Interview: Nik Mihaylov on What’s Going on With ‘Unlonely’

As you’ve probably noticed, October has come and gone, and Unlonely still hasn’t arrived on the App Store. To find out why this eagerly-anticipated game missed its intended launch date and when we might expect it to release instead, I recently caught up with Rinikulous Games’ Nik Mihaylov for a quick Q&A session. Check it out below.

You’re probably sick of doing this, but for anyone reading who may be hearing about Unlonely for the first time, would you mind quickly explaining what the game’s all about and why you decided to make it?

Unlonely is a sequel to our first somewhat mediocre game, Lonely Sun. Chances are, you probably didn’t like Lonely Sun — lack of checkpoints, too difficult, etc. Well, Unlonely is no different from a gameplay point of view. However, what makes the game special is the motivation/inspiration behind it. Over the past year, I’ve received a lot of support and encouragement from a number of indie game review sites and passionate mobile gaming enthusiasts, including iFanzine, GameSkinnySnapzillaIndieHangoverIndie Game Launchpad, @doomfan, @Mike_AKD, and @CulturynLife.

Given the continuous support, I knew giving back in some way was the right thing to do. #FFs, retweets…that’s okay but not enough. So, I decided to take Lonely Sun as a base (mechanics and art direction) and include design and branding elements from each site and personality traits from the above mentioned individuals into what became Unlonely. The name says it all — no indie dev is ever alone.

Unfortunately, the game missed its intended launch date (October 2017). Is there a new release date in mind, or are you just going to play it by ear depending on how development progresses?

I’m really hoping Unlonely will be ready and launch sometime in late January (2018).

During development, Unlonely has grown and evolved from being a relatively simple Lonely Sun spin-off into more of a full-blown sequel. I’m guessing that’s one of the main reasons for the hold up. Can you talk a little about the game’s increased scope and the new gameplay features that are being added?

Yes, Unlonely started as a homage to the review sites and individuals that continuously supported and helped me on this game dev journey. As time passed, I realized that I wanted to add features that I hadn’t dealt with before — I had to challenge myself. Small steps, right? I’ve added VO (voiceover); brand new soundtrack and SFX; a simple (skippable) tutorial; all levels are now encouraging more level exploration (not as linear as Lonely Sun); and a section in the game that features all parties that motivated/inspired the creation of Unlonely. The game as it stands currently, I believe, is a huge improvement over Lonely Sun, while the art direction and overall mechanics are the same.

Unlonely’s most recent trailer featured a David Attenborough-esque narrator. Who is this wonderful voice actor, how did you find him, and why was he right for the job?

Unlonely’s VO was done by an incredibly supportive, versatile and talented voiceover artist, Ed Mace (@edmace). When I decided to experiment with adding VO to the game, @doomfan (another super supportive friend/fan) recommended Ed. We got in touch and Ed was really excited about the opportunity.

I knew that I wanted the VO to have hints of Stephen Fry, David Attenborough and Hugh Laurie. Ed provided several samples and I was hooked. When I heard the voice I’m currently using in the game, I got a huge smile on my face. Seeing things come to life is magical.

It was such a pleasure working with him. I would definitely use his talent again for any other future projects, and I cannot recommend him enough to other game devs.

Lonely Sun was a paid game, while Hyper Beam was free (with a premium version available via in-app purchase). Have you settled on a pricing model for Unlonely yet? 

Unlonely will follow what I’ve recently done to Lonely Sun and Hyper Beam — all games will be completely free. I strongly believe that eliminating all barriers to entry and making all games fully accessible is more important than making a few hundred bucks (if lucky).

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Yes. I cannot begin to describe how much iFanzine has helped and continues to support my game dev experiments. You have been instrumental in not only getting to know the community better but also you being genuinely interested and supportive of what I do is the reason why I keep pushing forward.

Nik, thanks so much for another excellent interview. The kind words about iFanzine are also much appreciated! 🙂

If this Q&A piqued your interest in Unlonely, be sure to follow @rinikulous and @RinikulousGames on Twitter to stay updated on all the latest news about the game.

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