In an industry dominated by mega-corporations it’s remarkable to come across a family business like GiantFox. Founded in Barcelona by brothers Marc and Ruben Mollina, this young studio has gone through times of joy, such as winning two Global Game Jams in Barcelona, and of uncertainty, when lack of capital almost put an end to their first game.
This journey through the wilderness has made them stronger and now not only have they managed to launch Rise of Titans on Steam but they also have a talented team of 10 made up of programmers, artists, composers…
No-one ever said that making videogames was easy and at GiantFox they know it firsthand. That’s why we couldn’t resist finding out more about Rise of Titans and their experience during its development.
F2P Campus (F): How did the idea of Rise of Titans come up?
We were really excited about creating a family business and after winning the local Global Game Jam a couple of times we took the leap. It was a bit of a fiasco at first because the configuration of the company at the beginning was very different; a couple of partners dropped out, and we started a project that was based on the prototype that we made for the last local Global Game Jam we won. We were working on it for six months and since we weren’t very happy with the level design and other things, we decided to put it on hold and start from scratch.
Everyone on the team likes card games, so one of the ideas that we considered was to create a game of that type. We saw that there was an opportunity in the market and we got to work.
The initial idea was to release it in October-November 2016 and, well, in the end it came out on July 31, 2018. We got there later than we would have liked but the market has ended up showing us we were right.
F: What’s the game about?
Rise of Titans is a game that combines both card games and board games. Unlike the typical game like Magic or Heartstone you have a board that is alive. You have mountains, rivers, forests, cities, plains, deserts… Each of these biomes gives you an advantage: in the mountains you take less damage, in the forest you’re invisible…
So it’s not just about the synergy between the cards, but also how you use that synergy that the cards have with the terrain to gain an advantage. This is something that we haven’t seen in any other game before.
At the moment we have three themes (Nordic, Greek and Egyptian) and we’d like to keep adding to that as we release expansions.
F: What’s inspired you?
For the terrain we used the mechanics of Warhammer; for the depth of the game and the cards, the complexity of Magic; and to make it intuitive for the player we used the mechanics of Heartstone.
F: Why did you choose free-to-play as a business model?
We chose this business model because, apart from it being the most prevalent among card games, we think that this model allows us to have greater transparency. Ultimately when you buy a videogame you’re doing it blindly. You rarely know what you’re buying and that can cause quite a bit of disillusionment in people.
With free-to-play you give the player the opportunity to try before buying, and you can gain much more loyalty. Whoever pays is happy with the work the developer has done.
It fits pretty well with our company philosophy in that we want to make quality products and be recognized for our work.
F: In what area would you say the campus has helped you the most during development?
We arrived from another campus called GameBCN in Barcelona, where we’d spent six months, and what we were looking for was to learn more about monetization. We came to be able to shape our ideas well and get feedback from people in the industry about monetization and promotion.
We knew that we were going to launch and wanted to focus on that because it’s really important for free-to-plays. The players are the ones that give the verdict, so you need to attract players’ attention, get them to like the product and end up spending money.
F: What are you most proud of?
I think that it’s precisely what sets us apart from the competition: the board. We’ve made a game where you can really interact with the terrain and use it as an advantage. People who have played Rise of Titans, that’s what they most often point out.
It’s quite comforting to see that the distinguishing feature of your game is exactly what people are liking the most.
F: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Being in the wilderness. Just think, all the capital has come out of the pockets of the company’s founders, and there was a point during development what the money ran out and the game wasn’t ready to release. We spent nearly a year in limbo, when we lost team members, started working from home, got pretty demotivated…
It might have taken us nearly two years and three months to finish the game, but a year of that was very slow-paced and the game barely advanced at all. Anyway, in the end we managed to turn it around and the game has seen the light of day.
F: How would you define the GiantFox team in one word?