As we are coming to the end of the interviews I would like to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed them. Rest assure, this is not all in the series. We will be writing a few articles based upon all that we have read so far. Stay tuned.
The game we will be discussing today is Ennemuistne (Ancient) a free to play from Estonia.
Please tell us a little bit about your game.
„Ennemuistne“ is an experimental MO inspired by estonian folklore and educational curriculum. The idea was to use an attractive medium (like a game!) that would help young kids get excited about their national heritage.
The game features a very basic amount of MO stereotypical mechanics: exploring, chatting, item gathering and trading, quests and character customization. We focused heavily on minigames – a speedmatch minigame (single- and multiplayer), a memory minigame and mouse clicking minigame were implemented to present different variations of gamification possibilities for education institutes.
Besides the latter we hosted weekly competitions where users got real-life rewards for their in-game activities The latter was to have a little „cherry-on-top“ for a yet another educational game.
How did you come up with the idea behind your game?
The idea is based on a few wild pitches we had at the beginning. Instead of coming up with a fictional gamelore, we tried to use our cultural backround. It turned out that there are tons of folklore tales, puzzles and interesting stuff what could be really cool to „gamify“. From whacky and mysterious characters to fun and exciting quests/happenings.
Also we realized that if we presented this game as a „new educational and fun way“ to learn about your cultural heritage, kids would probably decide for more aesthetical and big budget game (…and we don’t blame them J). To „counter“ that we integrated a real-life competition element into the game. Players get points for lots of things they occupy themselves with in-game. Since it’s up to every users how much points one wants to collect we made a good ground for point-gathering competition. The feedback from these competitions was amazing!
How many people were involved with the making of your game?
The core team was around 15 people, but in total it took 60 people’s advice and expertise to get it that far.
What makes your game different from other indie games on the market?
It’s entirely in Estonian! (That’s a big thing for us J ) The game proves a point that there is a lot of potential to use the cultural heritage background as a backbone for gamelore. Also there is a lot of potential for education or non-formal education gamifaction.
How difficult is it to promote your game in such a competitive market?
It is pretty difficult. We wrongfully assumed that word would spread quickly enough, in a small country like Estonia (Population ~1,3 million), where you have a very little amount of games made in Estonia. (Beta released on 5th, November ’12) We are still struggling with it and can only imagine the challenges when it comes to promoting a title in worldwide perspective.
What would you have done differently if given the time, money and/or technology?
I think we would have used a „less is more“ attitude with more time and finances. We would have narrowed a lot of things down a bit and in the end released a lot more content then initially planned. At first it was all about pumping in more content and features, but at some point we realized that we are still struggling with core gameplay. In hindsight, bug fixing and optimization should have gotten a lot more work time.
At any point, did you just want to give up with the project? if yes, how did you overcome this?
Not really, with a pilot it’s always fun to be in the blissful „we can do everything“ ignorance phase. Even thought things got a little out of hand every now and then, it still was a very cool experience. I can’t imagine doing it again though, with the current know-how.
Do you plan on submitting your game to Steam Greenlight or starting a Kickstarter?
Sadly, Kickstarter is not available for Estonia.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start an indie company and/or game development?
Here are a few tips -
·Do your research. Check out what’s happening in your target genre/platform.
·Get involved with indie communities before you start.
·Try to work out as much costs as possible. The more detailed financial overview you get, the more it helps to build a framework.
·Use a Game Design Document to help you get a more detailed overview about your project – what you might need, etc. Pitching on paper might also unveil a few logical errors you might have in a feature or mechanic.
·If you are looking for investor/government support, try to get an answer before you’re hacking midway in your project.
·Pitch your idea to your parents! If they do not understand it, then…
·If at all possible, do not start with an MMO. The sheer scale might be too much to handle as a pilot (Servers, database,game, etc). (At first, we thought we were „special“ as well. Even though every book we read and forum we went pretty much said the exact opposite).
·Pay a lot of attention to your project processes when it comes to a long development time. You might end up getting lost in your own vision.
·Fail fast. If something does not turn out the way you wanted then do not worry too much about it. Move on and avoid the mistakes you made with your previous title.