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AthleteWe are the Pyongyang Ice Hockey league and we bring hockey players to North Korea for a groundbreaking Friendship Game with the national ice hockey team to support people with disabilities in the DPRK. AMA!

Nov 2nd 2016 by GordonHI • 39 Questions • 4122 Points

Hi Reddit!

We're Kongregate, and this October marks ten years of us being a gaming community, we wanted to make an AMA part of our celebration!

Our original goal as a website was to be a place where developers can create and try new things, and where they can be fairly compensated for their work, unlike most of the early days of Flash gaming. In the ten years since then, we've evolved into a deep and involved community revolving around hundreds of thousands of gamers and game developers. We made a push into mobile publishing as well, producing highly rated games like AdVenture Capitalist, Battlehand, and Little Alchemist, as well as a recent push into Steam with Slashy Hero and Spellstone (announced, not yet released). We're celebrating the past ten years with user avatar and profile skin contests to be permanently added to our site, a game jam for our game developers, a game tournament, and a 24 hour Extra Life game marathon and livestream. If you'd like to give to our Extra Life, benefitting the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital here in the Bay Area, please feel free to do so! The children appreciate your support.

We recently partnered with Fox Digital Entertainment to develop and release a card battle game called Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards, which also has a home at /r/AnimationThrowdown. It made it to #2 on iOS and #1 on Android for free games, and is #20 among all free apps on iOS, ahead of Twitter, Amazon, and Pokemon Go. It combines five Fox shows into one game: Family Guy, American Dad, Futurama, Bob's Burgers, and King of the Hill. It's been a huge project that we've worked on for two years, and we're very proud of it.

So, go ahead! Ask us anything!

My Proof: https://twitter.com/kongregate/status/793148390221705216

EDIT: Things seem to be winding down now, so we're going to get back to work! Please consider donating to our Extra Life if you haven't already, and keep an eye on our Twitch channel for our Extra Life stream this weekend, as well as other live events.

Thanks for helping us celebrate our 10th anniversary, everyone, and happy gaming to all of you!

Q:

Don't you have the suspicion that the several hundred fans were made to come, watch and cheer?

A:

Is there any rivalry between you and other flash game sites (e.g. armor games, newgrounds)?


Q:

Yeah if you have a look to the pictures on our instagram for instance (https://www.instagram.com/hifriendshipleague/) you'll see that it wasn't that crowded. We had a decent amount of people including players relatives and friends and hockey fans. The women team was here too and they were in fact quite disappointed we did not bring a team of female players!

A:

I'd say so! It's good to have competition, since it pushes us to keep on doing better than we did in the past. It's not TOO bitter of a rivalry, though, as we often see our sponsored games on AG/NG, as well as their games on our site.


Q:

Do you plan on having female players in the future?

A:

Oh man has your site kept me entertained when I was dirt poor and could not afford any games. Also got me through when I was in the hospital for a month.

My question is, is the idle game craze still going strong or is it finally subsiding?


Q:

We have tried very hard to include female players and have spoken to the DPRK women's team who are supportive. We just simply haven't had many female hockey players sign up. We think thats a shame as the women's team should get the same opportunities as their male colleagues. Do you know any female players that might want to make the first ever women's team trip?

A:

Glad to hear we could be there for you! I love to get stories from people that we helped through a tough time. :)

My question is, is the idle game craze still going strong or is it finally subsiding?

Sure is! Developers are still submitting a ton of really great and innovative idle games to our site, though the vast majority of submission are not actually idle games. But people love them and people keep playing them! :)


Q:

Local Canadian teams - maybe in Toronto, or maybe better luck with smaller places in Quebec or (maybe not Quebec) Nova Scotia. Tons of womens teams

A:

Hello Kongregate! I am a long-time user of the site, I really really have enjoyed the hours and days of playing games on your website, and I still continue to use it. There's something that I have been wondering for over a year now, and I can actually ask it now!

Because of a lot of flash-like games being published on Steam for 99 cents, I was wondering, even though these games cost money, has it impacted your traffic on the website at all? I know some of the games on Steam also go up on your site and I'm sure you guys still get a lot of users, but have you noticed a decline at all since Steam has decided to add more flash-like games?

