Right from the Moonlander's launch, we've offered a free copy of Epistory, an excellent typing game, with every keyboard. Over time we got to know Fishing Cactus, the studio behind Epistory, a bit better. So when they released their latest typing game, Outshine, I was happy to get a chance to talk to them a bit about the considerations of designing a game around typing.

BTW, this post isn't sponsored (we don't do sponsored content). I just like Fishing Cactus, and I think game design is interesting. :)

When designing a typing game, what's your main consideration? What are you optimizing for?

The two main considerations are the instant gratification of typing on the keyboard and the game's ergonomics.

The feedback of pressing a key must empower and motivate the player to continue typing as it is the main mechanic of the game and the key bindings must be easy and intuitive to use for the player to avoid muscular issues after some time. A good example of it is the EFIJ keys to move in Epistory. Using these keys instead of the traditional WASD keeps your hands in the right place on the keyboard for better typing. But to make sure that you have the best key binding optimization, you should know your audience and what keyboards they tend to use.

In Outshine, you move with right Shift and left Shift, except in Korean, where Shift keys are used to type letters. To complicate it a bit more, Alt keys are used to toggle from Korean to English layout, and Ctrl keys are used to display Chinese characters. So, depending on the keyboard, you have to find the cleverest way to use the keyboard layout without breaking the typing flow. 

Your game must be exciting for both players who can’t touch type and players who've mastered their keyboards. With Epistory, we implemented an adaptive difficulty that increases or decreases according to your typing speed. Through this, we make sure to avoid frustration and give you an experience meeting your typing level. In Outshine, the challenge is not only taking into account your typing speed but also allowing you to choose how you’d like to increase or decrease the difficulty, creating your own custom experience. A way to decrease difficulty would be to select the auto-pilot mode, so you only have to focus on typing, while using the mirror mode to mirror|ɿoɿɿim the entire game would considerably increase the difficulty. 


Do you think the atmosphere of the game, the music and visuals, change the way we type? Do gamers type differently in a more chill game versus something with intense visuals?

Yes, definitely. The flow provided by the game's visuals and sounds places and maintains the player in a specific state. The more intense this flow, the more frantically the player is tempted to press the keys, at the risk of making more typing errors.

In Epistory and Nanotale, the music in the game hub is super atmospheric and chill, while it gets more intense when you enter a dungeon to finally reaches its climax during battles. In Outshine, we needed something that fits better the arcade genre. To avoid any distraction, the music had to be dynamic but not too present so the player can still focus on typing.

Both music and visuals have to fit the game's atmosphere, conveying the right feeling at each step of the game. When approaching a boss battle, the player should start to feel the adrenaline coming. On the contrary, the player should be able to understand when he can relax and rest for a moment.

The combinations of the right music and visuals associated with the typing genre, make our games very popular across a large audience. Casual gamers play for the poetic atmosphere while core gamers play for the pleasure of typing with a noticeable fanbase from Japan, China, Korea, Germany, and the USA where typing games are less considered edutainment than in Europe. 

What are your thoughts on the connection between fun and learning?

Learning is much easier when it is fun. The playful aspect of the learning process has an essential impact on motivation. A good way to learn is when knowledge is acquired through enjoyment, without even realizing it.

That said, our games were never designed as edutainment games. Our first objective was to create fun games with different mechanics. Of course, you can learn to type better with our games as you would be better at playing FPS if you were practicing a lot. The keyboard is just a tool to create a better immersion and learning was always considered a plus, but never a purpose. 

The Outshine team

What other Fishing Cactus games should we be looking forward to in the next year?

With already three typing games released, we want to take a break from the typing mechanic and focus on another type of game. Our team is currently working on a secret project with communication as the game core. More about it in 2023.