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Interview with New Star Soccer’s Simon Read

If you haven’t heard of New Star Soccer where have you been? New Star Soccer is the brain child of Simon Read, an indie coder who has been working on the New Star Soccer series for many years. With the release of NSS5 on the iPhone and Android platforms we thought it was about time we caught up with him and asked a few questions.

Simon, you created the New Star Soccer series. For those out there that don’t know what is NSS and how did it begin?

It started off as a simple text-based PC game where you lived the life of a young footballer wanting to become a superstar. Over the years it has evolved considerably and has been redesigned from the ground up several times. The current version is available on PC and Mac and there is a mobile version that you can play on iOS and Android devices. There is also a Flash version on Kongregate.com which you can try out for free.

You’ve worked on other projects, how did these come about and will you be looking to explore them or other options again, especially after the success of NSS 5?

I am currently considering bringing other New Star titles to iOS and Android. I think New Star Tennis might be the best fit right now, but I keep changing my mind. I’m also thinking about other sports and different projects altogether.

In another interview you mentioned EA contacted you in the past. Would you be interested in working with a big publisher or even seeing the NSS rights in another game? As an Indie dev it must be tough deciding between the potential earnings of such a deal and wanting to keep the rights to your game.

Yeah, that is a question that I am struggling with right now. Since the success of the mobile version I have been contacted by many people. I must say that I value my creative freedom over money, so it will have to take something special for me to partner up with anyone.

How did you set yourself up as an indie dev and how do you manage your time now? Any tips for our readers who may be interested in becoming an indie dev?

It started as a hobby that made a little bit of extra cash. When the hobby started paying more than my day job I became a full-time indie. There are various ways of going about it, but my route was risk free. My advice would be to always work on something you are deeply passionate about. Don’t set out to create something that you think the world will go crazy for – just work on something you really want to play.

What are the highs and lows of being an indie dev and is it your dream job or do you see your future elsewhere?

The highs are when you launch a game and you get positive feedback. Of course, if you are doing it full-time then you really need to make sure that you can keep your head above water, so it can be stressful if a game isn’t successful or if a project is dragging on. Working for myself, when I want and how I want is what makes me happy so yes, it is my dream job and I don’t intend to change direction any time soon.

NSS has mainly been a PC series, what made you jump to ios and how have you found working with ios compared to PC?

Mark Sibly launched a new multi-platform language called Monkey which is very similar to his previous language BlitzMax. New Star Soccer 5 was written in BlitzMax, so that allowed me to easily port a lot of code over to Monkey and create the mobile/Flash version in double-quick time.

With the success of NSS5 can we expect you to become the next Notch? Expanding into a bigger dev studio with staff and becoming a ‘face’ in the industry?

Haha! Currently NSS mobile is purely a UK success, so it’s not making anywhere near as much money as you might think. So no, I don’t have any plans to set up a studio with staff, and I would prefer to keep a low profile.

Can we expect an NSS6 in the future? Any hints you want to give on what we can expect to see from either NSS6 or an unannounced game?

I hope to start work on a new football game soon which is not related to NSS, and as I say, I am considering bringing previous New Star titles to iOS. After that I will probably start work on a new version of New Star Soccer.

What were your biggest difficulties in making NSS5?

The hardest thing was finally giving up on New Star Soccer 4 and salvaging as much code as I could. The competition engine (which handles the leagues, clubs, fixtures and so on) was powerful yet buggy, but I had spent so much time on it I couldn’t let it go. Overhauling it for NSS5 was tough but totally worth it as I am now super proud of it and can see it being used over and over again in the future.

How have you managed promoting NSS? You’ve managed to gain a great word of mouth following, is there anything else you do?

I have a huge mailing list now which helps to get a game off the ground, but aside from that I do very little in the way of promoting or advertising my games. The biggest thing with the mobile version was allowing people to play the game for free in their browser. This brings in a huge number of sales on iOS and Android and allows people to truly try before they buy.

What game, already released would you have liked to have made?

Hmm, no Minecraft is too obvious. I’m gonna go for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I spent many hours on that game and loved the whole atmosphere.

Can we expect XBLA or a PSN release of NSS?

I may be able to release a PS Vita version soon as Monkey can now target the Playstation Mobile platform, but that is the only console I am looking at right now.

Where can people find you and news about NSS?

Twitter is the best place to get the latest news: @newstargames
Then there is the website for details of all my games: www.newstargames.com