FGL Community Spotlight – Episode One
FGL is pleased to unveil a new series here on the FGL Forums: the Community Spotlight! In our first interview, we sat down with developer ‘platon_skedow‘ to talk about his recently released smash hit ‘Royal Warfare‘.
FGL_Brian: Thanks for meeting with us, Platon. Why don’t you introduce yourself for the people who may not know you yet.
platon_skedow: Well, my name is Platon Shkedov, I’m 31 years old and live in Russia. I have a wife and two kids – my first beta-testers. I worked as an employee since the late 90s, and started my own business several years ago. At first, I had an office and several employes, and together we made different flash stuff for our customers, but then decided that it’s better for me to work alone – less responsibility, more freedom. And my one-man studio name is Iden Games.
F_B: I noticed you own a website under that name, too. (http://idengames.com/) Do you update it often?
P_S: Several years ago I made my first game, Ragdoll Parashooter. I made that website and published the game with self-sponsorship. The game got a lot of gameplays, and it recouped the development costs several times.
Right now I have plans to make something bigger from this site, but have no time
F_B: I remember playing that game. It was fun! Much more simple than your last game though, Royal Warfare. What was your inspiration for Royal Warfare? It combines two of my favorite genres, Real-time strategy (RTS) and tactical strategy. And it has elements of wave defense. Where did you get the idea for this type of game?
P_S: Hard to say. I think that the game was inspired by Myth 1-2 and Warhammer: Dark Omen. The main idea was to make a TD game, where the towers can move around the battlefield.
I started the development over 2.5 years ago, and it took more than 18 months of full-time work. It was my personal challenge – to make a game fully by myself (well, except of music – it was written, but I decided to take a professional track). There was one difficulty: I couldn’t make art. At all. All my drawings looked like “developer’s art”.
F_B: I thought the art and music ended up being two of the stronger elements in the final version of the game. How did you decide on using these visuals and this music?
P_S: I spent several months studying the basics of art. Then I made the first version of all graphics. Then I remade it all. And again, and again. Some things were changed 10-12 times – until I realized that I really liked the result.
For the music, I wrote several tracks, but later removed them from the game: the quality was too low, and I didn’t want to spend months making them better. So I first figured out what I’d like to hear, and then began to search the music banks. It took another several weeks, and then suddenly I found what I was searching for.
Game development is the hardest way making money I know.
F_B: You made a lot of changes and improvements to Royal Warfare. You used our Pre-Review service, and seemed to implement a lot of the feedback you received. The long list of fixes in your feedback thread was impressive! Do you usually do a lot of “tinkering” with your games like this? Do you mostly do internal testing, or were the balance changes based on external feedback you got from other players?
P_S: FGL helped me a lot here. The game was really raw at first, but it was hard to say after working on it for so long – devs always need an outside point-of-view. The FGL admins’ feedback forced me to review some core elements of the game. I spent another 2 weeks, and the game was ready for release.
However, when I received the feedback from the gamers, I spent another 2 weeks working 12 hours without weekends to fix all the things they discovered and asked for.
F_B: What are you most proud of in Royal Warfare? From your point of view as the developer, not necessarily as a gamer or player.
P_S: Two things: 1. It was made by me and 2. Players really liked it!
You know, after months of development and playtests I still have fun playing this game.
F_B: Haha, that’s the sign of a great game!
P_S: For me the main reward is the player reviews; when I receive lots of emails and comments on different portals.
F_B: Like you said, game development isn’t easy. When did you decide that game development was something you’d like to do as a career?
P_S: Well, I liked games since I was child. I always wanted to make the game of my dreams When I got enough resources, I finished all other projects and started my work. Now it’s finished, and it hits the charts. The players liked it and are asking sequels, mobile ports, a multiplayer version, etc. Looks like I’ve got work for several years.
F_B: Is that the plan for the future? Expanding on this current content? Or do you have new projects you’d like to start soon?
P_S: There are lots of ideas and plans and too little time. I spent lots of time making the ultimate gaming engine and sharpening my skills, and now games development takes much less time. Right now I’m finishing a new game: it’s a shooter / defense game. There are several propositions to port the original Royal Warfare to mobile platforms. Also, I built a multiplayer prototype of Royal Warfare several months ago – it really rocks, but making such games takes really a HUGE amount of time… And I have enough ideas to make a sequel of the RW, and lots of other gaming ideas. Well, all of them are about a war.
F_B: Exciting! Sounds like you have a lot on your plate! I’m excited to see your next game. We’re almost out of time, so let’s answer some rapid-fire questions in the Lightning Round:
How did you decide on the name of your studio?
P_S: It’s a wordplay, hard to translate.
F_B: What were your favorite games as a child?
P_S: Jagged Alliance 2, Myth 1-2
F_B: What was one early mistake you made as a young developer? And what is one big mistake first-time developers tend to make?
P_S: I should have started studying / making games earlier, when I had a lot more free time. And the biggest mistake for young developers is when they decide to make games. Just joking
F_B: Hahaha! I’m sure that will go over well! Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Platon! Would you like to give any ‘shout-outs’?
P_S: Well, I’d like to thank my family for their patience, and two great devs: Ant. Karlov and Johnny-k. Their work inspired me very much.
I’d like to thank Platon for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Platon, post your questions below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or email at email@example.com.