Hi! I'm Tak Fung of Supermono and we've just released our new game for iOS, the arcade racer Forever Drive.
It's raised a lot of questions:
- Why release a free-to-play game?
- What makes us think we can add something new to the racing genre, when there are thousands of racers already?
- And can you really drive forever?
The road goes on
We had finished EpicWin in late November 2010 when we started talking about a new project for iOS. At Supermono we're always chatting about ideas for new games, and this one arose organically.
We were keen to try an asynchronous multiplayer game - something lots of people could play together, but that didn't require them all to be online at once.
One gameplay mechanic, in particular, amused us: the game of consequences or Exquisite Corpse, in which people create a story, a picture, or just draw one long line, without awareness of what the others are creating, in such a way that the sections join together seamlessly.
Our art director, Dave Ferner, suggested applying the idea to creating a road which you could then race on, and so Forever Drive was born.
Hand them the keys
Once we had the high-level concept, we started put down one or two core mechanics. There were a few things we wanted to try:
- We wanted it to be highly networked
- Streamlined and fun in both driving and creating
- Visually distinctive
- And we were interested to try free-to-play
The free-to-play element was a bit of an experiment. One of the advantages of being a small studio - our core team is just four people - is we can try things on a hunch and see if they work.
We've already had successes in the past with premium priced apps (some with IAP), and we've experimented with simple downloadable content with MiniSquadron: SE, so we know the sales graphs for those models.
Hence it was with some curiosity we decided to make Forever Drive free-to-play.
Break down the walls
Although there's some stigma with freemium, I personally see it as a challenge to make a game that can utilise that model without leaving the player feeling that their experiences are being limited by hidden micro-transactional pay walls.
There are some great examples of games that do this well (Tiny Tower is brilliant), and I felt that if we could lower the barrier-of-entry to zero money, whilst offering a choice for people who wish to pay to save time, that would be the optimum solution.
We don't have the financial power for saturation-level advertising, so our best chance is to give the game to as many people as possible and let them see for themselves how fun it is, and to make back the revenue in terms of people who do feel they want to pay for it.
The unusual look of the game developed from similar constraints.
We knew we had a unique spin on the gameplay, but gameplay is one of those nebulous factors that's impossible to communicate without - you know - actually playing the game. So we needed to come up with a visual style that immediately said to viewers 'This isn't a conventional driving game, but it is fun and unique'.
With that in mind, the game rapidly morphed from its early, realistic look to the neon-hued abstract futurism of the final version.
Because Forever Drive isn't just about the driving - it's about the journey, and the sights and sounds along the way - we wanted to encourage people's imaginations, and let them work together to build something truly epic.
The final part of the journey will actually be something we're new to too.
Forever Drive would have to maintain a service for people sharing their tracks, so it will be an ongoing challenge to see how we can cope with this as the game gets downloaded by lots and lots of people (we hope!)
It is worth keeping this in mind for anyone (especially indies) who are thinking of making something like this, that the game is becoming more like a service.
How you tackle this will be a big factor in how you can keep your business going, and how it might end up exploring new territory in the future.
Forever Drive is out now in Canada and Ireland, and will be available globally in mid October.