There has only been a handful of games that have caught my attention right away either through the gameplay trailer, the artstyle or how the game was marketed in general. Games like Winning Blimp’s Mosaique, Ravenous Games’ Random Heroes and the latest game entitled Knightmare Tower by Juicy Beast.
Side note: after hearing the name “Juicy Beast”, I just had to check out what this game development company was all about. And let me tell ya, I wasn’t disappointed from what I found.
Juicy Beast is a four-person, indie game development studio that calls Rosemère, Quebec, Canada home. They have developed mobile and PC games that run the gamut of gameplay types from Tower Defense to 2-D Scroller to what I like to call “Velocity Games”; i.e., games that involve launching a character from a platform of sorts and keeping them moving for as long as possible.
Games of this type have become fairly popular over the past few years; including Imagi Studios’ Temple Run, Mobirate’s Dead Ahead, Half Brick’s Jetpack Joyride and PIKPOK’s Into The Dead. But the latest one that I just can’t stop playing because I enjoy everything about it (gameplay, art style, soundtrack, etc.) is Knightmare Tower.
To get some more insight on the developers behind the game, I contacted Juicy Beast with some questions:
W2W: Please state your name and what you do for Juicy Beast.
JB: I’m Yowan and I’m one of the two co-founders. The other one is my colleague Dominique. There’s also Alex, our programmer, and J-P, our illustrator/animator. We all participate to game design, but I’m in charge of UI and UX design. Dominique is in charge of level design and balancing. We also split management and boring paperwork stuff between the two of us.
W2W: What is Juicy Beast and how did it come to be?
JB: “We are a small studio based near Montreal, in Canada, and we’ve been making our own games for 4 years now. We started out by making free Adobe Flash games and we recently switched to other platforms, like iOS, OUYA and hopefully Steam and PlayStation / Xbox soon!
We started the studio right out of school (where 3 of us knew each other from), and we’ve been doing that since day one. We have a great team and we feel lucky to be able to work that well together.”
W2W: How has the gaming community helped to shape Juicy Beast and the games that you develop?
JB: “We’ve pretty much always done what we wanted to, and we’ve been lucky enough to get lots of support from the community. A lot of players seem to be enjoying our games, which we think is awesome. We also get a lot of constructive feedback, so we try to listen as much as we can and improve our games as we go. Getting such support from players means we can continue doing what we love, in the way we want!”
W2W: For those that haven’t played it yet, what is Knightmare Tower?
JB: “You control a Knight, which has for mission to rescue 10 abducted princesses (all daughters of the same king) by escalating an infinite tower filled with monsters and lava. To ascend, you launch yourself using a wooden rocket (totally safe) and you jump on monsters to slice them up and gain vertical speed. A totally normal way to climb up a tower, you know!”
W2W: The art style for all of your games reminds me a little of Castle Crashers from “The Behemoth”. Was this the inspiration behind Knightmare Tower, and if not, what is the inspiration behind the art style?
JB: “We love Dan’s work, but it wasn’t really our inspiration. J-P has his own cartoony style, but since we also use Adobe Flash to draw our art, it has that same Flash feeling to it. We usually don’t have any direct inspiration, but we might aim for a specific mood or atmosphere depending on the game’s theme. It’s still a good thing to be compared to Dan Paladin.”
W2W: As the game has been developed and deployed for PC, Ouya and iOS, which has been the easiest to develop and market your game for and why? Which has been the most difficult and why?
JB: “The first version was the free Flash (PC) version, which has been published on multiple gaming sites. This one was probably the hardest one to do since we had the make it fun and create the game from scratch. Technically though, it was the easiest since we’ve been working with Flash for a while before that.
Porting it to OUYA was hard as well since we decided to learn to work with Unity at the same time. We had to deconstruct the game completely and rebuild it using a different engine. It wasn’t really made with mobile specs in mind, so we had to optimise it a lot to get it running smoothly. We also had to revise the whole UI system for it to work well with controllers.
Once that was done, we were able to use the almost same build for the iOS version. The game was already built for mobile because of the OUYA version, but we were having a lot more memory management problems with the actual phones and tablets. It was our very first in-house mobile game, so we had to learn about that as well. Alex did a very good job at that, actually!
On the marketing side, the Flash and OUYA versions were the easiest to deal with. With the Flash version, we only needed to publish it on a popular site driving tons of traffic for it to get noticed. Publishing on OUYA was pretty easy as well since the console was new and there wasn’t a lot of games in the store. It was easier to get attention with just a few games sharing the store space.
The iOS version was the hardest to market, since the store is already super crowded and it’s hard to get your game noticed without a minimum of visibility. We’re still learning how to effectively publish our games on the App Store, but we’re doing pretty well so far.”
W2W: When developing games, what is your philosophy behind the user interface and how gamers should interact with the game; i.e., do the games need to be very involved or do you prefer minimal input from the gamer, and if so, why?
JB: “I guess it really depends on the game’s needs. We try to use as less UI interactions as possible, since players want to play games, not press buttons, but we always try to make sure that players can easily find what they’re looking for in a minimum number of steps.
We also try to imagine how players will perceive the game and what their intentions are going to be at the different steps of the game. If you can guess which actions a player will want to make at a certain point, you will arrange your UI in a different way than for a different set of actions. For example, if you think players will want to equip a new item right away each time they find one, you’ll probably design your UI in a way that lets players equip new item quickly, instead of asking them to navigate their way to the equip section every time. I might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget while you’re designing the UI!”
Juicy Beast has developed various games to date that are featured on their website. Some of them, like Burrito Bison and Knightmare Tower, are also available for mobile devices. Check them out online here and if you want to take them with you on-to-go, they are also available to download for your iOS devices here (BB) and here (KT).
Thank you reading!
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