Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Talk With The Director Of Games

Q&A With Chris Pasley.. the Director of Games for Kongregate!

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So chris how did the whole premium games concept come about?

(A) Chris Pasley: It was actually Jim and Emily's idea. I was simply hired on to run it. I think more and more as these games develop and I realize the potential of them, the better idea I see that it is.

(Q) Crazycruiser: Where can we sign up to Alpha test these games? Is there any link to the respective websites on Kong? Also, how hard is it to get into the alpha testing? For that matter, what are all the games that are in developement right now?

(A) Chris Pasley: Hmm, I don't know that we're going to do alpha testing. I've never found it that useful; the alpha stage is usually so incomplete that the only feedback you get are things you already know about. Kongregate doesn't list the websites, but there are two developers that keep up blogs about the development and (I think those are the right URLs) The current games are (in order of greenlight) Dinowaurs by Intuition Games, Zening by Michael King, Remnants of Skystone by Flipline Studios, Lila Dreams by Creatrix, Argue by Adam Schroeder and Roger Bankus and Vectorious by SMERC (tentative title.)

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So you have alot of games to look after how do you look after those investments?

(A) Chris Pasley: I keep very close contact with the developers at all times. They'll often bounce ideas off me or show me what they're working on and I'll give my opinion or try to add to it in some way.

(Q) Crazycruiser: So, you mention the games, but none of them really give insight as to the type of game they are... Any hints?

(A) Chris Pasley: Well, there was a lot revealed about five of the six here: The sixth was greenlit after that time. It's basically Reverse Jenga; you upload any photo and it traces it into vector objects, which you try to destroy with physics.

(Q) Malachi: Also, when do you expect any of these games to turn a profit for Kongregate? After all, you are paying a lot for a flash game.

(A) Chris Pasley: Well, it depends on the scope of the games and how much the initial investment was. There are a lot of unknowns here, so I can't really make any great predictions, but after playing with the numbers I think each developer should easily make back enough to return our investment and more. If it's a bit hit, much much more.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: What made you accept the games you did, was it mostly what they could offer as multiplayer or was there any other quality you observed alot?

(A) Chris Pasley: I greenlit the games I did because I thought they were interesting and offered something unique, not just for Flash games, but for eny game.

(Q) Crazycruiser: So, are all of these games going to be in the same price range as I saw originally? (I think it was 80-100k)

(A) Chris Pasley: The price ranges from $20K to 100K.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: How do these games compare to those in the Xbox LIVE Arcade, do you feel they can provide the same enjoyment?

(A) Chris Pasley: Absolutely. Many of these games aren't even really just "flash" games. They're built on a Java Smartfox backend so that the flash player is just the client that displays what's going on. Certain games are bigger than others, but I think they could be compare to XBL.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: What can we expect to see from the new multiplayer API?

(A) Chris Pasley: The multiplayer API isn't even an API yet. Right now it's just us and the developers trying to figure out how best it should work.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Is there any features your looking into implementing specifically?

(A) Chris Pasley: Yeah, it's tough. Multiplayer is very difficult, so putting it into something easy to implement is no small challenge. Well, there are tons of smaller APIs that will kind of branch from these. The ability to pull in user data, store info, mirror smartfox chat onto the room chat, the wallet system.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: As these games will have pay for content, how much will this roughly cost?

(A) Chris Pasley: We have no idea yet. It will differ from game to game as each will have their own seperate economies, but you'll be using Kongregate currency among them.

(Q) Malachi: ...Kongregate currency?

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So will international mediums of money be transferred into a Microsoft Points style of currency?

(A) Chris Pasley: We're affectionately calling it "Kreds" for the moment. Yeah, that's right.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Do you think having paid for content will discourage users from playing?

(A) Chris Pasley: We're working very hard for that not to be the case, and it's always on our minds. I'm hoping for each game we'll find a model that makes sure the pay features are attractive, but optional.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Do you feel users who have always expected web based games to be free will criticize?

(A) Chris Pasley: Sure they will. But I think they'll have little room to complain when they can still play the games for free. Similar games in the downloadable space have been hugely successful with this; only the medium's different.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Do you believe these games will be bringing in a large amount of new users, or do you expect growth to remain stable as it is now?

(A) Chris Pasley: Well, I think Kongregate growth will continue to raise independent of the premium games, but when they hit, yeah I'm hoping they'll draw some new faces.

(Q) Crazycruiser: I was actually talking to another staff member not long ago, and they said that nearly everything would still be free, you would just have to work hard to get the same stuff people can buy. Is this true?

(A) Chris Pasley: That's one philosophy we like. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but I do think that's the method I like best.

(Q) Malachi: ...I'm not sure if this has been answered before in the forums, but will the Premium Games be uploaded as a regular game, or will they get a special page?

