Traveling to Belgrade not only gave me a chance to talk to a funny, charming and ambitious guys and girls working in the gaming industry but, this time, I really enjoyed playing a game with such an entertaining storyline (it's about heroes and awakening them).
My "awakening of the hero within" experience was provided by Nikola Mitić, CEO/Co-owner of one of the best game developing companies in Serbia - COFA Games. COFA Games didn't actually begin their journey of game developing as most developers did. Their inspiration was drawn from the emotions the games provide.
Nikola Mitić - Our idea was to create an experience beyond gaming itself, so we started with a multiplayer game to provide players with additional emotions. That way they can play with their friends, they can compete… That was our idea in general, to create an ecosystem around the game. That actually inspired us to proceed.
Awakening of Heroes
As I look back to this interview, it bothers me that I didn't ask him what "COFA" stands for, but I was too busy forcing questions about Awakening of Heroes, an above-mentioned multiplayer game we're all eagerly expecting from them. So, let us begin with everything - the idea, the process of making the game, the story behind it...
Nikola Mitić - The story behind it is that our heroes are ordinary people like we are. So, we have a granny, we have a hipster, we have an old scientist… Everyday people with the idea that they can actually awaken the hero within by doing some unordinary things.
In our case, they all meet in an imaginary town, and during the combat, they are awakening their inner skills. So, with every victory, they can go through the portal of awakening and with every passing through the portal they are one step closer to awaken the hero within.
For example, granny's goal is to become the best Bingo player in the World, so that's her awakening. So, every hero has their weird awakenings, and hopefully, if you play enough, you'll be able to unlock all of them.
GameBuz - Where did the idea come from?
Nikola Mitić - We did lots of iterations to find what we can compare it with. An idea is evolving, that's initially because there is a lot of storytelling. And then we found out that a lot of storytelling is actually sometimes not good. So we cut lots of stories and presented them visually and let players make conclusions on what's happening. Now we are introducing little bits of stories, but in the end, you will find out everything.
GameBuz - I had a chance to try it before, and I've seen a teaser for the game. It's a pretty funny game. How do humorous games help players?
Nikola Mitić - It is for sure. The idea was to create something a little bit different. With multiplayer games, you usually have very similar characters - there are some creatures or some guys that are super strong with big swords. So, typically, multiplayer games are very stressful, and because of that, there are a lot of payers that cannot play those kinds of games.
Our idea was to create something little bit different and to reduce stress while you're playing the game. With a funny approach, we succeed to reduce levels of stress and to keep game still engaging. I think people love that approach.
GameBuz - When will the game be released?
Nikola Mitić - Nobody knows, hopefully soon. We don't have an exact date. We are going in soft launch in the Philippines and after that, hopefully after a few months. So, the next step is a soft launch of the game, then we'll have to work on improvements for sure, and when we have good numbers, it will be a global release.
GameBuz - Do you have a publisher?
Nikola Mitić - Hopefully, we'll do it on our own, no evil publishers.
Even though we were laughing at his remark about publishers, I couldn't help but to agree with him. Actually, not that long ago we wrote about people wrongfully blaming the developers when they're not happy with a game. However, self-publishing is a quite challenging job. While thinking about challenges, I just had to ask Nikola what were the most challenging problems COFA Games had to deal with so far and how did they overcome them.
Nikola Mitić - There were a lot of challenges. First, there were technical challenges. Multiplayer games by themselves are very challenging, especially on mobile - connection is not good and there are a lot of different devices.
From a visual point of view, it was not easy to determinate if we were going in the right direction or not. If we were to go with some epic creatures, let's say with characters that are recognized so far, it would be very easy to know if we were going in a good direction. On the other hand, if you want to experiment a little bit visually and in the gameplay itself, it's not easy to determinate are we going in the right direction or not.
Furthermore, after 5 years of development, a lot of things are changing in your team as well. Some guys are getting kids, somebody leaves or else. This was not a one-year project. After 5 years a lot of things are happening in your team, a lot of things are changing.
That feeling when you see that people love to play your game...
Nevertheless, as difficult as a business in the gaming industry can be, it has so many rewarding parts.
GameBuz - What's the most rewarding part of game making?
Nikola Mitić - Soft launch for sure - when you release the game, and you see how people respond. So far, according to the last statistics, we have a lot of players that in 5 days played more than 150 matches. It is truly a very good feeling when you see that people love to play your game, that they are coming back and are spending a lot of time in your game. I think that's the most rewarding part.
Push hard and don't give up
As I mentioned in my previous interview, when I have a chance to talk to game developers with such rich experience and background, I have to ask for advice.
GameBuz - How would you advice young developers just entering the gaming industry?
Nikola Mitić - The game development industry is very hard to get in, it's not like a web development industry where entering barrier is much lower. You can compare the game development with a movie industry, so it's not just about programming. Game development includes illustration, analytics, user experience and much more, so it's a full entertainment package.
And my advice for young developers is not to give up and to push hard. I think it's good to initially start working in some existing company and later on to start with their own, not to rush too much.