TechnoLive: How to create a successful mobile game, Ivan Fedyanin
Hi Geektimes! We continue to publish transcripts of our broadcasts on game development. Today you will find a story by Ivan Fedyanin, head of the Fast Forward studio, about choosing a genre and a niche when creating a mobile game.
By the way, today at 19:00 the next broadcast starts . Participants: Alexander Pankov, creative director at the Allods Team studio, and Alexander Mishulin, creative director of the Mail.Ru Games project. We learn that the game balance in the usual sense does not exist!
Alexander Kuzmenko: We continue to talk about game development, today we have the second part. My name is Alexander Kuzmenko, and today our guest is a wonderful person Ivan Fedyanin, head of the Fast Forward studio. You have only been in the company for the second year, but this does not mean that you are the second year in the gaming industry, so the classic question is: How did you end up in the gaming industry?
Ivan Fedyanin: My answer is actually quite typical: here players sometimes write in a resume - "I play games, so you have to take me." I, too, was just that. So I got to the company Nival as a tester. At first I came just to help them, then it turned into a working history.
Alexander Kuzmenko:It turns out that you went from the very foundations - you started as an ordinary, and you went through all the stages of the history of the Russian gamedev. At first it was the development of computer games, client development, now here are the mobile platforms.
Ivan Fedyanin: There was still an era of localized Chinese games. But it all started with client games, one of my first projects was just an AA project - Operation Silent Storm.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Tell me what Fast Forward is doing now, what are you working on now?
Ivan Fedyanin:The studio appeared under the auspices of one big idea. And this idea began to be gradually transformed, receiving funding and resources from Mail.Ru Group, including human ones, and for this idea a project began a year and a half ago - Planet of Heroes. The idea is simple - let's take an audience of hardcore games - MOBA, MMORPG. But they gradually grow up, get married, get married, give birth to children, go to work, and the studio’s goal is to cover these people, the experience that they received on PC, to give them on mobile devices.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Listen, but this idea is far from new, and many, according to the market, switched to mobile platforms, but so far I have not seen interesting implementations in this genre. In the genre of strategy, quests - yes, but it’s easier there, and the management is simple.
Ivan Fedyanin:Yes, as you correctly said, the movement is never new. And the existing implementations from my point of view are unsuccessful so far, which is good for us, and this is due to the fact that mobile technologies are only now growing to the desired level of performance. And now this is the point where technology can already, and developers should have already learned how to simplify their games sufficiently. That is, the right time has just come now, again taking my past experience, one of my first King’s Bounty Legions mobile projects is a turn-based mobile tactic, which came out quite early for its time. Now the market has already approached, there are quite a lot of players who have already stopped playing on the PC, or they already have little time, their number is growing every year. Now all these factors have combined, and all those who have not a year ago or a year or two,
Alexander Kuzmenko: In theory, it sounds great, but in practice what kind of game is Planet of Heroes and what is its genre?
Ivan Fedyanin: This is a mobile MOVA, which transfers all the characteristics of the original PC-shnoy MOVA. This is a competitive game genre where players in a group fight each other against a group of opponents. On the one hand, we needed to save all the writing MOVA filing, so all the main game elements such as lines with creeps, bases, towers, heroes, in PVP and so on were transferred, but we made sure that the game became mobile.
Our competitors made an excellent transfer of the MOVA genre to smartphones, but unfortunately, they left the session for 30 minutes. And the player is left with a choice: ok, I have a game, I can play it sitting at home at the table, putting a tablet, because the tablet is better, otherwise the control will be inconvenient, I have to work Wi-Fi, because 3G can be uncomfortable to play. Within half an hour no one should call me, because if they call, then everything will be interrupted. And none of my teammates should be broken either. It turns out, sitting at home at the table, why not just open the laptop and play LoL?
And then everything. These games are already competing with LoL, which is not very nice to compete with.
Our idea is to enable the player to play not only at home. We do a short session, in our case it is 7 minutes. A little more than the average session, which is now on mobile phones, but for our audience this is exactly what they are really ready for. For those players who do not even have this time, for example, for those who are traveling in the subway or bus, you need to go out or stand in line, to the toilet or something else. You just take the phone, open another mode. They are connected to each other, but there is an offline game mode where you play essentially a campaign. Diablo-style game mode, where you take the same heroes, go with them to a campaign where there is a plot, develop them, dress and play essentially RPGs, just with characters from MOV.
Alexander Kuzmenko:It turns out that for the single part and for the cartoon the hero is one?
Ivan Fedyanin: Yes. There are special items in the campaign that they put on, but they only work as part of the single player campaign so as not to spoil the balance in the PVP part.
Alexander Kuzmenko: It sounds interesting, you try both ours and yours, and even if there are no 7 minutes, then anyway ...
Ivan Fedyanin: Yes. We take the problems of mobile MOV: management, session time, connection and matchmaking. We say that we can offer people when they have time to wait and what we can offer when there is absolutely no time. We came up with two different game modes for different options, when there is time and when you do not know how much time you have. And there will be two games, simply connected to each other.
Alexander Kuzmenko:The simplest question: I just can’t decide on the programming language, but I really want to make games. What do you need to learn now? Watching colleagues in the company, techies, I understand that there are separate castes of programmers who know such exotic things that are still used that they automatically have twice as much salary as those who simply C know.
