Currently in soft launch in some countries, Eipix Entertainment’s Farm On! is an upcoming free-to-play farming sim that’s generating a ton of strong buzz. Intrigued and excited by this overwhelmingly positive response to the game from early players, I recently got in touch with my contact at Eipix Entertainment to ask a few questions about it and its development. Here’s what he had to say…
Thanks very much for taking the time for this interview. Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself, and talk a little bit about the formation and background of Eipix Entertainment?
Thanks for having us, iFanzine! My name is Zoran Milanko, and I’m the Lead Free-to-Play Producer at Eipix Entertainment, a Serbian game development company of 12 years. Eipix Entertainment is first and foremost known as the world’s most productive cross-platform developer of HOPA games, but we entered the free-to-play arena in 2016. We tested the waters with four smaller arcade-style games before we set sail for farming sim games andFarm On!
Does Eipix Entertainment have any particular mission statement as a company?
We aspire to catch the little moments that make fantasies authentic — the affirming smile of an ally, the wrathful frown of an enemy, the flickering boundaries between gaming and life… All of us hold worlds within, and through Eipix, we can create interactive art that will reach out to our players and bring new experiences to their own inner worlds! Creating worlds — that’s our jam.
You guys’ upcoming game Farm On! looks like a lot of fun. What made you want to make a farming sim?
The general advice new developers come across is to play up to their strengths. We spent a lot of time doing research and assembling the perfect free-to-play team. We had experience making games — different games, but it was still something good to go on. At that time, all data showed that farming sims were our best chance. Our next step was to find a niche in the genre where we had a good chance of breaking to the top of the charts.
How long has Farm On! been in the works, and did you face any particular challenges during its development?
Farm On! spent an eventful year and a half in development. We wanted to create a simple game that kept the players coming back, but achieving true simplicity is an ordeal in itself. Farm On! development was no easy task. The industry has been around for a while and it’s hard for newcomers to make their mark. Our lucky break was that we found untouched free-to-play territory very quickly — the portrait mode farming sim.
One of the most intriguing things about Farm On! is that it’s being designed to be played in portrait mode. Can you talk a little about the reasoning behind this design decision?
Real life made us do it! Most members of our team commute by bus, and as society demands, they spend this time playing mobile games. This was especially true when we started researching free-to-play games! It was a particularly fun time in the office. Anyways, science has it that playing with two hands makes you more prone to losing your balance over rough roads. People who play single-handed games fare better in the bus — they have less bruises. We wanted this for our players, less bruises. And a fun way to spend their commute, however long it may be.
Aside from the ability to play in portrait mode, what features are you hoping will allow Farm On! to stand out from the many other farming sims on the App Store?
Farm On! is a simple, easy-to-understand game. Players can spend hours minding their farm, or they can enjoy it in short ‘n’ sweet sessions wherever they are. We tried to create an experience that’s equally fun for players of all ages — there’s no hassle here, you’re just growing your crops and making delicious recipes! You even have an adorable pet to play with while you watch your corn grow!
You’ve soft launched Farm On! on quite a few countries’ App Stores already. What’s the response been like from players so far? And how valuablehas this feedback been in terms of tweaking and improving the game before its global launch?
So far so good! Players are responding really well to the simplicity of the game. A lot of them are reporting that they enjoy the quick and relaxing gameplay — no need to worry about rules but they still feel like they are playing a complex sim. You can see some nice things our fans told us below:
When will Farm On! be releasing in the US and globally?
We are currently in talks with a larger publisher — fingers crossed! Whatever happens next will determine the date of our global release, which will be sometime in the next 2-3 months.
You guys recently released your first VR title, Althora (for Samsung VR and Oculus Rift). Do you reckon Apple will come out with its own competing VR or AR headset anytime soon?
Yes we did! Just a small correction — Althora was released for Samsung Gear VR, and you can get it on the Oculus Store. As for Apple, our guess is as good as anyone’s. Still, we are sure that Apple will bring their best game to the VR industry. VR and AR are still in their experimental “anything goes” stage and no designer would miss an opportunity to play around with the possibilities.
Given the success you’ve hadon iOS and elsewhere over the years, what advice would you offer to anyone who may be considering getting into mobile game development?
Be persistent. You might have heard this one before, and that just shows how important it is to be persistent. If mobile game development was easy, everybody would be successful. When you look at any game in the top charts, what you are seeing is insane man-hours, strength of will, experience, and above all, commitment. That’s the path all the best games must walk, and there’s no shortcuts.
What’s next for Eipix Entertainment? Any upcoming projects you can tell me about?
We like the free-to-play market and are here to stay. You can expect more games – simulations and beyond. We’re also already setting up for an entirely new genre. All of us at Eipix are gamers above all, and it is our dream to create a core game of our own. The stars finally aligned, and we are proud to announce that Eipix Entertainment is working on a third-person sword fighting game, Warheart. It’ll be a witty and gritty action adventure with lots of flying limbs. Yes, it’s hardly Farm On! territory 😀
Zoran, thank you so much forproviding such interesting answers to all my questions.Also, a huge thanks to Monika Stupar (Eipix Entertainment’s Community Manager) for facilitating this interview.