FGL was our key to grow back then but era has changed and Flash is no longer a hot snack.
We were interviewed by the FGL team years ago and it turned out like this. Enjoy!
FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week with the developers from the Firebeast studio, makers of the phenomenal ‘Mighty Knight‘ and ‘Zombo Buster‘ franchises.
FGL_Brian: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself for people who might not know you yet! Tell us about your studio and where you live.
Firebeast Studio: Firebeast consists of four dudes making games together. We were united in 2012 and have been made 7 or more games so far. We are based in Medan, a small city in Indonesia where you can find a lot of tasty food and drinks!
B: Is there a big game development community in Indonesia? How did you guys find each other?
Firebeast: Yes, there’s a big one based in Jakarta at Java but not in here in Medan. We were all working colleagues back then 🙂
B: When did you decide to become a full-time game developer? Was it when you all made the studio in 2012, or were you already making games full-time?
Firebeast: It was a tough career decision because these kind of jobs are not very well accepted here yet. Everyone decided to give it a go full-time in 2012. It’s our last hope to survive; it’s all or nothing at all.
B: Well, you’ve taken a steady path to the top. You were releasing pretty successful games before your mega hits ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’. Do you think those earlier games like ‘Evilgeddon’ and ‘Bois D’Arc’ helped prepare you for your bigger successes?
Firebeast: Previous games like Evilgeddon and Bois D’Arc saved our life. We were able to cover the development costs of those games and have enough left over to feed our stomach while we develop a new one. On the other hand, our efforts in making previous games gave us a lot of experience & helped us when creating a new game. It’s almost like we wanted to fail faster so that we can learn and know what’s wrong and what to fix. Without our previous games, I don’t think we can something like ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’.
B: I’d like to talk about your character design for a little bit. You tend to make your heroes straight-forward, no-nonsense; pretty standard protagonists. But the enemies you create have a lot of creativity and personality and seem so diverse. Is this something you intentionally focus on or does it just seem to work out like that? Do you like making fun, unique enemies to kill?
Firebeast: Come to think of it, I think you are right! I really didn’t notice that the enemies looked much more distinctive because during the character creation there was no exceptional rule. We used the same concepts in all of our character designs. Maybe the enemies feel different because of the variety. As the game goes on, we always focus on introducing new enemies even though the player may just be focused on their hero.
Well, I wouldn’t say there’s any specific effort we make when creating distinctive enemies. We just do it! We love to make funny things and goof around. For example, there is a cameo of us in ‘Zombo Buster’ where we appeared as a group of secret boss with unique abilities. Then in ‘Mighty Knight’, we played too much DOTA and you’ll see some DOTA-like monsters there. Our new game ‘Zombo Buster Rising’, we watched too much ‘Attack On Titan’ and there you go, a gigantic boss.
B: Aha! I thought I noticed someone familiar in the background of Mighty Knight!
Firebeast: Beware of the pounce…!
B: So, another thing I noticed about your games on FGL is that your studio holds some of the highest Thumbnail icon ratings we’ve ever seen. Your average icon hotness score is over 75%, and the original ‘Zombo Buster’ and ‘Mighty Knight’ both scored over 91%. Is that something you focus on? Do you find that a good thumbnail helps get a sponsor’s attention?
Firebeast: We believe the thumbnail is the main weapon to draw attention to the game. So that’s why when creating the icon, we are very strict. We could even make 3 – 6 different models to compare. However, deciding is usually easy for us because while the artist gives his best when creating the icons, he is also the one who analyzes them. I really have no idea how he did this, but just now I asked him and he said, “It’s instinct!”
B: So, now the thing everyone is excited for: Zombo Buster Rising. Everyone is excited to play this game! Was making this game fun for you, or were you nervous to follow the huge success of the original?
Firebeast: Making the game was fun! Tweaking and adjusting game elements has never been this easy and I could say ‘Zombo Buster Rising’ is Firebeast’s most balanced game yet. Since the game is rather simple, we don’t know what to expect but we’re excited to let the players decide. We noticed that there hasn’t been a 2D shooting defense game in some time, so I hope this one will satisfy players looking forward to it.
B: So what does the future hold for Firebeast? Any clues as to what your next project is (if you’ve thought about that yet)?
Firebeast: Right now, Zombo Buster Rising is seeking sponsorship. We are also learning Unity and mobile stuff but we are working on something secret, quite big, could be quite new and could bring a nostalgic feeling for 90s gamers.
B: Oooooh secret stuff! Exciting! So to wrap this up, I had a couple of Lightning Round questions for you. Ready?
B: First and foremost, of dire importance: How did you decide on your studio name?
Firebeast: Just magic, we talked about lots of stuff and somehow came up with Firebeast
B: What were your favorite games as a child? And what games are you playing these days?
Firebeast: I am a huge fan of Metal Gear Solid, I beat MGS PSX when I was fifth grader. I am also addicted to Pokemon, I’m playing one of those games now. Last but not least, my daily food, DOTA.
B: What was an early mistake you made when you were first developing games? What are some common mistakes you see first-time developers make?
Firebeast: My mistake was failing in the testing phase. I was so optimistic that I skipped the beta test which is the most important part. I lost the opportunity for feedback, the impressions, the suggestions, everything that could make the game better and better.
The common mistakes for the first-time developers? Mostly they try to go too far. It should be a small, simple and quick game. Why? Nobody makes a hit the first time except by luck, so fail faster! The more you fail, the more you know.
B: Great answers. Last one, as requested by FGL users: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a developer looking to make the leap from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’ like you did?
Firebeast: Analyze what people like to play; it could be a theme, features, design or others. Ideas are cheap but execution does the real thing. Even a simple idea could turn into a big hit if you make it right. Believe in your game and don’t give up. Beginner’s luck is 1/100000000000 chance so don’t rely on it.
B: Thanks so much for sitting down with us for this interview! Before we wrap things up, do you have any ‘shout outs’ to give to anyone?
Firebeast: Thanks to FGL for selling our games. Thanks to sponsors for hosting our games. Thanks to players for playing our games. Thanks to Valve for creating DOTA. Thanks to Internet, especially Google and whoever created ctrl+c and ctrl+v
Also thanks to FGL_Brian for interviewing us with lot of fun questions, yay!