Ivan Fedyanin: I will answer not from the side of technical experience, I am a tester in the past, not a programmer, but from the management side that I don’t know examples of rare programmers who receive twice as much money due to rare specialization that they would not know original languages. Even if you want to dig deep somewhere, the "pluses" still need to be learned.
Alexander Kuzmenko:What 20 years ago, what now, the basics you need to know.
Ivan Fedyanin: Of course, you need to learn everything new, the "pluses" also do not stand still, but I would start at least with them. Now it’s not worth developing the first games from scratch, for this you need to take the finished engine, Unreal, Unity, do something on it. They are easier to enter, much less to know. We must not learn to program, but learn to make games. These are slightly different things that cannot be combined. You can come up with simple, at the same time interesting games, at a basic programmer level, but already be a good game maker. Conversely, if you program cool, it does not mean that you can make a wonderful game. This is poorly connected.
Alexander Kuzmenko: As the experience of the same mobile games a la Doodle Jump shows, even without being able to program and draw well, you can make such a hurricane gameplay that millions of downloads will go.
Ivan Fedyanin: This is not the path to success. If there is a cool idea that seems to be like it and do it for two weeks, then you need to take and learn a programming language at this level, make and try. It will not work, as happens with the vast majority of people - well, two weeks is not so disappointing to lose. And the experience is priceless. But if we are talking about a systematic approach, that I want to play games, grow and make them - you need to have a much larger basis.
Alexander Kuzmenko:It reminded me of an interesting curious case. A few years ago I was at Firaxis, where the famous game designer Sid Meyer, the author of Civilization, works, which recently released the sixth part. He told an interesting thing. All game designers who work at Firaxis are necessarily programmers by first education. Why is this done? So that before he came up with his idea, he quickly dashed off the simplest prototype, and came with the finished game. Such an approach.
Continuing the theme of mobile games from the same novice developers, usually all industry representatives give them advice: if you want to go somewhere, be sure to make mobile games, they are not so expensive, you can make a good game for enthusiasm for 10 thousand dollars. But I hear these tips for many years, the last three to four years, when the market is especially rushing, but I understand that it is also overheating. To enter the market now, you must have either a super unique product, or a lot of traffic, which the novice developer does not have. Do you think this is still a market with a small threshold of entry, mobile phones, or is that all?
Ivan Fedyanin:For a year now, everything has changed, and the farther, the stronger it changes. If at the beginning of the project it is not known where the traffic will be taken from, whether it’s the publisher or an idea that has already found some response from people somehow, then you should not even start. Then it’s better to go to the same Steam, on the PC, and brief the players live, there are special tools for this. Look at the feedback, and if everything is good, then you can already make a mobile version, if the game is initially ready for this, if the session is not 30 minutes, conditionally.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Now there is a very common moment, Steam has Greenlight, where you can upload any heresy and immediately receive live feedback.
Ivan Fedyanin:I hope that in addition to the obvious harm, my Steam feed is now not as useful as before. I used to buy almost everything that came out there, now I can’t do that, it annoys me. I hope that the people who develop it get invaluable experience from this, and eventually begin to do something more interesting. But sometimes because of this, something shoots. But this is also not quite a systematic approach. Rather, you can go out to Greenlight in the same way with your bare idea, which for some reason you like when it comes to a very small young team.
If we talk about Greenlight for a more experienced team, they do it for other purposes, but also create early adopters, work with them to give them input, because they know how to do it. A small team still cannot and does not understand how to do this. They say - we have a game, and that's it, wait. For them, it works as a proof of what they are doing, that at least someone is interested.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Well, it’s good that there is such a tool. As far as I understand, the development of mobile games is not such a cheap thing as it was 5-6 years ago?
Ivan Fedyanin: Neither in terms of people, nor in cost, nor in anything.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Then the historical moment: you say that to make not AAA, but although A game for PC, XBox or PS is about the same in costs as A game is mobile.
Ivan Fedyanin: Still not. Let's separate XBox and PS. If you take Steam and A game there, then, probably, they have almost equaled on budgets. Especially if you take marketing, then 100% on mobile phones it is higher, otherwise nothing.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Because the market is overheated, there are a lot of things.
Ivan Fedyanin: If you take the development budget, it is a little cheaper, but on the other hand, more mobile phones are being made. If you take the studio, then by the number of people they are already quite large.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Languages are a tool, but where do beginners begin to dive into game devs? There must be things you need to know besides languages.
Ivan Fedyanin: Of course. A few years ago a person contacted me on Facebook, asked, and I still like the answer, the more so the person entered the game dev, he helped him. For a person who wants to start, I would recommend going to Wikipedia for a description of chess, there are variations of this game, there are about 300-400 of them. If you’ll be invented by the 301st, to understand them, how they changed, why so, then you are a game designer, everything is immediately clear there. And you can start thinking about it, how to enter the development in terms of developing features, developing the rules of the game.
There is an easier way. These are people who already play board games, they are also somehow closer to this all. A lot of game designers from the environment of desktop gamers. But again, I hasten to agree with Sid Meyer: designers who do not have a mathematical background are not very useful in a very large area of game design tasks. Of course there is a narrative, but it will be difficult to use such a game designer as a full-fledged combat unit.
