With Nonstop Knight nominated for the People’s Choice Award at the 13th International Mobile Gaming Awards (HINT: please vote, winner announced in 1 week!), it’s fair to say that our favourite dungeon-brawling buddy has come a long way over the past 12 months.
To chat about the amount of stuff that’s happened since the days of the game being announced as “Project Nonstop”, we caught up with Mika Kuusisto, Kopla Games CEO.
As it turns out, Kopla’s original mission to bring mobile action RPGs to everyone remains as strong as ever.
So….a lot’s happened in 1 year, no?
Absolutely! Kopla Games has just turned 2 years old, we’ve doubled the size of our team and Nonstop Knight has been out since June last year. Everything has moved at light speed since we first went public with the game (in February 2016), at the time titled “ Project Nonstop”.
How relevant remains Kopla’s original mission statement of bringing action RPGs to everyone?
It’s remains our main mission – there’s still much work to be done! The original message from last February, namely in bringing action RPGs to the mainstream, very much holds true and remains firmly in our minds. With Nonstop Knight, we’ve achieved a lot in introducing many newcomers to the action RPG genre. But we’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of fulfilling this mission.
Needless to say, the success of Nonstop Knight has totally exceeded our expectations. The game has been a hugely positive learning for us – it’s only strengthened our understanding of the action RPG genre and how to make an even greater impact with future releases.
Considering the Kopla philosophy of brute forcing luck with skillful iteration, which in-game features couldn’t you have imagined 1 year ago?
Well, the pets system was somewhat of a lucky accident in that we were testing out the dragon pet in soft launch, exploring whether giving the knight a trusty sidekick would make the game more fun. It turned out to be one of the game’s most popular features! We’ve since rolled out a whole array of other pet buddies and even got our amazing community to help design the latest sidekick, the Owlet.
What we did envisage, and it was something we’d been considering since late 2015 (!!), was the introduction of a multiplayer element in the game. This was no accident – the Boss Hunt feature had been on our minds for a long time and we’d seen many fans asking for something like this to be implemented. As an event where players form teams and get rewarded by hitting shared milestones, we had to ensure that Boss Hunts complemented the core game in the right way. We had a couple weeks of iterative fine-tuning to get the feature spot-on before going live. And as it turned out, we found the right balance and Boss Hunts garnered a lot of love from the community.
What key moments would you list to summarise the past year?
Aside from the obvious of the Nonstop Knight hard launch, joining the flaregames family was a massive moment for Kopla and a big thing for me personally as an entrepreneur. For the team, being acquired by flare means that we can focus better on creating world-class mobile games and apply all our energies into development. Secondly, the move to the new office in central Tampere was a key moment, as it meant us leaving the “garage phase” where all five of us were working out of a 13 square metre office. Since then, Kopla is now fully staffed at 11 people, we’ve moved to a really neat office with a sauna (because Finland!) and we’re already working on the next game. What that looks like we’ll have more to reveal later, but the passion for bringing action RPGs to everyone remains strong!
And I can’t forget this key moment – Nonstop Knight beer for our summer party!
Looking after Royal Revolt 2, one of the crown jewels in the flaregames portfolio, is no easy feat. That person needs to know the game inside out (and back again), while possessing a 360 awareness at all times. With such a popular and content-rich game on your hands, it’s never a quiet day at the office.
That means having people like Gavin working on the game is pretty handy.
In the below interview recently conducted with the awesome guys at Pocket Gamer.biz (this blog entry is lifted from that article), Gavin talks about what it’s like to work on Royal Revolt 2, while discussing how the game has influenced the whole company’s mindset when it comes to all sorts of cool stuff.
1. With Royal Revolt 2 a few months off its third birthday, how do you reflect on its performance – from launch to the mature title it is now
It’s been incredible how the game has evolved and developed such an active and passionate community. After all, not many mobile games have such a long lifespan in terms of live ops and even now we’re planning content updates for the foreseeable future. It’s naturally a very important title for Flaregames, and alongside more recent releases like Nonstop Knight and Olympus Rising, it’s been a real driving force for the company. It’s also fantastic to work with the team at Keen Flare in Frankfurt, a truly world-class group of developers.
2. How big is the team currently handling live ops on Royal Revolt 2?
It’s a split between our team here at Flaregames and the developers at Keen Flare, but in total it’s around 40 people. Due to how Flaregames is structured, those on live ops are typically not 100% allocated to a single project, but instead bring their expertise when an issue that requires their attention arises. Naturally the team at Keen Flare are delivering the client and server updates and we work closely together particularly when key milestones approach.
3. How important do you consider customer support to be? What’s been the approach to game updates?
While we work with a traditional update roadmap, we have – on many occasions – altered those plans after receiving particularly valuable community feedback.
That’s why building player trust and creating a dialogue with our players is vitally important to us, especially given the age of the game. With such a mature player base, the bonds formed in-game are what keep many players coming back. If we dropped the ball when it comes to community management, it would have a severe impact on the game as a whole. Our customer support, community management and social media teams work as one to continually engage with the community, extracting valuable feedback, filtering relevant comments so they can be reviewed for our roadmap, and of course immediate escalation of critical issues. When you have a game that is beloved and cared for by so many within the community, accurate and timely responses to questions is crucial.
4. Since the game’s launch, Flaregames has transitioned from internal development to a publishing focus. As a Flare-developed game, how is Royal Revolt 2 handled differently to the rest of your portfolio?
