It has been less than two months since its release, but Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has taken the gaming world by storm. Mediatonics cute and hectic Battle Royale was a surprise hit of 2020, it sold over 7 million copies on Steam and became the most downloaded PS Plus game of all time. When the Waddling Gummy Bears were first revealed during E3 2019, no one could predict the game’s runaway success, including Mediatonic.
While Fall Guys’ success may seem out of the blue, the Bonkers Battle Royale is the latest project in Mediatonic’s 15-year game portfolio. The London-based company has around 130 releases on its backlog (many of which are not listed on Wikipedia), including flash games, mobile games, Facebook games, and console and PC releases. What started as a two-person team now employs over 200 people in four different studios.
Surprisingly, Fall Guys is one game in a series of groundbreaking media successes that date back to the team’s early years making games in Adobe Flash Player in 2005. Croft and Dave Bailey, founders of Mediatonic, created a space as a work-for-hire studio that creates web games. With the support of Adult Swim, they released their first original game in 2008.
“The first big break for us was a game called Amateur Surgeon,” says Croft. “That was kind of a big moment for us. It exploded online with 100 million players and that was kind of a turning point for us to develop our own games instead of creating or porting games for brands.”
The odd ball operation simulation game about a pizza delivery boy who wanted to become a professional surgeon became quite popular, and this prompted Mediatonic to pursue more original games and expand the company. Mediatonic’s clients included Sega, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Namco Bandai Games. The team worked closely with Square Enix when the creepy platformer Monsters (likely) Stole My Princess was released on PlayStation Vita.
“At that point, the online social games industry was booming,” says Croft. “So we went from flash games to games on Myspace, then to Facebook games, and slowly expanded from there to console platforms and iPhones.”
Croft explains that since Flash was relatively new, not many companies knew how to use it, and this is where Mediatonic would step in. Since the games industry developed and changed at such a fast annual pace, Mediatonic was able to keep up with the decisive developments. Croft attributes this to working on games with a short development cycle, so the studio can easily change direction as the industry changes and evolves.
Any type of case guy, classified
(Image credit: Devolver Digital)
What category of human beans do you fall under? Are you a cuddler, ROFLer, lemming or something else? Check out our in-depth guide on different types of Fall Guys players. All categories are 100% accurate and come with real scientific knowledge.
“We were nimble,” explains Croft. “It was easier to change direction as we weren’t tied to a three or four year development cycle and could keep up with things. But in general it was pretty deliberate in terms of the way we were building The company. One of the things we’ve really kept an eye on is building the company on sustainability and longevity. “
Given Mediatonic’s experience in developing Flash and social media games specifically designed for mass appeal and replayability, Fall Guys’ success should perhaps have come as no surprise. Mediatonic’s secret sauce for creating a viral game became well established years ago.
“That was really our job, to give something that people could connect with,” says Croft. “Instant humor is something we’ve always relied on and it has to be quick. It’s important to get into a game and jump straight into the action. It also has to be immediate to understand what to do without to read.” Instructions. Many of these early ideas were passed on to Fall Guys, and when we try to design games for a very large audience, many of those principles still apply. “
A not so combative royale
It was the Games Developers Conference 2018 when the concept of the Fall Guys was first presented internally at Mediatonic. The annual event is a time for the company to get to know its partners and contributors. This makes it the perfect place to exchange new game ideas.
“We worked on that in the run-up to the conference,” says Croft. “Jeff Tanton, who is our creative director and is responsible for the studio pitches, called the design team and as part of that and I’m pretty sure part of his assignment wasn’t battle royales.”
Although a black mark had been placed on battle royales, senior games designer Joe Walsh turned to Tanton with the idea of a battle royale game that would follow the formula of TV game shows. Players would have to compete against each other in a series of Bonkers mini-games, many of which are eliminated and end up with a winner.
“He blamed Jeff for it, and Jeff showed me, and then we basically started doing it the same day,” says Croft. “For us it was an instant click and within a week or two we had the concept worked out, which included lots of gifs of Takeshi’s castle.”
The crazy Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle, as well as other obstacle course game shows like Ninja Warrior, Total Wipeout and It’s A Knockout, provided first-class source material for the Fall Guys shenanigans. Even though Tanton had said no to fight royales, the knock-out structure was a perfect fit for multiple players.
“It was a structure and a format that was a good fit for Fall Guys,” says Croft. “Bringing those two things together made sense pretty much immediately.” Other inspirations for the Bean Battler were slap stick physics games modeled on Gang Beasts and Humans: Fall Flat and fun party games in which players like Mario Party interact with each other.
While there has been a huge surge in battle royales in recent years – you can thank Fortnite for that – part of Fall Guys’ success has been its accessibility and readability. The title bean has two arms to grasp, two legs to run and jump, and that’s it. Coupled with elements of luck for newbies to get a fight chance, it’s a perfect medley. According to Croft, this design draws on previous work by Mediatonic.
“I think it actually touches a lot of the things that make a game go viral,” says Croft. “And I think a lot of those things are true. It’s very approachable and very easy to understand. Almost everyone has seen a game TV show of this type, and that means you can instantly join the dots and connect whatever happens.”
Full of beans
Having a perfect formula for your game is a huge head start, but no one can really count on success, and Croft says it was very surreal to see the Fall Guys receive – something he still has to deal with .
“As a team, it’s amazing to see how many people are playing the game, from really young kids to professional esports players,” says Croft. “As a company, we’ve been running games and running them live for a long time, so we had a content plan for the game, new features, and a roadmap. By that we mean we could accelerate.” these plans and make them more ambitious. ”
Accelerate is definitely a word for it. Mediatonic has already announced its plans for the second season of Fall Guys, which will include many new costumes and new levels with a medieval theme. A new season could potentially bring new changes to the Fall Guys formula, but Croft says that if it’s not broken, then it’s definitely about not fixing it.
“We don’t want to mess with the core formula too much,” says Croft. “I think the main thing is to add more to the game and we want to add a lot more content. We obviously have more content in season two, both in terms of costumes, a lot more mini-games just to give people new ways to respond also to a lot of feedback that we have received and expand the game. “
As with many online games, there will always be cheaters and Mediatonic had its own challenges when dealing with Fall Guys’ ones. The company recently announced its anti-cheat effort called “Cheater Island” – sadly it had to close – but the company still takes feedback from players with cheaters seriously.
“Fraud has been a big focus for us lately just to put in different systems,” says Croft. “We did a lot of things there and we’re putting out a big update on it. That has been a central point for us lately.”
Between the handover of scammers, the release of updates and the planning for the second season, two months had passed for Mediatonic, which couldn’t even celebrate their success in person due to the coronavirus.
“We couldn’t get together and celebrate as a team with a huge party. It was all online, what we need to do now, but I’m looking forward to the day when we can all get together properly and celebrate the game.”