That's just something that I've been wondering for quite a while, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask it! Also thank you for your amazing website, it has brought me much joy. Including the cute little Kongpanions. I'm also wondering, I guess I have a second question too.. (sorry! heheh)

Do you have a team of artists who work on the Kongpanions or just one or two people? Do you guys spend much time planning them, or do you just churn them out? Also curious if you guys ever worry about running out of ideas for Kongpanions since they come out weekly (This weeks Bat is so cute!) Also, since they come out weekly do you guys ever have trouble meeting the deadline?

Thanks so much for your time, and thank you for your wonderful website! Also thanks for reading if you got this far, sorry for too many questions!


Q:

We've emailed and called some but with no luck, we will keep trying for sure. If you come across any female hockey enthusiasts please let them know about our adventure.

A:

Because of a lot of flash-like games being published on Steam for 99 cents, I was wondering, even though these games cost money, has it impacted your traffic on the website at all? I know some of the games on Steam also go up on your site and I'm sure you guys still get a lot of users, but have you noticed a decline at all since Steam has decided to add more flash-like games?

I think a lot of things have competed with us for traffic, but I don't anticipate paid "flash-like" games being a large part of that. Paid game volume is always substantially-lower than free game, even if the revenue is similar. You can see this with top of the charts in paid and free games on mobile as well. I think the audience looking for a bunch of small, free games isn't going to be heavily swayed by being able to pay for a few smaller games on Steam. While I'm sure there's some cross-over, I wouldn't attribute a large shift in traffic from that specific case.

Do you have a team of artists who work on the Kongpanions or just one or two people? Do you guys spend much time planning them, or do you just churn them out? Also curious if you guys ever worry about running out of ideas for Kongpanions since they come out weekly (This weeks Bat is so cute!) Also, since they come out weekly do you guys ever have trouble meeting the deadline?

It's just one or two! The Kongpanions are mostly designed by Jimp with assistance and coordination from jmtb02. Jimp has a huge backlog of Kongpanions waiting to be released, and John (jmtb02) decides when to release each one. The rest of the Kongregate staff name the Kongpanions and invent their descriptions a couple days before they launch. I (IAmTheCandyman) named the bat, Plum! :D


Q:

I would make the trip!

A:

STABBY WHEN?


Q:

It would be great to have you. We do ask participants to cover their tour fees (we've worked hard to make them as low as possible) which also include a donation to support our programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the DPRK.

Send us an email to [email protected] if you're interested! We hope to hear from you!

A:

Never!

...Probably.


Q:

Do North Koreans actually have a competitive hockey team? Or will they just get blown out and embarrassed?

A:

I've been a Kong user since 2013 and I've met a lot of great people through the site. Happy 10th everyone!

Are you guys starting to move away from Flash stuff and focus more on mobile? I saw your recent game on steam, are you planning on branching out into any other areas? What else do you see in Kongregate's future?


Q:

In fact we were quite surprised to see that the North Korean team played a skilled and structured game when we brought a full team of expats in March 2016. Our players had to fight hard to keep up!

A:

Thank you!

Are you guys starting to move away from Flash stuff and focus more on mobile? I saw your recent game on steam, are you planning on branching out into any other areas? What else do you see in Kongregate's future?

Mobile and Steam are our current focuses, though we're certainly not giving up on web developers or users! It does seem like browsers are moving away from Flash and we allowed Unity games for a time, but that's slowly getting deprecated as well. We've been open to WebGL and HTML5 for awhile now, and are continuing to look for new relevant technologies to support.


Q:

You are now a moderator of /r/Pyongyang

A:

I've had a Kongregate account since like 2008, and I've seen tons of changes to the site and types of games on it (some good, some bad).

My biggest issue nowadays is that I find Kongregate overrun with idle games. I enjoy upgrade-oriented games, but every time I find a new one, it ends up being another idle game. Any comment on the prevalence and popularity of these idle games? A good example would be Clicker Heroes.


