Evo Explores: Interview with the creator
We continue keeping an eye on the latest news from indie game world. This time, we share the story of a young Ukrainian developer Kirill Kuzyk who stands behind a mobile game called Evo Explores.
Introduce yourself and tell how you started working on a game.
Hi! My name is Kirill. I have been in game development for 2.5 years now. Previously, I used to work for a small game studio working on games for Blackberry phones. It became quite boring after a year of making Candy Crush clones so I left a full-time job and decided to create my own game.
Inspiration behind, any particular games that inspired you?
There are some. First of all, it is Monument Valley – a huge mobile hit of 2014. I really fall in love with this game and then realized I had enough skills to make something similar. I assume it won’t be a secret that I took a lot from it.
There are several other games I got inspiration from. A PS2 game called Echochrome and an old browser game Bloxorz. Echochrome and Monument Valley have one thing in common – visual illusions. My game, Evo Explores, has being built upon the same idea.
What is the story about character creation?
I had no prior experience of character creation when I started working on Evo Explores. At first, I wanted to make Alice in Wonderland as the main character. I realize now how stupid this idea was. The reason character creation was kind of a difficult task is because I had no art skills. So Alice turned out to be very creepy and didn’t fit into the game universe.
Later on, I decided to take an easier path and tried to make the main character as a robot. I mixed WALL-E from a well-known Pixar movie with a bunch of random robots from the internet and after several iterations, Evo was born. He has a big head, clumsy look, and an overall feeling was childish (as I thought). He fits well with a broader audience. I’m quite happy with that character.
Could you describe a gameplay mechanics?
Core gameplay mechanics is quite simple. You should guide Evo to the finish door. Forget about regular physical laws and learn to “see” nonexistent paths.
You manipulate the game world by rotating it and dragging objects around. That gives Evo an ability to visually match edges of geometrical forms and pave the way to the door.
How did the game evolve, biggest improvements?
The game evolved chaotically, I would say. As a programmer, I started from what I’m able to do best, writing code. I developed core gameplay features in the first few months.
Then I started doing things I knew next to nothing: game art and level design. That is where the struggle begins. Creating a puzzle game appeared to be a real pain in the neck and took a lot more of my time than programming. Thankfully, I have a friend who agreed to help me with 2D art. She designed a 2D concept and I stuck to it while modeling levels.
At that time, the idea from Bloxorz game came to my mind. That game has a 1x1x2 cube as the main character. I decided to make something similar and Cassette character appeared in a size of 1x2x3. Later, Cassette turned out to be speaking to fit into the plot.
As I previously mentioned, designing levels was the biggest challenge in a development process. I totally underestimated this task at the beginning of the project. Looking back on what was done I can say that the most helpful thing is to go over each level design a couple of times. There are levels in Evo Explores that were changed more than 20 times. I changed something then tested it on my friends, and started over again.
After 12 months of work, I released the game for Blackberry phones first. I wanted to start from the smallest platform to make a soft launch. Later I added localization system, improved the game visually and released it on other platforms.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned from the development of the game?
The most important lesson I learned is that being an independent game developer is hard and takes an enormous amount of time. I would give an advice to someone who wants to make a game. Guys, multiply original estimates by 2-3 times and then add even a month more to be absolutely safe.
Another important thing to consider is that if you want to make a game by yourself, you need to wear many hats. You need to be a programmer, an artist, a game designer, all in one person. If you are not, then learn to make friends.
What are the advantages/ disadvantages of Unity engine?
Unity engine is comparably easy and free to use. Unity has a big community so you can google anything you need and get the answer immediately. You can buy almost all common solutions in Asset Store and save your precious development time. Also, Unity comes with C# programming language so all C# power is in your hands. You can write complex game logic and extend functionality.
As a disadvantage, I would say that Unity is not a 100% multiplatform. Some things that work on one platform can work in a slightly different way on another platform. But these issues are not critical and can be solved quickly. C# version that comes with Unity is quite old so not every latest code will work in Unity. I hope that Unity will get an up-to-date version of C# in the nearest future.
Challenges of game development from your perspective.
Game development is a very broad area. It’s not enough to be a good programmer or a talented designer to make a successful game. There are many things involved and you need to learn quickly. Ideally, you need a team of people who play games and passionate about them. I can’t imagine a successful person in game development who doesn’t love games.