Interview: Little Chicken’s Yannis Bolman Talks ‘REKT!’

Unputdownable is the best word I can think of to describe Little Chicken Game Company’s REKT! (out now, $1.99). This high-octane stunt-based driving game really is one of the most ridiculously entertaining and ‘just one more go’ addictive titles to hit the App Store in quite some time. It was a struggle, but today I managed to tear myself away from REKT! for long enough to speak with Yannis Bolman, the CEO and co-founder of Little Chicken, about the game, its development, and a lot more besides. It’s a fascinating interview. Check it out…

Thanks for making the time for this interview, Yannis. Can I start by asking you to tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you came to co-found your game company, Little Chicken?

Hi Ruan, you’re more than welcome! We started Little Chicken way back in 2001 as a couple of students straight out of college and wanting to make high end 3D games for your browser. Over the years we did a lot of games, from advertisement games to serious games, and recently decided to focus fully on entertainment games!

What is Little Chicken’s mission statement?

At Little Chicken, our mission is to create authentic, fun and impactful games that enrapture the player!

How would you describe REKT! to people who haven’t played it yet?

REKT! is a short burst of pure adrenaline. It’s like the ultimate skateboarding game meets cars. You get to kickflip a car and do a lot of crazy stunts to rack up points for the ultimate high-score. By doing this you unlock a whole set of cars, each tuned to a different playstyle.

REKT! is an astoundingly slick, polished and entertaining game. How long was it in development for, and how many people worked on it?

REKT! started out as an internal game jam. A team of three people worked on the first prototype and over the past year we worked on and off on it. It really became a passion project. We worked on it on the side with two people — me and Yannic, the programmer/designer. We kept playing the initial prototype and developed it further from there. We kept adding cars and tuning the gameplay until we just couldn’t put it down. We noticed other people around the office also got hooked on it and that’s when we decided to push on to a first release!

REKT! is drawing a lot of favorable comparisons to Rocket League and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Were those games — or any others — an inspiration to you guys?

Yes, those games have been a big inspiration. A few of the guys working on this are high ranked Rocket league players, and I think REKT! Is also a bit of a love letter to Rocket League. The Tony Hawk games were also a big inspiration as was the stunt mode in the San Francisco Rush series. We’ve incorporated a lot of influences from a lot of games, and you’ll notice some famous video games car references as well. We hope these references will resonate with fans of these games as well.

You guys seem really committed to supporting REKT! post-launch with new content and features. What have fans got to look forward to update-wise in the coming weeks and months?

We’ve made the promise to include a new car with every minor (and major) update, for free. We really like the idea of having this huge collection of cars in your pocket to play around with, so we’ll keep adding them on a regular basis. It’s also a great way to pull players back in and challenge them to a new highscore run. The most obvious big update will be adding more levels. We want to make sure we nail it, so it’s gonna take a bit more time, but we definitely want to get that out as soon as possible. So fans can expect regular updates with more levels, cars and also different game modes. We’re also thinking of releasing REKT! for Apple TV as we think it looks great on a big screen, but that will be a bit further down the line.

Apple gave REKT! a big, splashy feature on the App Store when it released. What can you tell me about how that came about?

We posted a first trailer online a few weeks back and shortly after that we were contacted by Apple in the US if they could do a story about the game since they liked it. We had to scramble since the game wasn’t done yet. We worked with them on a release date and basically worked our asses of to get it done so it could be released in time for the feature.

How happy are you with the critical and commercial response to REKT! so far?

We’re really happy and excited to get REKT! in the hands of players, and we’re really happy with the response so far. It’s great to see your passion project charting all over the globe and getting feedback from the players! We weren’t sure what to expect sales-wise, but I guess since we’ve just released it a week ago, over time we’ll see what it will amount to. For now it has definitely given us enough incentive to keep developing REKT! further, so that’s cool!

Given the success you’ve had on iOS and elsewhere over the years, what advice would you offer to anyone who may be considering getting into mobile game development?

If you get into mobile games, make sure it makes sense on the platform. Have a look at the controls and the average playing time of users on mobile. If they make sense, it’s probably a good fit for the mobile devices. Also make sure you really love the game you’re making. Working on a game you love will make it easier to put in the extra effort. If you like the game yourself and keep playing, see if it has the same effect on others. If it does, get it into the hands of player around the world!

A screenshot from ‘Space Journey’, one of Little Chicken’s VR Projects

Your company has quite a bit of experience in the fields of augmented and virtual reality. Do you see mobile AR and VR gaming really taking off in the near future? 

Yeah, we really love VR and AR. There is still so much to be pioneered in these fields. I think if the right content is there, both will really take off. They have a really huge potential, but it’s really down to how users pick it up. VR is one of the coolest new mediums, but it really needs to become more ubiquitous, as it has a really small audience right now. AR will obviously see a lot of new applications especially now that apple is really pushing the technology. At Little Chicken, we always keep an eye out for these technologies to see if we can use them in fun and new ways.

What’s next for Little Chicken? Any upcoming projects you can tell me about?

We have a few things coming up. We’re working on our next mobile game called Fireflush. It’s gonna be something totally different compared to REKT! but it will definitely be in the same spirit. We’re also working on a city management game for PC and also a VR game, but we can’t disclose to much about these games at this point. Keep an eye out on our site!

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for giving such a great interview, Yannis!

REKT! is available now for $1.99 on the App Store. You can find out more about Little Chicken by visiting their official website and following them on Twitter and Facebook.