Q:

Hey thanks for that. There's much to discuss on that topic, I'll be sure to contribute! Do you have any experience with the country?

A:

We answered a similar question elsewhere, actually, but a quick summary is that there are a ton of idle games right now because that's where we're seeing a lot of innovation and creativity. We used to be the place where Tower Defense games got huge, and now that's cooled down to a more "normal" level, so I imagine idle games will eventually do the same. :)


Q:

Do you think they have any players of nhl quality?

A:

What are you wearing?


Q:

Not at this point. I think it will take a few years for the sport to expand in the region, including in China, to allow for the top level training and competition in amateur levels that produce the top tier players......but its not for a lack of passion. They do very well given their resources

A:

Khakis, for I am Jake from State Farm.

Just kidding. Jeans and a t-shirt, like I do every day!


Q:

If I've never played before, does that count as a skill level?

A:

Doesn't it ever get cold?


Q:

Haha well we also welcome spectators and while you might not be selected to play during the games we have several training sessions taking place in their famous ice rink in the heart of Pyongyang. In addition all participants are taken to visit the capital and the Demilitarized Zone as well as to discover NK culture and people ; it's worth having a look believe me

A:

I live in the Bay Area now, and am from Wisconsin. These SF people don't know the meaning of the word "cold".


Q:

Are women able to play?

A:

Ayy! Shoutout from Milwaukee! Nobody knows the struggle, NOBODY.


Q:

Yeah in fact during our last event when we played with the men's team we saw the women starting a warm up session and then training hard. We later noticed they were also very excited about the idea to welcome a foreign team and exchange with them so for this second edition we try to mobilize more women! We even have a dedicated poster https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxDQRbPZO93IUXVpQWdoQW13eXM

A:

Milwaukee here too! WOO!


Q:

Are you allowed to date a woman in N. Korea (as a foreigner)?

A:

Whats on the t shirt?


Q:

Yes, theres no major restriction forbidding it. However DPRK society is very conservative so hookups with hockey players aren't appropriate or too likely. Most foreigners who date local citizens are expats who spend a great deal of time in the country allowing more time for relationships to develop

A:

It's pandas dressed up as The Avengers!

http://i.imgur.com/hbqbFnE.jpg


Q:

Their women's football team is ranked as 9th in the world

A:

Question from BrainpanSonata as he doesn't use reddit

Does Kongregate have any plans to promote alternatives for Flash among devs?


Q:

Yeah, I had never heard about this. We do want women to be involved too. In March 2016, when we brought our first (male) team we could see the national women team training and understood they would have loved to meet an international women team too. So this year we try to push for women registration in order to satisfy both the men and women ice hockey team of North Korea! Do you have more info about their football team?

A:

We are indeed! We supported Unity Webplayer, though that's now slowly fading. We actively support WebGL and HTML5 natively, as well as other formats through iFrames, like a couple of Java games. If you have suggestions for new tech, feel free to email our support team, who passes those suggestions to the right people :)


Q:

Are athletes punished for not performing well on the global stage?

A:

A few questions:

  • How do you feel about game-based chat effectively killing off many of the smaller room communities?

  • Will Sonny 3 ever happen?

  • What does Greg smell like?


Q:

Haha no, of course not. That comes back often in the discussions but in fact those guys are young athletes like us and are happy to represent their country abroad and in the Pyongyang Ice Rink — quite a beautiful place btw. Their performance is obviously important for local officials but no one takes it that seriously neither, even Koreans ;) Do you know what their ice rink look like?

A:

How do you feel about game-based chat effectively killing off many of the smaller room communities?

Actually, game chat isn't the reason for that decline, though I can certainly understand why you might think so! There's been a general decline in chat on our web platform, in both game chats and room chats, so it wasn't actually game chat that caused that. It's partly an increased developer focus on platforms like mobile and downloadables, as well as the uncertainty revolving around Flash and Unity technologies.

Will Sonny 3 ever happen?

If it does, it's not in our hands! That's an Armor Games question.

What does Greg smell like?

Greg says it depends on how recently he's rolled in mud, but I say it's sunshine, puppies, and chocolate.


