National Video Games Examiner Patrick Hickey Jr. chats with “Stealin” creator Jacek Ciereszko, who discusses the nifty tank game and how his love of simulation games on the Commodore 64 played a huge role in its development.
For more on the game, click here.
Patrick Hickey Jr.: What inspired this game?
Jacek Ciereszko: When I was young, I played my Commodore 64 a lot and one of the games I played the most was the famous Zolyx from 1987. It was a game where you would control a dot using a joystick and where you would have to divide the enemy land by drawing a line in an attempt to create a closed shape. When completed, that area became yours. The enemy dots would bounce from the walls inside not captured land as well as inside your land. The player would lose the game when the enemy dot touched your dot or uncompleted shape when drawing. You’d win if you capture 75% of the land.
That simple game somehow stuck in my head for many years and recently when I wanted to find a game like that on mobile platforms, there was nothing in the app store. That convinced me to give it a try and build a cool game like that.
Hickey Jr.: What has the development process been like?
Ciereszko: It was rough. I started development somewhere in July 2014, hoping to implement this game in three months. I chose Unity 3D for the first time, so I had to learn how to use it, but that worked out very well and soon I felt comfortable with that tool. Around November 2014, I removed about 80% of the code due to game map design decisions and issues with colliders, basically, enemy soldiers were crossing the walls without bouncing from them. I redesigned the map and started calculating the simple physics myself, which solved the problem and in March 2015, I had a first working prototype of the game. Getting the art took me another four months, until August 2015, when I started first alpha tests on my friends and family. It turned out that the first version was disappointing, players didn’t know what to do in the game, what was the goal, tank control was difficult and not intuitive. Improving that took me another few months until December 2015 when I did a soft launch on iPad. That version provided me a lot of good feedback, which I used to prepare a final version that works now on Android and iOS.
During the development I took many breaks, leaving the project and coming back again. When you work on something for so long and you get just a little bit of bad feedback, it’s really easy to lose the motivation and switch to something different. That’s why, for example, during that time I completed few other small projects like the app for Apple Watch or a simple game for Windows Phone.
It was crazy 20 months, but I got Stealin in the state where I am proud of it. I am sure people who love strategies will enjoy it too.
Hickey Jr.: What games did you play as a kid? How did they inspire this one?
Ciereszko: I am a strategy games type person. As a kid I was playing everything that was available on Commodore 64, Pegasus, Sega, PlayStation and later PC but only strategies could keep me engaged. I remember games the likes of Dune, Civilization, Settlers and SimCity. These games took hundreds of hours from my life.
I love that strategy games y have many ways to solve them, but you need to think a lot to find the best solution. It’s not about who shoots faster, but how you will approach the given problem and find the right strategy to maximize the score, a real challenge.
Hickey Jr.: What are your goals for the game?
Ciereszko: My personal goal for the Stealin is that I hope people will enjoy the game. When I see in the game reviews comments like “thanks, I love your game” or “my new favorite game”, that’s the best reward a developer can get. The moment after the game release is so exciting that all of that hard work is paying off with satisfactions you get from people playing it.
Financial rewards always come with a good polished game, so I am trying to not think about that part and just focus on the product. Even from a marketing perspective, I believe that if the game is good, it will eventually come to the top of the ratings in the store.
Hickey Jr.: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Ciereszko: It would be great if people would remember the Stealin as a good, challenging strategy game. Not something that they finished in one evening but a game that they enjoyed for weeks. Maybe one day, 30 years from now, someone will mention Stealin on his inspiration list, as a game that he played as a kid.
Hickey Jr.: Bottom line, why should someone play it?
Ciereszko: Stealin is a fun strategy game that will let you play it in your free time without Ads and without in-app-purchases. It will stretch your brain and force you to think, it will take you to the world where you will forget about your problems and will let you be someone else for some time, a brave soldier fighting for his country. Try it only if you have a lot of time to lose.
Hickey Jr.: What’s next?
Ciereszko: The next step is releasing the game on the Windows Store platform. I had a great experience with my previous strategy game on Windows, Roman Empire and I know that the community loves strategy games. After that, I if people will still like Stealin, maybe Stealin 2.0.