We’re doing a review for Istanbul: Digital Edition on Nintendo Switch, so I got in touch with Acram Digital to talk a bit about the game. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Good morning! Thank you for joining us. Could you please help us get started by introducing yourself to our readers?
Hello! I’m Przemek Perkowski, the project manager at Acram Digital. Beside the management, I am taking part in UX Design and programming as well. After hours I am (as is everyone at Acram) a great fan of board games. In general, turn-based games are my thing – digital or in analog format.
PS4B: Istanbul: Digital Edition is now live on the Nintendo Switch. What can you tell us about this release?
I can tell you that it is our first game on Nintendo Switch, so that was a big unknown for us. Almost one week after the release, I can tell you that the game has been quite well received on Nintendo’s platform… so far at least! I cannot speak about the numbers here, although what I’m able to say, is that these numbers make us sure to bring more games to this platform. The next one is Eight-Minute Empire – it will be released later this year and after that (Q1 2020 I guess) our brand new yet unannounced title (we will announce it soon, though).
PS4B: How long did it take to develop Istanbul: Digital Edition for Nintendo’s console? Where there any particular challenges in bringing this board game to life as a video game?
It is a very good question actually! Believe me that the development process was truly challenging. I am not able to go into details here, because of Nintendo’s NDA, but I would like to paint a picture for you. It took around nine months to bring Istanbul: Digital Edition to iOS and Android from scratch, and have a “ready for release” version for PC, Mac, and Linux.
When we started the development of the Nintendo Switch version, the game had been completed in many aspects already. Still, the whole process behind bringing it to the Nintendo eShop took almost four months.
Fortunately, it was worth it! Istanbul: Digital Edition for Nintendo Switch has all the features of the PC version (including cross-platform online multiplayer!). And we have added animations to the background illustrations to improve the visual aspect of the game.
About the second part of your question, one can write a book about the challenges of porting a board game to the digital world. In short, board games seem to be very rooted in principles and exact rules, which, you know, makes sense when you look at the big picture. Simultaneously, you will find many exceptions when you go over the details. Every (corner) case has to be covered by the source code and UI – there is no place for any inaccuracies. When at the same time you would like to make a decent port and user-friendly gameplay, you have to take a deep breath and jump into this ocean of details.
Fortunately, that is something we love at Acram. Time and time again we discover how challenging it is to flawlessly translate rules into code. Rules that, at the table, can be contentious, but it’s not obvious at first, or even second glance at the rulebook. Those situations people find themselves in after they’ve played the game for years, and suddenly encounter some niche corner case loophole and go, “wait, what?” We have to code ahead of that because the game would simply be broken otherwise!
PS4B: Are you considering a Nintendo Switch release of other digital board games Mobo Studio and Acram have worked on such as Steam: Rails to Riches or Eight-Minute Empire?
Along with Eight-Minute Empire, we would love to see Steam: Rails to Riches on the Nintendo Switch as well. Nevertheless, we know our limits, and we are aware of how many projects we can process simultaneously. We are still considering bringing SRtR to Nintendo’s platform in the future, but I can not make any promises here. As I mentioned earlier porting to that platform is not the easiest thing. Our promise is: Eight-Minute Empire is going to be released on Nintendo Switch later this year. I hope that our next big title should be ready for a release in Q1 2020 as well. Keep your fingers crossed!
PS4B: And that’s all the time we have for today. Is there something else you’d like to add before we go?
I would like to thank you for this interview and for your questions. It was a great pleasure to answer these. There is only one thing I would like to add. I’m really happy about the increasing popularity of digital board games. As someone who loves board games, I can say that many many of these tabletop games have deep gameplay, provide a great quality of entertainment, and are not excluding anyone!
That is a fantastic thing, to see these games in digital format and many different people playing them. On the last convention, where we were present as Acram Digital, I saw the family (grandma, father, and son) spending time with Istanbul: Digital Edition. They played hot seat mode, and they enjoyed it – that was beautiful.