Pixel Toys CEO on the game changing combination of iOS 9's 3D Touch and iPhone 6s' A9 chip

Andy Wafer is fresh from the Apple stage

Pixel Toys CEO on the game changing combination of iOS 9's 3D Touch and iPhone 6s' A9 chip

One of the pleasant surprises of last week's Apple press event was the number of game developers on stage.

Equally pleasant was the presence of Andy Wafer, CEO of small UK indie Pixel Toys; a company we recently profiled.

He got a prime spot in the Apple show-and-tell, demoing Pixel Toys' forthcoming Warhammer: 40K: Freeblade on the new iPhone 6s-class hardware, including being the first game to show off iOS 9's new 3D Touch technology.

Post-event, we caught up with Wafer to talk Apple, iPhone, 3D Touch and haircuts. When did you get the nod that you'd be on stage for the conference? Did you immediately go out and buy a new suit?

Andy Wafer: I can't go into details about the behind the scenes process at the conference.

I didn't buy a suit, but I can confirm I stopped for an emergency haircut on the way to the airport.

What's the rehearsal process like? Were you happy with your performance?

Being part of the process was, of course, very exciting. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to be involved in a major launch event.

Andy Wafer in the spotlight

I wouldn't say I'm a natural on stage, but I think it went okay for me and Pixel Toys.

From what you said, it seems that pretty much everything was uprezed in the game to run on the new hardware so how much access did you have to iOS 9 and the new phones?

For mobile gaming, 3D Touch is literally a game changer.
Andy Wafer

We certainly did up-res a lot of textures and a load of other things too - we added more A.I. characters and the kind of post effects you'd typically only see in PC and console games.

Compared to the iOS 8 hardware, how much of an improvement do you think the new devices are, especially for gaming?

It's difficult to quantify, but there's a lot of exciting technology.

The new camera is a substantial hardware upgrade and the A9 chip is more powerful than I was expecting for this generation, but for mobile gaming, 3D Touch is literally a game changer.

Do you think it means you can make better games or just prettier games?

The A9 chip in the new iPhone's significantly more powerful, it's another big leap, which of course means you can do much prettier graphics, and still have it run at 60 frames per second which is amazing.

But a faster chip also means you can do other stuff too, like have a lot more A.I. characters interacting with you or do more with complex physics in gameplay. Ultimately that means developers have the potential opportunity to do more interesting things, which can lead to better games.

3D Touch live in Warhammer 40K; Freeblade

Then there's 3D Touch and this is the important bit - certainly the feature I was most excited about when I had fully wrapped my head around it.

With 3D Touch, you add another dimension to the screen.
Andy Wafer

Up until now, mobile games have just had a 2D touch interface. Tilt can also be used, but it's not a primary interaction in most games with the exception of driving games, maybe.

With 3D Touch, you add another dimension to the screen. The feature isn't just on or off, it's analogue, which gives plenty of precision control; because you're interacting with a screen, and not just pressing an analogue button as on a console controller, the feature is infinitely more interesting.

Imagine a simple game of Pool where you can precisely control how firmly to hit the cue ball. There are so many possibilities and because Pixel Toys is a team that makes mobile games, I am genuinely excited about exploring what else we can do with it next.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.