Before the days of online videogame reviews, people would go to a store, check out a box, read the description and decide on a purchase from that. Most games still provide a case description, but sometimes they’re ignored. Game Box Challenge is an app that challenges gamers’ knowledge of that quick description on the back of a game.
The Hungarian iOS app coder Zoltán Matók created the game. He works for Artklikk, a company that specializes in app design. Game Box Challenge is something he worked on by himself in his spare time. The whole idea stemmed from a Game Informer podcast. During the show, one of the personalities would read a description from the back of a game to his colleagues, and they guessed what it was. Matók thought this would be a good concept for a game.
He found time to create it on his train ride home, or when he had the time to spare. The whole process took about a year. Coding wasn’t an issue for Matók, that only took four weeks. Design took closer to seven months. Matók would create something, then change it, and repeat. It wasn’t until he found a business card with a simple, but effective design that he decided once and for all how the game would actually look.
Once the game was done, Matók had a whole new set of problems. “The moment the game finished, I started reading about like ‘how do you release a game’,” says Matók. “I didn’t think about this kind of stuff during development.”
Before he got around to marketing the game, he had to make some decisions on the style. The original concept Matók had in mind was a competitive game. Scores would be based on how quickly a player could figure out the answer. That idea was scrapped after Matók decided the players would have a better chance at answering the question without time restrictions.
To add some incentive, the Hungarian coder threw in some machinimas as rewards, the films enthusiasts over the years have made using existing game engines as improvised movie studios. He picked them based off of relevance and how much he enjoyed them. “I really Like machinimas,” says Matók. “I feel like not as many people watch them as they should.”
Not every game box description comes with an unlockable machinima, but it’s still something for the players to strive for when there isn’t any competition. For Matók, he’s just happy the game is set to release. There were times when he didn’t think the game was worth making. His one regret is not showing it off more while it was in development to get feedback. He decided that he already put a lot of effort into the creation, so he didn’t want to throw it away.
He credits the website Covergalaxy.com for the game’s existence. To Matók, there would be no Game Box Challenge if the website didn’t exist. This is where he got the descriptions for games. The rules were one game per franchise, they must have a Metacritic score of 75 or higher and they must be from the seventh generation. But he still made some exceptions. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine didn’t hit 75. But the 40K fan in Matók added it in anyway.
He does plan to bring in sixth generation games and next generation games if his app is successful. Until then, Matók won’t be able to play the game he made. “I spent so much time hunting for typos,” says Matók, “So just by reading the first sentence, I immediately know the game… I’ve made a game I can’t play myself.”
While he might not be able to enjoy his creation for some time, those with an iProduct can. Game Box Challenge launches on April. 28, 2014 on the App Store. Those with Android devices may have to wait, as it won’t launch on Google Play unless there is a warm reception for the game. Matók can finally use his spare time to relax and take in the fact that his side project that stemmed from a podcast is ready to debut to the world.