After several years developing games and apps at Bemobile, Daniel Sintas (Artist), Marc Company (front-end programmer), Chin Ho (back-end programmer) and Pere Llaudó (game design and QA) decided that the time had come to take the next step, and founded Garage51.
In June these graduates of ENTI, one of the most prestigious videogame universities in Spain, arrived in Vitoria-Gasteiz with the intention of turning Demon Blade, their first project, into the best game possible.
After several months of working day and night on their game, it’s time to get to know the people behind this project and see what makes Demon Blade so special.
F2P Campus (F): When did the idea for Demon Blade come up?
Garage51 (G): We were finishing a really big project for La Caixa at Bemobile, and it occurred to us that this was the next step. We wanted to apply everything we’d learnt at university, as well as what we’d learnt working for Bemobile, to something monetizable that worked.
We’d already done two free-to-play experiments that were a total disaster in terms of monetization. It was time to focus and do something bigger.
We asked ourselves, what would we play on mobile? What would we want to always have on hand? So we decided to make a game inspired by the mechanics of Diablo: an action RPG for mobile with loot and with grinding mechanics to get different objects and sets. That was the seed of Demon Blade.
We started with the prototype in January 2017, although it wasn’t a year dedicated exclusively to Demon Blade because we had other projects to finish. But for the last five months we’ve been dedicating all our time and attention to it.
F: What’s the game about?
G: The idea was to create a Diablo for mobile; so one of the big questions was the combat, a fundamental part of any action game.
It’s a game with one-on-one combat that requires skills and reflexes, based on a Japanese feudal theme with yōkai and oni. We wanted a theme that would give rise to creating a lot of objects, weapons and armour.
F: What makes Demon Blade special?
G: I would say, above all, the feel of the combat. They’re very robust mechanics and we’ve focussed a lot on getting good controls on mobile. People think that controls on mobile are like a handicap in the development of a game but we wanted to break free of that. We have a control system conceived especially for mobile that is very fast and feels really good to the player.
F: What’s inspired you?
G: Apart from Diablo and the feudal period of Japan, we’ve been inspired by many different things. It has the ‘Witch Time’ of Bayonetta, and the parrying of Street Fighter 3, and also has elements of one-on-one combat taken from Dark Souls… And above all we’ve been inspired by the systems and mechanics of a lot of fighting games.
F: Why did you choose free-to-play as a business model?
G: We’re a small team, we’ve always worked on mobile platforms, and really if you want to monetize on mobile it’s the model that works best. Our experience tells us that pay-to-download games on mobile don’t work as well as free-to-play.
It’s the best way to make a mobile game like this profitable.
F: In what area would you say the campus has helped you the most during development?
G: When we came, we pictured them helping us with things like hard launch and user acquisition, and really since being here we’ve seen everything going well beyond that. The mentors who have come to the campus have got really involved in the project and in the development of the game.
What we set out to do when we arrived here was to finish the project and launch it right at the end of the campus, but thanks to the mentors we’ve seen that maybe that’s a bit premature and we want to focus more on having a good product.
Also, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the mentors’ involvement. We’ve had experiences with mentors in other places and they didn’t get so involved. Nacho Pintos, for instance, invested a great deal of time in us to really get to know the game and give us advice. It surprised us a lot how much they’ve bent over backwards, and it’s helped so much.
F: What are you most proud of?
G: As I said before, the feel of the combat makes us very proud. It’s been very complicated to do. Since we arrived we’ve had a lot of feedback and managed to make radical changes to the combat, and we’re very happy with the result. We think that’s where the game really wins.
F: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
G: Without doubt, forming the company. It’s given us a lot of headaches, all the paperwork; and the uncertainty that it brings has been the hardest thing. It’s not over yet but now we’re on the right track.
The worst time, actually, was before we knew that we were coming to the F2P Campus. The very day we found out we were coming to Vitoria-Gasteiz, our funding was approved; until that day everything was really hard.
F: How would you define the Garage51 team in one word?