With over a decade of experience in the game development industry, Eipix Entertainment is currently the most productive cross-platform developer of HOPA games in the world, developing more than 20 new titles a year, and employing more than 300 creatives. The company is also deep into the process of expanding onto other fields of the gaming industry, such as adventure games, text-based adventures and VR games. In 2016, it has set its sight on new territory – self-publishing and the free-to-play casual gaming industry.
New beginnings are tough. Eipix has worked on a variety of projects since its inception back in 2005, but for the past five years the company has almost exclusively worked on HOPA titles released by its publisher, Big Fish Games. These games put us on the map, and it is their success that allowed us to consider branching out and venturing into unknown territories.
Once we were able to consolidate our operations and create a steady pipeline for such a massive output of HOPA games, the next logical step was trying our hand in a different genre. Finally, in 2016 we chose to enter the self-publishing arena.
By Bobby Patteson, CEO&Founder of Highcastle Studios
Turns out that making an indie game is somewhat like the process of brewing a good beer. Through a series of tedious steps, water and malt are transformed into the beverage that is commonly consumed after a good old Canadian hockey match. My name is Bobby Patteson and my latest game Beer League Hockey has been fermenting for the past two and a half years. After being brought back from the dead on several occasions this pugilistic sports game has eventually found its way on iOS and Android.
Cells Gamesis a small indie team of professionals that got together a few years ago. But it was just in the beginning of this year that they found time to focus on a project. The team got even more tight-knit when they started preparing for the Game Jam Kanobu 2016 contest where they eventually won the Unity Special Award there.
“We work remotely, everyone being in different parts of the world: I’m in Kyiv, our programmer Sasha is in Krasnoyarsk, another programmer Misha and artist Andriy are in Dnipro, and sound designer Anton is in St. Petersburg. So yes, it’s all remote, but this doesn’t get in our way to communicate and have good workflow”, says the studio’s CEO Eugene Lavrinenko as he shares the story of Madness Road, a mobile racing game inspired by post-apocalyptic movies about total destruction.
I’m Benoit Freslon, I’m 31, based in France, and I’ve liked making games since my childhood. I studied in a gaming school and earned experience in a game studio in Paris before becoming a solo indie game developer in 2009.
EnigmBox on iOS is a compilation of 56 different puzzles that make you “think outside the box”. Use all the iPhone functionalities: move it, touch it, take pictures, capture videos, plug in accessories, use location service, all buttons and the mobile features. At Casual Connect Asia this game won the Best in Show Critics Choice and the Most Innovative Game awards.
How do startup companies begin? It’s different for everyone. For some people, having lots of brilliant ideas is the thing, and sooner or later one of them is brought to fruition. Some people polish their single idea for many years before finally finding the resources to bring it to life. For some, it’s happenstance. OWL-Studio’s CEO Vera Velichko shares her experience.
BalanCity is a goofy mixture between the oldschool Sim City and Jenga. In this physical city builder you need to make a towering metropolis over a treacherous seesaw. You can build houses, offices, parks, transportation, landmarks and more. Eventually, disasters will hit your city, so you must have your emergency services ready to act. Citizen approval is also a thing you must take care of if you do not want your people to start rioting and burn the city down. There is a Free Build Mode as well as Challenges and Scenarios where you must build real life metropolis with their famous landmarks.
“At The House of Fables we specialize in making casual adventure games, where hidden object scenes and logic puzzles are the most important aspects of gameplay. Fascinated by the possibilities offered by VR we decided to transfer this kind of game into the immersive VR environment. We instinctively felt that beautiful hand-drawn hidden object scenes may be much more fun to play in 360˚”, says The House of Fables’ producer Marta Wierzbolowska as she sheds more light on the creation process of Wrath of Loki, The Best VR Game and Most Innovative Game of Indie Prize Tel Aviv 2016.
“We knew that VR projects were dominated by horror and thriller experiences. Therefore we decided to offer something completely different: a relaxing experience based in pleasant
locations and casual puzzles. That is how Wrath of Loki was born”.
“21 Steps to Soul is not just the first game I have developed, it is closely connected to the story of my life”, says Russian indie developer Grigory Everstov as he shares his story of a gamer and then developer. The number 21 in the game title is a reference to 21 grams that people presumably lose when they pass away. Grigory likes to think that is how much he put into creating his game.
LunaFive is an indie studio from the USA, consisting of (surprise!) five members, who came out of the New York University Game Center’s MFA & Incubator program with the goal of making memorable and satisfying indie games. Their debut game, Cognition, is a “tapformer,” a platformer where you move by tapping. Guide Click and Cogsworth, two perpetually rotating cogs, through a series of surreal and increasingly dangerous maze-like environments. With a simple movement system and endearing, whimsical characters, Cognition is designed to be played by anyone, anywhere; the team is happy to shed some light on their development process and the decisions that took the game where it is now from a drastically different beginning.
