View Full Version : Kivi was a mistake

04-27-2011, 11:25 AM
Pretty much ever since we finished Kivi's Underworld I have had two very different and opposing viewpoints of the game. On one hand I think Kivi is a really cool game and I'm glad that someone made the game. On the other hand I think that Soldak developing Kivi was a mistake. I'm going to talk about both viewpoints a little.

The Good:

1) Fun - I'm obviously biased, but I think Kivi's Underworld is a pretty fun game. It plays like an action RPG where you fight tons of monsters, find secrets, grab loot, improve your characters, and even has cool powerups.

2) Easy to learn - It was designed to be a more casual game than the typical RPG, something that was very easy to learn. I think we did this really well. It's especially a great game for people that are new to the genre or are put off by all of the usual complexities of more full fledged RPGs.

3) Replayability - Even with its streamlined design it has quite a bit of replayability with over 20 playable characters, a scoring system, and many achievements to unlock.

4) Limited time - The storyline is broken up into small, separate adventures with each of them taking around 30 minutes so this is a great game to play if you only have small chunks of time at any one sitting. You can even save in the middle of an adventure and it's still really easy to restart because you start exactly where you were and the few quests remind you exactly what your goals are.

5) Unique - I really can't think of another game like it.

6) Engine - From an internal standpoint we improved the engine quite a bit. We made the engine way more moddable especially things like classes, we added multiplayer in the expansion, and we added a ton of cool features like the line of sight stuff.

7) Shared world - I think it's kind of cool that we got to see more of the Depths of Peril world from the Lumen perspective.

And the part everyone actually wants to read, The Bad:

1) We made it - I know that's a strange statement. What I mean is that it was a mistake for Soldak to make the game. It's a game that would have been better for a different company to make. If you play the "which of these things doesn't fit game" with our 3 games everyone is going to choose Kivi. Other than being an action RPG (sort of), it's not very much like our other two games. It doesn't have much randomness, it doesn't have a dynamic world, it's not a hardcore game, and it's not very deep. It's not really a problem that it is different. The problem is that it doesn't fit what our Depths of Peril gamers wanted and the new gamers that we did bring in didn't stick around because our other games don't match their expectations either. Basically they are two very different crowds with very different expectations and we can't really please both of them.

The other half of the reason why Soldak making Kivi was a mistake is that I personally don't love this type of game. I love the rival factions in DoP. I love the dynamic world in both DoP and DC that doesn't sit around waiting for the player. I love how in DC something new is always happening because of the dynamic events, monsters, NPCs, the incredible amount of randomness, and how all of this interacts with each other. Basically I love really deep games and Kivi is not deep.

2) Graphics - No I don't think the lack of bump mapping or some other graphic gizmo was much of a problem. I think the mistake we made was not having a much more casual graphic style that fit the casual gameplay better. Looking back on it, we should have gone with more of a Plants vs Zombies style, something much more bright and playful.

Now that I think about it, Pop Cap doing Kivi on Windows, Macs, and the iPhone/iPad with a Plants vs Zombies art style would have been pretty cool. :)

This write-up ignores the reasons why we created Kivi in the first place though. There were some pretty good reasons at the time why we decided to make a more casual RPG. I might write that up as another blog someday.

Anyway, to bring this back to a more cheerful thought. As of right now we are lowering the price of Kivi's Underworld to $9.99! Like I said Kivi might not match the style of our other games, but it is still a fun game and $9.99 is pretty cheap.

Overview (http://www.soldak.com/Kivis-Underworld/Overview.html) - Buy it (http://www.soldak.com/Kivis-Underworld/Buy.html) - Download the demo (http://www.soldak.com/Kivis-Underworld/Demo.html)

04-27-2011, 01:05 PM
I'll admit that I'm part of the problem. I learned about Soldak because Depths of Peril offered an interesting perspective on the action RPG, and while I certainly enjoyed playing Kivi for a while, it was Din's Curse that really brought me back.

