After the success of our first interview to the creators of FootChinko, the GamePix’ column “HTML5 Rockstars” hosts a new interview, this time to Frederic Rezeau from Okijin Games: developers of many great HTML5 games like Zombie Can’t Jump and Jelly Slice.
Let’s hear what Frederic, CEO and director of Okijin, has to say!
Hello Fred, would you mind introducing yourself to the readers of the GamePix blog?
Hi, my name is Frederic Rezeau, director at Okijin Ltd, a video game studio based in London which I founded in July 2013 and is about to release its 3rd mobile game.
Why did you decide to enter the world of HTML5 game development?
Prior to founding Okijin Games I was working as Technical Lead for a brokerage company. We were looking for new technologies that would allow us to enrich the user experience but would also facilitate loose coupling as performance remain a crucial factor for financial applications.
We decided to use HTML5 for the user interface of our new financial application and the success of the project comforted my belief that the technology was mature enough to help deliver solid UX both natively and for the mobile web. HTML5 also opens up a new world of opportunities for distribution (i.e. content licensing on the web) and may offer the most accessible door to a small company for entering the giant game industry arena.
So, about your projects, can you tell us some behind-the-scenes stuff on its development? What’s the secret of your success?
When starting a new project I do a lot of prototyping to find an adequate game mechanic. Given the target audience for my games I am looking for simple and “evergreen” game mechanics that work well on mobile and remain easy to iterate for content creation. I also try to look for mechanics that bring a bit of originality to existing genres, for example Zombies Can’t Jump can be classified as a tower defense game yet still remains original in many ways.
Care to share any tips on trying to make HTML5 mobile games with the devs reading this?
Developing games, even simple mobile games, is hard work and every day I am reminded of this.
To take an actual example, the original game mechanic for “Aqua Thief” involved a 360 rotating grid as its main component. During the initial play testing sessions with random players, I received several feedback about how difficult the game was and its lack of intuitiveness because of the rotating world. Despite these feedback, I still believed that the rotating grid was “cool” and since I also spent a fair amount of time implementing it, I went ahead with development thinking that a good tutorial would allow players to cope with the complexity.
This did not work well. The rotating grid was taking the fun away and a game without fun is no more a game! As they say, “Mistakes are a good reason to move on” and I had to go back to the drawing board at the end. Early play-testing can reveal major flaws in a game and it does not matter how much polishing you bring to the final product these flaws must be addressed for the game to work!
What does the future hold in store for you? Are you planning to launch new games soon? Any anticipation? C’mon, don’t be shy!
Sure we are about to release our third game “Aqua Thief”, a puzzle game which will be available on Windows Phone, Google Play, iTunes and for the mobile web! Currently finalizing the level design the game will be available in the coming weeks!
We are also working on a sequel for Zombies Can’t Jump! The game will have improved graphics (slightly more realistic than the first game), boss fights, more weapons and characters to choose from! This project is probably my biggest venture to date and I am really excited about it! The release is expected Q1 2015 so stay tuned!
Tell us a funny story on something that happened while developing your games.
When working on my games I like to go outside settling down in cafés with free WIFI. At some point, a school student got curious about my screen setup (on Surface Pro which I use for development, I usually split the screen 3/4 with the game running in debug mode on one side and the IDE on the other). Then his friends came to gather around so I explained to them what I was doing. I allowed them to play a bit and they started to give me feedback on the gameplay which I addressed live as they were playing! I am fairly sure that they enjoyed the experience as much as I did – contributing to play-test a game in the making!
Dev screen setup:
And lastly, would you tell us how you felt about this experience with the GamePix team?
It’s always been a great pleasure to work with you guys! Your team has been amazingly friendly, providing feedback, help and even on one occasion helping us fixing a nasty issue with our game Zombies Can’t Jump on Windows Phone! Thanks again for the opportunity it is a great pleasure to have you as a partner for distributing Okijin games!
Play Jelly Slice here: FULL SCREEN
Play Zombie Can’t Jump here: FULL SCREEN