Nekki brings free-running to Facebook with Vector
Shadow Fight developer Nekki is ready for round two on social networks with its new game, Vector.
Vector features the silhouette-heavy art style of Shadow Fight but its gameplay is based around the acrobatic free-running of parkour instead of mixed-martial arts. Previously known as Shadow Runner, Vector has a lot in common — both in style and in story — with Mirror’s Edge, the only core video game to ever feature parkour as its primary game mechanic.
Nekki only recently started bringing its games to Facebook, even though the company itself is already 10 years old. Last year, the developer surprised us when it launched the arcade fighter Shadow Fight on the social network and the game quickly graduated from our emerging games list. The game peaked at 2.1 million monthly active users and 214,000 daily active users, but AppData shows it still brings in 1.1 million MAU and 100,000 DAU. Nekki also launched 11×11 – Online Football Manager on Facebook in January, which is currently maintaining approximately 530,000 MAU and 60,000 DAU.
Nekki Founder and CEO Dmitry Terekhin is now ready to publicly talk about Vector, as well as how Shadow Fight is still going strong.
Inside Social Games: What was the inspiration for Vector?
Dmitry Terekhin, Nekki Founder and CEO: We really like dynamic arcade games. After the success of Shadow Fight, we wanted to continue work in this genre, but with an entirely new spin. We reached out to focus groups chosen from Shadow Fight’s players to find out where they had interests. Somewhat unexpectedly, there was a very clear standout: That community was rabid for a great parkour game.
We got pretty excited about that idea too. Parkour matches nicely with our arcade/sports games preference, so the concept seemed a perfect fit for us and our players. Parkour also offers a great opportunity to demonstrate another of Nekki’s competitive advantages — the realistic animation technology we built for Vector’s spiritual forerunner, Shadow Fight.
ISG: Will Vector be available on any platform other than Facebook?
Terekhin: You bet. Nekki is a dedicated multi-platform game company. In addition to Facebook, we plan to release Vector on the Russian social networks (VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, MoiMir) and internationally on Google +, StudiVZ, and Nasza-Klasa.pl. Also, for the first time, we will release mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android.
ISG: Is there a plot that goes along with the game’s scenario?
Terekhin: As it happens, there is a concise backstory that’s set up superbly in the intro video. It goes like this: in the totalitarian world of the future, freedom no longer exists. Our hero escapes the shackles of the system and escapes into the world. In this world, to live free is to run free.
ISG: How will Vector monetize?
Terekhin: Free-to-play arcade players respond better to paying for content and power-ups rather than participating in the “wait, pay or promote” model you commonly see in other free-to-play genres. While it’s still under discussion, at the moment we’re proposing to have Vector sell additional levels, tricks and gadgets. Mastering new tricks helps achieve higher scores and makes free-running each level more spectacular. Gadgets grant the hero special powers, such as slow-motion or a temporary escape from his pursuers.
ISG: What types of gameplay modes will be available?
Terekhin: We’re planning several exciting game modes, which allows us to expand the gameplay for Vector over time. “Chase” is the core mode and requires player to escape his or her pursuer while collecting bonuses and performing tricks for extra points. Additional modes under consideration and construction include a time trial and an endless mode where players compete for the greatest distance survived. We also plan to use our synchronous PvP technology to enable various multiplayer modes in which players around the world can play with or against each other in real-time.
ISG: Since Shadow Fight (pictured above) launched in 2011, the game’s numbers have maintained steady player retention. How have you managed to keep so many players coming back?
Terekhin: Now more than a year old, Shadow Fight remains a player favorite. Nekki is one of the few independent Russian game developers on Facebook. We did not work with a publisher, but took the game to Facebook on our own. I credit most of Shadow Fight’s success there to the uniqueness of the game for that platform (there aren’t really any serious competitors), and a really good viral hook.
Traffic exchange bars like Applifier and MauDau worked quite well for us. These cross-promotional tools really help high-quality games attract new players for free, once you get the engine running. We were so impressed by the idea of traffic exchange as a tool to optimize and grow an online game audience, we were inspired to create our own version: AppBoost is our own home-grown solution that we think does the job even better.
ISG: What lessons did you learn with Shadow Fight that you’ve incorporated into the development of Vector?
Terekhin: In Vector, we used a number of technologies developed for Shadow Fight. For animation, we used our animation tool, Cascadeur, which allows easy creation of physics-based animations. Players find it surprising that we don’t use any motion-capture in either Shadow Fight or Vector. It’s all animation created in Cascadeur. We plan on continuing to develop Cascadeur and use it to make even more fantastic gameplay, and we also would like to provide this software to others for free in order to build a community of animators using Cascadeur in interesting and innovative ways.