Alexander Kuzmenko:I’ll add from myself. In the gaming industry, I have not seen a single person who would linger here for more than a few months, who would not like games in the first place. How to learn to write well? Read as many good books as possible. How to learn to make good games? First of all, play all the good. All the game designers I know are people you can meet in the smoking room and discuss the game that came out yesterday because he played it in the evening. Play, love the game.
Let's go back to the past again. I understand that at first the first crisis, then the entire Internet, then the Chinese MMOs, they ruined the old nostalgic jewel development. In your opinion, why did this happen? Everyone claims that people just stopped buying games and buying any trash, but in my opinion, this is a more global phenomenon in our country. As a person who survived all this from the perspective of a game developer, what do you think is such a drastic change ... It happened literally in a year.
Ivan Fedyanin:At the same time, my position was changing. Before that I was a tester, the head of testers, and after the crisis I became a project producer. And maybe my point of view has changed, but it seems to me that this is a management crisis that could not grow in time. This is a false feeling when you have success, and it seems to you that you are doing everything right. It's like stroking a monkey when she does some nasty things. Here Black & White was a great game. If it is not right to raise a monkey there, then it then destroyed and broke everything. Here, in the same way, when people come who were involved in project management in old companies, they have difficulty imagining how to set up the process and find the right developers. That's because earlier there were a lot of false statements for which they stroked, therefore it was fixed. All who had an unstable situation, the crisis immediately ceased to stroke, and began to do "a-ta-ta". And this is good, because it is not clear how these strokes would end.
Alexander Kuzmenko: The game market has been prone to crises lately. Look, over the past 10 years, the platforms and types of content that we consume there have completely changed. Remember the company Zynga.
Ivan Fedyanin: If you look not around Russia, but around the world ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: Everything is very similar. We have the same caricature curve ... Look, who survived in the world after all the crises? The majors who know for sure that Assassin's Creed will certainly sell for at least 20 million. And all this rest - what do you have there? The game? With Jack Black about rock music? Out! As in Activision there were purges in due time.
Ivan Fedyanin: At the same time, Ubisoft found itself in small indie projects.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Everything is a little different there, they work like Blizzard. There you can come to a very big boss once a year and say: here, with the corephans, we drew artworks, programmed a little, maybe cool? So they got so many things like Child of Light. It's ridiculous to say that Blizzard has the same system, so Hearthstone appeared.
Ivan Fedyanin:They still did it quietly. I don’t know how in Blizzard, but in Ubisoft it was in contact because of the fifth “Heroes”, and there they really had it built, there was a special department that was involved in the adoption of these “green lights”, it gives a certain direction. They research the audience, which is now popular, and make some hypotheses that they sell to developers. They say that if you dig there, then there will be success. On the one hand, this is a one-way monologue, they say what to do, what features should be in the game. On the other hand, no developer, if he does not have a brilliant idea, can give out this solid idea.
Alexander Kuzmenko:A provocative question about MOV. In our country, MOVA is not the most popular genre of games, but one of the top three. Therefore, lovers of Dotan, LoL and so on clearly came. Which is better, many characters in MOVA or several, but well-designed?
Ivan Fedyanin: Depends on the quantity. There is a mathematical function of this randomization. If less than a certain amount, then the player will play with the same heroes against the same heroes. He will not feel the variability. But after 20-30, if we are talking about 3 by 3 gameplay, and if about 5 by 5, then after 40-50, then, in fact, in each next session the hero will be different, and there it is important to focus on the quality of the elaboration of the heroes. The 51st is not so important there as it is important that all 50 are of high quality.
Also, if a 3 by 3 fight, then 20 is important, but good, the 21st is not so important. But up to 20 it is important to finish this number, otherwise there will be little variation. I would say that at first it is important to make all possible variations of the role, possible variations of the gameplay with them, and then sharpen them much more strongly.
Alexander Kuzmenko: An interesting technique. You cool said that in Ubisoft there is a department that takes green lights, he knows where the wind blows. The main problem of a game developer is that, in fact, you now have to come up with what will become a trend in two years or six months if the development cycle is smaller. When you came up with Planet of Heroes, what did you follow?
Ivan Fedyanin:I joined Mail.Ru Group at the end of April last year, and the idea crystallized around January. We are talking about a two-year run ahead. If now it seems to me that in three years it will take off, then I would not start to do it now. In my opinion, I am not so accurate in this aiming.
Generally yes, this is a problem. You either shoot, and I know the companies, worked in one of them, which usually shoot a little further. Where she shoots comes, but after some time. Or it's too late. And the most extreme option is clones, this is a separate thing, you need to understand why, where, and so on. But if we aim at some niche, then usually a shoot-out or immaturity occurs.
Alexander Kuzmenko:There is another example of the company Wargaming, which for 15 years has been collecting very cool wargames, and then suddenly released World of Tanks.
Ivan Fedyanin: In fact, this is the rule of 100 hours that you need to get, it was converted in their case ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: You accidentally hit with a pickaxe and there’s a nugget.
Ivan Fedyanin: Before that, you beat 100 thousand times.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Yes, before that you hollowed very hard, so you knew how to beat correctly with a pickaxe. But it still happens. "It is impossible to know in advance whether or not to fire, and large companies have failures."
