Dev On Dev: Flick Knights

Dev On Dev: Flick Knights

Dev On Dev is an interview segment where I sit down with fellow game developers and talk to them about their games, and answer some questions about their projects, future, etc. Its goal is to help people who aren’t developers understand the industry a little more but also learn about some pretty great games.

I sat down with Rodrigo Fernandez, one of the developers behind Ballpit Monster’s game, Flick Knights. You can read the interview below, and play the game for free with the link after the article.

Justin (Pixel Gate): When, and how did this idea come to you?

Rodrigo: We were winding down from the production of our first game Frog Orbs (www.frogorbs.com) and we were experimenting with different ideas. Among other things, part of us were fiddling around with the idea of asynchronous TCG gameplay while others tinkered with gameplay mechanics from what we here call “fútbol chapita” that can be translated to “pop-cap football” where you slide or flick a  bottle cap as if they were players and try to score goals. You know, playground stuff :P
None of them were quite sticking on their own though. This was roughly a year ago. Then one day while having a beer after work ( we were actually waiting for our colleagues for our monthly meeting between local indies here in Montevideo, there’s quite a lot of camaraderie here when it comes to game development) the idea of mixing everything we were working suddenly came through and the idea just clicked. Concepts, gameplay and other stuff just started snowballing from there and before our colleagues arrived we had ourselves a new game idea.

We later started making a mind-map as to how it could work in its core and most generic way. Every now and then we come back to it and realize that it hasn’t changed that much, the Flick Knights idea was pinned down very early on.

J: And what genre would you throw it under?

R: Turn-Based Flicking Strategy?

We are calling it as an Asynchronous Turn-based Mutliplayer Action game at times too, but the strategy factor is strong there. Who know, nobody is complaining about the MOBA genre that can be considered not that fitting, right?
When it comes to summarize its concept we sometimes go for -”Air-Hockey[play mechanics] meets Pokemon[deck/team building] meets League of Legends[game objectives and focus on characters]”

J: Turn Based Flicking Strategy is quite the mouthful, haha. I’ll be entirely honest, I know the game was developed for “touch-controls” in mind, or at least it feels that way. I’ve always been really iffy on touch controls, and motion controls but I feel like this game lends itself to that “gimmick” fairly well.

Considering how the game plays, and feels have you ever thought of working on getting it onto consoles like the Xbox One/360 with use of the Kinect?

R: We know you don’t like touch controls as much. Your article is quite explicit about it ;) and we are very happy to hear that FK feels like something worthwhile on mobile evene for someone who is not very fond of touch-controls.

About the kinect, it has crossed our minds but we haven’t tried anything yet. We believe it is still very imprecise (at least on the 360) to be able to play as good as someone who’s on mobile or using a mouse on PC/Mac. We do have a Leap Motion lying around to test it out eventually too, but we are afraid that if we are going for both Leap & Kinect we are going to need to work around some feedback and interface stuff so players are not just blindly flailing and hoping for the best. However, when it comes to consoles we are more interested to try things out for things like the Vita and 3DS since they are more closely related to mobile devices in their inputs. The WiiU also has its “tablet” and the PS4 has the touchpad on its control so … Who knows? We are still focusing on PC/Mac to make a more solid release for mobile though, the rest for now has been just “thought experiments”.

J: This would work beautifully on the 3DS in my opinion.
Some of the characters in the game are shall we say, unique. Where do their ideas/concepts come from? And, have you ever thought of just adding something ridiculously over the top? Sure, there’s Mime Fish and a luchador-esque Shark but what about a Hipster Penguin, or a Giraffe clad in platemail? It seems like the possibilities are endless in character design for this game.

Is that true?
R: There’s no one source for characters in Flick Knights. We do however have some sort of screening process (Flick Knights Idol/X Factor?). At the beggining most characters came from just stream-of-conscience and trying to fit certain gameplay archetypes (fragile speedster, stone wall, glass cannons, etc).

Sharko and MimeFish actually came to be out of the sketches of a friend of ours that helped us at the early stages of the project. Those were some of the characters that helped pave the way towards the “tone” of the knights.
When we were coming up with the metaphor and visuals of the game we wanted that “big-rather-futuristic-televised-american-sports” thing (Rollerball, American Gladiators of the future or Monday Night Combat), with characters than could fit in a cartoony world from the range of Adventure Time to Awesomenauts. We have a strong influence from cartoons throughout our lives and also earlier work before Ballpit Monster (we have made web games for Cartoon Network, Disney, etc in other studios) so we can’t really help it :)

After that, we have made characters just for the sake of a pun (Robotter), because we needed a certain archetype (Laton), because we had a special attack in mind and needed a character for it (Yellga), or it’s because of a concept that sounds interesting to explore (Vectoria, a highschool Daria-like ninja), or even a parody of something (the heroic child archetype and a Cthulu-ish characters are in the works) etc. With the set tone we can truly come up with anything and we love that.
Right now, some of the characters in the pipeline are presented in full with its possible gameplay style (as in: potential stats/archetype) + sketches of the look + its special move. However, most of the ideas for them come in simple “You know what would be cool?…” conversations that are complemented with quick sketches on the whiteboard. That dynamism is something cool to have around, considering that its just 3 of us full-time flicking around :)
Hope this all helps!

We hope to see you in today’s #FlickingFriday :P

J: Will definitely try my hardest to be there!
Speaking of platforms to launch the game on like we mentioned earlier. Have you ever considered pushing the game through Steam’s Greenlight program? And, what are your thoughts on Greenlight in general?

R: We are currently focusing our efforts in making a stable and cool game before going full-steam (pun intended) with things like Greenlight or other outlets.

J: Fair enough.

One more question and I’ll let you busy lads get back to Flicking. Flick Knights is a very unique concept, and I’m sure and hope more people will catch onto it and give it a chance. That being said, E-Sports is a really big market nowadays with games like League Of Legends, Starcraft, DOTA, etc.

Could you see yourselves pushing Flick Knights into an E-Sports setting if the chance ever arose?

R: We would LOVE to see FK as an eSports. Although its a long shot right now, we sure hope to grow enough to at least have an engaged and healthy community for the game. If the opportunity to reach eSports level arises I hope it catches us ready to respond accordingly :D

J: Well, thanks for taking the time out of your day to talk to me. Really means a lot for myself, and the others working at Pixel Gate. We wish you all the best of luck in the future with Flick Knights!

You can check out Flick Knights for free by following this link – [Click Here]

Justin Ross


No Comments

Leave a Reply