Paul and James caught up with Ryan DeGange – developer of the kickstarted military-feline puzzler “Combat Cats” (iOS/Android). He shares his kickstarter experience, what worked, what didn’t, and what he would do differently.
Also, there is meat and naked men wielding assault rifles.
More after the jump.
R = Ryan DeGange
P = Paul Bit
J = James Bit
P: Thank you for joining us today Ryan.
R: No problem thanks for interviewing.
P: So you’ve recently launched your game Combat Cats after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Just quickly what is Combat Cats?
R: It’s a brick matching game but instead of just breaking bricks mindlessly for points, you get to kill stuff.
J: I enjoy both of those things.
R: There are also cat drugs…
J: Sounds like something that would get banned in Australia – our censors aren’t a fan of that! Don’t worry, I won’t tell them.
J: So how has the reception of Combat Cats been so far?
R: Well I’m not entirely sure. We had a good first week, lots of articles but now it’s just kind of settled down to about 50 downloads a day. I’m not upset, but I wished it would have been better.
Although the entire reason for combat cats was a last ditch effort. It would decide if I continued making games or just find another career but basically it was a big joke.
P: This was after the unsuccessful Kickstarter for Empire Eden correct?
R: Yeah and almost a decade of working on games that never saw the light of day. Just getting tired, you know.
J: Do you think the pressure of delivering for the Kickstarter really helped get passed those usual stumbling blocks and get Combat Cats out the door?
R: To be completely honest no. I’ve always wanted to finish every game I’ve worked on but it was always just other people on the team getting burnt out. I can’t speak for the programmer that could be the reason it helped push him to finish, but I’m not sure.
J: How many people were involved with the development of Combat Cats?
R: Just myself and Chris the programmer but I totally give credit to friends/family and the Kickstarter folks just for throwing in suggestions and what not.
P: How much time was devoted to running your Kickstarter?
R: The Empire Eden one taught me a lot. I spent almost every waking hour on it but I pre planned a little with combat cats so not too much time. It definitely kept me from really working on combat cats during that time.
P: What were the lessons you learnt from the Empire Eden Kickstarter?
R: Just getting PR lined up a little bit beforehand, emailing people and stuff. Not asking for so much money and also having a more complete game to show off. Sadly people want to see almost completed products on Kickstarter now. I think that’s why Empire Eden did so badly.
P: You released a demo partway through that Kickstarter which showed off the movement but not so much the final gameplay design you had pitched. Did that have much effect that you saw?
R: I don’t think it really did. Honestly I think our demo hurt the Kickstarter more because of a few reasons.
I just want to say this real fast, the first couple of days are so important. I believe that’s when journalists see projects and spread the word. If it’s not that great, you kind of miss out on a lot but that could just be my wild theory.
The actual demo, we just threw that together in a matter of a week to try and get more attention on the game. We didn’t have it prebuilt so a lot of things were still missing (the Indian’s hair when running) stuff like that. Also it was just a single room to slaughter people, and we thought it would be fun to have a timer counting down…but I think people assumed that might have been the whole idea for the game and lost interest
J: Do you think it could have been there weren’t enough naked men with assault rifles? Or maybe too many?
R: Honestly if everyone was naked intentionally I bet it would have done great. That’s actually a really good idea. A game about people fighting nude.
J: Nudist Kombat 5: Alpha 3X – I’d play that.
R: That’s a great name.
Seriously though I think these games didn’t do well because they were just thrown together too fast, unpolished and I was really making them to try and match other peoples interests not my own.
My next game is truly for me. I don’t care if anyone likes it, and I hope that’s what it takes to make it popular. Although, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m still making these games to make people happy.
J: I think Kickstarter can work well with those projects. If you make something you like, you can probably find a niche that will enjoy it too – and Kickstarter can have some sizable niches.
J: Combat Cats had a $1 entry point – do you think you’d monetise higher if you were making something that you’d hope people would really connect with?
