Outernauts Comes To Kongregate

by Jim Reilly on Dec 06, 2012 at 03:00 AM

Insomniac Games announced its social game Outernauts is now available to play on Kongregate. Additionally, the game has been given a few enhancements, including the removal of pop-ups, reducing energy requirements, and the removal of friend gates.

Insomniac says there are more than 200 beasts in Outernauts in addition to Rare, Epic, and Legendary ones. There's a new co-op dungeons to play and even a new level of beast customization. Outernauts is still available on Facebook.

Game Informer did a quick chat with Insomniac Games CCO Brian Hastings about taking Outernauts to Kongregate:


Game Informer: Outernauts has been out in the wild for a handful of months now. What are some of the lessons you learned about social game development?

Hastings: Probably the most important lesson is to trust our instincts. You have to play your own game all the time and if there’s something that’s not fun to you, it’s not fun to other players. Ultimately Outernauts is a core game. Sure it’s in a browser, but it’s a core game with a ton of depth and complexity. As such, many casual game players will never get past the first few minutes. At first we felt that was our main problem – how do we get people who are playing Farmville to stick with our game?

But gradually we realized that wasn’t the problem at all. People who play Farmville probably won’t ever stick with our game no matter what we do. The real problem is making the game appealing to the intended audience -- which is core gamers. And that meant abandoning all the staples of social gaming that conventional wisdom says are necessary for success. That means no forced friend requirements, no wall spamming, and much longer play sessions than normal social games.

Outernauts has a ton of depth and features that no other game in the genre is doing right now, but if players get turned off by social mechanics in the first play session then they’ll never see any of the features that make it such a unique experience.

What was the reason you decided to move the game onto other platforms such as Kongregate?

Kongregate is a great gaming platform and it has a thriving community, so that’s 95% of it right there. Kongregate players tend to be very sophisticated core gamers and that’s exactly who Outernauts was made for, so it’s a very natural fit. We’ve gotten a lot of very valuable feedback from the Kongregate members who have been participating in the closed beta and we’ve been applying that on a daily basis to keep improving the game.

All the changes we’re making apply both to Facebook as well as Kongregate, so all players will benefit no matter where they choose to play the game.

Are you able to speak to the types of Outernauts players? Have you noticed much cross over from fans of Insomniac’s console efforts or are the majority of players people who’ve never played an Insomniac game before?

It’s a pretty broad spectrum of ages and countries and a pretty balanced mix of male and female players at the moment. We do have a lot of Insomniac fans who are enjoying the game, but at the same time it appears there are even more Outernauts players who haven’t played our console games yet. One of the most rewarding parts of the game so far is the degree to which players have developed their own community around the game.

Some of the most dedicated players have their own Facebook page, wiki pages, awesome fan art, and an awesome website that shows images and stat breakdowns of all the beasts in the game.

It’s very cool and also humbling. It makes us want to work even harder to keep making the game better.

What’s the future hold for the Outernauts franchise? Is this something you envision staying as a Facebook/Browser property or could be something that braches out to other platforms and media?

I’d like to find ways to keep evolving it and enriching it.  That probably means moving beyond the browser at some point, but it’s not something we’re actively working on at the moment.  Browsers offer a lot of advantages in terms of memory and data streaming speeds that help us make the game as rich and detailed as it is.

Each platform has its own benefits and tradeoffs, so when we look at other possibilities we have to say “what could we do on this platform that isn’t possible anywhere else?”  And if there’s something really compelling there that we’re passionate about doing then hopefully we can expand the Outernauts universe further.

What are your general thoughts on the social games space? Given the recent trouble with Zynga, the perception from some is that the bubble has burst.

Ultimately if you make a good game it will almost always find an audience. Or rather, an audience will find it. The problem with the social gaming bubble, as people have been saying for years, is that most of the games weren’t intrinsically fun as games, at least not the way we in the game industry would judge fun.  But even when the games did offer a good core element of fun they usually buried it under a sea of gimmicks and forced social mechanics that eventually drove most players to quit.

When every social game started to copy the same viral mechanics from the previous, all the games started to feel repetitive and players got turned off by the social mechanics faster and faster with each new game. So instead of trying to make a “social” game, we’re just trying to make a good game.

By making the game available on the web and on social networks we are able to support a lot of very fun features and we’re able to update the game with new content and features much more quickly than we could on traditional platforms. So rather than trying to milk social networks for virality, we’re trying to build on the inherent benefits of the platforms and allow people to be social of their own volition.

I think that’s the future of social games. Real game mechanics, more depth, and social elements that allow you to make friends within the game rather than coercing you to market it.

[Disclaimer: Kongregate and Game Informer are owned by GameStop]