FGL Community Spotlight – “Sonny”
The Community Spotlight returns to highlight a recent release from a mobile developer in the FGL community.
We asked Krin about his new release “Sonny” and got his thoughts on modern game development.
FGL: Welcome to the Spotlight, Krin! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with game development
Krin: My name is Jakrin Juangbhanich, and I first got into game development when I was 13 or 14. I had the thought to turn one of my highschool teachers (someone that wasn’t very popular with the students) into a boss fight. It was a very short game, and once the teacher was defeated, she blew up like a Megaman X boss. From there, I developed games as a hobby. I didn’t have any background in Computer Science, so I had to learn by just ripping apart example projects and copy pasting things a lot.
Between 2004 and 2010, I made a few Flash games that gained popularity on Newgrounds and ArmorGames: Sinjid, Crimson Warfare, Flight, Colony, and Sonny. Flash games were only starting to become big, so I guess there wasn’t that much competition at that time. That’s how my games were able to get so much exposure, and it really encouraged me to do something better than what I had done before. That’s how I grew my skills over the years, and that’s how I met all the amazing people that I’m working with today.
FGL: We’re very excited you brought your latest project “Sonny” to mobile. For fans new to the series, tell us about the Sonny franchise
Krin: The first Sonny game was originally a Flash game about a zombie who wakes up tries to find out who he was. The gameplay was a linear turn based combat RPG, with core focus being on the skills and buffs. It was immediately really popular, and to be honest I’m not sure why either. The game is really easy to learn, and I think people enjoy leveling up skills and items in general. Maybe it was the weird environments and story, or the voice acting. The music was incredible too (courtesy of David Orr – thanks mate!), so I guess it was a combination of those things.
What really surprised (and motivated) me was all the people who wrote in the comments or forums who were really into the game. They were talking about strategies, skill builds, and the story. It really made me so happy to know that I was able to create that kind of entertainment and value for other people. That was when I started to seriously consider game development as a career.
FGL: As a highly successful Flash developer, what was it like making the switch to mobile?
Krin: Prior to Sonny, I made another mobile game called Gemini Strike. It was the first mobile game I ever made, and the first game made using Unity. Double whammy! It was so challenging and uncomfortable at first. I chose to do a space shooter game because I always feel that is the best type of game to make when learning a new platform. But the project eventually grew into a space shooter with procedurally generated loot and RPG mechanics and a massive story script. I had a lot of fun on it, and it was a great project. When that game was done, the very same team began to work on the new Sonny game.
Even with the previous exposure to Unity and mobile, there were still many challenges. Not having vector graphics, or a Movieclip animation system like in Flash meant that we couldn’t just clone the game. We had to re-think how a lot of things worked, but also keep it feeling true to the original. The same was true with gameplay. Sonny was very popular back when it was released in 2007, but now it’s 2016 and the players will have higher expectations. The big design challenge for me was to bring in something fresh, but with the same flavour.
FGL: Do you have any advice for new game developers or developers looking to make the switch from web / browser gamedev to the mobile space?
Krin: Every developer is different and has their own story! But if you’re like me, you are an impatient creator. You get bored if you spend too much time learning or reading and not seeing results. You’d prefer to hack something together and have it work, than spending time to do it the ‘right’ way (bad habit, I know!). We’re like the hares of the fabled race. We’ll burst out the gate sprinting, but then stop dead down the track. Whether it is from laziness, or lack of energy, or willpower, it doesn’t matter.
But eventually to grow, you have to be patient. Learning a new technology or trying something new can take time. It can feel like a step backwards at first. So I think the key is not to give up, but just switch the approach. Stop being the hare for a while, and be the tortoise! Just make slow and steady progress, and bit by bit you’ll get where you want to be. Even if some technologies get obsolete, there are many more skills you’ll gain along the way that will be useful forever.
FGL: Where can your fans follow you and get updates on your games?
Krin: I’m in the process of re-creating my blog. In the meantime, my most active channel for updates or conversation is my twitter – @krin_jj! I My shoutouts are to my team (David, Jet, Panit, Akhanan!), to ArmorGames and all the support they’ve given me (Dan, Ferret, Sean, Tass, Dora!) and to all the amazing people I don’t know who create all the free YouTube video tutorials, podcasts, and answers on Stack Overflow. Thanks guys!
I’d like to thank Krin and Armor Games for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. You can download “Sonny” now HERE. If you have any other questions for Krin, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/krin_jj or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.