A large modern company cannot make a product that spends money, but does not earn, or at least does not pay off. Because modern development is so calculated ahead. Take the same Ubisoft, even if this Assassin's Creed gets a half-press less and sells 5 million less, it still will not be a failure, because it was made by 2,000 people in five studios on four continents. This was not a joke about the numbers, there it is.
Our development is less global, but nevertheless, the “Armata Project” or Skyforge are gigantic projects that employ hundreds of people. Is it possible for a large company to make a global mistake with all the resources, expertise, UX-studies of player behavior, with all the numbers for all projects, and make something super failure?
Ivan Fedyanin:You are right that one of the reasons why in large companies all games in the end still earn more money than they spend, this is because in the niche where they make them, there is practically no competition. It has its own Assassin's Creed, we won’t take Mafia, it has its own GTA, and when you make such a big project, you understand that they will buy it. Perhaps the next one will buy less because of this, but you will pay for this one, even if it doesn’t work out very well.
As for the business point of view, the measure of success is very different. For players, the measure of success will be how many millions of people bought the game. For a person who believes numbers are a measure of success, he will have earned more money than he spent. And the shareholders will consider not only that the game paid off, but also earned one and a half or two dollars for each dollar spent. And they have a minimum threshold, according to which, despite the fact that the game has paid off, it is still considered unsuccessful, because such a business. It is highly risky, and it is invested in it with a certain expectation of margin.
In those projects that are more expensive, this margin is even more difficult to squeeze. They have such problems in terms of payback, just the payback from them is not 100%, but 150%, roughly speaking.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Underfulfillment of the plan.
Ivan Fedyanin: There hemorrhoids are not that you didn’t pay off, but that you didn’t pay off with interest, and this is really a pain, it can hit a business hard. People still stand behind the business, even if it is not an open, but a closed company, which once invested in it and want to somehow increase this money. If they understand that they could have a lower percentage, but put them into the bank in an almost risk-free way, and no one does it because the percentage is too small, then what's the point? Therefore, everything is so. Here it is not about how to recoup the development, but to make it less ...
Alexander Kuzmenko:In this sense, the thinking of independent indie development studios and large corporations, where game production has already been put on the assembly line, is somewhat different.
Ivan Fedyanin: Even if we talk about an independent small studio, what is the main task? It is clear what to pay back, but to earn the next. And this means that the spent to recoup, and still earn, is still the same. Even if just for bread, this means that we released the first game for a conditional 100 units of experience, the second will be done on the basis of the first. Even in this case, it will be a kind of investment, so it is better to grow. Although it’s natural, it’s better to make more money and hire one programmer, do something bigger so that the production value of the entire product is greater.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Back to mobile games. In my opinion, from a technical point of view, what happens on the PC during the late 90s - early 2000s, when 3D accelerators began to appear, when the sound card was a separate board. The difference, especially this concerns mainly Android, in the filling of some phones is such that now some branded manufacturers of Google phones do the following: they release a certain phone, which is not a fact that it will support the next update of the operating system from Google.
And since I understand that your primary market is Android ...
Ivan Fedyanin: We have not yet announced the primary platform.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Then in Russia, we have Android - the most common platform, although maybe not the most money ... Your game should be high-tech, because it is MOVA. What to do in this situation?
Ivan Fedyanin: This question is about how to develop games for mobile phones. I really want to do it beautifully, coolly, and as a result it leads to mutant games that weigh several GB at the jump, then you need to download something, register some kind of account, the Internet, and so on. The user was simply forced to download a computer game on the phone and play it, plus the controls are uncomfortable.
Not. Despite all the new technological things, we must watch for the game to be mobile. In the same schedule, this means that I really want to cram everything, super realistic graphics, and modern phones can issue this. But if you look at it on the phone, the graphics will ripple, the screen is still small, and even resolution will not help - it will still ripple. Therefore, if you look at all the tops, it’s rather cartoonish graphics with smeared colors, it’s more contrasted, it can be seen in the sun, it’s easier to play.
The answer is: technologically - yes. But it’s not technologically advanced in the written sense that 50 Gb client is flooded with polygons, and this is considered the norm. And technologically advanced in a mobile sense: the game should open quickly, load quickly, the game does not stop the user anywhere, the game works quickly, including on old devices. Yes, we have a fairly low threshold for devices. At one time, we took the most lagging region for 2014 on this issue - China, took the top 10 devices and said that this is our minimum platform. Since then, three of them have been disabled, unfortunately, but nonetheless.
Alexander Kuzmenko: They ask which specialists are more in need now? Testers, programmers, scripters, maybe mathematicians, designers? Anyone is ready to break into the game dev.
Ivan Fedyanin:It seems to me that if a person is ready to break into a game dev, then he needs to do this first of all. How can I enter a game dev? Just by writing your resume, sending to all the vacancies that you see on Headhunter.
The second way is to be in a party, go to different sites where you can participate, be on Facebook as friends, as readers of all people, write, comment, but it’s better to listen to people first and then write. Not the best way to get into a gamedev party by starting to write something to famous people on Facebook. Without cows, without all this. Although such a path also exists, it is simply a long one.
