Interview with Umut Dervis About Eklips

Who is behind this idea and how you got into game development?

We are two people at Strange Cat, me (Umut) and Çavlan, I had been making flash games since 2008 and then we decided to make things together. Eklips was one of my personal prototypes and people seemed to like it, so I decided to squeeze it in between our more ambitious projects.

Explain the game in one sentence.

Eklips is an endless puzzle game where you try to form squares with blocks around a dot.

What made you excited about this idea?

We were joking about uninspired clones of block-games and I wondered if I can make a fresh and different block game that I can like as a player.

What was your biggest struggle while making this game?

I can’t say which one felt bigger at that time but there were two big struggles:

One was to find a Mac and then updating it to the latest OS from Leopard, which was necessary to release the game.

Second was to decide how the blocks will move inwards after a square is completed. Since possible block count gets higher at the outer zones, most of the time it is spatially impossible to move every one of them towards the center. So I had to come up with a priority sorting mechanism dealing with all possible situations, which tends to result in something hard to read and understand as a player and worse, it can seem inconsistent (and even antagonistic) if not managed well.

In the final version, it is still a bit of a black box inevitably, but I think it manages to pass as a mildly mysterious AI, instead of a chaotic / buggy-looking ruleset.

How long it took you to build it? Do you think you could have finished it earlier, if so why?

My first prototype was made in 2 days or so, then I forgot about it. After I’ve decided to return to it, completion took nearly 3 months, not always full-time though. I could have finished it earlier, but I think it would have affected the end result in a bad way.

What did you hope for after you’ve released the game and what actually happened?

I just hoped to see something finished after a long time without any release. After flash games died, I struggled with finishing something. It is our first mobile game and I was very happy when it was featured in US App Store. I was less than happy to see paid apps in mobile are really in a downwards trend. But overall, I think it was a good experience.

What lessons you’ve learned for future projects from this game?

Making touch controls expressive and simple at the same time is hard (unlike mouse control, for eg.). Some people adapt really well to the fluidity of Eklips controls, while some struggle. No wonder so many games in mobile choose simpler controls over expressiveness of movement, because it’s hard to get it right for everyone.

How many other finished projects do you have?

I have released 9 flash games over the years (excluding jam games etc.), you can play them at umutdervis.com if your browser supports flash.

What’s the biggest advice you have for people who want to work in game development?

I’m not fond of giving advice. Different methods work for different people, for different goals. If something works for you, great, keep doing that. If not, try something new. The only common goal is to release something that people can play. As long as you can test your ideas with actual playable prototypes and gather feedback, you’re good to go.

Lastly, how video games influenced your life? How your life has changed with them?

Back in school, I was very introverted and games were something that brought our little friend group together and gave me happiness.

Eklips for Appstore

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Also published on Medium.

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