Great games aren't created in a vacuum.
Being successful in the games industry requires a strong understanding of the medium and the market, and playing lots of games is inevitably a part of this.
Given how crucial this can be for insight and inspiration, and just how passionate this industry is, it's about time more people started openly talking about the games they play.
So PocketGamer.biz will be regularly reaching out to key figures in the mobile games industry to ask them what game (other than their own) is currently keeping them busy after hours. You can view all entries here.
This time, it's Phil Larsen with his playing habits in the spotlight. Larsen spent six years at Fruit Ninja developer Halfbrick, before setting up new studio Prettygreat with Luke Muscat and Hugh Walters in 2015.
PocketGamer.biz: What mobile game (other than your own) are you currently playing the most?
Phil Larsen: It would have to be Triple Town by Spry Fox - an ancient game by mobile standards, but I've only recently gotten into it, and it's a true masterpiece!
How long have you been playing it and do you see yourself continuing?
I’ve been playing for around two months, but I don’t see myself playing much longer.
Triple Town was one of the first true innovators of the match-3 genre.Phil Larsen
I think I’ve reached my skill cap, where the effort required to become marginally more proficient at the game isn’t worth the time.
What do you enjoy most about it?
This was one of the first true innovators of the match-3 genre.
I’d barely call it a match 3, as that name implies Bejeweled and its countless imitators, which Triple Town is most definitely not.
It always feels like you are genuinely accomplishing something, moving forward and building a world that feels different than the last time you played.
What does this game do that makes it especially unique and innovative?
It has immense tactical depth that is instantly accessible.
Within minutes you completely understand basic strategy, and are placing even the first shrubs at odd places because you’ve already formulated a long-term plan.
I’ve never felt compelled to do that in most puzzle games, but this is where its beauty really lies.
If you could change one thing about the game, what would it be?
Fewer bears, which get in the way and block off town space at very inconvenient times! But that’s my biased, non-designer opinion.
They are absolutely necessary to the balance of the game and it’s one of those cases where removing them would do more harm than good.
Have you learned anything from this game that could impact your own work?
It proves to me that there are many more secrets to uncover within the world of puzzle games.
The next monster puzzle hit is out there, waiting to be made.Phil Larsen
It’s almost an unlimited well of ideas to explore. The next monster hit with innovative and accessible gameplay is out there, waiting to be made. Someone just has to do it!
More generally, how important is it for those in the industry to actively and regularly play other people's games?
It’s crucial. You can’t become a musician without listening to music. You can’t become a writer without reading.
Game developers must constantly be playing - they don’t even need to consciously evaluate games and turn it into an exact science. But taking everything in and letting it mix with your own creativity is incredibly important.
The result is you can find an idea that’s perfect for your game, which is inspired by something else, despite the new idea being completely original and not in any way resembling the source of inspiration.
Your mind makes the connection and forges a new road with it.