Look at the bright side, Kivi continues to establish Soldak as a company not afraid to try new things.

04-27-2011, 02:51 PM
I bought Depths of Peril first, and then Kivi's Underworld for the Mac when it came out, and it was not a mistake! Both games are good, but I think I enjoy playing Kivi's Underworld more often. It's a great stress reliever and fun, too. The numerous characters keep it from getting boring, even though the maps are always the same. I wouldn't mind seeing an expansion with new maps.

04-27-2011, 04:11 PM
It's funny, Kivi was the first Soldak game I had seen, saw it on a gaming website thought it looked different and tried the demo.
It was fun but a little too casual for me.

But looking around Soldak's website I read about Din's Curse which was in beta then and thought it sounded great so went with the pre-order deal got into the beta and the rest is history lol.

04-27-2011, 05:42 PM
As a customer my reaction was very similar to Mercanis. DoP = Awesome! DC = Awesome! Kivi = Cool, but not on the same magnitude. Definitely a good game, though.

In a previous post you mentioned wondering if we felt the same way about our development of Tidalis. Absolutely yes. Very similar to your list of thoughts in this post, actually. Only point 7 doesn't really apply (though we got a major kick out of making music for and incorporating the fan-made AIW graphical theme for a secret level in Tidalis). On "bad" point 1 we had most of the team really liking that kind of game and two of us really not being into that genre (though we like Tidalis). On "bad" point 2 even though we went with a very casual/upbeat/polished art style which we like quite a bit, it wasn't the kind of stuff people are expecting from Plants Vs Zombies or Bejeweled-like stuff, and I think we lost some points there.

Very glad we made the game, and I wouldn't really call it a mistake to have made it, but it was a serious mistake to count on Tidalis in any kind of financial way. Mostly recovered from that, though.

Anyway, off-topic, but you'd mentioned the similarities before so I figured I'd chime in :)

04-27-2011, 06:05 PM
Maybe off topic, but I always like hearing thoughts from other indie devs. :)

04-27-2011, 06:18 PM
This is a really fantastic post from Shadow and a great response from Keith over at Arcen. I'd like to see more indie developer post mortems, especially when other indie developers feel compelled to chime in! It is nice to see game developers carrying on a public dialogue about what it means to be an indie developer and the kinds of obstacles indie developers face.

For the record, I suspect that neither Soldak nor Arcen would be the same companies without their respective "mistake" games. There is something to be said for making such "mistakes," precisely because they serve to give the developer a better sense of their own identity.

Lastly, what Steven says about Kivi makes a lot of sense, especially the remark about how the general atmosphere of the game (art style, etc.) doesn't meld well with the more casual design philosophy. Tidalis is a bit more mysterious on this score, precisely because Tidalis DID get the art style and atmosphere right, and is probably the most complete puzzle game on the market. In other words, it makes sense that Kivi was a hard sell for both the casual crowd and the DoP crowd, but I don't understand why Tidalis wasn't more successful with the casual crowd.

At any rate, these more introspective kinds of forum posts are welcome respite from the typical balance and bug discussions. I hope there are more of them! Perhaps Soldak would be willing to do a design diary for the new game, sort of like the one Chris Park writes over at Arcen for their new game?

05-18-2011, 05:10 PM
I haven another reason why it was a mistake for Soldak to make this game: I really enjoyed Kivi, even so much I bought Din's Curse and spent quite a while testing Depths of Peril, but I did not like these games half as much as Kivi. Waste of time and money for me.

BTW, I hate the fact that casual games are associated with that terrible style of plants vs. zombies, Kivi's style is perfect for the game.

Just my $0.02.


08-17-2011, 10:54 PM
The only thing that was a mistake about kivi was that you could have had a much more fun game if you could play or start the game with a character you wanted to choose. Just imagine how much more fun it would be if you could play a character, beat the game, then try another for a completely different experience. I hope that someday shadow makes a similar style game in the future. I may play dop and dins quite a lot, but i can still say that i finished kivis which is not something i can say about dop and dins.