Behind the Curtain: The Making of Midnight Castle
Have you tried Midnight Castle, the newest HOPA from Elephant Games yet? Last week I was able to sit down with one of the creative minds that manages the development of Elephant’s amazing Hidden Object Puzzle Adventures! Read more below and then go download the game today!
Please introduce yourself & your team…
My name is Peter, and I manage game development at Elephant Games. Our very talented team on Midnight Castle has already created several successful HOPA games. For this one, we wanted to do something innovative. We worked hard, and now you finally have a chance to judge our work.
Can you tell me a bit about the Midnight Castle universe? What type of game is it?
Midnight Castle is more than a hidden-object, free-to-play game – it’s a mystery with fantasy elements. Your adventure begins when you inherit a castle, but it isn’t the kind of castle where a butler invites you in to sit in a cozy armchair by the fireplace. The world of the game is crammed with secrets, and features several enigmatic characters. Each are concerned with the big mystery – the Chamber of Wishes hidden somewhere in the very heart of the castle. And this is only the beginning!
How did you come up with the concept for Midnight Castle? What inspired you to make this game?
We’ve been working on HOPA games for several years. Our experience has been that the audience loves the thrilling stories, interesting mechanics, sympathetic characters and adorable helpers in this genre. We hope that we’ve already learned how to create high-quality HOPAs. So we wanted to combine free-to-play with the kind of great HOGs our players have come to expect from us. Taking free-to-play games to a new level seemed like a great challenge!
Why should fans of your games be excited to play this one?
First, we want to assure our fans that we aren’t abandoning their beloved premium games. We are still Elephant – we’ve just created a new game in a new genre. There are many reasons why it is worth playing. There’s no risk because it’s free! Our game designers have developed great content. Midnight Castle has wonderful art, created in the best tradition of our games, and familiar to experienced players.
Midnight Castle is also very user-friendly. It’s nice to play something designed especially for you. Finally, the game’s full-scale, complex story distinguishes it from other free-to-play games. The player’s actions actually make a difference in the world of Midnight Castle.
Is there anything you can do in a Free-to-Play universe that you cannot do with a premium game?
A premium game, once purchased, stays the same. It’s like a book you’ve read cover to cover. You can always return to it, and replay.
But a free-to-play game is a relatively endless adventure, and one you can take with your friends by your side. This is one key difference between a free-to-play game and a premium game – social features. When you play a free-to-play game, you can find new online friends, befriend the people you know from real life, share your achievements or help your mate overcome an obstacle and complete quests. It’s a truly breathtaking experience!
What are the biggest technical challenges you had to overcome while making this game?
The social features were the biggest technical challenge for our team, simply because they are not a part of our premium games.
What is your favorite feature of Midnight Castle?
Midnight Castle has the great elements of classic HOG games. You can apply objects in zoom zones, and stroll from one location to another. It’s always nice to have something familiar in a new game, isn’t it? It’s also fun to collect pets. All in all, it’s an entirely new world to explore.
What is your favorite thing about the Midnight Castle universe?
There are many unique things about the Midnight Castle universe versus other free-to-play games. For example, you’ll need to assemble a compass and compile a book.
Also, the characters’ personalities and appearance unfold and change throughout the game. Diversity is important – you are on an adventure, after all!
What about the Midnight Castle team’s approach to developing games do you feel sets you apart from other developers?
I won’t lie. Most developers have pretty much the same development process. But Elephant’s teams always try to reach the high level of quality set by our earlier games.
What do you find is the best approach for starting a new project?
Concentrating on a single element will lead to invariable failure. All the components of a game need to be strong. This is why story, atmosphere, mechanics and gameplay all matter. Our priority is meeting the expectations of players while surprising them with something new.
What source provides the most accurate critique or feedback?
Free-to-play is a new field for us, with new opportunities and risks. It might be a mine field. But we feel inspired to walk across it anyway, and the most important feedback and critique we receive comes from the forums. They allow us to coordinate the development process with requests from the fans and the audience.
What are some of Elephant’s short and long term goals as a studio?
We are very enthusiastic about what we are doing. Our current goals include premium HOGs (players, we are still with you!), and the development of free-to-play games on PC and other platforms. We have a lot of ideas, and it’s time we had a chance to show them to the world.
If you had the video game world’s attention for one sentence or thought, what would it be?
We could say a lot of funny and witty things here! We could, but we won’t. Seriously, there’s one very important ideology in our company. We believe that our games (and all of our work) should speak for itself. Thank you for giving us this chance. We really appreciate it!