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Ninja Kiwi goes up and away with Unity

No monkeying around as Ninja Kiwi goes up and away with Unity

From pitting players against each other in challenges involving monkeys wielding dart shooters, to recruiting them into a crack unit of commandos under siege from zombies, Ninja Kiwi has been at the forefront of the mobile and web games market with well-known titles such as Bloons – its most successful and longest running series.

Bloons sees players use dart shooter-wielding monkeys and fighter jets to destroy wave after wave of balloons, or ‘bloons’ as they are called. The run-away hit series is based on the traditional ‘tower-defence’ genre where players place towers and turrets along predetermined routes to clear waves of enemies – in this case, brightly coloured balloons – looking to reach the end. The developer has even introduced a competitive mode which sees players battle each other in a race to outlast their opponents. One of the series’ latest iterations, Bloons TD 5, has remained in the top 10 US paid charts for almost 5 years running, a testament to the series’ continued success.

“We at Ninja Kiwi have built a core competence in casual strategy games and we strive to maintain our leadership there. We focus heaps of energy on strong teamwork and clean simple design, and we are contrarian in that we believe equally in paid and free-to-play models, so we let the game design lead the business model,” said Scott Walker, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Ninja Kiwi.

Choosing the right weapons

Even as Ninja Kiwi continued to find success with their Adobe Flash games back in 2011, the team began to find limitations to what they were able to build with it. Furthermore, planned expansions to the team also led to lead time issues for new team members to get comfortable with the company’s internal game engine. As it took much longer for them to get up to speed, Ninja Kiwi began using an external engine to develop their future titles while supplementing their existing internal engine.

Unsure of which game development engine to use full time, Ninja Kiwi ultimately decided by considering two significant priorities. ‘Our criteria while looking for a game engine was mainly the core capabilities to developing games for mobile with effective pipelines and definitely great support as well. Cross platform capabilities were also a strong second, leading us to select Unity as our engine of choice,’ said Walker.

Pushing forward, together
After acquiring Digital Goldfish – a Dundee, Scotland-based game development studio – Ninja Kiwi had around 60 staff split between its newest location and existing Auckland, New Zealand headquarters. With fostering a collaborative culture between its staff an important issue for the game studio, this also played into part of choosing its game engine. Unity was found to be a right fit given the focus it had in ensuring easy collaboration between users. “It’s insane to work with tools that don’t allow intense collaboration across teams and individuals, which is why we are glad that this is both a focus and integral component for Unity,” said Walker.

The ease of which the team at Ninja Kiwi picked up the Unity engine also helped in choice as well. “The art and design works a lot better when they are part of the editor and runtime process, and we’ve also found that all team members were able to pick things up quickly and use the engine smoothly,” said Walker. Starting out with just Unity’s licence and source code access, Scott and his team were sold on the engine after experiencing Unity Premium Support.

The cavalry’s here
Premium Support provides quick access to a dedicated team of Unity experts who are able to jump in quickly and address any issues faced by developers, from code reviews, to project optimisation and stability problems rapidly, cutting down development time.

“Premium Support makes a huge difference,” Walker said. “It has been awesome, from the great team to the great training it provides. Responses from the support team are fast and helpful with no attitude, and Unity team members are happy to pull a whole project and jump into it to see problems first hand. They have been instrumental in multiple fixes, saving us hours of work at critical junctures,” he added. With this support, Ninja Kiwi could rapidly develop iterations and prototypes with ease, and more importantly get their latest games to the hands of the players quickly.

The next level
With the team floating high from their series of success from the likes of Bloons to SAS: Zombie Assault, they have continued to focus their efforts on developing 2D games and have yet to take a dip into the VR scene, even as Walker wishes for VR to become more mass market.

“We love the ubiquitous go everywhere platform that is the mobile phone and tablet, and we also love Steam and console. We at Ninja Kiwi have a more casual target audience and some of us have lived through platform cycles since 32-bit, but we’re keen to see VR become much more mass market,” Walker said.

________________________________________

About Ninja Kiwi
Ninja Kiwi® is a leading developer and publisher of games for web, Facebook, and smart devices - games such as Bloons®, Bloons® TD 5, and SAS: Zombie Assault® 3. Founded in 2006 and operating as Kaiparasoft Limited, Ninja Kiwi has headquarters and game development in Auckland, New Zealand and a mobile games studio in Dundee, Scotland. Game players eager to find the best original web, mobile, and tablet games can look for the Ninja Kiwi name and logo, follow us @ninjakiwigames, or stay in touch athttp://ninjakiwi.com/Forum/forum.php and at the Ninja Kiwi Games group on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_67759173816.

About Unity Technologies
Unity Technologies is the creator of a flexible and high-performance end-to-end development platform used to create rich interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences. Unity’s powerful graphics engine and full-featured editor serve as the foundation to develop beautiful games or apps and easily bring them to multiple platforms: mobile devices, home entertainment systems, personal computers, and embedded systems. Unity also offers solutions and services for creating games, boosting productivity, and connecting with audiences including Unity Ads, Unity Analytics, Unity Asset Store, Unity Cloud Build, Unity Collaborate, Unity Connect and Unity Certification. Unity Technologies serves millions of registered developers including large publishers, indie studios, students and hobbyists around the globe. For more information, visit www.unity3d.com and to see the latest games and experiences created in Unity, go to madewith.unity.com.

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