Interview With Pinokl Games, The Developer of Games Such As Party Hard Tycoon
NB: The interviewee's main language is not English, and some edits have therefore been made to the interviewee’s answers for clarity.
You can find the video version of this article at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_-H_K-9u3c&t
Recently I have been playing an interesting game called Party Hard Tycoon; a spinoff of Party Hard and Party Hard 2. The tycoon variant takes the player on the journey of making a profit from running parties rather than being the one crashing them. I still have yet to fully explore all the game has to offer since my party business seems to be crashing and burning at a specific point in the game I have yet to push past. However, what I have seen brought some questions to mind and as a result, I took a deeper look at the team behind the game, Pinokl Games, and how Party Hard Tycoon came to exist. Some research and a few discussions, the Pinokl Games team very kindly offered to participate in an interview.
I hope you all enjoy the following interview as much as I have enjoyed learning about Pinokl and playing their awesome new early access game Party Hard Tycoon. A big thank you also to tinyBuild who made this interview possible.
A Little Background on Pinokl
For those in the Charede Gaming community who don’t know who you are, can you give a little bit of background on who you are, where you are based, and game titles you have produced?
We are a small development team of twelve people from Rivne, Ukraine.
How did your founders originally get into the games industry professionally?
Alexandr Potapenko and Igor Arterchuk have a university background in programming, and this is where they met and studied together at the university. Each of them tried to become a game developer, made their own games, participated as Game Masters at different MMOs. At some points, they worked in different places, not connected with game development (such as banks and factories), and then they decided to open their own web development studio. Out of all the orders they were getting, about 30-50% were gaming projects. Then they slowly started developing their own games.
Andrew Borisov joined in 2011. At that point, he already had his own studio in a different city consisting of around ten people and had several successful social projects. At that time, Pinokl Games was developing free-to-play games for Eastern European social networks. Three of the biggest games had approximately six-million installations. It was at this point Pinokl Games switched to mobile, and after that, made Party Hard.
Of the games you have produced so far which would you say has been the most challenging and why?
Party Hard Tycoon was the hardest since it was a new genre for us. But, to be fair, each new game is the hardest because we are always trying new things. It was challenging to make a mobile multiplayer game after social web games. After mobile games, PC and console games seemed hard since they were new to us.
Of the games you have produced so far which would you say has been the most rewarding to make and why?
Party Hard, for sure! It was a big leap after free-to-play games. Our biggest reward was the game development process - the game was made for the gamers, not for; monetisation, CPI/LTV, marketing, and advertising. At that point, Steam was different from free-to-play platforms because game success depended on how much players liked the game. If they like the game, there are positive reviews, streams, promotions, featuring, and sales. While to be successful in free-to-play, you needed to buy cheap traffic and calculate the conversion.
If those reading this have the chance to pick up right now just one of the games you have developed, which one would you recommend the most and why?
Always the next game. Party Hard 2 will be even better. Of course, we recommend the original Party Hard as well. You can play it on consoles, PC or even mobile.
Party Hard Tycoon
Which other games and developers have you drawn inspiration from during the development of Party Hard Tycoon if any?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any direct inspiration, which made the development very challenging. Some of the games, which inspired us were Theme Hospital, GameDev Tycoon, GameDev Story, This Is The Police, and Basement.
I personally really love the style of the art. Where did the decision to go down that route come from and who in the Pinokl team is focused on the art elements of the Party Hard games?
Alexandr Ponomariov is the main pixel evangelist at Pinokl. What happened with Party Hard, we didn’t plan it like other games. We had to make a game for a game jam and only had three days for this task. We had more resources to make it with pixel art, and the players loved the art style!
With Party Hard Tycoon being a spinoff of Party Hard and Party Hard 2, what have you focused on when pulling their thematic core across into Party Hard Tycoon?
Our game fans have always been the driving force behind the game. They really enjoyed the workshop and level editor in the first Party Hard, and many wanted to throw their own parties. We thought why not!
Party Hard and Party Hard 2 all focus on crashing the party, whereas, Party Hard Tycoon focuses on you running these crazy parties for maximum profit. How has this complete change in the role and goal of the player impacted the way you have focused development?
