices set to release within the next week or so, as well as Pixel Lincoln, the side-scrolling platformer starring the 16-bit President trying to get his magic hat back from John Wilkes Booth, which is in development for PC and a deck building version of the game will be released this summer.
It’s been clear that over the last year or so Nintendo has had a complete turnaround with regards to indie developers, supporting them and even their approach to their online stores. How have you found working with Nintendo? Is there anything else you would like them to do?


We\’ve maintained a strong rapport with Nintendo for several years now. They\’ve always been pleasant to work with and have provided plenty of support for their hardware and development tools. This is our first time working with them in the digital space, but considering our continued relationship with them, we expect it will go smoothly and are excited about the prospects of working with them past Orion’s Odyssey.

What do you think to the eShop and Nintendo’s terms? Could they be improved further?


Nothing is ever perfect, and Nintendo has been constantly tweaking and improving their digital market plan since they launched the original shop channel for the Wii. That being said, we fully trust the decisions Nintendo has made up to this point, and believe they\’ll continue to make good choices as they iterate and improve the current system.
What are you working on next? Would you consider working on 3DS or perhaps Wii U in the future?

As mentioned above, we have a number of exciting titles in the works, as well as a few surprises we\’re not quite ready to talk about at this time. We have a lot of ideas, a lot of things we want to make, so no platform is out of the question, including the 3DS or Wii U, but as of right now, we have nothing new to announce.

Stay tuned to Nintendo Enthusiast for news about Orion’s Odyssey, including release date – when it’s announced we\’ll cover it!