Ten Questions With… Nikola Kostic (KBros Games)

Ten Questions With… Nikola Kostic (KBros Games)

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We recently checked out the dark and moody puzzle-platformer, Albert and Otto: The Adventure Begins, from indie developer KBros. In it players have to traverse a unique and foreboding gameworld while relying on the aid of a magical bunny to survive the many pitfalls. To find out more about the game we badgered its creator Nikola Kostic who graciously answered our questions.

Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and your work?

My name is Nikola Kostic. I am a filmmaker/designer turned game developer. I am currently working on an episodic action puzzle platformer titled Albert & Otto.

How did the idea for Albert and Otto come about?

Albert & Otto is a project I started in order to learn how to code. It was supposed to be a 4 week project, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop working on it. I added a backpack with a bunny in it to the main character for aesthetic reasons, and to my surprise, that later evolved into the main mechanic.

I also had this really dark story that I kept wanting to make into a short film. I thought it would be a good challenge to tell it through an interactive medium instead. So in a way Albert & Otto came together as a mish-mash of ideas, rather than a single preconceived idea.

What was the inspiration for the art style of the game?

Tim Burton’s earlier work was a major influence, particularly his short stop-motion film titled “Vincent”. The game was initially completely textured emulating Burton’s style, however I decided to go with a minimalistic approach later in production. Otherwise, it would have otherwise been impossible to release this year as a one-man team. I’m really pleased with how it looks!

Do you have all four episodes planned from the start or is it a case of tweaking each one based on feedback from the previous ones?

The episodes are all planned in terms of the story, core mechanics, and key puzzles. During the development process, there is a lot of tweaking going on and the ideas are constantly evolving because what works on paper rarely works when you pick up the controller and try something out for the first time.

Episode 1 was my first game, and there were definitely things I wish I had done better or differently that I didn’t realize at the time. So I really look forward to delivering more in Episode 2 with the lessons learned. Feedback played a huge role in that. Some of the things that people enjoy the most about Episode 1 were added in just a few weeks before launch. So I like to have a solid foundation, but keep things loose and open to feedback.

What has been the biggest challenge while creating Albert and Otto?

Disclaimer: I sit at a desk at home and make video games for a living so I don’t have what you’d call “real” challenges. 🙂

However, because of that environment, there’s nobody telling me what to do every day. So the process becomes one big mind game and pushing a game through to completion on your own requires a lot of willpower. Especially when you are months away from the release date and there is no real sense of urgency and your Steam library is calling your name.

What made you decide to use sheep the way you did in the game?

The overall mood of the game is very dark and I wanted to keep it that way. But I also wanted to add some fun to it because, at the end of the day, it’s a game and I don’t think that games should take themselves too seriously even if they are dealing with telling stories set in Nazi Germany. Setting sheep on fire to complete puzzles is fun and players really seem to love it, but at the same time it makes them feel uneasy as they contribute to the overall darkness of the game by committing heinous crimes against the sheep to advance. Also I think this metaphor is clear in terms of the story and the events that transpired in 1940s Germany.

What are the future plans for yourself/KBros Games?

The plan is to keep making games. After completing the remaining episodes of A&O, we will start work on a few smaller multiplayer games that will be more experimental and involve the community a whole lot more, which is something missing from the creation process of Albert and Otto. Starting out, I didn’t realize how important community is even at the paper design phase because I was used to working alone on projects. Games are interactive and are best made that way.

Do you have any advice for other developers that want to go the Indie route?

The industry is still so young and I don’t think anybody really knows what they are doing. Also, things are changing so rapidly that advice I would consider good now could be very bad in a year or would not apply to anyone else except for me.

Instead, I’ll say something that was told to me many times but I did not really believe until I finished my own game. Making the game is the most important part. But it is only half the job. So (advice alert) if you plan to sell your game, start selling the moment you start coding or partner up with someone who is really good at it.

What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?

A mini Groot holding his severed head. It wasn’t weird until the head fell off.

Anything else you would like to add?

If anyone else wants to ask me anything at all you can do so at …. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3v2toj/iama_solo_indie_dev_who_taught_myself_to_code/

We want to thank Nikola for his time and wish him all the best with future episodes in the Albert and Otto series. We suggest everyone check out the Reddit post he mentioned for some more great insights about the game. Players unfamiliar with the game can check out our review HERE and use the widget below to purchase a copy on Steam.

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