Storm Bringer Studios comes from the unlikeliest of places – Georgia. It was in 2010 when the government of Georgia decided to facilitate game development in the country and Storm Bringer Studios was born. The first game the studio created was – no surprise there – a 3D shooter called Police and launched for PC. The game was followed up by its sequel Police 2 and the games saw millions of downloads between them. Now the company’s CEO Irakli Kokrashvili and Lauri Antalainen from Blue Arrow Games share the story of the game they showcased at Casual Connect Europe 2016: Pixel Combat 3D, now called Pixel Fury 3D.
After the government funding ran out, the studio started doing outsource work for Microsoft, KixEye and Larva Game Studios. In 2013 Storm Bringer joined the GameFounders accelerator in order to make a successful transformation to mobile. During the 4-month streak in Estonia we made many new contacts and friends in the gaming industry. However, it was only a year after the return to Georgia that Irakli happened to find out in the conversation with the co-founder of GameFounders, Lauri, that there’s a shared compassion towards 3D shooters. In fact, Lauri had launched a publishing studio called Blue Arrow Games and they had just published a new 3D shooter title on Google Play that gained more than a million downloads.
Playing and then developing
A few conversations later, things started to happen quickly. We tried out many games of the genre and wrote down what we liked and what we did not like. Then we looked at these points and discussed within the team. And then played some more games.
Soon we figured out what we wanted to do and drew the concept for the game, including the overall theme and the ‘vibe’ the gamer should be feeling during the gameplay. So now it was all about making the game happen.
The tasks between the team members fell into place easily – Storm Bringer Studios dealt with thinking out and developing the game, including weapons, maps and characters, while Blue Arrow Games took care of the game economy and marketing concepts.
Testing, testing, testing
Developing the first version of Pixel Fury 3D was really quick, so that we could start testing it pretty much right away. It was the balancing that took the majority of the time. Balancing maps so that there would not be any ‘winning strategies’ through just staying in one specific spot on the map. However, balancing the weapons took us 10 times that time. In order to do this we spent countless hours on playing 1-on-1 with different weapon setups. For the first 10 plays one guy would have the AK and the other one was using a shotgun, for the next 10 we would swap (different players have different skills and level, after all). All the results have been meticulously recorded. And then we would change some numeric metric – say, damage rate or time between shots – and perform the testing again. And then change one of the weapons to UZI. Rinse and repeat.
As soon as we got to the point where we felt the weapons are balanced enough and maps are really cool to play on, the work on progression eventually began. By no chance did we want to enable the “pay-to-win” strategy and therefore designed measures that disable the possibility of just purchasing all the weapons and upgrades in one go. So it requires quite a bit of playing to “open” all those weapons and upgrades. Of course, striking the right balance was again a matter of testing. And some more testing. All in all it took us longer to test and balance the game than to develop it.
Finally, a few weeks ago, we released Pixel Fury 3D for Unity and Microsoft stores to have other gamers play it and see how they like it. Even though we hadn’t even put emphasis on designing the menus nor did any PR, the game picked up very fast. So fast that Pixel Fury 3D is the top 9th shooter in the UK store, and we needed to upgrade our server plan just to accommodate the players on those platforms!
Pixel Fury 3D has already been released on Google Play. At Casual Connect Amsterdam 2016 Pixel Fury 3D was nominated for Best Multiplayer Game category, and the game soundtrack was used to present Indie Prize games.