In today’s world, indie games have started to take up a lot of space in our lives; on this occasion, we met many developers that we had not met before. Games such as Super Meat Boy, Celeste, Katana ZERO, Undertale swept the market and provided extraordinary experiences.
In this episode of the interview series where we hosted indie game developers, we hosted Tolga Ay, the developer of Remnants of Naezith, published in the past years.
Remnants of Naezith is a high-speed, two-dimensional platform game with hook mechanics. The game was released in 2018 and won the third prize in QUO VADIS 2017. The game also has appeared on many websites and has a unique fan base.
Hello Tolga, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Tolga Ay, 27 years old. I am currently working in a foreign blockchain/cryptocurrency firm. I had to leave the game industry at the end of 2018 because I had to work from home due to health reasons. The income of game developers, in general, was low in companies and they did not accept working remotely, and it was too risky for me to make games.
When and how did you first start your game development adventure?
While I was learning C++ in the second year at Yıldız Technical University’s Computer Engineering department, I decided to make a game project in August 2014 to reinforce it with the project. Of course, the easiest, most straightforward project I could finish and start was a 2D platformer game. I loved the hook mechanics from games like Spiderman 2 and Worms Armageddon on PlayStation 2. I don’t play platformer games; I like fast FPS games like Quake. It had to be something fast; I had sample games like Dustforce in front of me. When you put it all together, something like this came out.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Remnants of Naezith?
Remnants of Naezith is a two-dimensional platform game with hook mechanics. You try to reach the end of the level by swinging with the hook and speeding up without hitting the obstacles. You rise to the top of the leaderboards by playing the same chapters again and finishing them as fast as you can. Also, you can design levels in the game.
What did you pay attention to when determining the target audience for your game?
Communities were trying to finish Super Meat Boy and Dustforce fast. The game I wanted to make was this type of game. I entered the Discord servers of those communities and invited their best players to the development phase of my own game as testers.
What was the main idea behind the development of Remnants of Naezith?
The most important principle for me was to keep the game’s scope small and make that small game as high quality and polished as possible. A project of a size I could handle was just that. I tried to do my best.
Which game engine did you use while developing your game, what are your reasons for making this choice?
I did not use a game engine. I prepared it from scratch with C++ and SFML without an editor. Because my main goal was to learn C++, and I ran into many problems reinventing the wheel, these improved me.
When I played the game, the biggest thing that caught my attention was the thoughtful level designs. How did the process of design work?
It was a complete nightmare. Although I tried my best, I’m not very creative in level design, most were just mediocre. I sought help from experienced people in the community. Everyone did their best, but I had to beg a lot to accumulate decent 88 episodes. When the gameplay part was over, I went through the same ordeal for the decorations.
What kind of scenario did you encounter after publishing the game? How were the first reactions?
It was good; almost everyone liked it even though they found it very difficult. But unfortunately, I think a week or two later, Celeste was released with solid marketing. When all eyes turned to it, my game remained in its shadows. Even a few of my good players on Discord have switched to Celeste.
Looking at your Discord server, I see that there is a large audience of local and foreign players. How did you go about creating the community – how do you communicate?
Since the early days of the game’s production phase, I entered the Discords of similar games and personally invited the best players. I took care of everyone who came to my server. The more interested you are, the more players connect to the community. There have been people active since 2016-2017. We even have a secret channel where everyone talks about their privacy, more than the game, and helps each other.
Remnants of Naezith have been successful in events such as Quo Vadis 2017 and Gaming Istanbul 2017. Can you give us some information about these processes?
Gaming Istanbul days were excellent. The reactions I got and watching people play gave me great confidence and motivation. When the Gaming Istanbul team sent my game to QUO VADIS in Germany, I had the same feelings with foreign players; we won third place in the competition there. It was proud.
Did you receive any financial support during the development of the game? Can you give some advice on how future game developers should go about financial matters?
Since I was a student, I had a little amount of money. Unfortunately, I had to do everything by request. It was a disastrous and painful process because, for example, when you give foreign graphic designers three cents and ask for a job, they accept and start, but at one point, they postpone it for months and then say, “Sorry, I can’t continue.” I think I’ve experienced this with four different people. This is one of the reasons why the development process took 3.5 years. If they can find investors, they will be much more comfortable. I do not recommend that they dissolve their savings because I have seen such high-quality projects that after 4-5 years of hard work, they could not even earn $10,000.
What kind of promotional campaign did you maintain before and after the game’s release? What are your experiences and recommendations on this subject?
In 2015, I shared every slight improvement I made with screenshots on a forum called TIGSource. People love it; they give ideas. There was a hashtag called #screenshotsaturday on Twitter; I created and posted fascinating GIFs every week, it was getting a lot of interaction. I was writing my experiences at length and sharing them on Reddit. Again, sometimes I made interesting videos longer than GIFs and posted them on Reddit. I even posted on Imgur. I directed all interactions to my Twitter account and suggested people Wishlist the game on the Steam page. You can get a lot of interaction somehow, but you have to be prepared for the aftermath, so if 1 million people see your post, you need to plan what those 1 million people will do after seeing it. You must prepare a flow for them; you must direct them. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense.
So, will your fans, including me, come across a new product in the future?
Yes, I started prototyping a new game a few months ago, but it won’t even be 1/10th the size of Remnants of Naezith. A small, simple but enjoyable game. It has hooks too 🙂 Here’s a 30-second snippet I shared recently;