'AdVenture Communist' Dev Q&A: Digging into a Dynasty
KONG: Hyper Hippo is a Canadian-based independent game developer best known for the hit idle game AdVenture Capitalist. How did you all meet and start making games together?
CODY: Hyper Hippo sprang out of the imagination of Lance Priebe, the creator of Club Penguin. He assembled what he felt was a "dream team" for game development, then opened the floodgates and said, "GO!"
TRISTAN: We all met while working on the virtual world "Disney’s Club Penguin." We wanted to try our hand at some new game experiments, create new IPs (Mech Mice, AdVenture Capitalist, etc.), develop for leading platforms (mobile, PS4, Xbox), and move away from the processes and politics of larger companies.
KONG: For those of us not familiar, what type of game dev culture does Canada have? What sets Canada apart from other development hubs?
CODY: Canada is similar to a lot of other "game" or tech hubs, but maybe just more apologetic? We’ve got our big guys like EA, BioWare and WB Montreal. But there’s also lots of little guys running around causing a ruckus. We’re proudly in that second group!
TRISTAN: Canada is very collaborative when it comes to sharing data and best practices. We are often very humble and very quirky. We tend to examine the major markets from the outside looking in, and that helps us stay on the cutting edge and examine how we’d do things differently from a game offering and how we treat our fans. There’s a vibe in the North that is a bit more laid back and silly. We unapologetically riff on our own stereotypes and add inside jokes into our games that we expect only Canadians will get.
KONG: Hyper Hippo has been making games for five years now; what challenges face a growing indie studio and what has been the most memorable moments in the team’s history?
CODY: Well -- for every game that succeeds, there’s about a hundred that crash and burn. And that’s true even within a single studio, let alone the entire industry. Luckily we’ve gotten good at creating and testing lots of ideas quickly. One major memorable moment was the day we launched AdCap and realized that we wouldn’t have to shut down the studio (it was actually our very last shot at success!).
TRISTAN: The bar keeps being reset by fellow game makers and publishers in the market. Every year new standards are reset for quality, depth of content, monetization models, platform technology, advertising strategies, etc., so we have to keep up. The evolution in quality and depth in mobile titles especially means we spend more time iterating during the development stage, and this stage seems to grow larger and larger before even globally launching.
KONG: AdVenture Capitalist is an extremely popular game with millions of downloads and plays. What inspired you to develop an idle game, and what do you think makes AdVenture Capitalist so beloved?
CODY: AdVenture Capitalist was inspired by other idle games that allowed you to make progress without any threat of losing, like Cookie Clicker. They wind up being so relaxing, intriguing, and addicting that they’re super difficult to put down. From there it was easy to imagine the game in light of making tons of money, because who hasn’t dreamed of winning the lottery?
RYAN: Players share with us all the time how much they love the art, humor, music and pop culture references within the game. Aside from the addicting gameplay, I think a combination of all these factors really keeps players entertained while playing AdVenture Capitalist.
KONG: You recently launched AdVenture Communist, the sequel to AdVenture Capitalist. How did you approach creating a sequel to such a popular game?
CODY: AdComm actually expands on ideas we were originally intending for AdCap. Early on we said, “What if a business created other businesses, instead of money?” We realized at the time that that could be an entire game in itself, so we saved it for now!
KONG: AdVenture Communist is a much deeper, more strategic game than AdVenture Capitalist. Was this something that was planned from the initial concept of the game, or did it evolve that way during development?
CODY: We knew we wanted there to be different kinds of choices involved in AdComm than AdCap. But we also wanted the design to evolve organically. Players who followed us from our early open beta days can tell you just how many systems were streamlined and made more intuitive over time. Sometimes you gotta ditch your plans in pursuit of the fun!
KONG: How long was the game in development? How does that compare with AdVenture Capitalist?
CODY: Both games took about a year from prototype to global launch, but took drastically different routes to get there. For one thing -- even though we knew better what we were doing, we still had to vet our mechanics and tweak them WAY more than we did with AdCap. The result was worth it, though!
KONG: Communism... It’s not the most popular “ism” out there... Did you look at any other themes? What makes the communism theme appealing and how did it inspire the game’s design?
CODY: AdComm was, in a lot of ways, the obvious “punchline” to AdCap. Both games are based on Cold War-era propaganda, and after making a bunch of jokes about capitalism, it seems like a natural fit to explore its ideological counterpart -- communism! Being a less popular “ism” actually helps it stand out a bit, we feel!
KONG: Since we are like BFFs now, can you give us a sneak peek at what is coming up for AdVenture Capitalist, AdVenture Communist, and/or Hyper Hippo?
CODY: More “AdVentures” for sure, but we’ve got new stuff cooking too. Maybe even games that don’t play themselves when you’re gone! :O
TRISTAN: Without giving too much away, AdVenture Capitalist is going to be going deeper into space... exploring new galaxies in pursuit of profitable frontiers -- you’ll need to bring some friends on this journey. After AdVenture Communist's global launch, we'll be working on an expansion that will introduce our card-collecting program dubbed “Researchers,” which will have a profound impact on scientific research.
And there are always new AdVentures being dreamt up by the team. We’ve been exploring some ideas outside of the idle genre because the world of AdVenture is defined by amassing large amounts of wealth and poking fun at our obsessions around accumulation and fame.