In January, hungame.blog made an interview with me. I share it with you because it contains some useful info about the current state of the game.
The developer talks about throwing knives in Knife To Meet You, exclusively WordDetective and the legendary Elasto Mania.
Knife To Meet You has been available for early access since summer 2021. Where did the idea for the game come from?
For many years I’ve had in my head a new way of controlling objects, throwing objects in game and defining speed direction and rotation with a single move. Here I explain the idea:
I gave this to a programmer for a job interview when I was looking for people for a word association game, and he did it so well that I said we’d better make a knife throwing game. Knife throwing games are popular in mobile stores and I thought this would be much better than those. We planned it as a two-month project, now we’re two years into it.
What has changed during early access? What’s the feedback from players so far?
Some people are so hooked that they’ve been playing almost every day for a year, some people have said it’s the best mobile game. That sounds good, but still relatively few downloads, which I think there are two main reasons (we’re assuming it’s a good game, because if it’s bad there’s no point in testing it anyway): 1. Most players are looking for a quick hit, just a few minutes on one game and then on to the next. It’s a tiktok-world. Our game is similar to real knife throwing: it’s hard, and although you can do anything if you understand the throwing technique, you can’t learn it in two minutes. Why would anyone take the time to understand it when there are a million other games out there. The other is the catch-22 of hype. In today’s view-count-based online world. One of the biggest motivation to spend time on something is knowing that there are a lot of people playing the same thing as you. This breakthrough can only be achieved at a brutal marketing cost or a hell of a lot of luck, like infecting an influencer :). So far we’ve had neither.
The game offers 50 story maps and 3000+ online maps. What will be the difference between the two? Are you planning a track editor?
We’ve tried a lot of different development directions that give us a chance to break through. There’s a 3000 level online map, daily challenges on different levels every day, leaderboards, etc. There are already a lot of features, here I’ll try to show you in 30 seconds.
One more thing I definitely want is the level editor that we’ve been working on for the last six months. I can tell you that making a real physics game is suicide because of all the potential bugs. Adding a level editor to that is group self-destruction. Oh, and also replay. But still, one of the biggest difficulties I see is how much you could put in the player’s hands with a level editor to create a chainsaw-throwing dinosaur robot with your character riding on its back. I’d loved to do it that way, but you have to draw the line and I think there’s going to be a lot of possibilities.
If that doesn’t give me a breakthrough, then I’m okay to let this ship go, saying I’ve done my best. In many ways our game is very similar to Happy Wheels and I think a good level editor played a big role there. We also put walking, running, jumping, explosion into the game to make it more interactive. We planned to release that before Christmas, that’s the end of the early access, but we’re not done yet.
The game is not only out on Steam, but also for android and iOS. Based on the feedback, on which device is it most enjoyable?
We saw the PC version as important, but over time it became clear that this genre works better on phones. We haven’t updated the iOS version since the summer, interacting with the Apple store is wearing down so many of our nerves that we’re developing 10 new features instead. I can’t understand how anyone else can maintain an app in that store, sooo terrible experience.
The game is basically free-to-play, what can you buy with in-game purchases?
It was paid at first, then we made it free to spread the word, but interestingly it’s backfired, as if people are less interested in what’s free, weird. Free-to-play is in the fact that you can collect money during the game and thus unlock all 25 weapons for free. If you don’t want to go that route, you can buy one.
How many people are working, how are the tasks divided?
All my projects so far have been two-person projects. One programmer who is responsible for all the code and me who is responsible for everything else (ideas, functionality, design, graphics, social, etc). This setup works for me because I can focus on the creative part and the programmer can focus on the code itself, without having to think about functionality or game mechanics. Of course, a team of 10 would be better, but that’s how big we are. It would be very good to have at least two programmers, because I’ve experienced it several times that it’s not good to be dependent on one person, if he or she drops out the whole project is in danger, it’s very difficult to continue with someone else’s code. The other thing is that I have so many ideas that I’m weeks or months ahead in every project, so many things to be coded.
Any interesting info you can share about the game?
I’m a big fan of real physics games, old gamers may remember Elasto Mania, which I can relate to in many ways. I used to organise the Hungarian community, I was a very active player (MUe), I also helped out as a graphic designer in the last version. The green landscape and the picking of red apples in the knife game is a tribute to this game. And I’m very grateful that life brought me to have its creator, Balázs Rózsa, working on my projects for a few years. Although he’s not the one working on the knife game, the code there is thanks to another super talent, Krisztian Szendrodi.
How did you get involved with the game as a developer? What did you do in it? Is this the remastered version or an earlier one?
Balázs sold it a couple of years ago and the new owner made the steam version. I made the first website and leaderboard in Hungarian and it formed the community, meetings. I was more interested in graphics, 3D and animation back then (it was named Action SuperCross first). Balázs said he could use some graphics help for the second part, Elasto Mania, he wanted 3D rotating objects. I jumped in and just asked to do a level, it was level 46 Bowling. I don’t know if it was worth it to him because that level turned out to be quite bad. 🙂 I mean I made a very long and narrow tunnel in the level as an alternative route, but all the players who wanted to break a record had to go through this. Sorry for all those lost hours and lives.
Are you working on anything else in parallel?
I had a project a few years ago (MAD or MED) which was a live action word association game. Unfortunately the online version of that was interrupted, but this year I started again, I just finished the first playable beta version of WordDetective.app.
I’m a big fan of board games and in this project we’ve created a new database-driven, asynchronous multiplayer approach to my favourite genre, word association games. Asynchronous multiplayer means that although you are playing alone, you are still playing a task created by another player. If you’ve played the brilliant board game Codenames, you’ll be familiar with the theme. There are already a few clones of those games (e.g. Decrypto), but there is no great playable digital version yet, which is what we want to do.
Our game is based on the idea that every word-clues are manifested as killer characters. On the other side, players also play as detectives, trying to catch other players’ killers. The game’s atmosphere is enhanced by AI-generated images that help you with hidden hints. Because the game is a real player-versus-player game, it’s quite difficult to get a good score, but I think that’s what makes it interesting.
What are your plans for this year?
Finishing Knife To Meet You with the level editor and straightening up Worddetective.