Last week the company Mail.Ru Group has announced a new mobile strategy game – “Evolution”. We contacted the general producer of IT Territory Alexander Enin and asked him about the project.
There are completely different games in the box office tops on iOS right now. There you can find Match 3, a card battler, a farm and even a real PvP strategy. What path did you take when starting a new project? What did you start from, what hits did you focus on?
In fact, as I said after the release of Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering, I’m not trying to “sit on the tail” of another trending genre and look at the top box office games very calmly. There is too much marketing there now and not so many worthy projects that one could fully look up to. I try to go my own way and make just high-quality and interesting games. I believe that if the game is good, then it will pay for itself and earn money in any case.
The only thing I follow very closely in the top box office games is interface solutions and monetization and socialization schemes. In those games, they are usually on top and worthy of attention.
As for the games that I started from when creating “Evolution”, these are: Mass Effect, Borderlands, StarCraft, Gears of War. As you can see, these are big and serious projects. This is exactly how you will see the “Evolution” when you start playing. There has never been anything like this on mobile phones before.
A couple of months ago, before Candy Crush Saga got into the tops, there was a lot of talk about the emergence of a new direction, the so-called “midcore”. That is, games with deep gameplay, but a low entry threshold. A la “Clash of Clans” or “CSR Racing”. Is Evolution a midcore or hardcore project?
Of course, “Evolution” is a hardcore project. It will be possible to play it with interest for a long time, several years for sure. A huge world and a lot of different possibilities. This will probably be the largest game that has been released on mobile devices. A game that will be fun for Mass Effect fans to play, so yes, it’s really hardcore. Of course, we understand the risks we are taking by making such a game, and not another match-3, but I believe that sooner or later such games should appear on mobile phones, and let the first swallow be “Evolution”.
By the way, it is worth saying that the hardcore of “Evolution” lies mainly in its scope: the plot, the detailed universe, rich development opportunities and real-time combat. We tried to make everything else as simple and understandable as possible: interfaces, plot presentation, gameplay development. All this is done with an eye on an ordinary player, so that he is comfortable. I specifically test the game exclusively on the iPhone, so that even on its small screen the interface is quite convenient.
Why did you take a course on hardcore? How did this affect the mechanics of the project?
Because we want to move forward and do more and better than others. There are practically no games on mobile devices now that you could dive into with your head and hang there for half a year. All games are like gum right now. I played around, left a few dollars there and forgot. And a week later you don’t remember that you ever played it.
The desire to make a big game, of course, was reflected in its structure. At the heart of everything is a single-player campaign, it is very large and divided into 4 story blocks. But, due to their size, the “Evolution” will start only with the first plot block, the rest will be opened through subsequent updates. There is also a PvP block in the game, but it is not something separate, it complements the PvE campaign, rather, it even helps to pass it. And, of course, it gives you the opportunity to compete with other players for a place in the ranking.
Since we are talking about the game mechanics, could you tell us about it in detail?
I’m afraid if I talk in detail about the mechanics of “Evolution”, it will go beyond the interview format. There are too many things there that I want to tell readers to see “Evolution” in all its glory. But closer to the release, we will definitely make a special trailer in which we will go through all the gameplay features of “Evolution”.
As far as we understand, the game will be free. And here we come to the question of monetization. What are you planning to earn in the game? How hard are you going to monetize “Evolution”?
Yes, this is an absolutely fritupley project. We will earn only on saving time. There will be no items in the game that can only be obtained for real money. Moreover, there will be things that cannot be bought for Real Madrid! As for “rigidity”, I believe that there is no rigid monetization, there is incorrect monetization. As soon as players start paying attention to monetization and “fighting” with it more than the pleasure they get from the game, it’s a dead end.
For example, many people criticize me that “Juggernaut: Sovering’s Revenge” is made very “cheap”. They say that much more money could have been extracted from him. They talk about unused ways of withdrawing money and unrealized opportunities to sell something. Of course, I know about all the existing monetization techniques, 6 years of work on browser MMORPGs have not been in vain. I deliberately went to protect the user from excessive monetization, and bet on the loyalty of the players. Because only in this case the game can become a cult and beloved by millions, which in the future will give a greater financial result than an aggressive monetization model. And so it happened, Jagger has been on the mobile market for more than a year, and continues to bring a good stable income. He has a huge army of fans waiting for the 2nd part. And there will definitely be a continuation.
How do you feel about free-to-play, in which mobile projects do you like it, in which – not?
As a player, I have a rather negative attitude towards free-to-play. I see that for the most part this model spoils games that sell something more substantial than avatars and holiday clothes. As a player, it gives me practically nothing, but only hinders: artificially restricts the session, slows down the pace of development, constantly keeps on “dry ration”. Developers think more about conversions than about positive emotions of users. And users feel it.
But as a developer and producer, I understand the benefits of this model. I consider Free-to-play to be exclusively a business phenomenon, natural for this moment in time, when there is widespread computerization and the Internet is filled with new users. To capture this new audience, Free-to-play is perfect. These people don’t know anything about games yet and start playing what was in plain sight. And there are a lot of proposals in sight now, this also needs to be understood.
I am sure that as soon as most people computerize and begin to understand games better, the attitude towards the Free-to-play model will change, something will certainly happen to it. Now this model is leading and will remain relevant for at least another seven years.
You distribute the mobile “Juggernaut” using the GREE grid. Are you planning to use GREE when publishing Evolution?
We haven’t been distributing it for a long time. We collaborated with them for several months, but then refused. We also do not plan to involve GREE in the publication of “Evolution”.
And the last question. Why did you choose such a harsh visual style? After all, it was possible to prefer cartoon design.
In fact, there is no harsh style in the game. On the contrary, it is a very beautiful and bright game. I initially understood that by making a game in a post-apocalypse setting, we would quickly slide into greyness and dull gloom everywhere, so at the very beginning of the journey we laid on a feature with terraforming in order not only to expand the possibilities of location management, but also to immerse the player in a pleasant atmosphere, to settle him in a picturesque, bright world that he himself would create around yourself. Here, for example, is what the location looks like before terraforming and after.
As for the cartoon design, it would only interfere with the game, because “Evolution” is a harsh action movie, where there is more shooting than in all the “Tough Nuts” combined. In addition to Borderlands and Team Fortress, I have not seen successful shooters with a cartoon design.