Alexander Kuzmenko:A terrible story. For a long time I worked in a game magazine, it was the end of the 90s or the beginning of the 2000s, letters often came in the same place. A paper letter arrived. It seems everyone got used to the Internet, but paper rarely, but came. And there is some boy, as I understand it, from an uncertain handwriting, wrote that he came up with the ingenious idea of the game, how a pig walks along the bottom of the ocean and shoots killer whales from a bazooka. We laughed at this subject for a long time. What do you think? About seven years ago, I saw a browser about how a pig walks along the bottom of the ocean and shoots killer whales from a bazooka. Maybe that was him.
Ivan Fedyanin:I thought for a long time, searched. On the one hand, I am against these people, dreamers. It seems to me that their culling is very large. On the other hand, I can rank myself among them, because I hit the same way. But it seems to me that this is the wrong way. Firstly, it is very long, you need to go in, and from scratch learning everything, go. Or this education, study, in a party, and then it’s normal to come to some small position, but already to the project.
In general, if I average, I would start with medium-large companies and would not go to small studios. If they completely coincide with the idea and really want, of course, it is possible and necessary. And if it’s all the same, and you just want to plunge into the game dev, then I would recommend trying where it is more or less adjusted.
Often, when you interview someone who has previously worked in one or two indie teams, it turns out that they do not know how to work. They know how to do tasks, but they don’t understand the essence of the process. They do not have any released projects, they do not understand the stages of the project, they do not understand the project roles. This database is not created.
Alexander Kuzmenko: As with the movie. Often for people who do not understand the world of games at all, we give a simple analogy to the movie, everything is done very similar there. You can make a film on your mobile phone, in the main role to shoot a sister or mother. And you can shoot a film in the studio when a budget of $ 100 million is set in advance for marketing five years in advance.
Ivan Fedyanin:Yes, depending on what you want. If you want your girlfriend to say that I am doing a game or did, then probably it doesn’t matter. If you want to grow in this direction, then study in this area.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Decadent mood is passing. They write that with so many games it is very difficult to come up with something new. Rather, it’s even impossible. Eternal conversation.
Ivan Fedyanin: Let's go back to the chess example. Perhaps the creator of chess would have thought so too. But there were still many people who made many variations. There is chess with construction, you can build units, send them to the attack. There is chess with the fog of war. You can layer different gameplay elements with each other, come up with something new. Clash Royal is a good example.
You can find an example of a flash game on some Shadow Grounds, where there was some similar gameplay, you might think that this is a continuation of Heroes Charge, which was made more MOV-shaped. Even more than one point from which you can come to this Clash Royal. Therefore, everything is wrong, everything is transformed.
The most famous case of this year is Pokémon. People opened up a completely different audience, it was played by more people who generally had nothing to do with games.
Alexander Kuzmenko:We also talked about this. After all, Pokémon in locations, in mechanics, in the UGC content that was created there, is an Ingress game, which the same studio made three years before. And it plays a narrow, but very friendly community all over the world, in Russia it is also quite large, there are several hundred very active people, and tens of thousands are still sleeping. All the same, but in the cover of the Pokemon franchise brought Nintendo a billion a day. Approximately the cost of Aeroflot.
But this case, when the franchise raised the mechanics that had already been invented before, is this the strength of the franchise? Or just people finally matured to augmented reality, as a fait accompli?
Ivan Fedyanin:All three factors. First, the developers have grown. They learned how to do it at Ingress. If they were to make Pokemon on the first version of Ingress for features and everything, probably they would not be able to. Their servers were already falling, and nothing would have worked at all, it would have collapsed right away. By features, they also would not understand what and how. For many years they learned to develop this, and then they said - okay, and now everything is the same, but on a cool franchise. They chose the franchise correctly, without which, most likely, nothing would have happened. I am also a supporter of the opinion that she occupies the top of the pyramid.
And the players before that walk with the camera ... They needed to think about it for several years, periodically see videos of Ingress and other different kickstarter projects.
The franchise played a major role, but would not rule out other factors.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Everything came together. Nintendo itself, if you remember, experimented with augmented reality on 3DS, by default there were many entertainment programs where, through augmented reality, through the 3DS window, you could see Mario.
Ivan Fedyanin: Nintendo generally try to bring something into the third dimension. For example, on 3DS, just in Pokémon there was a light sensor on a cartridge, and the Pokémon said that he wants to eat light now. And you carried him outside, and he ate the light there. Or vice versa, he needed darkness. It was also a new level of gameplay, you had to rush with it, they tried to do it.
Alexander Kuzmenko: What do you think about Nintendo Switch? I ask everyone - radically opposite opinions.
Ivan Fedyanin:I don’t understand why this is. I guess I don’t know what will happen in Japan, but for me this is not applicable. I still don’t understand why I need Wii, like I’ll go and buy it again ... I had it once, and I will buy it again. I can understand why - friends will come, we need to somehow entertain them. Why do I need a large tablet with joysticks? I really don’t understand what will happen to the battery.
Alexander Kuzmenko: And if there will be Mario or Zelda?
Ivan Fedyanin: For Zelda, you can buy the same Wii or 3DS, because it is small. And then there’s a big bandura ... I don’t know, I don’t like it yet.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Strange technological solutions have been used recently.
Ivan Fedyanin: We combined a lot of strange things, and we got a strange mutant.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Well, WiiU, you bought an iPad, but with joysticks, what is it?
