Interview with Celsius Online

The second article in the series dedicated to key HTML5 developers and companies that use Cocoon is dedicated to Celsius Online an experimented company based in Paris that have put out several astounding HTML5 games that really push the limits of the technology.

We talk to Mathias that has kindly accepted the invitation to talk about his company.

First of all tell us a bit about you and your company, what’s your role in Celsius Online?

My name is Mathias Latournerie, I’m the technical director of Celsius Online. I’m in charge, among many things, of managing the production process of Celsius Heroes and of planning the tasks of the graphic and dev teams.

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How long have Celsius Online been active?

We have been developing games for more than ten years now, games such as Renaissance Kingdoms which has become the first role playing web-based game in Europe or March of History, a massively multiplayer web-based strategy game which has won the 2014 Ping Award for the Best Web and Social Game.

Where are you based?

We are an independent studio based in Paris.

How many are you?

There are twelve of us in the studio.

CelsiusinaMeeting

Regarding your latest project Celsius Heroes, where does the idea come from?

The main idea behind Celsius Heroes was that we wanted to try and help people to discover what an “old-school” RPG feels with a “new-school” Match-3 mechanic. Lévan Sardjevéladzé, the co-founder of Celsius online, has always been a huge fan of games such as Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder II, so he was the main drive behind the project.

Where do you get inspiration for your games?

Games, films comics, books or whatever inspires you to make games

Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder II and a lot of old-school RPGs were inspirations for the game. For the Match 3 mechanic, we wanted something more complex than Candy Crush, so Puzzle & Dragons was a good inspiration.

Whats the hardest part of developing a game?

We have been developing games for more than 10 years now, but this was the first time we were releasing a game on mobile platforms. Thanks to Cocoon, we were able to focus on our fields of expertise; however, in spite of this invaluable help, we had to face difficulties we were not used to, such as screen resolution issues, performance issues on older smartphones and all those specifics related to a mobile game. The rest comes with experience and that’s why it’s important to build reusable and lasting elements from one production to the next one. The first game is always the most difficult one.

Whats the most rewarding one?

Undoubtedly the way players reacted to it, and especially our friends and families. When they contact you to ask for info on which team members they should select, or ask questions on the best way to beat a boss at the end of a level without you asking them about the game, it is very satisfying as that means people who are dear to us are truly enjoying the game. And it’s important to create games you can be proud of.

Tell us about your game creation process

The original idea and the validation of the main game design have been done by Lévan, head and mastermind of Celsius online. Then, several of us work on producing the different aspects of game design required to create the game. On Celsius Heroes, a major part of the content of the game (quests) has been imagined by Arthur Riolland, developer and game designer. Each element which has been produced (graphics, texts, quests) is validated by me. We are a small team and work in the same offices, this way each of us can play a part in the creation of the game and it is common that we modify an aspect of the design of the game based on the feedback of a member of a team.

Do you make a proof of concept first and test it?

We always start by developing a disposable prototype with placeholders as graphics in order to ensure that the game is indeed fun. Sometimes, what works on paper doesn’t necessarily translate into an addictive and pleasant gameplay, so that’s a mandatory step before going any further.

Tell us about the tools that you use during that process: engines, libraries, IDEs, etc

On Celsius Heroes, we are using a 2D/3D mix in WebGL. For 2D, we use Pixi.js which is a great 2D render engine. We have designed our own 3D engine and, on top of that, our games servers use Java EE with no other layer. We have also developed numerous in-house tools to manage and administer the game: management of the accounts of the players, quest editor, balance tools, package builder, client update manager, data analysis tools…
This ecosystem is essential in order to maintain the game in the long run. At last, we are using the Atlassian suite (JIRA, etc.) to manage the production of the project.

How does Cocoon fit in that process?

We knew from the start that we wanted a game which would work on mobile as well as on a computer. We were lucky enough to benefit from the latest version of Cocoon as we were producing Celsius Heroes, which allowed us to benefit from the Cordova community to take up our various technical challenges. By acting both as an encapsulation and a service, Cocoon leaves us the flexibility we need in order to do things the way we want rather than following the paradigms of an integrated technology like Unity or cocos2d.

What is the biggest challenges Cocoon helped to overcome?

