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Home-grown in New York: An interview with Shuichi Aizawa

Interview with New York's very own Shuichi Aizawa from Studio Mercato.

New York has slowly become home for many Indie game companies over recent years. One such company is none other than Studio Mercato, which has been around since 2013. The studio has presented at many gaming expos around the country, showcasing their hard work and getting great praise and reviews on their innovative  games.

After getting in contact with the studio, co-founder and software developer Shuichi Aizawa was kind enough to sit down for an interview with me:

Q: How was Studio Mercato created? Where did you all meet?

Shuichi Aizawa (SA): "All 6 founders live in NYC. We kept meeting and working together at local game jams, most notably the 2013 Global Game Jam at NYU. When the location closed for the night, we needed to find a place to keep developing overnight. We found the 24-hour "Cafe Mercato" nearby, with power outlets and wifi and available seats. Since then, when we worked together we would often go there. And when we decided to get serious and form the company, we named it after that cafe. Unfortunately the cafe is now closed, but its legacy lives on in our name."

Q: Your Company is based out of New York, What was the reasoning behind being based on the East Coast and not the West Coast?

SA: "While it's common to view the West Coast as being better for tech/games, NYC has a burgeoning indie game community (as does Boston) that has grown tremendously over the last few years. We feel it's advantageous to be part of its roots, as Studio Mercato is fairly well-known in the community now. We're confident the NYC game scene will be more noticed from all over in the coming years."

Q: How do you come up with new and fresh ideas for games to develop?

SA: "While we're working to release our existing games, we're constantly talking about new game ideas. We already have a backlog of game ideas we wish we had time to make. And of course we see new and great game ideas from developers in the community all the time too. Lack of ideas is not really a problem :)"

Q: You currently have 4 titles under your belt, 3 in development and 1 currently out on the market. Which of these titles are you the most excited about? Why?

SA: "We have 2 games in active development. A 3rd game, "Don't F**k Up" was sold to another NYC startup. They made a game platform which was a table with a large circular touchscreen, and we created the game at a game jam they hosted. The game was received very well and would go on to be shown at the Come Out and Play festival, where it got featured by Kotaku.

"After that the startup wanted to buy the game from us, and we agreed so that we could move on to our other games. The 2 games we are working on now are Nika and Crystal Brawl. Nika is a digital port of an existing physical board game, which was also created by our game designer and artist. It's a 2-4 player strategy game based on ancient Greek warfare, and has won design awards. Crystal Brawl is a capture-the-flag style local multiplayer game, it's been featured by Polygon and Game Informer."

Q: This past year, Studio Mercato went to PAX East and unveiled your latest title Crystal Brawl. With the game being a hit at PAX East, do you see your games being unveiled at other large conventions such as E3 in the near future?

SA: "We've shown our games at many festivals and conferences, from Indiecade and MakerFaire in NYC, to MAGFest and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC, to the Boston Festival of Indie Games and PAX East. We're always looking for bigger and better shows so more people can check out our games. We're showing at SGC near Dallas in the middle of July, so if any of you are there please come see us!"

Q: Studio Mercato makes games that are geared more towards mobile devices (iPad, Android, iOS, etc.) with 2 that are compatible with the Wii U and PC, and 1 designed to be played in an Arcade. Why steer away from consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox?

SA: "Both of our games are being developed in HTML5, which allows us to easily release across many platforms, especially mobile and PCs. Indeed, Nika should be released on almost every touchscreen platform in existence. But when it comes to home consoles it's a little trickier, as the Wii U is the only platform to officially support HTML5 at the moment. However once Windows 10 comes out on Xbox One, we expect to be able to release HTML5 games on it too."

Q: Will we see a new game from Studio Mercato this year or early next year?

SA: "We're looking to release Nika later this summer, so look out for it on all touchscreen platforms!! And Crystal Brawl is planned to be available next year."

A special thanks goes out to Shuichi Aizawa and the rest of the team from Studio Mercato for this interview, and I hope we all see your hard work pay off upon the release of your games. Stay New York strong. Thanks again, Studio Mercato, and keep up the good work.

To learn more about Studio Mercato, check out their website

Published Jun. 28th 2015

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