Q:

Got it! I'm sure he was talking about the absence of US nationals on the very long train ride and I took it to mean that there were no Americans at all.

A:

Are there any plans to revamp any parts of the site? I still miss the old way badges were displayed in the old user profiles.


Q:

Yeah our American participants were not treated any differently from our other Canadian or Swiss guys. The "anti-imperialism" atmosphere is obviously quite alive but doesn't apply to citizens, rather to governments and politics

A:

Our design team is always working to improve the site experience for our users. I remember that old badge browser, and it was neat to see all of them out there, but I think the design team also felt it looked cluttered. You can get a full version of your badge feed if you click your badge count on your profile, though!


Q:

I'm so confused, are you guys North Korean, or from somewhere else and helped start this league in conjunction with North Korea?

A:

Do you have any plans to improve discovery? To better suggest games to specific players, that should interest them?


Q:

No we are the two managing partners of the Howe International Friendship League (HIFL) as Vancouver based organization. My partner is Scott Howe from Canada and I'm Gordon Israel, from France ;) We managed to initiate discussion with relevant North Korean officials and they have been responding very positively to our initiative from March 2015. Those discussions ended up in the organization of the Pyongyang International Friendship Ice Hockey Exhibition in March 2016 when we brought a full team of expats in Pyongyang for training sessions and friendship games with the DRPK team. Now we want to build upon our previous success and make our project grow to take down the barriers existing between North Koreans and international citizens!

A:

It's always challenging to get a robot to recommend things that a real human would like, but we're always working on improving our systems to the best of our ability. Part of that system relies on players rating games truthfully, so make sure to rate games that you do and do not like in order to help the bot make better and better picks. :)


Q:

I was so confused. I thought you guys were involved with Gordie Howe in some way. Like some sort of international organization he had. This makes a lot more sense. Also a really awesome thing you guys are doing.

A:

What is Ducklette doing nowadays? Missing her and the old Feed the Ducks!


Q:

No nothing to do with Gordie Howe. Glad to hear you appreciate what we are doing. Hopefully this kind of initiatives will start popping up in the country and allow more people to exchange with North Koreans. Most of the people we met there were very existed to discuss with us about various topics and very eager to learn more about what's happening overseas

A:

She left the company almost exactly three years ago to become a veterinary technician full-time. So she's spending all her time with adorable animals!


Q:

How do you get into North Korea that often?

A:

Other than the charity stream, are any more Kongregate Live events planned any time soon? I especially enjoyed the Jimp livestreams.


Q:

We work with a department of the government responsible for facilitating international charitable and engagement projects. They make the process of applying for visas etc very easy. When on official charitable visits we are able to obtain official visit visas which give us more freedom than the standard tourist visas.

Citizens of most countries are able to obtain permits to visit as a tourist simply by visiting a tour provider such as Lupine Tours of the UK who take care of everything from there.

A:

We did recently have a trivia livestream with a group prize, and unfortunately, jmtb02 has been too busy to host live events, but we're working on trying to find new people to host new events!


Q:

When will the last "present" in the 10th anniversary open?

I mean I know it's today but when a few hours? was there a delay?

A:

It'll be later today, probably this afternoon! We're still putting the finishing touches on it.


Q:

A question what is the point system and level for?

A:

At present, the entire system is for bragging rights! The more points you get, the higher your level. The higher your level, the better you (probably) are at games! You can read a little more here. :)


Q:

Hey! What's the story behind the site's name?

A:

"Kongregate" was one of the names we were originally workshopping, and it really grew on us. It's really about bringing people together!

This is also relevant to why our mascot is an ant. Ants congregate, and work together, because teamwork makes the dream work.


Q:

Hello Kongregate! I used to love your website as a kid a lot. So much so that I learned how to hack some of the games and get those tasty rewards. I thought it was so cool that I made videos about it teaching people to do the same but always remembering to use it to get the badges only, and not highscores.

Sorry about that. Anyway, my question is, have you guys ever dealt with a funny situation on customer service email thing?