From the development point of view, in both cases 80% of our work was focused on environments, parties, behaviour of party-goers. So the game focus didn’t change a lot. It felt good to work on a different project, to assess Party Hard with fresh eyes, and add more new mechanics and content to the second part of the game.
Were there any mechanics you tried out during early development but realised would not work and why?
We had to change the gameplay a couple of times completely. For example, the party preparation. First, all the gameplay was about preparation: selecting the topic, place, and other settings, and then party in the idle mode, but when we started playing, we understood, that each player wanted to go to action during the party itself. We had to cut and simplify a lot of things.
Are there any aspects you feel Party Hard Tycoon excels at and are particularly proud of?
Many funny moments. When the players are happy, we are happy, and we like to hear when people wanted to dance from the party music and when the player couldn’t stop laughing after a party was crashed by the nude bodybuilders.
If there is anything you could change about Party Hard Tycoon in hindsight what would it be and why?
Only if we had a time machine. To know which mechanics work better or not working at all without spending time on the testing. And of course, add more murders and an assassin in the very beginning.
For those in the Charede Gaming community who don’t know, when and where is Party Hard Tycoon being released?
It’s available on Steam in Early Access right now!
Charede: You can find Party Hard Tycoon on Steam via this link: http://store.steampowered.com/app/513330/Party_Hard_Tycoon/
How did you originally get involved in working with tinyBuild on your projects?
Alexandr Potapenko visited DevGAMM conference in Minsk where he watched Alex Nichiporchik’s presentation about what games streamers like and how to earn their attention. Then, a month later, our game jam build of Party Hard got millions of views on different YouTube channels. We then understood that this game would work great for this publisher. We spent a couple of months to develop a stable build and presented it to tinyBuild. Even though we knew tinyBuild guys for several years already, they are very strict in their game selection. Many developers would like to work with tinyBuild, but as far as we know, they (tinyBuild) don’t want to mass-publish games on Steam and work personally with each of the developers.
How do you feel the relationship you have with tinyBuild has been beneficial in the production and distribution of your games?
The game development process is not easy. For example, while making the first Party Hard, we were releasing working alphas every month; this is a super fast pace! But it was worth it. Developers work hard, but there is a huge amount of work from the publisher’s side as well, which for the most part stays behind the curtains.
How do you feel tinyBuild differs from other publishers?
First of all, with their focus on the games. Earlier we worked with several other publishers who only got involved after the game release. tinyBuild participated in the game’s development from the very beginning. Some developers act like they are buying the game and tell developers what they want the game to be. In our case with tinyBuild, they give suggestions and we get to decide what to do with the game.
For those who are interested in getting into game development, what is the best piece of advice you can give based on your experience in the industry?
Participate in contests, game jams, and conferences. Party Hard was born at one of the game jams. We met all of the tinyBuild team at different industry events long before the company was founded.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge the games industry faces at the moment?
The biggest challenge is being in trend. Everything changes very quickly. A couple of years ago people used to buy new graphics cards to play AAA games like Crysis, and now they do this for experimental products like Rust or PUBG. Forecasting game or genre success is impossible. When you start the game development, you need to guess what genre will be popular when it launches. Sometimes working on something that is popular right now is too late.
Does the Pinokl team have any plans for future games?
Right now just Party Hard 2; after its launch, probably updates to the game. We worked on the original Party Hard for a year after its launch, which made our players very happy.
For those who don’t already know; where can your games be found so people can check them out?
You can find Party Hard on Steam Store, PlayStation Store, on Xbox, GOG, Apple App Store and Google Play.
Charede: You can find some of Pinokl’s games at the handy links here;
If people would like to get in contact with you to ask any questions what is the best way they can do this?
FaceBook - на страничках патихард, или в ЛС к разработчикам, отвечаем абсолютно всем.
Feel free to reach out to us on:
Any games members of the Pinokl team like to play in their free time and can recommend to the Charede Gaming community?
We love Hello Neighbor :) and of course PUBG, we have a huge love for this game!