Ivan Fedyanin: They shared.
Alexander Kuzmenko: “Why is everyone crazy about MOV? Anyway, Dota doesn’t surpass. ” By the way, an interesting nuance. Firstly, LoL is much more popular in the world, and in our country it has historically turned out that Dota loves, so they go head to head.
There is a stereotype that schoolchildren play in MOVA, but recently there was a good joke according to which all schools in Russia are divided into two types: those who play LoL and those who play Dota. But naturally, everyone is playing Minecraft.
Ivan Fedyanin: You see, they are now working with institutes and universities, trying to raise their average age.
In terms of audience, we in no way compete with either Dota or LoL. You cannot and should not play us while you are playing Dota or LoL. When you sit at home with a cup of tea, you have about 40 minutes of free time, or even more, when your lads invited you to play a couple of ice rinks. And go on, during this time we are not competing. We are not trying to overcome LoL or Dota, we complement them at a time when you cannot play these games.
There are simply people who have very little free time, and there is a very limited amount of time at home, and I find small segments when you are driving somewhere, waiting somewhere. While I wait for my girlfriend to get dressed, I can play several games in Planet of Heroes. One to two, at most three. In this case - okay, everything, it's time.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Another provocative question. What does not attract me personally to the MOV genre? The fact that I played about 30 hours in Dota 2, which is a very long time for another game, not to mention single games. For an online game, this is the time when you understand the basic mechanics. And I understand that I’m not only learning how to play badly, I still don’t even understand the nuances, and some basic ones.
Ivan Fedyanin: They still want to kick you from the party?
Alexander Kuzmenko:Yes, I'm still cancer in the mid. Here you have MOVA mobile, a mobile phone means the very lowest threshold of entry. If I downloaded a mobile game, then I have such a user experience, and it coincides with some studies, according to which if I didn’t realize what was happening in five minutes, then I launched it for the first and last time. Like you have in Planet of Heroes.
Ivan Fedyanin: I will give my example, there used to be a Heroes of Newerth game, my personal experience with it was that I bought it, downloaded it, installed it, launched it, there was no matchmaking, you just enter some kind of game, everything is old-fashioned. And the first question of the team leader is the first time or not the first? “First” - and they kick me.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Friendly community.
Ivan Fedyanin:And so several times. When I made my way, I said that I was the second or third, I had a lot of experience in LoL, something like that, and it’s all hard, their designers were sitting and thinking how to make the game more complicated.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Recently, there has been such a trend, now a generation of people has been born who did not see the game of the 90s, and they are happy to play something that I’m looking at and thinking about: I played about 95 oh.
Ivan Fedyanin: You heard about a boy of three or four years old, whom dad gave to play games only in the 83rd year, and in a year he gave the 84th, then the 85th, 86th ... He passed a year in two or three, but the bottom line is that the child went through the games only by their chronological output. And yes, in the end, the child plays some kind of arcade game.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Inhuman experiment. How much it was necessary to close the child’s information space so that he would never see an iPad with a normal game in kindergarten or at school.
Ivan Fedyanin: With Minecraft.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Naturally, everything is changing, now the gaming industry is so huge that there is a demand in general for everything. To nostalgia? There is a demand. People who used to do Baldur's Gate or Planescape: Torment, collect huge millions on Kickstarter just from amateurs. Well, yes, I honestly bought the game Wasteland 2, I downloaded and installed it. And they tell me: dear, and now determine 20 parameters of your six characters. I thought it was all interesting, and if it were now the 94th, and this game would be called Wizardry 7, I would have done it, but not in the 21st century, when I have an hour to play. I’m going to cut myself into a “spell” or send some sort of IMO. Fortunately, in modern MMOs a la Skyforge session for half an hour, you can play and go to sleep. Everything is in the modern gaming industry. There is no mobile good MOVA yet.
People are interested in two things: VR and neural networks. Come on VR. It's like a Nintendo Switch, although the industry understands that it is important, they invest money, they even begin all development, but no one can understand globally what it is: a fashion trend a la indirect control, or is there a new platform?
Ivan Fedyanin: In my opinion, it’s still more complicated in terms of mobile technologies. Games grew in production price gradually, for a very long time it was possible to make a cheap project that would be competitive in the market.
With the advent of PS VR, the competition was not at all childish. Roughly speaking, a project where you can scratch someone’s cheek with the release of Batman Arkham on VR is all. A person can already on a serious franchise in a serious project, albeit with limited gameplay, but already play.
Therefore, for young studios who really want VR, but still do not know how and have never done it, I would still recommend learning how to make games from scratch. If you really want to, and you understand what and how, then you can. If you look at the game purely, then there are businesses that are designed for investment, when you look for a team that can do it, do several projects, then bring investments that are relatively easy to find on VR.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Judging by the GDC in February, it was difficult to find a stand where there was no VR.
Ivan Fedyanin:You could find an investment of $ 500 and say that I already have a cool investor - yes. I mean from a million or more investments in VR - it's easy, but still in the name of developers. Then it’s also clear why. In non-games, it’s also clear why - the movie, everything is clear.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Still other examples like medicine, engineering.
