It is not so difficult to find games that are similar to each other in the domestic mobile games market nowadays. The reason for that is because the processes of planning and development can be done smoothly when the games are following in the footstep of successful ones.
Often being in somewhat dire circumstances, it is understandable that developers would turn to such methods in order to save time and money on game development. However, with so many developers following suit, the mobile game market has become saturated with countless clones, leading to a selection that is quite lacking in distinct or unique games. Meanwhile, Carbon Eyed, claiming that they have always wanted to make a game that they would be proud of, is now making their own path with their new game and new genre.
With their new game, Knights Fall, the company is venturing forward into an unknown frontier, paving their own path in a genre that has yet to be explored. We interviewed Hyuk Jeong, producer of Carbon Eyed, before the official launch of Knights Fall on July 13th, and asked questions about their endeavors and the difficulties related to developing a game within a new genre, and the merits of their game Knights Fall.
Q. Please give us a short description of Knights Fall.
Knights Fall is an action puzzle game. We are calling it either an action puzzle or battlefield puzzle game internally due to the newly introduced genre. Knights Fall is not a game where you level up or autoplay. The player finds enjoyment from this game by understanding the structure of the map, making his/her own strategy, adjusting based on the situation, and clearing the stage.
Q. We heard that there is an untold story behind the making of Knights Fall.
I did reveal the story behind the making of Knights Fall in the United 2017 speech. When we were trying to come up with ideas for a new game, we happened to see this TV commercial where a bunch of balls were falling from the sky, and thought “Wouldn’t it be fun if they were men instead of balls?’ And that was the beginning of Knights Fall.
People were skeptical about the idea at first, so we made a prototype and checked if the game would be fun or not. We planned to have a discussion about the official launching process depending on how people reacted to this prototype through an internal test, and it turned out to be more positive than we expected.
▲ The commercial that inspired the making of Knights Fall (Source: Justin Smith)
Q. The game’s genre is not something that we have normally seen in the past. It must have been quite a challenge. Did you not have any difficulties during the process?
We had enough information about the games trending in the market that we could’ve referred to if we wanted to make one similar to those. However, Knights Fall was a completely new attempt without any references, and our Business Intelligence team struggled because it was difficult to even get the approximate numbers.
The level design process was also troublesome. The most ideal level designs are the ones that make players spontaneously create their own strategies when they see the map, and then develop other plans when they fail. We had to thoroughly consider how we were going to achieve this by making various designs effectively while shortening the development period.
Q. Knights Fall’s gameplay resembles Pinball. How does it differ from Pinball?
Pinball generally relies on pure luck, whereas Knights Fall requires players to think about various strategies in order to claim victory in one battle. They need to keep thinking about the most effective use of their given soldiers for clearing each stage, and there are stages where you need to sacrifice more than 150 soldiers just to make 20 soldiers escape. You obviously need a bit of luck sometimes as a physics engine is implemented in the game.
Q. Three factions and a number of main characters, it seems that you have put much effort in making a solid storyline, just like how RPG games are made.
The well-made storyline gives meaning to the consecutive battles for players as they progress stages. We wanted to make a game that offers a distinct experience for each of the battles during the story mode, just like Romance of the Three Kingdoms. You will have the impression that you have sacrificed many soldiers to come this far at the end of the story mode.
Q. The Knights Fall webtoon is also released on the official website. What is the connection between the game and the webtoon?
We brought a webtoon artist to do the job as we realized that a webtoon is a good way of delivering the storyline conveniently. The factions and main characters that appear in the game also show up in the webtoon, allowing players to have a better grasp of the entire scenario of the game by just reading it.
Q. How much content do players get to enjoy right after the launch on the 13th?
There will be about 120 story stages available in the game. Although it depends on each player, we expect the time required to clear all stages to be around a month.
Q. We suspect that the stages will become much more difficult as the game progresses.
Although we admit that the game requires a certain amount of skills, the main system is similar to Pinball, which includes a bit of luck as well, so the difficulty will not drastically increase. Of course, there would be a few stages where you cannot seem to progress any further. In case you fail the same stage for five consecutive times, we have implemented a system that offers a free item which will help you clear that stage.
Q. There are also other challenge modes such as Defense and Score. Can you explain how they are different to each other and what special features each holds?
The rate of firing soldiers in the story mode is fixed, and therefore you need to take some time to come up with a strategy while playing this mode. We then came up with a new mode where you sweep away all your enemies by rapidly launching a group of soldiers, and that’s the original idea of Defense mode. In this mode, you launch a soldier every 0.1 seconds, and it’s exciting to rapidly bombard soldiers on the enemies approaching your castle.
The Score challenge may be considered similar to traditional Pinball. Whereas the battle is the core content of the story mode, the score challenge heavily relies on puzzle elements and luck, just like when you play Pinball. The death of one soldier basically means failure in a stage, which makes the gameplay require thorough consideration.
▲ Footage of the Defense mode
Q. There’s also a boss fight, where you encounter a giant boss.
The Knights Fall’s boss fight requires momentary decisions more than any other modes in the game. The boss keeps moving and has various patterns, so the boss fight offers some difficult content that will serve as a good challenge.
Q. It’s not only Knights Fall that Carbon Eyed is making; they are also developing Gigant Shock and Tiny Fall. Please give us a short description of these two new games.
Gigant Shock is an RPG game that focuses on the feeling of fighting against giant monsters. Common mobile RPG games are turn-based ones where players hit and run by pressing an action button, and even with some variation, the main playstyle is usually very similar. However, Gigant Shock allows you to hit any parts of the monster you want and makes you feel like you’re really encountering giant monsters. The game has three core elements; the game should be relatively easy to start, you should be able to play the game conveniently with one hand, and the game should become gradually difficult as it progresses.
Tiny Fall is a casual puzzle game where instead of launching soldiers, a character called a Guardian launches projectiles. We made the game so it could be easily picked up by anyone. There are various Guardians and also a card collecting element.
▲ Gigant Shock 2016 Trailer
▲ Tiny Fall 2016 Trailer
Q. It is always good to see people take on a new challenge and attempt to do what others have not, but you cannot neglect the financial perspective as a game developing company. Have you prepared any plans for this?
Of course, it is good to make a game that thrives financially, but instead, we wanted to create a game that we could look at and proudly say ‘we made this’. We are certain that we can make a certain amount of profit if the game is fun. Since it would be difficult to earn profits by launching in the domestic market alone, we thoroughly considered a global launch from the start of the development process.
Q. Please share some final words with the players waiting for Knights Fall and Carbon Eyed’s new games
We believe that Knights Fall is a unique, difficult, and challenging game, especially in the current mobile games market where too many copycat games exist. We have put much effort into making a game that offers a lot of fun with meticulous level design, and so we would like you to expect much from this lively game.