East Side Games gears up to launch Ruby Skies for iOS, works with 6waves to fix social-mobile publishing

Pot Farm developer East Side Games is getting ready to launch Ruby Skies for iOS. The game marks the first time East Side has worked with 6waves, who will publish the title. East Side Games CEO Jason Bailey and Ruby Skies producer Jacob Krarup took some time to chat with us about developing the game and the arduous search for a publisher that accompanied it.

An adorable game that’s “Waffles For The Eyes”

Ruby Skies is a combination of relationship-building, item collection and exploration genres. The game has players controlling Cupid, in all his cherubic glory. Cupid’s been instructed by Venus that he needs to make more people fall in love in the world, and he flies off to a land filled with islands floating among pink puffy clouds. As he explores the islands, Cupid interacts with a number of over-the-top characters and gets them to fall in love with one another. The game sports a distinctly cartoony style that is often described by the developer as “waffles for the eyes.”

Ruby Skies’s social elements are somewhat limited at the moment, but it does use Facebook Connect and allows players to forge relationships with their Facebook friends. When asked about further social elements, Krarup and Bailey won’t commit to anything but say there’s a possibility of more being implemented further down the line.

A big part of Ruby Skies appeal is how players have complete freedom to determine how relationships progress in the game. Essentially, any character can be matched up with any other, regardless of gender or species. “We’re trying to figure out how to work 50 Shades of Grey into the story [for even more appeal],” Bailey (we think) jokes.

East Side Games is waiting to see what elements of gameplay really appeal to players, but the multiple types of mechanics means there are several ways for the studio to add content to the game. However, it’ll be a few weeks before the analytics can be analyzed and new content can be added in.

Trouble finding a publisher

The game’s been in development for a little under a year. This is anomalous for East Side Games, as Bailey told us last month the studio quickly develops a lot of games into prototypes only to decide not to pursue further development. At the time of that interview, Bailey described the strategy as failing often, but failing fast. In the case of Ruby Skies, though, Bailey jokes, “We failed to fail fast enough.”

“We examined where we were on a regular basis and said ‘that is really sweet, so let’s finish it’ … We loved the art, we loved the concept, we loved the story and we loved the gameplay,” Krarup says.

Actually, the holdup was due to a number of different reasons, but a huge part of the delay came from looking for a publisher, which was a frustrating situation for the developer. “We talked to every publisher out there and really wanted to punch every one of them in the face,” Bailey notes, pointing out how social games don’t fit into the typical video game publishing deal. “They just didn’t get it, they were stuck in their old terms and they have their boiler plates. There’s huge [logic] holes, like how we’re taking all the risk and they’re not taking any, but they’re taking all the money.”

The decision to go with 6waves came about later on, and it was a bit of a no-brainer. Bailey has prior experience dealing with the company and trusts the people there, but also says, “They want to prove themselves in this space. When  6waves came to us, they were the only ones who had a reasonable offer that actually worked. They actually said, ‘hey, if we don’t meet what we’re actually promising you, you get the game back.’ They were the first ones to stand up and admit the publishing model was broken and help us to find a formula that was agreeable.”