Thursday, March 31, 2016

What has become of Choppa?

As you may know, 'Choppa' is our second game under the name of Parta Games and we've been quite busy preparing it for a global launch. We had a great beta testing phase and managed to soft launch the title in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Finland already. The feedback has been mostly very positive so we're really psyched and humbled about the whole pre-launch buzz! We've also been quite surprised about the attention the game has gotten in countries we haven't even officially gone yet like China and Russia. Hopefully we get to officially launch there very soon!

I'm glad to say that the game is now feature complete. We're currently contacting people about the impeding launch (sorry, no public date yet) preparing press information, trailers and stuff like that. Exciting times for sure!

Artistic vision

We didn't really think about having a proper "artistic vision" when creating the game but at some point we realised we had one. We were inspired by the great action movies of the 80s like Top Gun, Predator or Rambo and as you might remember they were usually pretty violent. We wanted the theme and the feeling and the explosions but we didn't want to make a game about killing. So we decided to use a prototype of a chopper game we had that made you rescue people instead of shooting them and combine it with 80s rock music, Amiga-esque pixel art and explosions. So in our mind the game is kind of like MacGyver of video games where you don't need to resort to violence to save the day but you're still the coolest guy there is.

When we were showcasing the game some people pointed out that the game is a lot like the old classic 'Choplifter' and they were not wrong. It's just that we didn't even know 'Choplifter' exists so the similarities probably come from some games that are in turn inspired by it. It's a funny world.

Development and openness

So we initially talked about making Parta Games' game development a bit more open. We wanted to livestream the making of prototypes, how the game is starting to shape up, discuss about the very organic decision making process we have and stuff like that. At some point we realized we don't have the required skills and time for streaming so we had trouble finding the motivation. I have a bit of streaming experience but when you constantly feel busy it's almost impossible to see the benefits in mobile game development streams. I'm not saying they wouldn't have been beneficial but it's a bit late to dwell on that now.

What I'm trying to say is the main reason we didn't stream or make dev videos to YouTube is that our game design bloated yet and that induced busyness. Instead of making a short flappy bird-esque mobile experience we created a strange hybrid of: surprisingly-long-play-session plus tough-as-nails-highscore-system plus casual-but-configurable-experience. Toucharcade called the execution "interesting" so we'll have to see what the masses think about it.

We were initially also quite worried that someone would just outright steal the idea and since we are super slow at making games we were afraid that someone will beat us and launch the clone before us. In hindsight we were maybe a bit too early to be worried about things like that and also 'Choplifter' already existed so the idea was not that original. Live and learn.

What did we learn?

While making 'Choppa' we learned to use Unity3D a bit more effectively. We might have the courage to start calling ourselves proficient with it quite soon.

There are also lots of PR related lessons we have learned since 'Go! Go! Meatball' was launched last year. We still feel a bit uncomfortable with PR but we're learning. Bear with us!

We learned how to make trailers and videos without getting super angry at the tools. We haven't learned how to not get super angry at each other yet but we're getting there!

Ville always says that the best way we can learn is launch the game and see what happens and while I have launched many games and totally agree with it I'm still the one who usually wants to keep polishing the game until it cracks or just burts on fire from the friction. I just don't want the game to go out looking like crap or feeling broken because I'm so afraid if the FTUE is bad the game will be abandoned. I have realized my thinking is a bit outdated because mobile games currently are very iterative and especially soft launch can be used kind of like "Early access" in the PC side to tweak the game closer to what potential players like the most.

Anyways I hope I have the and energy to write a postmortem after we get some perspective from the global launch.

God bless you, Antti Kolehmainen, Co-Founder

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