(A) Chris Pasley: Like a regular game.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: how is the release dates corresponding to the other premium games and the card game?

(A) Chris Pasley: Well, it's actually difficult to say. Kongai is taking up a lot of devloper time, which we need to fully develop the premium APIs, so it's all tied together. Basically these games are seeding development on the Kongregate platform. We hope after some Premium games launch, it won't just be games I direct that get to use the APIs and the wallets, etc.

(Q) Malachi: ..So this means the same dimension restraints are still there for Premium Games?

(A) Chris Pasley: Yeah, the same dimensional constraints.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So are you still looking into more premium games or are you done green-lighting projects for now?

(A) Chris Pasley: Submissions seem to have slowed, but I'm always looking

(Q) Crazycruiser: Another thing I heard, is that you guys want to keep the 2 (premo and regualr) as seperate as possible, while still interconnected. What are you guys doing with that? Also, I heard Premo will be on another type of Kong site, perhaps a little more detailed and graphic? (Graphic, as in not so "Plain", not graphic as in blood etc)

(A) Chris Pasley: Nope, nothing like that. It'll all be on the same Kongregate, though we may or may not have a new category for them. We may just put them in "multiplayer."

(Q) Malachi: Makes sense. Would be kind of awkward to have a two game category.

(A) Chris Pasley: Also would make it harder for people to find teh kind of game they want -- "premium" doesn't say much about the game itself

(Q) Crazycruiser: My problem with putting them in "Multiplayer" is that it should by all means kill the other multiplayer games, thus knocking them off the Top 5 List, why not another category, suchas "Premium Games"? Or, better yet, "Premium Games" -> Dino Waurs Action Adventure Or how do you plan to work that out?

(A) Chris Pasley: I thought about that too, but all I can say is that it's not somehing we've decided yet. We may end up with a new category.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So will these games have plenty of badges to go along?

(A) Chris Pasley: That's completely up to Greg. I think we'll definitely have some, but multiplayer badges are kind of easy to game, so we'd need to look at it one at a time.

(Q) Malachi: By wallets, do you mean microtransactions?

(A) Chris Pasley: Yes.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: With the implementations of the new apis will it become easier to access them
then just in the forum?

(A) Chris Pasley: We haven't talked about that, but it may indeed be easier to put them somwhere else. Still, the question and answer that goes on in the forums is often invaluable to us and to other devs.

(Q) Crazycruiser: Whats your personal favorite Premium Game? On another note, which game is scheduled to come out first, and when should we expect it by? I saw you said "April/March" does that still hold true? Hah, sorry to give you 3-4 questions in one message

(A) Chris Pasley: I can't pick a favorite! All the other guys would get mad at me! The first one is probably going to be "Argue," though there are a lot of variables to consider. It could well be Dinowaurs. April/March is still doable, I think, but nothing ever holds a date anyone decides for it.

(Q) Malachi: Heh... May 2007...

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So shows the card game.. =P

(A) Chris Pasley: Yes. They will all launch in May 2007. But I won't rush development on these; if it takes longer than we thought, then that's just how it is.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Quality is the number one priority then not date like alot of mainstream games

(A) Chris Pasley: Quality > Timeliness The thing is that as a free browser-based game, what's going to get people coming back and even paying for them is quality. Why shortchange that? Other games require an initial commitment of a purchase or an install -- flash games are more like one night stands. Gotta be good to keep them coming back for more.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: will these games be updated quite frequently? Or is that all up to the dev?

(A) Chris Pasley: Some more than others, but yes. It will be up to the dev, but it also hinges on how well each game is doing as to whether or not they can afford to invest more time.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: How far along have these games come then.. are some of them in an early demo state?

(A) Chris Pasley: A couple of them have just hit alpha, but they're not in a state I'd show anyone yet.

(Q) Crazycruiser: Yes, I just signed up for DinoWaurs actually. When will they be released for public Beta?

(A) Chris Pasley: I'm going to guess in about a month or two But we'll have beta invitations out like Kongai has too I think Intuition is just collecting Beta testers on their own It'll be after Kongai goes Beta

(Q) FRAGM3NT: so how have the new changes in kongai been going?

(A) Chris Pasley: Good! The game's in a pretty good place right now. I'm working on the sound for it now.

(Q) Crazycruiser: How do you expect to introduce these games? Up until now the only game that had a pay feature was Stormwinds. How will you inroduce them without Forcing payment?

(Q) Crazycruiser: Or without making a user think he has to pay.

(A) Chris Pasley: We'll just put them on the front page and people will play them for free. Then they'll see that they have other pay options, but they will all still be free to play.

(Q) Crazycruiser: Also, you mentioned API, does this mean they will most likely have cards?

(Q) FRAGM3NT: cards as in challenges you mean right?

(A) Chris Pasley: They might. We haven't talked about that.

