It’s fitting that this game about a duo of squash players attacking a den of the undead with nothing but a ball was similarly developed by a two-man team.
The game is simple. With a thumb on each side of your gadget, you swing rackets (or swords, lightsabers, briefcases, or even candies) to launch a ball into a horde of game monsters. And the longer you can keep the volley going—destroying more monsters with the sheer impact of ball explosion—the higher your points.
The proper hook for the game lies in all of the characters you can unlock in the game to play as, which you might recognise as the same gimmick used by games like Crossy Road. Some of them include McGonagall and Dumbledore, Thor and Loki, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, or Bruce Lee in two of his iconic forms.
The game currently has a 5-star rating on iOS, and 4.8 stars on Google Play.
With only one programmer and one artist on board to form the Big Frost Games duo, the pair first met when programmer CL set out to look for an artist to develop the first game under the Big Frost label—Circuroid (500 thousand downloads on Google Play).
It was then he discovered Foo Chong Siong, a freelance game artist with 10 years of game development experience under his belt.
Apart from his 10-year experience, artist Chong Siong was one of the winners for IPCC 2016, and has worked as an Art Lead in Activate Sdn. Bhd.
Meanwhile, programmer CL co-founded Dilectus Games (since defunct) and worked in companies such as the Intel Corporation.
Developed on the Unity platform, the two Malaysians released the game, aptly, on August 31st.
It’s seen at least 100 thousand downloads worldwide on Google Play alone, and has seen praise for its nostalgic design reminiscent of old-school arcade games. It was even listed as one of the recommended freemium games for the German app store.
That’s flying pretty far for a game that was just developed as a hobby.
Recounting his experience of developing the game, CL tells us that, “We started to develop Smashy Duo back in early January and we completed it in July. We only do it during our free time; weekday nights and weekends.”
And according to him, it was all a pretty autonomous process.
“Most of the time we only communicate via messenger and email. Once in a while we will meet up in a café to discuss our progress, but that’s it. I think we can call ourselves game dev veterans so we are pretty independent when it comes to our work.”
And since the game was only developed during the pair’s free time, any money that comes in is pure profit for them, apart from paying back for the assets/plugins from the Unity’s asset store, and audio outsourcing.
When asked about how they managed to acquire their number of downloads, especially considering that arcade-style games are a dime a dozen, CL told us that, “We don’t really have any particular strategies when it comes to this. All we did is just to make sure the game is fun and polished. Since this is our side project so we don’t really rely on its sales in order to survive. We are also free to explore, create and try anything that we like even though it might not be profitable.”
In fact, CL seems to be a firm believer in the idea of doing games as a passion project on the side. He founded a game company a few years back, but it failed after a year.
“Throughout the whole ‘entrepreneurship’ process, I don’t find myself enjoying running a company full-time. I think I’m happy with my current situation. It’s tough but at least we don’t feel too much stress in terms of financial stability.”
They’ve also taken the lesson learnt from their first game release to heart, particularly when it came to monetisation.
They told us, “We decided to improve it in our second game by introducing unlockable characters. Players need to earn coins in order to unlock new characters, and the fastest way to earn coins is via reward from watching an ads or in-app purchases.”
The pair is now still focused on adding more content to Smashy Duo.
They’re currently working on a new mode after much demand from their players, as well as adding more characters to their current 60-pair roster.
“Rest assured, fun and polished is the minimum that you can expect from our games,” said CL. And we do feel like the game has a level of polish to us, and the reviews of the game tend to agree as well.
But when asked about what the future holds for them, CL and Chong Siong inform us that they’ll be looking away from making casual games.
“We plan to do something bigger, but not until the extent that we need few years to finish. We’ll try to scope it down to something doable within a year. ”
Not bad for game developers that are doing this as a side hustle.
Smashy Duo is currently available both on the Apple App Store and Google Play.