How Disruptor Beam Fits the Giant Worlds of 'The Walking Dead' and 'Star Trek' Into Mobile Games

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 - 5:15PM
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 - 5:15PM
How Disruptor Beam Fits the Giant Worlds of 'The Walking Dead' and 'Star Trek' Into Mobile Games
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Image credit: Disruptor Beam
For fans who are used to playing games on a TV-sized surface with a controller (or mouse), the downgrade to a smaller screen usually feels like you're forcing gameplay through a letterbox—games like Injustice end up stripping down the game to its basic elements because 1) mobile phones have to deal with internet browsing, calling, and a suite of apps in addition to being a tiny game platform, and 2) you want to pick up your mobile device and put it down again in the time it takes to get on a bus and get off the bus. You don't sit down for a Warcraft raid on your tablet.

So when most people think of mobile games, images of Candy Crush Soda Saga and 2048 spring to mind. What they don't think of are the kinds of mobile games Disruptor Beam makes: the art design, the gameplay, and interfaces of DB's games form one of the more compelling arguments that you can create not just a decent mobile tie-in game, but a great one. From Game of Thrones to The Walking Dead, Disruptor Beam has made it their business to adapt sci-fi and fantasy TV shows into kick-ass mobile games.

We sat down with Disruptor Beam's CEO Jon Radoff to talk about Disruptor Beam's games, how they got their start, and the upcoming game The Walking Dead: March to War.

OP: Tell me a bit about Disruptor Beam's history—how did you get your start, and what was your vision for your games?

Jon: After starting a few previous companies together, my wife and I decided it was time to chase a shared passion of ours: creating a game company that can bring rich storytelling and emotional-social connections to the world of mobile games. The goal was to take the sort of experiences we had enjoyed in PC and console games and bring it to a much larger audience. We then realized that the best sandbox for developing these ideas would be within the worlds people love already (The Walking Dead, Star Trek, Game of Thrones) and that became our strategy.
OP: Every gamer has a secret list of games they love, despite what anyone else says. What games inspired you and your team to make mobile games?

Jon: I've always had a soft spot for social games and those that connect people. In fact, I met my wife in an online game years ago. One of our first projects together was to create the MMORPG Legends of Future Past. With Disruptor Beam, we saw an opportunity to take some of the mechanics, story, graphics and social connections found in MMOs and apply that to the growing market of mobile, which is where Disruptor Beam focuses today. 

OP: Your first game, Game of Thrones Ascent, was named the 2013 Facebook Game of the Year (Staff Picks). What were the challenges of building that first game?

Jon: As a young company at the time, one of our biggest challenges was just getting the license! It took us over a year to get our initial meeting with George R.R. Martin, but thankfully he loved the idea for the game almost immediately. And, the rest is history.

OP: Your games have to deal with a lot of existing canon, lore, and ongoing stories—especially Game of Thrones and Walking Dead. Do you guys have a lore bible to keep everything straight, and how much wiggle room do you have when it comes to new stories?

Jon: We are all fans of the worlds with which we work here at Disruptor Beam. We're lifelong Star Trek fans. We've seen every episode of Game of Thrones and read GRRM's books and The Walking Dead comics…many times. Being die-hard fans of these worlds ourselves helps us in keeping our games authentic. But, we do also work closely with the IP-holders to ensure that everything we put out in our games are in-line with their vision for these brands. 

As for wiggle room, you could say that we have that! Because we are true fans ourselves and we've built a reputation for handling other companies' licenses well, our partners have trusted us to create new content and flex our creative muscles all while staying true to the source material. 

OP: You have three major games on deck right now: Games of Thrones Ascent, The Walking Dead: March to War, and Star Trek Timelines. After playing through each, I noticed that the play style changes from game to game—how did you craft the gameplay to reflect each one?

When we approach a new IP, we do our best to develop a game that best represents the tone and concept of that IP. We don't re-skin game systems with different IPs to save time on development. We build products around the worlds, so that they not only make sense, but that fans feel as though they are truly experiencing these worlds that they love. With The Walking Dead: March to War we've done our best to stay true to the comic's original concept by revolving much of the game mechanics around surviving in the post-apocalypse. Your character will be recruiting new team members, conquering foes, hunting for supplies and being an effective leader much like Rick is in the comics. 

OP: You have seasonal events that line up with what's going on in TV—how do those work, and what can you tell us about Disruptor Beam's plans for the new Game of Thrones season?

In the past, we have added new game content to Game of Thrones Ascent every week, syncing with the new HBO episodes. We've found that the fans have loved this. We would very much like to add new Season 7 content into Game of Thrones Ascent, but we haven't yet announced our plan for that quite yet. 
OP: Where do you think mobile gaming is going to in the next few years?

As phones, tablets and other handheld devices grow exponentially in power, so too does our ability to push boundaries. We're already taking these platforms to the limit with The Walking Dead: March to War's graphical prowess and game design. Future boosts in device power, and as more people globally adopt these devices, it will allow us to go even further. And, we plan to!

OP: What are you working on next?

For now, we're all hands on deck with supporting our live games, while working towards the launch of The Walking Dead: March to War. But, we always have our eyes set on the future and have some other projects that we are working towards as well.

You can check out Disruptor Beam's website here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Keep an eye out for their upcoming game, Walking Dead: March to War!
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Games