Indie developer Tim Constant has poured his heart and soul into Tiki Taka Soccer – a 2D top down touch screen football title that channels the spirit of Sensible Soccer. We caught up with Tim to find out what the game is all about and why he’s been able to count on support from Simon Read, developer of the BAFTA award winning Roy of the Rovers simulator New Star Soccer.
If you haven’t heard of the game, you can read a review of it right here.
What’s Tiki Taka Soccer all about then, Tim?
In Tiki Taka soccer, you pick your team, choose your country and you have to work your way up hopefully to the Champions League. There’s no choice of playing a quick match or starting a league, you just go straight in. New Star Soccer is still my most played mobile game ever, but what I wanted to make was a full football simulation but with that NSS style progression, starting off and moving further up the league and once you’re at the top you can change clubs and start all over again. That’s what had me hooked, the longevity of that game.
But then I also wanted to create a really nice way of controlling a full football simulation. I have so many football games on my devices and I wasn’t happy with any of them. Mainly because using an onscreen joypad just puts me off completely, but I just couldn’t believe that no-one had came up with a solution to it on a touchscreen. Somebody pointed out that it was actually like Cannon Fodder, which is ironic because visually it’s like Sensible. And of course, I realised they were right. You tap to move and swipe to shoot, but the controls were very reminiscent of Cannon Fodder.
You say that’s similar to Sensible Soccer, have there been any issues with that?
No, not really. If you look and compare graphics, ours are so much more detailed now. It’s quite funny when you look back at the Sensible Soccer sprites, but there have been no problems at all; they’re completely different now. But this is the other thing that relates to the controls. I had no idea at the time but when I was thinking about a football game to make I was like “ok, it’ll have to be 2D” because we can’t do 3D with the team we’ve got. And I loved Sensible Soccer and I did the initial tech demo with those sprites, but it turned out the graphics really suit the controls.
You can zoom in and out with the camera and it turns out that the zoomed out angle and the small sprites give you room to perform your gestures and it perfectly complements the controls. And I didn’t realise that at the time, but yeah, it works really well.
So in terms of releasing this, are you self-publishing the game and doing all the marketing and PR stuff by yourself?
Yeah. With the marketing budget, unless you’re throwing hundreds of thousands at user acquisition [a fancy term that really means getting people to download your app] my marketing budget was just a drop in the ocean compared to the big guys. Simon Read from New Star Soccer has put money into the game and he’s been a mentor for me.
I didn’t actually know that Simon had put money into it.
There’s been no press release, but I’m sure it’s ok for me to say. It’s not just the money that’s been helpful really, it’s been more than that. We used to play together in a Pro Evolution Soccer online league together and this was before New Star Soccer. So then we started coding, I did a puzzle game in Monkey [a programming language which New Star Soccer was also programmed in] so I’ve always had him as a friend.
So when I did the initial demo of Tiki Taka Soccer I showed it to him, so he’s always been there and he’s a really good person to bounce off because it’s very easy to get side tracked when you think of things. So when I’ve been able to go to him and go “should we add x,y, z?” he’ll say, “No, finish the game.”
How has it been developing the game on your own?
The first thing I did was move back to Somerset! I had to do that, but I also got some funding from Creative England who had funds available for certain areas of the country including the South West. I had to go to them three times to get the money but we got there in the end. But the main thing was getting out of London.
And, how do you plan to make money from this?
It’s completely free to play, but there are in-app purchases for currencies and boosters. With the in game currency, you can buy coaches, energy items and players. There are premium booster energy items and coaches too, but it’s totally free to play. But it’s something you never think about at the start. New Star Soccer I think, when I was hopelessly addicted to it, wasn’t even free to play at the time but it is now. The one thing that really swung it for me was demoing at the Gadget Show, which isn’t your normal gaming show. But everyone who came by to see it, whether they’re mums or kids, asked “When is it out?” and ”Is it free?”
Initially I thought that was annoying, but now I don’t really mind. If people aren’t paying for it, at least if they’re telling people about it and 1 in 10 of those people put money into it then it’s fine. That’s better than sending it out for 99p and sending it out to die.
So what does success look like to you then?
Well this is the thing, success for me is to carry on development of it. I’d love to get multiplayer on there, that’s the dream. But I know what you’re saying there is, “How on earth can you compete in the free to play market” and that’s completely understandable. I’ve been to show after show and all you hear is, “You’re so screwed”. They don’t say it to me personally but they say you’re screwed without user acquisition, you’re screwed without free to play and you’re screwed without a publisher.
But I believe there is this middle ground. I’m never going to get into the top 50 grossing, but if I can get enough people playing it, I think the game does have longevity to it and if you’re into football you’ll like it. And I think there is a market for indies like me to eke out a living to continue the model, but we shall see!
You can follow George Osborn (not that one) on Twitter (@georgeosborn)