Imagine you’re a slime, enjoying a nice hangout in a forest with your best avian friend.
Everything’s going splendid when, without warning, you get gobbled up by a giant worm! You now find yourself in the precarious position of being digested soon. So what do you do? You jump, slide and slime your way through the giant worm’s intestines and back out of its mouth of course! The developer of Slime-san, Fabian Rastorfer, tells more.
Along the way you discover an entire ecosystem within the worm. You’ll encounter areas
resembling beaches, forests and even a makeshift town of critters who also survived being
swallowed, but have given up on ever escaping again!
The gameplay consists of 100 levels, comprised of 400 compact rooms, that require fast
reflexes and quick thinking.
Every second level you’ll be facing a new hazard or enemy type, forcing you to adapt your playstyle and remain quick on your feet. Your platforming moves include a time-slowing morph, which lets you move through otherwise solid green objects, as well as a versatile dash that speeds up the world around you! Careful, however, as the timer does not slow down, which means you need to use that move carefully if you’re aiming for trophy times. In addition to the trophies the game also has 400 collectible apples that you can spend on gameplay modifiers, costumes, shaders or artwork.
The game has 400 collectible apples that you can spend on gameplay modifiers, costumes, shaders or artwork.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be able to unlock a variety of additional modes, such as NewGame+ remixes of all 100 levels, Boss Rush or the uber-challenging 1 Life run. Last but not least, you can also compete for the best completion times online!
Game Feel and Tutorials
The most important thing to accomplish in this platformer has been the “game feel”. Making a jump feel just right, using dash mechanics to add oomph, to give movement a bounce and gravity a strength… It required weeks of stat tuning to get right. Unity has been used due to platform flexibility and a strong editor. That editor allows artists like myself to also do implementation work which expedites development.
The most unexpected discovery was… how much fun we’re having playing our own game! Seriously, we need to stop ourselves from playtesting sometimes! On a more serious note: Tutoring. Getting tutorials to feel just right is incredibly challenging. They can’t be too overbearing, but they also need to be clear to a wide audience. Getting those first levels right is crucial to convey a hook to keep playing.
Instead of Black and White
We’re known to have games with a silly premise, and Slime-san is definitely as silly as it gets! But we also like to think that it’s charming and we like casting smiles on people. It’s Fabraz’ newest crazy adventure after the critically acclaimed and award-nominated Planet Diver and Cannon Crasha. It has an entertaining story, with an unlikely character and addictively fast gameplay. It is a visually unique adventure using a carefully crafted, 5-color-palette world filled with fun and goofy Japanese references. The idea kind of just came to me one week after Planet Diver’s release, not really sure what the trigger was! Maybe I’m just weird!
Because the game is so fast-paced and relies on clear signaling for damaging/morphing/solid tiles we required the game to have a low color palette. But instead of going for the classics like white on black, we decided to go for white on blue! It’s a mellow but appealing color that isn’t too harsh on the eyes and it lends a lot of character to the game.
Famous Composers and Just Guidelines
Our core team is based in New York and we’re three people in an office every day. But we work with a lot of people outside of the office as well. Like Britt Brady, Markus Jost, all the composers and more.
The soundtrack for Slime-san features some of the most popular chiptune composers in the world! We’re talking about Adhesive Wombat, Inverse Phase, Mega Neko, Kubbi, Kommisar, FantomenK, Tiasu and so many more! We clearly wanted this to be the greatest game soundtrack we’ve ever made so we worked with more famous composers than ever! They were all super supportive and into the idea so it was a lot of fun working with them. We only gave them guidelines and let them have as much creative freedom as possible – needless to say they created fantastic stuff! I love them all.
When asked about something he’d like to share but have never been asked about, Fabian comments: “Let’s see… How about my personal philosophy on success? 🙂 We have this philosophy we like to share with fellow devs: You have to work really hard to get into a position where you can get lucky. It’s silly to blame the lack of success on bad luck but it’s also naive to assume your success didn’t depend on it either. You have to work hard, every day, and try your very best to achieve success. To get into the position where success could happen. And someday it might! :)”
Slime-san’s being published by Headup Games and is scheduled to release on Steam (PC, Mac, Linux) as well as Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo hardware. Look out for Slime-san in spring 2017! While the team is currently busy with porting Planet Diver to the Wii U and getting Slime-san ready for beta testing.