Yeah maybe. Seriously though I just want people to be happy. I’m a loser and want friends. Lots of them. So I want my next game to be free but I’ll see what happens.
I have 3 cats so I have to buy a lot of litter.
J: You should just go steal your neighbour’s newspapers – line your house with them.
R: I would. I live with 2 women, they’d hate it.
P: What kind of game will your personal project be?
R: I’m glad you asked! Right now it’s sort of a hybrid on my website.
(that’s right I turned it into my portfolio).
P: Waste not, want not!
R: You’ll see I’m talking about “meat mart” a game where you just decimate waves of helpless animals but I’ve always dreamed of making a cool multiplayer fighting game, and so far the mechanics are working so well in meat mart that I think we’re going to make meat mart a mini game inside something bigger.
P: Team based multiplayer. Helpless animals vs butchers?
R: Haha maybe!
J: I really like that idea – it touches on the harsh reality of where meat actually comes from, but with points!
R: Still in the development stage of ideas. I have no idea where this is going but I know it’s going to be fucking weird.
P: Is there a future for Empire Eden at all?
R: Possibly. When we failed the first thing we did was started messing around with Rambo’ing the main character up. I want Empire Eden to happen. I see so many cool things in my head but it’s just so big.
All of the stuff you saw on that Kickstarter including all the graphics and the trailer video were made in 2 months of basically self-induced slave labor so the game would take a long time to finish even if I worked at that pace again.
J: As long as you keep him naked – I’m all for it.
R: Honestly if we do finish the game I kind of want to spite all of the homophobes out there who complained during our campaign and I want to make him naked as hell.
I might even equip him with an extra gun *wink wink*
J: You had homophobic complaints? What kind of messages did you receive?
R: Just that the game was gay or something all kinds of messages on the greenlight (now deleted). A few emails. Pretty weird. I thought the scene of him watching a woman bathe in a water fall was far from gay.
R: I have a question for you guys actually…on or off the record. Why do u think it failed?
I’ve watched so many games that don’t look that great easily break 20,000 (ours was 19,000). I mean be completely honest you’re not going to hurt my feelings.
P: The only thing I think it needed was a polished prototype in the style of the actual game. To me the art and pitch were lovely and when the demo was released I enjoyed it for what it was, but I found the demo actually turned other people off.
I backed the project BTW.
R: Thanks for backing. Yeah I think the demo hurt us but even at that point we weren’t going to meet our goal anyway. I guess there just wasn’t enough in the video. I was depressed as hell after that failure.
J: I think the issue I had with it was something you mention earlier – the demo turned me off. It wasn’t far enough along to show me a good example of what the final game would be like.
R: True. It really did no justice to what the finished product would have been. I had a whole map drawn up of an island with cities, and places to go train riding and all kinds of stuff. Hover bikes, horse riding levels, maybe a sex scene or 2.
P: Why not 3?
R: The orgy in the 2nd one would be plenty I think.
J: You could have trolled the homophobes and thrown in some same-sex relations! I would love to see Empire Eden see the light of day. We spoke about it on the show because we were really interested in the idea. Maybe you can pick it up again one day.
P: Also if you ever tried again if you get a video out a bit earlier. You could be the next octopus city blues!
R: Honestly if more people came to me and said they wanted to see it I would. You’re making me want to work on it now. I was just disheartened because I put so much into it, kept it secret, was so proud and it flopped. And I got hate mail!
P: Ok well let’s wrap this up. Any words you like to leave readers with Ryan?
R: Keep up with the progress on the new game Meat Mart. I’m actually planning on getting sued for it.
P: That’s good marketing
J: I’m sure PETA will have a thing or two to say about it – in fact – maybe even bring it to their attention!
R: I’m more worried about Walmart, Mcdonalds, Wendy’s, etc. After all one of your leaders will be Randle McDandle the clown.
HE WANTS MORE MEAT!!
J: That sounds legally distinct!
P: Sounds delicious
P: Thanks for joining us today Ryan
R: Thanks for interviewing.