Jeff Minter discusses the PS Vita, indie gaming’s surprise champion

tempest 2000

Jeff Minter and his partner Ivan Zorzin at Llamasoft have spent the past six years in the wilds of iOS game development, churning out sweet iPhone games like GoatUp and Minotron 2112. For fans of video game psychedelia though, Minter’s absence after making the polarizing Xbox 360 shooter Space Giraffe has been pretty painful.

While he’s not coming back to home consoles yet, Minter is returning to the world of gaming-specific handhelds. He announced this week that he’s developing TxK for PS Vita, a sequel to his classic shooter Tempest 2000. Digital Trends caught up with Minter to talk about TxK’s genesis, jumping between devoted gaming machines and Apple’s mobile devices, and the future of the PS Vita.

Jeff Mintner
Jeff Mintner

“We’ve done a lot of work with mobile devices over the last couple of years and I really like the pick up and play aspects of gaming on those platforms,” says Minter. The rise of the smartphone has certainly proven inspiring for the designer. Since 2009 he’s released nine games for iOS and Google Android, more than doubling his output from the previous ten years. There comes a time, however, when just a touch screen isn’t enough.

“We’re particularly excited about the Vita because it allows us to use real controls, has more power for gaming than most mobile platforms we’ve been working on, and has an absolutely gorgeous, large OLED screen which we think will make TxK look absolutely fantastic. On a screen like that we feel that we can provide something that looks comparable with the kind of thing you see on the big screen on a conventional console.  Vita’s the only handheld platform that can deliver that.”

Like a number of other independent developers, Minter’s excited about Sony’s future in general terms. While it’s first year on sale wasn’t a full success, he sees a bright future for the Vita thanks to Sony’s drive to bring offbeat games to the handheld.

“I think what Sony are doing is great and will bring a lot of interesting and fun content to Vita and beyond,” says Minter, “It’s generated a lot of positive buzz about Sony and its platforms and I can only see that being excellent for them in the coming months.  It’s good for Sony and good for the indie developers too – and of course ultimately it’s good for gamers.”

Minter isn’t putting a release date on TxK just yet. The plan is to finish the game, make sure it’s as good as it can be, and get out to players. After that? “Whatever we do next it’ll probably not be another web-based shooter right after TxK.  Right now we’re just going to concentrate on getting TxK done and making it awesome.”