We reached out to the top 5 winners to ask about their inspirations and experiences developing last month's top games on Kongregate!
VasantJ, developer of Medieval Angel 5 -My Destiny- (Part 1): First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported the series so far and I hope you would continue to do so in the future. Medieval Cop and Medieval Angel wouldn't exist without your support. The series started off as a simple Detective game but flourished into something much more. I see many people requesting that the original Detective style be brought back. Fortunately for you guys, Medieval Cop 9 has a lot of cases to solve and will also uncover the history and depths of Dregg and Amber.
Many people ask me why the games are usually late and to put it simply, it is because of balance. MC and MA fans are a mixed bunch. Some come for the story, some for the Detective work and some for the humor. Balancing all these three things in an online game can be tedious work, as the basic rules of online games are that the game should be short or at least not too long, must run on any PC or laptop, and have a file size that can support even the weakest of connections. Which is why I need to carefully create assets in a way that feels independent but actually are in one bundle. With each game, the process has become easier, but please note that the story does not always take place in the same locations and new maps need to be made. Usually games made this way can take up to 1GB space because of amateur work, but I strip down the assets to the bare minimum for the game to be played. So all in all, I only request that you be patient, as a rushed game may forever ruin the series.
On a side note, for the Detective fans out there, I am aware that the gameplay has changed a lot to favor the story, and the humor has also been affected. So for them, I am working on an alternate series, "Medieval Cop Files," which will only have Detective-style gameplay with all your beloved characters. This series will not have any relation to the original story and can be considered standalone.
Once again, thanks for all your support, and happy gaming.
FeatherHatGames, developer of Tough Growth:
What inspired the game
I was a little man not much older than 7 years old. Another boring school day had finally ended. My mom picked me up and we went home. As soon as the front door opened I ran to my computer, excited to see what the wonderful world of the internet had to offer.
I discovered a new game called "fishy". It was a 2D game where you played as a little fish. You could move around, eat the smaller fish and grow bigger. But you had to watch out for the big fish, because when they ate you, you would have to start all over. After many hours of struggling I was finally able to become "the biggest fish". That felt so good, I really liked that game.
Fourteen years later I found myself thinking about the game that I played on that day 14 years ago. What if I made a prototype where you had to eat things and become bigger to win, but different? I made a prototype, heck I made more than 1. All of them failed, but every single time I learned something, something valuable that would eventually lead to the birth of the first Tough Growth prototype.
Flash forward: Tough Growth won 2nd prize in the Kongregate competition of June 2018.
Play fishy here: http://www.xgenstudios.com/play/fishyclassic
PS: thanks XGen for inspiring me.
Sometimes losing is better than winning
This is actually not the first submission of Tough Growth to Kongregate.
The first time I submitted a demo: https://www.kongregate.com/games/FeatherHatGames/tough-growth-demo
I felt really confident about this demo and was certain it would win a prize in the Kongregate competition. Each day I checked the website with full excitement to check whether the rating had increased. The first days I checked and saw new comments. People liked the game and I felt more excited. After a while I saw a rating of 2.8. This wouldn’t even be enough to make last place, but I didn’t want to feel any regrets about this competition, so I had to at least try everything I could to win. So I asked everyone who liked TG to rate it highly and we made it to 3.3. We were closing in on the final place, but unfortunately we were too late, the winners had already been chosen and we were not in there.
I really wanted to make Tough Growth win and thought that losing would totally break my spirit. However, after losing I actually felt really motivated to take a new look at Tough Growth and find out how we can do even better! I became more humble and decided to ask for help. I contacted other Kongregate developers whose games I liked and had won prizes in the competition to ask for tips. One of the developers in particular, KekGames, pointed out that my difficulty curve was seriously messed up with the boss being way more difficult than before. Having lost the competition I was finally humble enough to take an honest look at the Tough Growth demo and found many ways that it could be improved. I removed the boss fight and maintained the good curve of the other levels. Hundreds of people asked before for feedback to know when you are big enough to eat something, so I finally added visual feedback. Both changes I wouldn’t have been able to make before because I was too proud to doubt myself, until I fell on my face.
For more insight on my experience developing the game go here:
Beranek, developer of Tales of Nebezem: Four Fates: I’m excited to see that there’s an increasing number of people who enjoy the Nebezem series and look forward to another new “tale”. It’s a great pleasure to read comments which mention specific details from the world or even ask questions about the characters and places, showing greater interest in the fantasy world I created.
