Every budding indie developer has a dream they are passionate about. A dream or a memory that just clicks with them that makes them want to share it with the world. Dennis Jensen and Nikki Starostka out of Denmark decided they wanted to share their passion with the world. But before I get into the passion and the game, I want to share what I learned about Nikki and Dennis.
Dennis and Nikki met in school studying computer graphics. They had the fortune of working together on several projects and found that there was great chemistry between the two. They enjoyed working with each other and decided to start a company right after graduation (It also didn’t hurt that they were neighbors and became good friends).
Dennis and Nikki admit that it wasn’t easy when they first started out. School doesn’t teach you how to run a company, and in the beginning it was hard. They needed to learn about business and company structures, and this was getting in the way of their dream of wanting to make cool stuff. Dennis said that they knew these were things they had to take care of first, but it was a lot of extra learning and work they had to do to be successful. The team realized that many of these skills were not taught in school. School didn’t teach them how to prioritize and balance making income with making consumer products, and school really only teaches you how to be an employee.
Dennis and Nikki started like everyone, they wanted to make a big game with a big scope, and they felt that even though others couldn’t make the game, they could. They would conquer that mountain and be that two man team that makes it to the top. But as the project and game progressed, they realized that they didn’t have all the skillsets to do what they wanted. They were working between projects and it took two years to get a demo that they could even showcase. As a small studio this isn’t the best way to go. The team advises that any new game developer that wants to start their own company or game is to try other things and take it a step at a time. There are so many unexpected things that you can run into that you aren’t ready for.
So as they decided to put their original project on the back burner, they begin to think of a new project. They started brainstorming and they took inspiration from a little game called “Game Dev Tycoon”. Dennis and Nikki made a bunch of cards and put all sorts of brain stormed ideas on the cards, and would pick one from each pile. They said it was a unique experience that led to some hilarious ideas, but one that really stuck was KnightOut. One of the most important aspects of the KnightOut project for the team was that they wanted it to be completely independent. They wanted it to be able to be done without funding and that it could be done without a publisher. These were very important tenants for the team, that the scope of the game could be done without necessarily needing outside assistance.
When Nikki and Dennis began by describing the premise of the game as at time in their childhood when they would doodle and draw castles and catapults. They would then dream about how it would be awesome to shoot and defend this amazing castle they drew. This instantly teleported me to my childhood. If you had a sibling, you potentially built houses or castles out of legos or dominoes, and then would create ramps or jumps and shoot Hotwheels into them to try to break them down. Well, if you didn’t do this, I will tell you this is what my brother and I did all the time. And suddenly the understanding of what KnightOut is clicked with me.
KnightOut is a game that is best played with friends and against others. You work to build a castle and arm it to the teeth with defenses and fight to your dying breath to try to break down the other teams castle. It seems simple in it’s premise, but the intricacies seem amazing. Where do you place the crossbow? Where should this wall go? How high should this wall go? Do I need levels? How does my team get out to defend the castle?
The possibilities and creative opportunities seem endless. Now I will be honest, I have not had an opportunity to play the game, but from the demo videos and screen shots it looks like a lot of fun. Nikki and Dennis have told me that they believe the core of the game is complete, and now they are working to add in features that will add dimension to the game.
Nikki and Dennis currently plan on releasing the game in Q1 in 2018. They have plans for the game to have online and local multiplayer. They are currently working with some other developers on the online aspect. But what makes KnightOut also unique, is that there is an arcade mode which can be played as single player or in co-op mode. But truthfully, I have a feeling this game is going to be more fun with 8 people on a couch each yelling at each other to do this or do that (kind of like Overcooked). They are still trying to figure out how to figure out the players duties, as they know if only one person were a builder, the other players would be kinda bored at the start of the round. So they are working through some ideas and hope to figure out how to meet this challenge.
Nikki and Dennis both work on the graphics, but Dennis has taken more of the technical side of the project because they don’t have a dedicated programmer. Nikki and Dennis really love getting feedback on the development process. They are currently doing streams every Tuesday and Thursday, and this gives the community the opportunity to check out how the development process occurs and also allows the community to provide ideas and feedback for the game. Make sure to check it out and help them with ideas on how to make an awesome game (https://www.twitch.tv/2ndstudio).
If KnightOut brings back those memories of your sibling rivalry and breaking down each others houses and forts, building up towns with legos and anything you can find, or even just those days in class where you daydream and doodled castles to pass the time, this might be something you want to check out. 2nd studio put together a fig campaign (https://www.fig.co/campaigns/knightout) where $10 dollars gets you the game and a chicken taunt!!! You can be teasing your opponents by clucking at them!!! And if the game really excites you the $25 dollar backing gets you early access and a plethora of other digital goodies.
The game is slated to be released on Steam and the Nintendo Switch, and ask yourself….will you be king of your castle?