Cocoon allowed us to start developing on mobile without any preliminary knowledge of this platform. That was for us the promise that we’ll be able to focus our time and energy on developing the game rather than learning new technologies. A promise kept!

How do you see the future of the HTML5 gaming?

Numbers don’t lie, mobile HTML5 is booming with the coming of mid-range terminals able to remove the technical weaknesses of the Javascript/WebGL duo. As a standardised technology adopted by internet browsers as their default engine, we know that we can be confident in the future and we think that our bet to be part of the early adopters a couple of years ago pays off as soon as today.

What are your next projects?

Armed with the success of Celsius Heroes, we have two new projects that are in preliminary planning stage. We are going to develop a real-time multiplayer strategy game in association with another French studio which is fast-growing, which is something new for us.

At the same time, another team will develop a new mobile game based on the universe of one of our web MMORPG, Renaissance Kingdoms, with an entirely fresh concept that we are looking forward to present to the players!

On this matter, we can already state that those two projects will use Cocoon for their mobile export.

 

Thanks to Mathias and the Celsius Team for the interview!

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Interview With Lucky Cat Studios

This article is the first of a series we are planing to with key HTML5 developers and companies that use Cocoon and are making a difference with their apps and games.

The first of this series is dedicated to Lucky Cat Studios that have recently had a massive success with their Nom Cat and Sky Chasers games. We talk with Herdjie Zhou, Founder and CEO of Lucky Cat about HTML5, childhood memories and how to create great games that people love.

Lucky Kat

Lucky Cat headquarters

Tell us about Lucky Kat Studios and you

Lucky Kat started exactly one year ago in February 2015. We are based in the Hague, in the Netherlands and we are currently a team of 5. We’re focused on creating mobile games that bring a smile to your face.

Herdjie copy

My brother, Hernan is founder and CTO, and I am co-founder and CEO of the company. My main tasks and responsibilities are creating a vibrant and inspiring company culture and make sure people around the world play our games.

Which are your latest projects?

Recently we launched Sky Chasers on both iOS and Android. It’s a good mixture of Super Mario World and Lunar Lander. It has been featured worldwide by Apple and has received much love from game critics e.g. Pocket Gamer Silver Award.

Our first title as a studio was Nom Cat. It features all the celebrity internet cats such as Grumpy Cat, Garfield, Nyan Cat, Keyboard Cat etc. The game as been featured as well by both Apple and Google and went viral on social media. It was the perfect kickstart for our company.

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Nom Cat game. You probably recognize both of them

Where do you get inspiration for your games?

We’re heavily inspired by SNES and NES games and are focused on translating these childhood memories to the modern era of mobile gaming.

Which were your favorite NES/SNES games?

Our favorite NES game is Double Dragon 2 and for SNES it’s the Donkey Kong Country series.

Tell us about your game creation process

We start with prototyping – and pitch game ideas to each other. When we like an idea, we go into production. We work in small teams, so that other team members are able to give honest feedback. Also, we do a lot of playtesting to see if we’re going towards the right direction. We try to get our creation process within a 3 month period.

Sky Chasers

Latest Sky Chasers game

Why did you choose HTML5 as a gaming technology?

Using HTML5 we’re able to release our games faster – our proprietary game engine is in HTML5/ JS. Also testing is easier as we can send out links to family and friends.

What technologies have you used before?

Marmelade SDK.

How does Cocoon fit in that process

We built our own proprietary HTML5 / JS game engine called “Bento”. Cocoon is the perfect match for us to port our games to native. It’s fast, easy and reliable. Team members of Cocoon have helped us many times on crucial moments before and during launch of our games. Great support, great people! Cocoon forums are a good way to get in contact with other devs.

How do you see the future of the HTML5 gaming

HTML5 gaming has still a lot of challenges to overcome in the West. We are not sure exactly why this is. In contrary, in the East e.g. China, HTML5 gaming has been adopted by the mass and is now the next big thing in gaming.

What are your next projects?

We’re working on two new projects currently and hope to show you more very soon. Of course, they will be mobile games and in pixel art style 🙂

 

Thanks Herdjie for your time!

If you want to see Lucky Kat’s daily development process, please follow them on Snapchat “luckykatgames” or on Twitter @luckykatstudios.