One thing I’m struggling with a little is deciding how much text I should include within the game – I try to keep the dialogues as well as the cutscenes short, because I’m aware there are lots of players who just want to play, solve puzzles and interact with the game, and they get impatient when the game gives them a lot of lines to read. On the other end of the spectrum, there are players who want to know more, get more immersed in the story, character traits and world lore, and they would gladly read longer dialogues to get more information. I’m unsure how to deal with this difference in players’ preferences – I don’t want to exclude either group, so I’m going with what I feel is a middle way.
targaciej, developer of Up Left Out: Hi! Maciej Targoni here. I'm a solo developer and I've been making games for six years now. Currently I'm focused on puzzle games only.
"Up Left Out" is the fourth one and this is a fourth prize :) Thank you all!
I have some tips and ideas to help new developers that would have been a great help to me if I had realized them earlier. Here they are:
- Don't clone other games.
- Prototype a lot.
- Focus on game mechanics, not theme.
- Throw most of the prototypes out, pick the one that has a high uniqueness to fun ratio and go with it.
- Stick to a genre. Deep understanding of a genre takes years.
- You have a 99% chance that your first 5 games are going to suck. Make them fast and publish on Kongregate for free.
- Plan long ahead. Life is long, make your biggest hit when you are sixty. Success is a matter of skills, not luck.
- Don't rush. Sometimes to solve a problem you need time. Forcing yourself to make something faster can have the opposite effect, block you or create an average outcome.
- Watch Seth Godin "Inbound 2013 Keynote".
Also I would like to thank the Kongregate team, community and players! You've been a great help in this journey of making games. It's a great place to share my work and get a feedback from passionate people. I can't imagine publishing a game without your help! So again, thank you all!
truefire, developer of Press The Button: Hey! My name is Tazz (also known as Truefire). As you probably know, I publish games to Kongregate here and there. I don't really have an interesting backstory, and I like to let my games speak for themselves, so I don't really have much to say about myself. But I do have some advice for beginner or aspiring game developers.
There are a lot of tips people will give to a new developer: "Make something you enjoy", "keep your scope small", etc. These are all very good tips, but there's one less common tip that I'd like to talk about. Work iteratively. What does that mean? Well, simply put, it means to do things one piece at a time. Before I explain the benefits of iterative development, let's clarify a bit more what it is. With an iterative approach, you kind of "wing it" as you work. You'll come up with a concept, spend a day or two implementing that concept, test it out, tweak it until you're happy, and repeat. This is in contrast to a more planned and structured approach, where you might design the whole game from the ground up before you ever even write a single line of code.
There are three big benefits to an iterative approach. The first (and for me, most important) is that it helps more than anything with personal motivation. A big problem for independent developers is what we call "burnout". You have a great idea for a game, you plan it all out in a big design document, and then you get to work. But then a week later, you're only 10% done, and you don't feel like you've really "created" anything since that first planning phase, because all your time has been spent implementing the things you initially designed. Nine more weeks of work just to realize ideas you've already written down sounds like a real chore, and so the project stagnates and eventually dies off altogether. On the other hand, with an iterative approach, you get to come up with new ideas, test them out, evaluate them, and do more design every day. Every day feels like a fresh adventure, instead of just "more work on that old plan I made ages ago".
The second benefit of an iterative process is that it lets you identify and fix design issues very easily. Imagine you are making a game with a non-iterative approach. You planned out all your mechanics in advance, and now you've just implemented the basics of movement. But there's a problem! It turns out movement isn't fun at all. You'd love to change it, but you have tens, maybe even hundreds of pages of stuff designed around this movement scheme. With an iterative approach, implementing movement would have been one of the first things you did, before you'd made plans for any of the other things that rely on it. You would have noticed that movement was boring, and been able to fix it right away without having to scrap the entire game design.
The final benefit of working iteratively is that it's a lot easier (especially for a newbie). Designing an entire game without having anything concrete to playtest is REALLY HARD. Even professional, experienced AAA developers fail at it all the time. You probably don't know what your game needs until you've actually made it. Ideas that seem great on paper are often really boring in practice, and vice versa. With an iterative approach, you never have to worry about building a whole game. The only problem you need to solve is "What does my game need right now?", and eventually a game will arise out of that.
Congrats to the rest of the winners below!