We reached out to the top 5 winners to ask about their inspirations and experiences developing last month's top games on Kongregate!
KekGames, developer of Unpuzzle 2: I'll keep my comment as simple as my games are. Kongregate's users are pretty specific in their tastes. I make my games particularly for this audience and haven't regretted it a bit -- the community is really supportive, which, combined with the monthly contests, make it all worth the effort (so thanks, Kong, and thanks, players, for such a great opportunity!).
Here are some practical tips for devs who want to make successful games for Kongregate:
1) Find your niche.
2) Listen to your players (you can't satisfy each and every user, but you will find the balance).
3) You will most likely need at least a couple of tries before you find your recipe for success, so don't waste too much time and resources on your first game -- don't make it too ambitious, better to keep it short but well designed and polished.
It's always interesting to talk to developers and players, so drop me a message if you have anything to say or ask.
Beranek, developer of Tales of Nebezem: Mind Trial: Here’s a little background lore. Nearly all life in Nebezem, including humans, was created by the goddess Solara. There was a golden age of peace, which ended when Solara’s jealous brother Kizin called forth a powerful demon army from another world. Many humans died in the ensuing war. In the end, Solara saved humanity by stepping down to the mortal plane and killing the main demon. As she was weakened in her mortal form, Kizin seized the opportunity and destroyed her. Four lesser gods emerged from her remains (four elemental facets of her white essence) and with the help of another mysterious divine being, they imprisoned Kizin in a deep abyss. Each god selected a quarter of the surviving humans and led them to the four corners of the world. You have already seen the Earth nation with their goddess Talandia in Golden Scepter, and one of the Air nations (whose god is Ilmar) in Mind Trial. The Water nation of goddess Megami and the Fire nation of god Pyros are featured strongly in the game Elemental Link. The next game in the series, which will be hosted on Kongregate, is another prequel to Elemental Link. It will take place in the lush lowlands of the Water people and will also present the mysterious gnomes, who were not created by Solara.
Moczan, developer of Pixels Filling Squares 3.0: Pixels Fillings Squares 3.0 is a sequel to one of my most popular series of games about watching pixels slowly fill squares! The game evolved from a simple, minimalistic idle game to a quite complex incremental requiring strategy and fine-tuning your "pixels grid." The development started around May 2017; I wanted to make a simple idle game that's visually appealing. I think Revolution Idle 2 was a really popular Kongregate game at that time, and I wanted to get a similar feel in my project. The first PFS game was made in Flash, and right as the game released, Adobe set the final expiration date on the beloved plug-in. I knew it was time to jump ship, and that's how development of PFS DX started. Squares DX launched at the end of August, and I supported the game for the rest of the year with almost weekly updates. Due to a tight schedule, technical issues and my inexperience, I chased myself into a design dead-end and was forced to either rework most of the game or kill the project. After a few days of talking with the players I decided that it was best to work on a sequel. This time armed with a trusted group of testers, a new powerful engine (Unity), tons of feedback and new ideas I've created Pixels Filling Squares 3.0. So far it's my most popular and successful game, so it was definitely worth it!
My advice for new developers is: don't be afraid to fail. Fail fast, experiment, show your projects to the world, gather feedback, improve. Your first game probably won't be good, same for the second or third. Don't be afraid to ask people for help or feedback; both players and other developers just want to see more great games out there!
GilbertLeaf, developer of colorzzle: We are a married couple who teamed up as Darong Studio in 2017. I had worked for a game company for 10 years. And I quit my job to become an indie game developer.
Colorzzle is my first puzzle game that is very small and beautiful. I made it in 6 months. I did the programming and game design; my wife made all the graphics.
The colorzzle starts from a very simple stage. When you think you have mastered one game mechanic we give the next one. There is also an aesthetic stage between stages. Afet all, a complex and beautiful stage mixed with several game mechanics comes out.
This level design is inspired by a game called "Hook" and "Klocki."
We didn't realize the possibilities of web games, so we didn't release colorzzle in the HTML5 environment at that time. Now I think it is a pretty good platform for game development.
With this opportunity, we considered a launch for the full version (the full version has 107 stages).
Dracariys, developer of Deep Space Boss: I started using Unity in December and while I was learning it, I've developed three games. Being a single developer with a $0 budget is a very hard challenge, especially if you're specialized just in programming. I have no graphic support nor an audio one. Everything must be handcrafted by me, or found for free on the internet. Sometimes you have to change something just because you don't have the right resources.
Setting up the cloud saving takes a lot of time, especially when for me it was the first time doing something like that. My first two games weren't good enough because of many factors, but they were my first try, so I already expected that.
Deep Space Boss (or DSB for friends) is my first game that deserves this title so far. I got the idea of taking something from the past and making it appreciable for our days. Remember Galaga? I asked myself why I stopped playing arcade games. The truth is that I found them boring at some point; I could not make any choice, so nothing was really changing, it was just skill, and if it was good enough for somebody, unfortunately it wasn't for me. I added a layer of an RPG-ish approach, some random upgrades so the player has to make a thoughtful choice every time he picks them up.
Last but not least I've added a boss. From the start of my gamer life I found bosses really funny. You need to learn attack patterns and they're huge, dangerous, and you got a damn nice reward after you beat them down. So I tried to increase this to another level; I've created many skills as a reward after the boss' defeat, but you can unlock them just after the fight and it will get more difficult every time. In fact this is called the "core gameplay." How many times can you defeat the boss?
Congrats to the rest of the winners below!