Guns of Boom impressed us as well during our review, and we finally got the chance to chat with the CEO of Game Insight the studio behind the innovative mobile shooter, Anatoly Ropotov. We talk about Guns of Boom‘s start as a cross-platform title, future gameplay modes, and the challenges of crafting and balancing a AAA-gameplay experience on a handheld device.
Anatoly Ropotov: Everyone working at Game Insight has a huge passion for games, so it’s not a surprise that we have lots of first-person shooter fans who have always dreamt about working on such a project. Besides that, we have always wanted to create a true eSports title for mobile. Having a development team of old school gamers who grew up on games like the original Quake and Team Fortress, and who are inspired by latest hits like Overwatch, we managed to create the proper FPS gameplay experience that everyone has been waiting for on mobile.
Guns of Boom was initially planned as a cross-platform game, where players could play across PC and mobile versions. But after months spent [testing] Guns of Boom on PC, we realized that it is virtually impossible to create a flawless FPS experience tailored to both PC and mobile players. We rethought our approach and decided to keep it 100% mobile.
Our team had one main goal: to create the number one eSports-oriented shooter for mobile devices. We believed the key to success was ensuring simple and comfortable controls. This is why we decided to concentrate all of our effort in this direction. The results? Auto-shooting, aim assist and many other micro-features that together made our control scheme truly intuitive and accessible[;] even to users who have never played a shooter before. With it’s short five minute sessions of team based deathmatch and super comfortable controls, Guns of Boom resonates with our players extremely well. And the numbers speak for themselves: In just two months, Guns of Boom has been downloaded more than 10 million times and our players uploaded more than 100,000 videos on YouTube.
AR: Dozens of behavior patterns were tested while working on the aiming system, not to mention that each weapon required a unique approach. The main challenge was not just to create a stable auto-aiming system, but how to adapt it for each weapon and keep all the major differences between rifles, machine guns, shotguns and all other weapon types – and on top of that, how to keep them all well balanced so that we don’t lose the most important factor of a successful competitive game – a player’s skill.
For instance, [the] distance restriction affected many weapons, making them uncomfortable to use. During hundreds of internal playtests and multiple iterations, we achieved the desired balance[;] however we see that there are things that we could do even better, so we keep improving our system with each update.
AR: It’s a truly unique and unusual experience, with a huge portion of excitement. There are not many good FPS games on mobile, but there are plenty of games with millions of players. This fact motivated us to create the game everyone has been looking for. Doing a project of this kind at this scale is an opportunity to try lots of fresh and never-seen solutions, and conduct a series of experiments that very few people have done so far. It was a great experience to adapt and transfer all the best features of FPS games, and at the same time look for and develop unique solutions which could only work on mobile.
Feedback from our players motivates us like nothing else, so offering more for our players with each update is a very satisfying and pleasant experience. We see lots of competitive clan [forming], and we are moving in that direction together with our players, building a true eSports-oriented experience around the game. The possibilities are endless, and there’s so much more to come. We can’t wait to share all the exciting news with everyone.
AR: There will be lots of new maps for each mode, including unique ones with a twist in unusual settings. There are several new gameplay modes in development right now, but we see that players love the game for its dynamic Team Deathmatch mode[,] which grants both explosive action and a proper team [experience], so we are trying to keep [the focus on] these two elements in all of our upcoming modes. Also, we are of course working on new weapons, armors and skins. In our most recent update[,] we rolled out a new customization system and players were extremely excited about it, so I’m happy to confirm that everyone can expect lots of new customization items and features, as well as new competitive eSports-oriented features that I’ve mentioned earlier.
Regarding co-op survival, we actually tried that in PC version – four players surviving endless hordes of zombies. It was a great experience, so yes, we might see it in the game at some point.
AR: The main idea behind our setting was to create a game that’s attractive to both casual and hardcore players. Projects with grim and serious settings are often made only with hardcore players in mind, which often repels casual players who just want to have fun. In Guns of Boom, we are trying to keep a balance between a military theme and some less serious, humorous touches. We consider our aesthetics to be universal – players are not expecting realistic weapon behavior, and this lets us focus on fun . On top of that, we feel that game just plays better in this visual style. Fights are more colorful and dynamic. This allows us to be more creative with weapons and customization too, so we can bring in tons of new content and not to be limited to particular style.
AR: Considering that Guns of Boom is a game focused exclusively on dynamic team PvP, it was a crucial factor to build a reliable and interesting variety of weapons. First we developed a classic set of weapons familiar to everyone who has ever played a shooter: assault rifles, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, pistols, and knives.
Considering that Guns of Boom is a game focused exclusively on dynamic team PvP, it was a crucial factor to build a reliable and interesting variety of weapons.
Initially we were looking at games like World of Tanks, where a player’s progression led to more powerful guns[, but] our tests showed us this wasn’t a fit for Guns of Boom, so we started to invent unique perks for each gun so that players could pick the abilities that suit them more. Some weapons will burn players, some will freeze and lower [an] opponent’s speed, and some weapons are extremely powerful but have a enormous recoil. The main challenge here was to keep it all balanced, and we continue to improve each weapon by listening to player feedback. Overall we are happy [with] how this system works, because the most important thing for each player is to find the best weapon suiting their individual gameplay style – not just buying the most expensive one. [All] of this helps to maintain diversity at a very high level without turning Guns of Boom into a game where weapons differ only in performance characteristics.
AR: We love to say that we’ve found the “magic bullet.” The keys to our initial success were correctly identified goals and objectives, as well as the development team’s dedication to test various formats of gameplay on mobile devices guided by trial and error: controls, session lengths, size of the maps, battle dynamics, setting, and other major factors.
We also took a cue from the breakthrough that Halo made at a time when FPS games using a home console controller sounded quite skeptical, or even downright impossible. Like Halo, our approach was shaped around the player’s experience so that they can enjoy the game without being distracted by complicated controls and tons of finger tapping around the touchscreen. It turned out to be the perfect solution, providing a seamless, genuine FPS experience on mobile.
It’s also very important to provide a constant flow of updates while improving all of the existing features. Support from our players keeps us motivated every single day – we’ve achieved that perfect level of communication with our players, where we are carefully listening to all they say, and turning that feedback into improvements.
AR: We love watching videos submitted by our players. As I mentioned earlier, there are more than 100,000 Guns of Boom videos on YouTube already[, and] we also love to see their reaction in our Discord chat when we publish their videos in Guns of Boom’s built-in the game Video Hub.
Another thing we really enjoy is our internal playtests, when we are testing all the latest features, weapons, maps and gameplay modes – that’s always a great time to have fun with your colleagues while seeing your latest ideas in action and thinking of new ones.