We reached out to the top 5 winners to ask about their inspirations and experiences developing last month's top games on Kongregate!
Beranek, developer of Tales of Nebezem: Gnomish Plot: I’m very pleased that the Tales of Nebezem series has been received so well by the players despite the occassional glitches, which are inevitable, especially in web-based games, because of the large variety of browers and operating systems. I’m glad I can portray different parts of the world (of Nebezem) in these prequels to Elemental Link, and I hope I will eventually move to sequels –- to show some of the lore and history that unfolds after the ending of Elemental Link.
The Gnomish Plot focuses a bit more on the gnomes –- mysterious beings who play a fundamental role behind the main arc of events in Elemental Link. I enjoyed creating puzzles based on the ability to switch between three characters with different skills. Originally, the puzzles were a little more demanding –- some of them required the player to perform actions by two or three gnomes in quick succession, but I received several complaints shortly after publishing the game about the difficulty, so I removed the “timing” factor and adjusted the puzzles to make the game friendlier to more casual players.
VasantJ, developer of Wolf's Bane: Wolf's Bane is the first of many games that are steps to take for Medieval Cop and other games to fully integrate into Unity3d and its graphics. This game followed the playstyle of the original Medieval Cop 1 and hopefully will be the groundwork for future games. The reason I chose Ada as the main character was because she is a mysterious character and a favorite among fans. Needless to say the game was fairly received and the amount of bugs and stability issue complaints were reduced considerably. This shows how improving your work may be hard and unforgiving, but the reward you get is satisfaction and a much more open area to explore new things.
Lu_Muja, developer of ZS Dead Detective - A Curse In Disguise: Hello there, I'll introduce myself first: I'm Francesco, a young man from Italy; and I'm a zombie.
When I was younger I wanted to make comic books, but I abandoned the idea once I realised I wasn't really that good at drawing. My art teacher at the time told me: "You're a good writer, you should focus on your storytelling." So I ate his brain.
I ended up making video games mainly because I wanted to tell stories. I started with "interactive fictions" and ultimately moved to Point & Click games, because that's a very story-driven genre (and I deeply love the LucasArts classics like "Monkey Island" and "Sam & Max"). And that's how "ZS Dead Detective" was born (or resurrected, if you will).
So, as you can imagine, I'm not really a programmer. Therefore I can only give my humble advice about the non-programming part of making a game:
Focus on your strong point and choose a genre you're passionate about; if you have fun making the game, the players will have fun playing it.
Don't be afraid of failing, and cherish the players' feedback; I'm very grateful to Kongregate because it allowed me to reach such a big audience, and I'm thankful to the community, too, for their precious feedback and words of encouragement; thanks to them I got better and better, to the point that I could find the courage and the motivation to propose my game to Steam. (By the way, it got greenlit and it'll be published around September 2018. And yes, this is shameless self-advertising.)
However, the most important, heartfelt advice I want to give to wannabe developers out there is this: "make games"; everyone has good ideas, the hard part is rolling up your sleeves and getting to work putting them into practice; so, do it! Don't let your ideas rot like a cold corpse.
joquatrevingtdix, developer of Krystine and the Children in Chains: Being a painter by profession, I have always loved the game world in all its diversity. Making small video games allows me to create small animated and interactive pictures. I designed the game "Krystine and the Children in Chains" as a ballad. I wanted the game to be relatively simple so that the player could enjoy walking in my world. After the trilogy of Mademoiselle Libellule, I wanted to change the atmosphere by exploring the heroic fantasy. I tried to respect the codes: dragon, fairy, castle, etc. But it is clear that my graphics took over again. My ultra-colorful and overloaded universe has still swallowed everything.
Kronsilds, with his original music, has done a really interesting job that reinforces the player's immersion. The sound loops are linked to each other to finally get the complete melody. He also found sometimes humorous sounds for the different items in the inventory (like the laughter of the pink fairy). I really advise players to enjoy his music during the game!
bontegames, developer of Red: I sort of hinted at the end of my "Yellow" game that there was maybe going to be a reddish continuation, so I had to make this sequel. I didn't want to make a copy of Yellow, so I started creating the game only when I was sure I had enough different levels from the Yellow game. Just like with Yellow I worked really hard on the music track, so I hope you can hear that, 'cause I did my best to make it sound very red. ;) Too bad Chrome decided to break the sound in almost every html5 game this month, but I have fixed this for Red in the meantime. (Editor's Note: Chrome rolled back the feature, but HTML5 developers should update their games to prevent this from happening in the future! Read up here and keep an eye out for our developer newsletter in the upcoming days: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-policy-changes#webaudio )
I almost can't believe this myself, but with this release I'm going into my 11th year of publishing games on Kongregate! Thanks for the support, because seeing my games getting such a warm welcome each time here is what keeps me going!
For other devs looking for advice, this is what I learned in my game dev journey so far: make lots of small projects and stop dreaming about that one big game that will launch you. It takes the pressure off of having to make that one big game a hit.
Don't focus on all the things you won't be able to create, but start making personal things with the stuff you already know. See the limited knowledge or limited tools you master not as a disadvantage but as a strength to get you started, as it is proven that having well-defined constraints drives creativity. That is how I came up with the ideas for most of my games. Forcing yourself to use a limited number of elements for one particular game helps to keep a project rather small and to stay focused.
About the personal part of a game, don't be afraid to put yourself into the game. I'm not talking about a game where you are the protagonist, but a personal message or drawing or whatever for the player somewhere in the game can make such a big difference with how the player experiences your game, as it creates an instant connection with the player.
See you soon with the next Bontegame. :)
Congrats to the rest of the winners below!