International rugby star Sean O’Brien of Tullow RFC, Leinster, Ireland and tourist with the British & Irish Lions launched Street Rugby at the Hampton Hotel in Dublin on Thursday 23rd May. The freemium third-person running game, is developed by app and games developer imobile.

Released initially on iOS devices, with an Android version to follow, the game allows players to take on the role of Sean running, jumping and side-stepping through a recognisable 3D representation of central Dublin from O’Connell Street, Grafton Street, through Stephens Green on the way to the finishing line at Lansdowne Road.

Players will collect caps and power-ups, avoiding potholes and barriers, knocking down buses and taxis, and taking down opposition players and being chased down by adoring fans. The game also features in-app purchases allowing players to upgrade their character as they try to reach the finishing line.

The launch was well attended by media including television, radio and print media. In the midst of the media scrum, Sean said “When I heard the imobile lads were looking for me to get involved in Street Rugby I was very keen to find out more. I’ve got long flights to Hong Kong and Australia coming up so I was looking for something to pass the time on those as well. had time to sit down and chat with Padraig Shanley, co-founder of imobile and discussed how they moved from app development into games.

The Project So how did the project start?
Padraig Shanley: We’ve done a lot of sports apps. We’ve built apps for Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, the IRFU, Graham McDowell, Retief Goosen, we’ve worked with Aviva Premiership so we’ve worked with a lot of sports. In some of the applications they’ve asked us to put in mini-games so Leinster had a kicking game last year in a version, Retief Goosen had a mini golf game in it, Graham McDowell wanted a mini golf game, so that’s what started it with all the golf games.

Then we decided we’d get into the games end of it with 3D games and we had decided we wanted to do something in rugby as we had built six applications for rugby clubs so Street Rugby came out of that. We didn’t want a kicking game because we had done it and rugby is a very hard game to build for so we decided to make it a bit of fun, base it in Dublin, run through the streets and collect caps, try and get a top rugby player involved and Sean fitted in with that because it was bashing through cars and running through the streets and he was a proper character for that, and that’s how we got into it.

We had an interest in the creative side of the business so we have also developed another puzzle game which is played on a live server against anyone in the world called Be Number One, and we have a third game coming along so that how we got into that end of it. How many people were involved in the development of the game?
PS: Our entire team is 28 developers, four creative and ourselves. At nearly every stage of the game nearly everyone had some contribution. I’m not saying that everyone worked on it all the time but there was definitely 15 or 20 people involved at different times working on it. We had a lot of other projects on and we wanted to build it as we worked on our main business, so we’ve worked on it over the last nine months.

The Game What were the main challenges in the game? It’s a 3D model of Dublin you can run through, how big is the zone that you can go through, is it from O’Connell Street to Lansdowne Road?
PS: Yes, it goes through Stephens Green, Baggot Street, up along the quays. It has a lot of the canal, through Baggot Street again, up by our office, by Google’s office ending at Lansdowne Road. We mapped pretty much all of the city centre. It started off we were only going to do one or two streets but then we got a little carried away and tried to map the entire city so we’re going to be bringing out a couple of other versions hopefully, in different cities around the world such as London, Paris, somewhere in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and maybe do something with American Football as well with the same concept. What were the different challenges between making an app and making a game, or was there really any difference at the end of the day?
PS: Apps are not as creative. They come with a spec from the customer and the creative part might be to create a nice UI, whereas we wanted to get more into the other side of things and that’s where the game stepped in. That would be main challenge, the creative side, coming up with the concept, putting it together and putting the right team in place to do it, and not going off spec. I can see within the game that you have in-app purchases, so can you explain some of the functions that they can give you, and for someone who is playing the game for free, just running through and avoiding things, they can collect caps, but what do the in-app purchases do?
PS: It is possible to clear the game completely without an in-app purchase, but it’s very difficult. An in-app purchase will allow you to collect power because you need energy to get around, you can have “Tullow Tank” mode that lets you bash through cars and buses that are in your way, also bash through people you have to tackle. You also have invincibility which allows you to run for about 15 seconds without being killed by anything, like in Temple Run. We also have resurrection which allows you to come back from the dead instead of going back to the start. You can also buy your own jersey; we have most of the rugby clubs in it if you want to change your jersey. We have a lot of new functionality coming next version. We might put Sean on transport; we’ve been looking at different things.

From apps to games Are there plans now to set up imobile games separate to the app company?
PS: It’ll be a boutique games company and we plan to roll out somewhere in the region of four or five games over the next year, maybe more, across all platforms. From the point of view of working in the app industry and the games industry, have you had much involvement with the local industry?
PS: Not really, it’s something we should have done and something we will do now but we do a lot of work outside of Ireland, 90% of our work is outside of Ireland. We have an office in Mexico, so we haven’t really, but we will. We’ll get you to come along to some of the events.
PS: We will, absolutely. The game’s available now on iOS and you have an Android version?
PS: That’s being launched in less than two weeks, probably in conjunction with a major phone brand. And how much is the game?
PS: It’s freemium, download it for free and buy in-app purchases, we might do some product placement in it later on as it’s based on the real city so you might see some bars popping up, or some branded trucks. We’re going to experiment with that.

The game can be picked up on iTunes now and will be on the Google Play store within the next few weeks, and would like to thank Padraig for his time for this interview.