In principle, Royal Revolt 2 is not handled any differently from other games in our portfolio. From a publishing perspective, we treat Keen Flare the same way as any of our external studios. But it’s important to note that we are not the developer – it’s our role as Flaregames to empower the development team to make the right decisions and provide our support and expertise to enhance the game’s success.
5. What steps have you taken to ensure that Royal Revolt 2 maintains a sizeable and active player base years after its launch?
Delivering new and exciting content, for one. We work on a cadence of at least one major update every three months, at the same time assessing if this content might have a shot at getting featured by the platform holders. We also place a big emphasis on regular in-game events and rewards. For example, we recently added a “PvE events system” whereby players face off against a Villain and his army of Ninjas. Mixing up the different challenges and even customising the seasonal theme of this system has been a great supplement to the wider gameplay experience.
6. What lessons have you/are you still learning from Royal Revolt 2? Is there anything about the game that, in hindsight, you’d now handle differently?
When the game was first created, I don’t think anyone thought it would reach this milestone, although of course everyone had hoped and worked hard to achieve it. By that I mean, with the many elements that are now in the game it has become harder to integrate them from a UX perspective. On top of this, the game has become more complex from a live ops perspective and this makes it more challenging when making large changes to the game. These are quite typical challenges to overcome in a game that has evolved over many years, and if it was known that we’d have so many systems/events in the game three years ago, we likely would have structured both elements in-game as well as in our back-end tools differently. That aside, it is something which is difficult to foresee, and in a way this issue is great because it boils down to being victims of our own success.
7. Finally, how has your experience with Royal Revolt 2 informed where you are/what you’re working on now?
As mentioned earlier, Royal Revolt 2 has been a real benchmark for the company and shaped many aspects of our publishing philosophy. Our learnings have even influenced our work on Nonstop Knight with the guys at Kopla Games. We’re already working with Keen Flare on plans for their next hit game, so naturally what we have experienced together will carry over into this next project.
Thank you to Pocket Gamer.biz once again for allowing us to re-post this interview.
Building communities from the ground up is no easy business. But having recently created the company’s first Snapchat channel – for @nonstopknight – and seen record engagement figures for some excellent creatives from our studios, it’s a good time to be leading the social charge at flaregames.
To reflect on the last few months and discuss what it takes to build engaging content across multiple social channels, meet Jona, our social media team lead and a former community manager.
Don’t worry, he doesn’t only communicate through memes and emoticons…
1. Firstly, tell us about yourself and what you do at flaregames?
As flaregames’ Social Media Team Lead, I’m responsible for all our games’ social media channels in terms of strategy and content. Facebook and Twitter take up most of our time right now, but we are constantly looking into exploring new channels as well. For example, we have taken first steps in the (slightly crazy) world of Snapchat recently with Nonstop Knight.
2. What’s it like managing so many content channels and how do you manage your time?
It’s difficult really. Each game and their respective channels are all pretty close to our heart. Of course you want all your channels to become widely popular community hubs. But once you start juggling a certain number of channels, you realize that managing the time you can realistically invest into each one is key. Our wider strategy at the moment is to keep our players entertained with a steady stream of content between updates and ramp up activity more and more as we move closer to the new version. This way our content has a natural cadence and ensures we can continually engage players over a long period of time.
3. The Royal Revolt 2 Facebook channel now has over 850k likes. How do you go about devising content that you know will appeal to such a wide player base?
Knowing your audience helps a lot with this. In the case of Royal Revolt 2’s Facebook page, we found out that the page’s most engaged and active followers are veteran players that have been part of the community for a long time. This definitely influences our decision-making process when it comes to planning content. As it turns out, a tutorial about a basic in-game mechanic is not that interesting to somebody who has been playing for years (shocking, I know). Realizing which phase of its community life-cycle your game is currently in goes a long way to help you come up with the right kind of content.
4. Can you give us some examples of the most engaging content in your experience?
As a lifelong gamer myself, I know that playing a game can be a powerful experience. That feeling you get when you manage to pull off a successful raid against one of your rivals is great and really tends to stick with you after you put the game down. Social media plays into this nicely, since it lets you share your achievements with others. We often ask our players to tell us their stories or have them to react to a specific in-game situation that they might run into. This goes a long way to not only create a sense of community among our players, but also to foster an emotional connection to the game itself.
5. What are some of the newer channels you’ve recently explored, and how are they effective?
Like I mentioned earlier, Snapchat is a channel we have been investing more time into recently. Diving into a new channel head first is always fun. Having this immediate way to interact with your players is an amazing tool and engagement has been extremely high as a result. it’s also a great place to simply be creative and try out slightly off-beat content that wouldn’t work for more traditional channels.
6. What are some best practices you would share with social media managers starting out in the gaming industry?
It’s called social media for a reason. Listen to players and their feedback. I know it sounds obvious, but when I started out working on RR2, I had been playing the game for a while and thought I knew all there is about the game. Oh boy, was I wrong on that one. Also, make sure not to turn your social media channels into one way streets. You might not be able to reply to all comments, but a helpful word or funny remark at the right time goes a long way!
It’s been a busy year so far with the global launches of both Olympus Rising and Nonstop Knight and thanks to their success, we continue to grow as a team.
We currently have a host of positions available and welcome those with a passion for awesome games and a love for working in a truly international environment to apply!
Last week, we asked our office – and our friends over at Keen Flare – to contribute to a shared map to mark their birthplace and add a sentence that reminds them of home. From Seattle to Southampton, Chennai to Cologne, we’re proud to have people from all over the world working here in Karlsruhe and Frankfurt!