EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Darklings Co-Creator Burkay Ozdemir

As any kid will tell you, scary things lurk in the dark. But with the game Darklings — which MildMania has just released on iOS devices — you can take back the night with just the flick of a finger. Though explaining how it actually does this may be best left to MildMania co-founder Burkay Ozdemir.

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Let’s start with the basics: What kind of game is Darklings and how do you play it?

Darklings is an endless survival game. But more generally speaking, it’s a mixture of an arcade and action game. Darklings has a novel gesture-driven gameplay approach that uses touch screens in a different and more natural way. Basically, you draw shapes on creatures to destroy them. For example, you might draw horns on a creature to possess it and kill an enemy.

You call the game an “endless survival game.” In what way is it “endless” and why did you make it this way?

Life is an endless journey with struggles, and we all live in hope and keep moving through it. This is how we see the game, there isn’t an end, you continue to add value to the meaning of the Universe as a whole. So, as in life, the goal is not to finish or die, the goal is to have a good experience.

Does that mean that gamers who are goal oriented are not going to like this game?

The experience of unique and artistic gameplay mechanics will draw and keep more goal oriented gamers interested…we hope. But, of course, the main goal is to live further and accomplish greater scores. Also, we do set objectives and achievements, so there are goals to reach.

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Your company is based in Ankara, Turkey. Is there anything about your game that could be described as being particularly Turkish?

To our knowledge, there’s nothing that we would say is Turkey-esque in the game. We intentionally went for an original design and concept that would hopefully appeal worldwide.

The game was released the day before the American holiday Thanksgiving, which is typically celebrated by eating way too much turkey. Did anyone point this out to you guys? Or am I the only insensitive jerk who noticed this?

You’re not an insensitive jerk [laughs]. We are a European developer and when we teamed up with B27 to handle PR and Marketing for the US and Asia, we already had our date booked by Apple.

Well, let me see if I can redeem myself. The game has an interesting art style. Where did you get your inspiration for the visuals?

The inspiration came from our most loved indie games, mainly Limbo and Contre Jour, though Badlands and The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom as well. When we started developing this game, Limbo was just getting awards, while Contre Jour was getting Apple’s game of the year.

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What about the gameplay, what other games do you consider to be an influence on Darklings?

People draw things. Even before the writing was invented, they made drawings in caves, so what is more natural to us?

But if you are asking about specific games, the Harry Potter games on PC influenced Darklings a lot. In them, you have to draw shapes to make a spell.

Though I’d also say Z-Type. Now Z-Type was made for keyboards, but our thought was that we just had to adapt that to touch screens. Our hope is to make something clever that gives a different perspective to touch based games. Apple was innovative in removing keypads from mobile devices, and we think the market needs more intuitive play styles.

With motion camera controllers like the Xbox’s Kinect, this game could work on some consoles. Why did you decide to just make the game for iOS devices?

Cost played a big factor. Mobile is a great point of entry for indie devs to showcase talent.

But we also really loved our concept for Darklings and thought iPhones, iPods, and iPads were the perfect home.

Does that mean there are no plans to bring it to game consoles or PCs? And what about non-iOS mobile devices?

Darklings is exclusive on iOS and will be there for a while. However, we do have plans for Android/PC/Leap Motion and PlayStation Vita.

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Are there any differenceS between the iPhone/iPod Touch versions and the iPad one?

With the exception of resolution, there aren’t any differences between the versions. Though we do think the iPad could be a better experience for the player due to screen size.

So what’s next for you guys?

Apart from supporting Darklings and adding a lot more exclusive content in it — it’s important to us to support the players and listen to them — we currently working on our next title, which we will announce in early 2014.

 

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