Crossy Road is an incredibly popular game that recently launched on the Amazon Appstore. The best way to describe the game is a mix between frogger and flappy bird. It’s super addictive with a unique art style and rock solid gameplay. We sat down with the creators and asked them how they created it, what their plans are for the game, and where they see it going next.
Can you give as a little background about yourself and the company?
Hipster Whale was formed midway through the development of Crossy Road. Once Matt and I (Andy) realized that the game had potential we decided to form the company.
Left to Right: Ben Weatherall, Andy Sum, Matt Hall.
Matt and I first started talking about game ideas after GCAP 2013, an Australian game developer conference. We kept bouncing ideas backwards and forwards online and eventually found something that we both really liked. Matt and I live about 90 minutes away from one another and so we did all of the development remotely, only meeting up once during the entire 12 weeks of development.
How long have you been making games for?
Matt: Andy and I have both been creating games since we were just kids. For my 8th birthday I was given a Commodore 64 and I played and made games with it for 10 years. It’s the one hobby I could never quit. I became an independent developer in 2008 making games for PC first and then for mobile.
Andy: I've been making games since I was about 10. I started with some basic visual tools, making free games as a hobby and for competitions. I began making games for PC commercially in 2008 and now Crossy Road is my first mobile game.
What language/framework are you using to build Crossy Road?
Crossy Road is built with Unity3D and C#. The art was created with a brilliant tool called Qubicle. I discovered it a few years back.
Crossy Road has some clear inspirations from arcade games like Frogger; can you talk about other influences?
The crazy success of Flappy Bird earlier this year was one of the key catalysts for creating the game and the alliteration in ‘Crossy Road’ was a wink toward Dong’s game. While others aped the design of the game we just wanted to carry on that same spirit. The idea of combining Flappy Bird with Frogger popped into my head and Andy thought it was a great idea. There are lots of other influences including Skylanders, DOTA 2, Disco Zoo, Temple Run, Subway Surfers, FEZ and Tiny Wings.
How does the procedural generation work in your game?
The procedural generation in Crossy Road is something we spent a lot of time tuning to get the right balance of difficulty and fun. We wanted a system that would allow new players to enjoy the game, while giving experienced veterans a worthy challenge. The game gets harder and harder the higher your score goes, as cars, trains and logs all move at a faster rate. After about 150 hops forward you'll start to see more difficult world configurations, such as ten lanes of traffic in a row or alternating rivers and railroads.
In future updates we’ll add even more hazards, but we won’t spoil those just yet.
What do you think is the reason behind Crossy Road's current success?
There’s no one reason other than we set out to try to make the stickiest and most viral game we possibly could. Every feature added was carefully considered to make the game fun to play and share with friends. It was important to us that nothing got in the way of the “play again” button.
We are excited to have Crossy Road launch in the Amazon Appstore and Fire TV. What are your thoughts of micro console and Android powered streaming boxes that play games?
I’ve been excited for years with the possibility of really easy to access video games on the TV. Mobile gaming is so popular because it’s right there in your pocket and the touch interface is perfect. But there’s so many types of games that would benefit from a physical controller. That the Fire TV has done so well is fantastic!.
Now that Crossy Road is growing in popularity, what do you plan on doing to help keep retention and continue to grow your audience?
We have a long list of ideas for things that we want to add to the game, including adding more depth and unique elements to existing characters.
We're going to keep adding new characters every month, which will hopefully keep players interested for a long time. There has been very positive feedback from players about the current secret characters and we're thinking up exciting new ways for players to unlock more.
If you could do one thing over again for Crossy Road, what would it be?
It’s been really frustrating to have so many players want to play the game, but couldn’t. Our team is really tiny and so we have had to slowly stagger our rollout so that it wouldn’t overwhelm us. If we knew it was going to be this popular we would have gotten some more developers onboard to help ensure the game is available everywhere as close as possible to launch.
What advice do you have for devs trying to launch an indie game on mobile and tv?
If you're really interested in making a game for the Fire TV then make sure you spend a lot of time designing how it will work with controllers. The best games on TV have carefully thought out control schemes and make navigating around menus feel very natural.
For mobile games and game development in general it's important to watch other people play. Take note of what they struggle with and think about what you can do to help them understand concepts better.
We are glad that Hipster Whale took the time to talk about how they made their game and also release it on the Amazon Appstore. Make sure you check it out and if you are looking for additional resources to bring your own game to the Amazon Appstore and Fire TV be sure to check out the following links:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)