It’s not in our circumstance that our lives are molded, but in our ambition. The almost 30-year-old Hungarian College drop out, Janos Filip, is a real life testimony to that. By doing the unthinkable he has accomplished the unimaginable. After living and working in Bahrain as a Web Designer and slowly moving up the to senior Digital art Director for the past 6 and a half years, Janos has earned the new title of ‘game developer,’ with no prior experience in mobile app, or game developing. After meeting his current Like a Crocodile Studio’s co-funder Zaman Abdulhameed Zaman, and the creation of Tapforss, their brainchild has received massive amount of positive feedback from beta testers all over the world! Sketchbook was one of the first to catch up with these amazing young men and learn more about the evolution of Tapforss from idea to reality.
Tell us about your self. Where you are from, how old you are, and how your journey began?
Janos: I’m from Hungary and turning 30 years old this July. I was studying Business Information Technology but I’ve dropped out of College. I mean I had to. Unfortunately my parents weren’t in the position to support me further after high school so I had to start working full-time to pay rent and bills. After a while it just become too difficult to manage both: work daytime and study at night and of course both were having a negative effect on the other. I had to put my studies on hold but I can’t wait to go back and finish them as soon as I can afford!
How long have you been in Bahrain?
Janos: I landed in Bahrain on September 4th, 2006. Oh wow, that was 6.5 years ago haha! Arrived into a crazy this heat just a few days before Ramadan without any prior GCC experience and I was accommodated on Exhibition Road. Imagine! Actually I almost ran away after a few days but I’m glad I didn’t.
What did you do before developing Tapforss?
Janos: I started working as a Web Designer at the beginning. Then over the years I’ve worked my way up the ladder. Senior Web Designer, Digital Designer, Senior Digital Designer, Digital Art Director and at my last job I was a Senior Digital Art Director.
How did you meet each other?
Zaman: My cousin introduced me to Janos at his birthday party and told me that he was a digital art director, and since technology is my background, we sparked a conversation and not long after that we became friends.
Tell us about Like A Crocodile Game Studios. How it began, where the name came from and the founders.
Janos: “Like a Crocodile Game Studios” was founded by my partner Zaman Z. and I in March 2012. Tapforss development started in December 2011 while I was working full-time as a senior digital art director. Later in March 2012, with the enormous help of Zaman ”Like a Crocodile Game Studios” was founded and Tapforss work continued full time. I started using the expression “like a crocodile” on Whatsapp. Like, one day I would put “eat like a crocodile”, then “sleep like a crocodile”, etc. Later it just grew on me, and when I started working on Tapforss I decided to create the “Like a Crocodile” brand and use it as publishing name of the game. Thankfully Zaman liked it too so we agreed to go with it. I think it’s very catchy and something you see once you would always recognize later. In the end of the day we are making games so the brand doesn’t have to be too serious.
What convinced you to invest in a game studio?
Zaman: I always wanted to be part of the industry in any way so I didn’t need convincing . We are the first generation of gamers that grew up with gaming consoles in our hands and part of our daily entertainment, so naturally I always had a passion for it. When Janos presented me with idea, I loved it, and after talking about it for a long time, we convinced ourselves that if we would go ahead with this project, we had to compete on global level, and make original games that would cater to different tastes.
How did the idea for Tapforss begin?
Janos: Yeah actually it’s a funny one! I wanted to do a golf game and just like in any game development, first I did a very basic prototype. We do this so we can evaluate the idea itself before we go ahead and invest thousands of hours developing a final product. Basically we create a working version of the idea in a few days and test if it’s fun to play. I started working on a golf game. As its prototype I created an environment with a basic land and the golf ball just so I can test the physics. How the ball is flying, rolling or bounce on the land. In order to make the testing easier I needed a way to move the ball around in this environment so I can lift it up and drop it on the land over and over again. I decided to add three buttons on the screen and they would apply up, left and right forces on the ball. By tapping these buttons I could lift and move around the golf ball. Then I was like hey, it’s kinda cool to navigate around this way. There the idea was born! Every future element of the game was built around this idea.
What has it been like working with each other? Describe your relationship?
Zaman: Well, we both contribute to the creative part of building a game, naturally Janos is the person that throws the idea because he’s the person who codes and knows what’s possible and whats not. Then we both build on it, at least that what happened with Tapforss. I handle the business part of running the Studio, but like most start ups, its all hands on deck till it takes of. Both of us do everything to make the other person’s life easier and try to overcome obstacles both of us face.
Breifly explain the game to our readers, what is the object of the game and how do you play it?
Janos: You need to create the force (by tapping) to defy gravity and guide the a crystal ball along the many underground caves that await. This is the basic concept but of course many different obstacles and enemies will get in your way as you progress further. There are also many “world modifiers” like you pass a gate then the gravity changes so instead of pulling you down it’s going to push you up and your job becomes keeping the ball down. This was just one example and we have a lot of these cool stuff, I really recommend to everyone checking them out!
How difficult was it to develop the game?
Janos: You know many people ask me this question and I never knew what could be a good answer really? I mean yes of course it was difficult but which serious project isn’t right? This was my first mobile app and game ever and I had no prior experience in this field so I guess this made it more difficult. Also working on one single project almost every day for a year can be very though. But after all it’s done. Nothing is impossible?
If you had to choose a character or obstacle in Tapforss to be – which one would it be and why?
Zaman: I must say the Shield, that thing is so cool and everyone is glad to see it when it appears in any level.
What future projects are you thinking about or working on?
Janos: I have many ideas for the future of Tapforss, it would be great to release many new planets and levels but of course it all depends on how the gaming audience will receive it. I also have many ideas for other games and apps. I would love to stay in this business for the rest of my life and make all of them come alive!
What can we expect from Like A Crocodile in the years to come?
Zaman: Well for Tapforss, many more levels and surprises to come, and the Android version of the game for sure. We will start working on our second game title soon, and hopefully we will release it by the end of the year or early next year.
How has the feedback been on this game so far?
Janos: I’m very pleased with the feedback we’ve got so far! We had several beta testers with different age groups from all around the world. They all loved the game and sent us many lovely words and lines about it. Honestly when I read those I already felt it was worth doing it regardless how the world is gonna receive it.
What are you plans and future visions for your development company to achieve?
Janos: We would like to expand and have a small team to be more productive and efficient. I want to see our future games debuting on every platform including Apple, Android, Windows, PlayStation and Xbox. It would be fantastic to be an internationally recognised game studio with fans all over the world waiting for our next release. And most importantly I wish to bring fun and joy into people’s lives through our games.
What is your favorite iPhone game?
Janos: Tapforss of course haha!