As we discussed last month, a lot of the new and popular WeChat mini games coming out are being made with the Cocos Creator. We shared a little bit about the game “Ekans” and would like to share a bit more in this interview with the developers.
“Ekans” is a puzzle game developed by the Renaissance Studio and produced by Hangzhou Electric Soul Network.
Ekans scores a 9.4 on TapTap and nominated for “Best Game of the Year.”
“Ekans,” is a mix between the classic mobile games “Snake” and “Sokoban” having your snake move around a puzzle, trying to solve it.
It was initially launched on the Android platform in 2017 and won the “Best Game” nomination at the TapTap Annual Game Awards. The game scored a 9.4 on the site, and the creative gameplay was loved and recognized by Chinese players.
In 2018, the production team decided to port the game to the WeChat mini game platform allowing for a much more creative but straightforward gameplay style. Using the original Chinese style art that combined paper and shadow play, the game style is quite new and passed the first batch of creative games certified for being on the WeChat platform.
The style and challenge of “Ekans” won over gamers and developers in China
When Yang Jingyi, the product manager of the WeChat edition, introduced the game to us, he said, “This is a brain-burning puzzle game. It combines the classic gameplay functions, but it is different from the traditional ones. The game added five kinds of animals such as snakes, elephants, frogs, and gave them unique abilities. These abilities come from some proverbs, or from some traditional Chinese fables, making the game environment very deep. The exquisite combination dramatically increases the overall playability of the game. At the same time, in the overall art style of the game, creates a very Chinese-style aura for the user. ”
Many in the industry have a lot of positive things to say about the game:
Senior Producer Liu Chao ( Tencent’s Mutual Entertainment Photon Studio): “The game theme and gameplay are highly integrated and unified, including the reasonable setting of the snake’s behavior of “eating insects” and the setting up of their special effects. The gameplay and subject matter complement each other very well.”
Technical Director Zhang Yu ( 22 years old indie game developer): “I like how players need to think about how to eat all the bugs and get to the end correctly. I like the artistic style of the shadow play elements, and the soothing traditional folk music makes the game’s artistic conception amazing.”
How did the game idea come about? What is their opinion on building for WeChat? To this end, we conducted an exclusive interview with the Renaissance Studio production team. The following contents were compiled based on the interview materials.
4 man teams, launching 3 puzzle games a year
The Renaissance Studio is a small independent team of 4 people, 3 of whom are the co-founders of the original game. “Ekans” was developed by these 3 members, and 1 artist.
The team’s work includes multiple games. In 2017, the team launched a total of 3 puzzle games, “Ekans” was their third game.
The idea comes from Snake, but not really
Regarding the creation of game ideas, the producer said, “The idea of the game was originally derived from “Snake.”
Before working on the game, the production team was working on making a Chinese chess game into a puzzle game, integrating chess and the art of war, giving the game the name “Soldiers.”
When they started production of “Ekans,” they wanted to make Snake into a real-time game. But like chess, they wanted the game to be played on a grid. Unfortunately, they later found that there is a game called “Snakebird” which had a similar type of gameplay. The production decided to change the way the game played and began to explore in other directions.
By coincidence, the team found that having a snake “head and tail swap after eating something ” made solving puzzles more interesting, so they started creating puzzles around it. “The original prototype include a frog in the game. “. In addition to frogs, the game also added elephants and other animals, giving them different abilities, significantly improving the game playability.
Cocos Creator only took three days to port to WeChat
In terms of engine selection, the producer said, “The team members have experience in developing Cocos2d-x, and the workflow of Cocos Creator is very convenient to use. It took us only three days to complete our port of ‘Ekans.'”
“Moving from Unity to Cocos, and the release of the game’s HTML5 version was very convenient, with compatibility being excellent. The gameplay developed by our team was relatively simple, so Cocos’s built-in function was all we needed, without needing any special customization and expansions.”
Standardization of the platform can incubate more ideas
Producers believe that innovation is an essential driving force for China’s development in the past 20 years. Creative games can further promote the development of WeChat.
“I think that in the future, WeChat games can be the birthplace of a large number of creative games,” Jingyi said. “Maybe the next “Angry Birds” will be born from it.”
If you would like a chance to play, open up your version of WeChat and scan this QR Code: