Be a King Rocking the RealArcade Charts!
by Deborah M. Fike · 04/07/2009 (3:15 pm) · 4 comments
Having been in the game engine business for nearly a decade, we've seen our share of rockstar Torque developers. One that immediately comes to mind is Rake in Grass, a small independent development studio that has made over 10 games with Torque. Recently, the Rake in Grass team has enjoyed some big successes, including seeing their fast-paced horror game Larva Mortus go up on Steam. And the week of March 9th, they also saw their most recent title, Be a King, as the 4th most popular game in RealArcade's 700+ game library. Not a bad March at all!
I caught up with Pavel Tovarys during our last IRC chat hour to talk to him specifically about Be a King. In his own words, Be a King is "a simple fantasy/medieval strategy game targeted at the casual market." He also provided me free copy of the game (yay!) and a video I can share with you guys:
Read on for an inside glance on how a seasoned game studio created their latest game!
What makes Be a King unique?Be a King brings together the game mechanics of SimCity, Tower Defense and Build-a-Lot. It's an experiment to bring a more advanced game to the casual audience. The gameplay is still simpler than hardcore strategy games, but it's more complex than "hidden object" games, for example.
Where did your inspiration come from?I'm fan of strategy games and I like history and the medieval era, so these interests are reflected in the game. You can see these themes in other games we've created in Torque, like KingMania or Styrateg.
In "Be a King" you are an up-and-coming prince of a medieval kingdom. You must build towns and cities, defend them against raiders and perform various objectives in order to become the true monarch of the land.
What was your development process like?Our team core has only 3 members. Usually only two developers work on one game and we very often develop more than one game at the same time. We use freelancers from time to time too. We publish 2-4 games a year and a few updates, new level packs etc., so one game takes 2-6 months to create. We just recently finished a 1.2 patch for Be a King.
Why did you use Torque to create the game?We chose Torque for game development a few years ago. We have created around 10 games in Torque engines, so we have strong experience with them. Also the Torque engines are very effective for creating smaller games, such as those in the casual games space.
What were a few development challenges you encountered?Usually the worst challenge on casual games are tutorials. Creation of a tutorial for casual players is very difficult. Another problem we have is the sheer amount of hardware being used to run casual games out there. For example, we usually do beta-testing using a pool of volunteers, but it can be difficult sometimes with so many platforms to support. And regarding the engine, it does not always work on all machines, although that is a problem of all engines.
Rake in Grass is a small 3-member team. They make 2-4 games a year, often working on multiple games at the same time and using freelancers as needed.
What was it like getting it published on major casual portals?Creation of casual games is not our primary goal. We prefer more hardcore games. And casual game portals are not the best way to sell these games. So we have some experience with casual game portals, but it isn't our major distribution channel, which is why we worked with Steam to release Larva Mortus.
It is a little different with Be a King. We got lucky with our distribution strategy, and people noticed the game on various casual portals. It jumped up in the Top Ten lists of several of the biggest game portals.
What have you learned about game development over the years?That the creation of a game is much harder than it looks. Bringing the game to life is a very long and difficult process. And one sad thing - often a game we put a lot of work into is less successful than a quickly developed, small casual game.
What can we expect to see next from Rake in Grass?We are working on a few iPhone ports of our older games these days. After finishing them, we would like to start a bigger project. We have a few ideas, but those new ideas are for the still distant future.
Be a King ranked 4th out of RealArcade's 700+ library of games the week of March 9, 2009.
Thanks again to Pavel for sparing the time for an interview, in his non-native language no less! We look forward to Rake in Grass' upcoming works!
For more stories like this, check out GarageGames' Developer Interview series.