Development studio KIXEYE - originally known as Casual Collective - was founded back in 2007 by David Scott and Paul Preece with a very simple goal in mind: to make the games that the developers grew with and loved playing. In 2009, the organization's founders eventually settled on Facebook as the medium for their games; a market they saw as particularly sparse in games developed for core gamers. 2009 was also the year that Scott and Preece began development on their first Facebook RTS, a title known as Backyard Monsters, which is a combination city-building/tower defense title.
Each player has a "yard" in which they can build a wide array of gadgets and structures, and defenses while raising monsters to attack other player's yards and steal their resources. At any point, you can be assaulted either by wild monsters or the creatures raised by other players. At the time, it was a downright revolutionary title, and a far cry from most of the Skinner Box simulators available on the social network. Arguably, it's also the title that ultimately put KIXEYE on the map.
"With these games, I think we essentially proved that core gamers do want to play games on Facebook; that there's an audience for more traditional gaming"
It's a little fitting, then, that the franchise which initially brought KIXEYE onto Facebook will also represent its first steps into the world of mobile game development. Backyard Monsters Unleashed - which released today for iPhone iPad, and iPod Touch - has been redesigned from the ground up to take advantage of touch and swipe controls and with a number of exclusive features, including yard customization, a new matchmaking system, and Tribes functionality.
On Monday, I got the chance to sit down with KIXEYE's Bryan Lam and Caryl Shaw to discuss the new title.
""We've been patiently waiting to move into mobile for a while," says Bryan.
"We're pretty excited about it," explained Caryl, speaking of the mobile launch. "It feels like it's a great fresh take; if mobile had been around when we were developing the original, it might have been an even better fit for us than Facebook."
"We've been patiently waiting to move into mobile for a while," said Bryan. "We've been really successful on the web with Backyard Monsters, War Commander, and battle Pirates. With these games, I think we essentially proved that core gamers do want to play games on Facebook; that there's an audience for more traditional gaming."
"This is an incredible opportunity for us, and there's a really great buzz about us moving into mobile; it's something we've been working on for a long time"
But why Backyard Monsters? Why not Battle Pirates, or War Commander. Why not the recently-released VEGA Conflict?
"I think that Backyard Monsters is a great entry into mobile for Kixeye because it's probably our most accessible RTS game," replied Caryl. "While it's strategy and PVP, the theme is 'monsters in your backyard;' a lot of the items are real, household tools. It's a bit less 'core' than War Commander. It's cute, fun, and super colorful. There's just this sense of joy in it, and I think it's going to appeal to a fairly broad audience - which is where mobile is right now. It's got a very broad audience that wants to get in and play games; they'll play whatever looks interesting to them."
"We're really excited about this - it's KIXEYE's first mobile launch," she added. "It's a great segway for the company, and we're doubling down, committed to making great games and strategy games for people who like to play with other people and compete with other people. This is an incredible opportunity for us, and there's a really great buzz about us moving into mobile; it's something we've been working on for a long time."