(Q) Crazycruiser: By the way, for any readers who want to Alpha Test, go here: and read the second story down. We touched on them being uploaded as regular games, will they still have ratings? Or would you guys rather not know?

(A) Chris Pasley: No, they'll still have ratings

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Do you feel these premium games will shadow other games in development the week/month they are released?

(A) Chris Pasley: Probably they will

(Q) Crazycruiser: Will the games be able to compete in the monthly/weekly contests?

(A) Chris Pasley: Hmm...I don't think so

(Q) FRAGM3NT: is it because of the initial investment? or should the contest money go back to paying you back?

(A) Chris Pasley: They can win, but the runner-up will get the money

(Q) Crazycruiser: Also, I have heard that "Kreds" will be used for other things, besides the games. Such as uploading a picture to your profile as the background... etc. Can you give us any insight there?

(A) Chris Pasley: Well, they're already going to have been paid a lot, and hopefully making money on their games, so it just seems more fair to let someone else take the prize there

(A) Chris Pasley: We've talked about other applications for Kreds, but I don't know if we're ready to announce them yet.

(A) Chris Pasley: I doubt a photo would be something we'd charge for...

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Would something like a pro account be?

(Q) Crazycruiser: Well, I heard it would belike 50 cents, to discourage pornography and the like, since oyu might have to pay for it.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: well I'd think that'd be a bit unfair CC< we don't want to nickle and dime people

(A) Chris Pasley: Maybe some sort of pro account, but all our plans in this regard are fairly nebulous, so I don't want to say something that isn't true.

(A) Chris Pasley: That's exactly it. Uploading a background picture isn't something I've heard of us doing

(Q) Malachi: How about 50 cents for textile actually working

(Q) FRAGM3NT: So other than the card game whats coming next down the development shoot?

(A) Chris Pasley: I think after the card game there will be premium API development until the cows come home, then more site development and probably some more refined Facebook stuff.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Speaking of social connectivity, is there any chance of an opensocial application?

(A) Chris Pasley: We've talked about it. It seems likely down the road.

(Q) Crazycruiser: What about Auction houses, I know some of the content oyu buy in the game will possibly be items. Will you be able to sell those items and get some money back? Or are you... stuck with them?

(A) Chris Pasley: Auctioning was actually something damijin really wanted, but I think it would be premature to do at this point. I think it's best now to keep it simple with a one-way approach, but I do think an auction system could be good in the future

(Q) FRAGM3NT: Will Kongregate ever be brave enough to face COCAK in halo?

(A) Chris Pasley: Play COCAK in Halo... hell no! Armor Games beat us and you guys have way better Halo records than they do. Maybe we'd Rock Band against you though.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: chris you do know I can do drums on expert?

(A) Chris Pasley: Theresa played the drums on Hard the very first time she played

(Q) Crazycruiser: "Emily: Always so competitive..."

(A) Chris Pasley: And got like a 90 something Tell you what. When the premium games launch, we'll compete in there.

(Q) FRAGM3NT: kk

And so Conversation ensued.. and well we got pretty off-topic. But there you have it!


Malachi said...

Only after seeing the whole conversation do I realize how little I asked questions :/

...You should've put in that 30 minute conversation we had about a COCAK v. Kongregate competition xD

Sylicas (Too Lazy to Sign-In) said...

The games were released on May 2007 already? HOW THE HECK WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?!?!?!

ps: Kong v Cocak in Team Fortress 2 in 2fort! Let the Snipefest/ Engie Spam begin!

Sylicas said...

^ Me

Anyway, jokes aside, now for my questions.

a) How long do you think we'll get addicted to the Prem. Games before we realise we have a life outside?

b) Will there be a game in which we can manupilate anything in a world and watch out civilisations grow - or die?

c) Team Fortress 2 match on PC, btw

d) When will teh Kong stocks come out :o

e) Wouldn't it be tough trying to choose either Kongai or a Premium game to play? IT'S TWO CHOICES, SO MANY!

Milskidasith said...

You guys are all evil. Crazy, you said I could get in on the interview, but you weren't anywhere. I went on at 3:00 PM Central time (you said it was at 4:30 PM) and tried to find you, but you never responded. I wanted to be in on the interview.

But, annoyance and "I didn't get to meet the Kong Admins jealousy" aside, there is a lot of good info there.

Milskidasith said...

Also, why the hell did none of you ask when the Kongai beta would release? I thought you would ask (unless I missed that).

Malachi said...

Keep your pants on, that's in another interview ;)

Focus said...

Lol, pants! :P

Great interview.

HeroInteractive said...

Great interview!

Zachattack said...

the one thing I dread about hearing this is the "Kreds." There is NO way I would pay for anything, (rather, no way of paying for anything)but maybe having contests or raffles for "Kreds" so there is still a chance A poor person like me can still get premium perks.