Ivan Fedyanin: Everything is clear right there. I had a dialogue with Sergey Orlovsky about what can be done on VR. I will not forget and will not forgive him when I said that it was necessary to do things for people with phobias so that they experienced their experience and were treated for it. Already at least I know two companies that have launched a commercial project and are already treating this. But these are not games at all. This is a gamification of psychology and psychoanalysis, but it's cool what went there.
In short, if you saw horror and think that I will make a cool horror, everyone will be scared, and I will be the main thing - no, many other companies with large budgets and experience already make these horror.
If you have a cool experience, you make VR in a cool team - there wouldn’t be a question, you are already sawing it.
If you are a small studio that knows something unique, which is not there, if you search on Google or on Kickstarter, then welcome. If on the contrary you see that there is one specific problem in horror, and only you know how to solve it, you know the way - welcome. But there must be a toggle switch that takes you to another cohort of games. Not those who fight in cost and quality, but in those who fight for ideas. Just do not harm yourself at the same time.
Alexander Kuzmenko:If you are a young developer, then you need to look at what others are doing in VR. In order to understand where the field is. In the company Mail.Ru Group and on three floors above us there is a small studio that is developing a VR project VR Invaders. I sit next to them, on duty I play periodically, I really like it. The only problem so far is that personally, after 10 minutes, VR starts to make me sick. But this is already a problem of my vestibular apparatus.
Ivan Fedyanin:At the same time, the guys worked very well on the problem of movement, they removed it, managed to come up with gameplay that leaves the game a shooter, but removes the problem with nausea on movement. There are people who even remain without movement, but I personally feel sick at the very moment of movement, especially wiggle in some games. Not only do you walk, you also sway, there are three seconds and dosvidos.
Alexander Kuzmenko: This is a wonderful effect when you see on the screen how your shoulders sway, dynamics - everything starts to float here. It was hard for me even in professional races. He sat down, drowned it on the floor and you understand that you are troubled, and you need to remove it from 150 to 100.
With VR, everything is clear, but the neural networks? About them only the lazy does not speak. Someone claims that we will all live in the matrix. Elon Musk said that this is the third or fourth version of the matrix.
Ivan Fedyanin: Watched the new Black Mirror? They have a wonderful second series, I recommend everyone to see it, just in connection with neural networks. There is just horror, VR and neural networks.
Of course, this makes sense, but I do not have my own thoughts on how to make a game about neural networks, so that for two years it will be a product. If you start to research and do some things on this, then by the time you think what you need to do, you can assemble a team that will be able to do this. While you need to learn how to make content, it turns out better and better. These people will be very needed later, when we understand how to use it in games.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Dear Ivan, how do you test all kinds of gameplay ideas?
Ivan Fedyanin:Everything very much depends on the project stage. If you start when there is an idea, then the prototype is done even before we hired all the people, counted and so on. We make a prototype and watch the main gameplay loop, is it playable or not. In our case, we did a seven-minute session. Played by yourself, played through the selected focus testers. In addition, we worked with focus testers to understand which of the elements of MOBA are mandatory, and which can be simplified to meet seven minutes. It was a little earlier, a month before the prototype. At this stage, these are more research and prototypes.
In the future, we wrote out four main and about 20 side problems of mobile MOVA. Because of what, players who play LoL and Dota will play ours and say that it is too simple, or they won’t play at all and say that it is too complicated.
We wrote all this out, made a plan on how and when we will solve these problems. Each problem had its own focus test attached to it, or they grouped together, we searched for people through agencies or did it ourselves, letting people play, watching reactions. One of the last focus tests was done together with the HSE, everything clung there: brain encephalogram, facial expressions were read, eyes, fingers sweating, compared themselves with other mobile MOVs to understand how a person’s reaction depends ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: We tried to find a moment of happiness .
Ivan Fedyanin:Yes, and it is visible, and is not so much associated with positive and negative emotions, it is associated with the transition of negative to positive. When you are beaten, and then you dragged everyone - the most serious bursts, it is very cool to see. The gameplay is visible in this encephalogram.
Alexander Kuzmenko: These are the methods we are already applying, I myself am in shock. No, of course I heard about our very advanced UX testing laboratory, we also tested several projects, in particular, we watched the site. There, sensors are hung on a person, everything is observed where and how much the eye holds, on which part of the screen, thermal patterns are drawn ... We will communicate with the head of our laboratory as part of the Technostream, stay with us. But so that the encephalogram has not yet seen this.
The question is eternal. A small indie company has a cool game idea, but a shitty organization. Where to get the investor (and producer-pinator)? Question directly from the plow. I want people to make games, but here is the person who has been making them for 15 years.
Ivan Fedyanin:If you have an idea and you don’t understand how to find a producer, this is one thing. If you don’t understand how to find a team that knows how to do this, how to build development, a producer cannot do everything for you anyway. For the third or fourth month, I hired a project manager for development, because I'm not an administrator. I can build everything at first, but then I will put in a person who will follow this. From one slot, the situation will not change. If there is a mess, then first of all you need to think, is the idea really cool? As part of the mess, it may not be clear that it is not very. No options.
Alexander Kuzmenko: There is a young indie team, it does not matter if it is a mess. And they really want money. At what stage do you need to come for money?
Ivan Fedyanin: Why do they need money? They have nothing to eat?
Alexander Kuzmenko: Probably.
