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Ortum Games joined Game Plus at the beginning of 2021, after receiving the Incubator grant from the Academy of Interactive Entertainment to work in the Adelaide Game Plus space. The team of three has been working hard on their first collaboration, Belt it out!, which was first showcased at PAX Online this year.
Adam Klappers is the game designer and project lead, while Lawrence Rosal is the level designer and manages the marketing. Both founded the company after completing their Graduate Diploma of Management (Learning) studies with AIE at the beginning of 2021. Nathan Crawford has since joined the team as a 3D artist.
The team’s main focus is mobile puzzle games and having the ability to take enjoyable and in-depth games on the go.
What is Ortum Games and who are the people behind it?
Adam: Ortum Games is a group of AIE students who decided to do game design. We went to GDML to create our own business. I wanted to start my own company. I went all the way through doing the game design course and while finishing GDML, where I found Lawrence.
He wanted to tag along through the business venture and from there we hired a 3D artist called Nathan (Crawford). We’re currently making a game called Belt it out!, which is a fast paced 3D puzzle game for mobile and Nintendo Switch – which we currently received the Nintendo program for.
What is the Nintendo program?
Adam: Oh, it’s just a developer program that you can sign up for. They give you documentation and stuff. You still have to pay for the development kit, but it’s pretty cool. So we’re pretty excited about that.
What was it that made you decide to join Game Plus?
Adam: We actually got through after GDML, we did a pitch and got through to the Incubator program from AIE. We were one of the first teams to get a grant from AIE.
What do you think of the Game Plus Office?
Adam: The facilities are amazing, everything’s here. The board rooms are great for meetings and it’s good to see some other developers and see what they’re doing. We’re making pretty good connections.
What is it like being game developers in Adelaide? Do you feel that the industry in that state is strongly suited to supporting Game Development?
Adam: I think Adelaide is still growing. I feel like there’s still more room to grow. But overall, it’s better than it used to be, to be honest with you. We still get some kind of support from the government but not as much as we’d like to, but it’s definitely becoming the place to be.
Adelaide is really small, and it’s easy to know everyone in the industry, so you can get a lot of feedback from everyone. It’s great. Australia just needs to catch up with every other state.
What’s the story behind the Ortum Games name?
Adam: I’ll leave that one to Lawrence.
Lawrence: Yeah. So as much as I would like to go on to a long explanation about how we came to that conclusion. It’s basically a suggestion that came up. It was basically in Latin and means “the rise” and we thought that sounded cool. So we stuck with it.
How did you stumble across that?
Lawrence: Let’s just say there was one too many sessions where we were thinking of names and stuff like that. And that was the one that stuck the most out of everything we came up with. So we decided, yep, that’ll work. And thankfully, it wasn’t copyrighted.
Adam: Choosing a name is incredibly hard. It was a lot of head scratching about what name to take.
Is it the same with naming your games?
Adam: Oh, yeah. It’s kind of, you know, you’re representing a product or a company. It’s got to mean something. So it can be pretty challenging. I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes it’s easier to design a game than come up with a name for it.
At PAX Online this year you debuted Belt it Out! Can you tell us some more about this puzzle game?
Adam: Sure. So we decided to make a game for the mobile. We really enjoy similar games such as Factorio and stuff like that. We wanted to implement something similar to a mobile device so you can take it with you. Because games like that are awesomely fun, but it’s not very portable.
We came up with some ideas to see how we can make this ‘arcadie’ and how we can design it to make money. So we kind of went from there. We designed a puzzle game that requires you to use tetrominoe-shaped conveyor belt pieces and it’s fast paced delivery game of wacky and interesting goods to point A to point B as fast as you can. And to get as many stars as you can collect to unlock awesome stuff.
It does have a look kind of like a combination of Factorio and Overcooked. It looks very cute.
Adam: You can thank the artist (Nathan) for that.
So what was it that made you think this would be the right time to attempt to make a Switch port?
Adam: It was actually always on our mind to do a Switch port.
Did you design the game around that?
Adam: In mind, yes. But we just didn’t know how to fully develop it yet. Because we don’t know the specs or what you need. But we assumed that printing for mobile first and importing onto the Switch would be a lot easier.
Lawrence: Yeah, one of the main benefits for Switch development is that it does support the touchscreen, which we felt was very underutilised with a lot of games on the Switch library. So we’re also taking advantage of those features to implement that gameplay into the Switch as well.
Belt it out! is your third game, how influential have the previous games Office Tossing Journey and Impossible Escape been in the development of your latest game?
Adam: Well, actually, those two first games were actually games that I created before starting the company. So the other two guys never really spent any time on them. It helps me understand how to make mobile games a lot more efficiently and know how to avoid the limitations that the mobile phone can actually give you. So making those games is definitely a journey. I’m pretty happy with the results.
When can we expect Belt it out! to be released?
Adam: We’re looking at February next year. We don’t have a specific date as of yet.
You can stay informed on Belt It Out! on Ortum Games’ website.
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