We reached out to the top 5 winners to ask about their inspirations and experiences developing last month's top games on Kongregate!
Lu_Muja, developer of ZS Dead Detective - Murder Case: Placing first in a contest always feels great, and that's especially true when it's your first time.
It's a real honor for a zombie like me, and so I would like to thank, from the bottom of my rotten heart, all the players who voted and supported my latest entry in the "Dead Detective" series.
In the past months, I've written that a developer really needs to value the players' feedback, and I think the results of this month's contest have proved my point.
I've never been able to place first before, and it doesn't surprise me that I finally did it when I restyled the "deaduction system" in order to address some users who lamented it wasn't intuitive enough. The result is a much better – and funnier – gameplay, and I owe it to the players who highlighted the flaws of its past version, and didn't simply tell me "I love your games" (though I like those kind of comments, too – keep 'em coming, they're food for my heart!).
What I mean, in short, is: constructive criticism is your best friend, appreciate it, look for it even.
If a player writes you "your game sucks" don't insult his mom, but rather ask him what he didn't like and how you can improve it. There's always room for improvement.
With that out of the way, I'd like to thank Kongregate and its staff once again, for the great opportunity they give to developers to submit their games to such a big audience, and even earn money in the process. If you want to publish your game, this is the right place.
Even if you're a zombie.
Beranek, developer of Tales of Nebezem: Droid's Quest: Once again, I'd like to thank the Kongregate community for the support and for the many lovely messages I've received in the comments below my games as well as in private messages.
In the previous four Tales of Nebezem, we have visited four different regions of the world – the underground royal town in the West, the Academy of Magic in the East, the lush forests of the lowlands in the North, and the hot desert in the South. For the fifth installment, I wanted an easy and plausible way to visit all four regions and I wanted to finally introduce the new post-Elemental-Link nation – the Sivars. I also felt like doing a little bit of travelling through space. This way, a robot character was born, one that would come to Nebezem as an outsider and interact with the now-familiar nations from a unique fresh perspective. And in the end, with the help of some gnome magic mixed with feline mysticism, our sci-fi character becomes integrated in the magical fantasy world of Nebezem. The droid follows a (short) classical arc of self-discovery, personal crisis and life-changing catharsis, known as the Hero’s Journey or Hero’s Quest, hence the name of this Tale: Droid’s Quest.
CrounchyBrothers, developer of Shamaniac: Wow! It feels nice to have our old Shaman at 3rd place this month. :)
Thanks Kongregate & thank you so much to all of you players who played the game and left us constructive comments.
Congrats to the other winners too, we particularly enjoyed playing Crown Dungeon -- it's good to see our Shaman side by side with its character... Somehow they look like they're from the same family ^^.
So we are Mathieu & Sylvain, two French developers. We were working for Ankama before we decided to do our own videogames since the end of 2017.
Shamaniac is the 5th game we made, and with this one we wanted to do a "mouse only" game, thinking it'll be better on Kongregate. The goal was to make an atmospheric puzzle hide-and-seek clicker in a single screen.
Then we turned it into a kind of crazy random horoscope.
We also added a "Magic Eyed Ball," which is a kind of broken Magic 8 Ball.
For the moment using Construct 3 fit our needs well for producing small games.
As all the elements are in a single room it was risky for generating bugs because of all the different combinations. Making browser games can be tough because depending on which browser you use bugs can happen all the time.
Finishing a game is always hard and oftentimes takes more time than expected. When you do a game for a 48-hour game jam or a 5-year production the problems are the same, but the quantity of assets and effort makes the difference.
It's safer to learn how to finish a game that didn't take too much time because if it appears to be not as good as expected you haven't wasted too much of your energy.
We learn a lot from player feedback; sometimes we struggle on bugs for a long time after posting a game. Players ask us why we don't test more before posting a game. We know how precious and needful it is to have testers on our games, for accessibility, bug hunting or a general overview.
We have to give an extra thanks to Cleopsys, a friend who took the time to test our games a lot. Thanks to him we have been able to correct a lot of bugs.
For our next games we will probably do close beta before publishing, if you are interested you can join it just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kongregate is a good place to learn about your games from comments. But it's also good to learn how to get criticism, to shield yourself from taking it too personally.
It's important and precious to gain from feedback, even the hard ones.
Sharing games is so cool, we hope you'll enjoy our next ones!
Drawmaneater1, developer of Crown Dungeon: Hi, my name is Drawmaneater. I'm the developer of the Nekra Psaria series, which are very simple browser point and click games. They're more about strange, surreal worlds and atmosphere than about gameplay or puzzles. Usually I concentrate on visuals because my programming skills are not very good. That's why I was always interested in developing simple html5 games on Construct 2 -- it's an easy tool.
In Crown Dungeon, I really wanted to recreate the atmosphere of old Flash point and click puzzle games, with simple but somehow tricky levels. This game is a tribute to those games. I'm really glad that most of the people enjoyed Crown Dungeon. From the beginning of developing, I knew that I must keep things simple by creating not-too-complicated levels that can be beaten in a minute or less.
Experimenting with gameplay, I made the cursor not just your mouse, but also a helping hand that can be used for more things than just clicking or dragging. And I always enjoy secret endings in games; you can run levels very fast, it's not hard, but if you want other endings you need to find secrets, which can be tricky.
What can I say to other developers? Well, sometimes you need to take a break from bigger projects and create something smaller. I have a few bigger projects, but finishing them was really problematic; I was constantly changing something in these games. In Crown Dungeon everything is simple: simple gameplay, simple mouse control. I wrote ideas in my notebook and tried to make them into levels. If I'm not skilled enough, then I put it down and come back to it later. Some levels didn't even make it to the final game, because sometimes I can't finish them or because they were just boring, or take too much time to make them work. My programming skills are bad, but I have some skills in art, and sometimes I have some nice strange ideas, and using them is my strong side. I try to improve my time management skills; they always come in handy.
PS: Special thanks to PeachCrabby for supporting me and helping with some ideas. I love you.
Neko_puf, developer of Aspiring artist: Hey everyone, we are Awoodamary and Neko_puf, the developers of Aspiring artist, the idle game that got 5th place in the latest competition. It is our first game ever made, so such a great success is very shocking. Thanks for all the support that the community gave us -- it was a great pleasure to put effort into things that people appreciate. Our game still has problems and a lot of polishing to do, but we hope that the community will guide us to, what we can call later, a good game.
As we were forming our core game concept, we played a lot of idle games, and after a while, decided that we wanted to make players have some interactions with color. As it was our first project, we did it mostly for fun, not hoping for the game to see the light of day. We experimented in every direction and later came up with something playable. After a bit of polishing, our first build was released to the public to see how people would criticize it. But to our surprise, people actually liked Aspiring artist and wanted even more. So we started to mix some public opinions with our own experiments, and our game evolved with every update. It is very different now from what it was at the start -- a whole concept morphed into something different that we would never have thought of from the start. And we think that this kind of game evolution is actually exciting.
We will try our best to make even better games, and recommend for everyone to not be afraid of new things and experiment!
Congrats to the rest of the winners below!