Ivan Fedyanin: If you need to earn money, then goodbye. If you, as an indie company, cannot release a game on bread and water, then you are not an indie company, you are a commercial developer who wants to receive money for his work. Go work for the company. What is a company? This is a group of people who knows how to do something, and makes a profit from it.
If you are an indie team that does something, then work, do and release. If you have a mess - look where there is no mess.
Alexander Kuzmenko: Natalia explains that there is a company and a game is being developed, there is only no organization. You seem to have a complete mess.
Ivan Fedyanin:For example, management constantly changes their decisions or say that everything needs to be redone. This is usually a sign that the project is not there either. If you specifically believe in the idea of this project and no one else believes, it's probably best to do something separately somewhere, but not there.
Alexander Kuzmenko: The same classic story that was once in a single development for jewels. Only the word "indie" was not there. It was just a young company ...
Ivan Fedyanin: Making races.
Alexander Kuzmenko: And she began to do, for example, a simulator of the Universe or Russian Fallout. No matter how funny it sounds ...
Ivan Fedyanin: Sorcerers.
Alexander Kuzmenko:For example, the cult game “Stalker” in Russia, although it was made in Kiev, the traditions of development there are the same as we had in Ukraine then.
Ivan Fedyanin: Nevertheless, they learned to make shooters, and we ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: Even with several quite successful products before that, the Cossacks strategy, Venom shooter are not bad, and so on, why was the game developed for five years? In fact, they redid it again, they could not drag a project of this level with a small team. And they are all that Ivan speaks of today, in fact, survived from the inside. They themselves gave birth to producers themselves, of which there are. The simulator of the universe did not work, but the game came out very good for its level.
Ivan Fedyanin:If you call the leadership of fools, it means that the situation has reached the point that even if this is so, then you will not come to anything within the framework of this company. To wait for the smart ruler to come and fix everything is not to spare your time. Most likely, this will not happen.
Alexander Kuzmenko: There are special crisis managers.
Ivan Fedyanin: They optimize everything, but they never build anything. You can either unite with the leadership in a productive outburst, make and understand his motives, or if you think that you can’t cook porridge with him, really leave. And here it is: I think that everything is bad, but I still work to see in the end how these fools will understand that they were fools - this is very destructive.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Maybe a person thus gets himself a crisis experience. Well this is stupid. If you are working in a project that you do not believe in, not even in a key position, in my opinion, this is sad.
Ivan Fedyanin:My example and my personal attitude to this will illustrate the situation well. I once interviewed a person who honestly admitted to me that at the time of the release of their game on Steam, they disagreed with the leadership about the cost of this project, and even held an internal vote on whether we would recoup it. And if memory serves, the cost was in the region of 800-1000 rubles, but they all voted that no. And at that moment I practically cried. This is the cost of one trip to the cinema with a girl. Do you think that what you do and not a single year, it is less valuable than a trip to the cinema with a girl. What for? Why are you there then? To release a project that you want to sell cheaper? It didn’t beat me.
No need to do this. If you are doing a large project, and consider it expensive, then do it. If you think that you are doing a small project that pays for a new one, do it too. But do not do a project that you do not like, and you think that the current management will not be able to finish it.
To do a project is also half the battle. It is necessary to develop it later, move it somewhere, communicate with stores, communicate with marketplaces, advertise somewhere, operate ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: This is online: release of the game is only the beginning.
Ivan Fedyanin: Yes. In the mobile market, this is similar. Even if the game is offline, it still waits for updates, you need to do updates to it, otherwise this push, which you get at the beginning, is lost. If you make updates, then it is supported.
Alexander Kuzmenko: How many cases have there been when a media story suddenly raised projects of not even the third, but the fifth echelon to the top.
Ivan Fedyanin: And then the question is, if the guys are ready to support this, they disappear very smoothly. And if nothing is ready for them, they simply break off right away. Yes, someone at the moment became a millionaire, but that's all ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: It happens. Rounding off, is it possible now to sell a car, make a game and become a millionaire, purely theoretically? Or this train has already left.
Ivan Fedyanin: I just know a lot of examples ...
Alexander Kuzmenko: I also know a lot of examples when they sold a car ...
Ivan Fedyanin: And it didn’t grow together.
Alexander Kuzmenko:Negative I know much more.
Ivan Fedyanin: Yes. If you believe in what you want to do, it seems to me that I will not stop such a person. Yes, if he is ready to sell a car, an apartment - I know, they sold an apartment - then I will not dissuade you. So what you do is your decision, and bear the responsibility for it for you, and good luck with that, because you will need it. But all the laurels for this will be yours.
If you approach from the point of view of building up experience, which I am a supporter of, then it is better to first learn, then for your part and from the other side, take money for it, and do it. Than to sell everything at once.
On the other hand, if you have a cool idea, then go ahead.
Alexander Kuzmenko:In short, in any case: if you want to make games - no one will stop you, neither God, nor the king, nor Ivan Fedyanin.
Thank you for being with us on Technostream, several of our issues are dedicated to video games, and the process of how they are developed. Today, the guest was Ivan Fedyanin, head of the FastForward studio. We will do a series of issues with you, moreover, nostalgic, stories from Nival and so on. A lot of people work from Nival, and sometimes I hear about these projects. After 15 years, it’s already possible, I think, especially if we analyze curious cases.