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GDC 2011: Tatem Games' Carnivores and RoboSockets

Mike Schramm
March 3, 2011
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Tatem Games is a mobile games studio out of Ukraine that's been making games since the mid-'90s. They originally started with PC games, CEO Igor Karev told me here at GDC 2011, but lately the company's focus has been on the iPhone and the iPad. "It's about timing," Karev says, "we can make cool games, and not spend two years on them." The company's biggest titles are the Carnivores games, a series of 3D "hunting" games (though the titles have grown to encompass more than just killing things) that started out on the PC and have since garnered 3.5 million downloads.

The Carnivores games have a dedicated user base, and Tatem closely follows customers' advice, structuring updates around iTunes comments and input. There is an update due out soon that will bring more mythical creatures into the games, as well as new weapons to use and a new game mode requested by users who don't want to kill the animals; it'll be a photo hunting mode instead, letting the player wander the world with a camera rather than a gun.

Just recently, the company released RoboSockets, a puzzle game that we on TUAW enjoyed quite a bit. There are updates due for that game also, including an iPad-compatible version and new game modes like an oft-requested endless puzzle mode. RoboSockets is growing more slowly than Carnivores did with the PC following driving it, says Tatem, but they think that RoboSockets' shorter, more casual experience is a good fit for the platform. That update is due out in about a month, I was told.

RoboSockets is also set to come to the Mac App Store soon, and Tatem would like to bring it to Facebook as well, along with a few other ideas they have for social games. "We want people to play our games on any platform," they told me.

Finally, I asked the Ukrainian company's execs about their biggest audiences, and as I suspected, they confirmed that they are more or less making these games for an American audience. I said that would be doubly hard to do, and they agreed -- "the main problem for us is our English," said Karev. Even with friends and translators checking game text, a few issues still sneak through. Still, that's not a huge problem. Karev said that good gaming was universal, and Tatem can do a pretty good job of delivering titles that American audiences can enjoy.

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