A:

Anyway, my question is, have you guys ever dealt with a funny situation on customer service email thing?

Not exactly a customer service email, but I once had a kid threaten me by telling me that his dad had REAL Pokemon and would be coming to my house to beat me up! In case you were wondering, I have not been assaulted by a Machamp.


Q:

What are the admins dressing up as for Halloween?

A:

All sorts of things! We have a Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill, Officer Jenny from Pokemon, eggs and bacon, and Linda Belcher from Bob's Burgers, with other costumes to reveal themselves at our Halloween party later today.

Our whole Portland office have dressed up as the Wormy Army, after a beloved contest entry we got last year. Here's one of the Wormy Army, gazing out over the beauty of an Oregon autumn.

Someone even dressed up as a character from our upcoming Peter Molyneux game The Trail!


Q:

Are you guys hiring? ;)

A:

Always! You can find our open jobs here.


Q:

Hi Kongregate: will you ever make a version of kdice? Love that game but hate the community. We need a dice battle strategy game run by kongregate!

A:

Will you ever make a version of kdice?

We actually don't "make" most of the games on our site. We work with developers who upload their games to our site. Just wanted to be clear on that point.

I don't think we have anything planned like that, but there are some Risk-ish games on our site like Warlight!


Q:

Is Corporation Inc. 2 being worked on?

A:

That's actually an Armor Games game, so you'd have to ask them that!


Q:

Oh man, I'm on time for an AMA I care about! i used Kongregate all through highschool and anytime I buy a game on my phone that has your image, I know it was a good investment. Thank you guys for all your work.

My question is, can you guys promote developers to release their games on iOS more often? You guys have the best games and a great community, I would love to see it flourish more.

Also, favorite cereals?

A:

My question is, can you guys promote developers to release their games on iOS more often? You guys have the best games and a great community, I would love to see it flourish more.

All of our published games have been released on both Android and iOS so far, and we intend to continue along that path! I'm not sure how we could encourage developers that we don't directly work with to publish to iOS, since they're making the decisions that are best for them as a developer. :)

Also, favorite cereals?

Obviously Quaker Oatmeal Squares are the BEST cereal, as confirmed by me and at least two other people in the office. Others are also telling me they love Rice Krispies Treats cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats (with almonds, of course), Cocoa Pebbles, and various flavors of Chex.


Q:

have you cut the rope?

A:

I have cut, sliced, and snipped the rope! I have so many stars.


Q:

Approximetley how many people work full time for the website?

A:

We have roughly 75 employees on staff across all kinds of teams. Community, design, production, engineering, QA, business development, marketing...


Q:

Hey team! I am really happy with what is being done for the 10 year anniversary. A lot of cool events, including this one!

My questions are: What is your favorite little-known game on the site? What point in the site's career led you to know it would be this huge? What was the closest the site came to ever shutting down?

Please answer questions in this format for everybody.

Question

Answer

Question

Answer

A:

What is your favorite little-known game on the site?

We have lots of favorites, but for the person answering this AMA (Community Manager IAmTheCandyman), my favorite little game is You Have To Burn The Rope. It's simple and fun, and has a great little song at the end!

Other answers from the team include Reeelz, a sort of combination between a slot machine and Yahtzee, Aisleen, a game submitted to our first game jam, which tells the story of an artist fighting through their self-doubt to improve their work, and Icycle, a game about a little naked man biking through a frozen apocalypse.

We'll work on answering more of this soon :)


Q:

I ended up downloading the .mp3 of "You have to burn the rope" years ago. It occasionally shuffles on my computer and forces me to load up kongregate just to kill the colossal

A:

Same! I also have the song from Music Catch (Isaac Shepard's "Before Dawn) come up on my mix sometimes.


Q:

Whats your best memories from running Kongregate over the past 10 years?

A:

There's a ton of them! One of my favorites was when the Village People stopped by to use our office as a green room before a performance nearby. They even played a few rounds of Pacman Battle Royale with us! Others in the office are pointing out that they loved partying hard after we got acquired, playing games with their children while sick and otherwise unable to interact with each other, and just generally knowing that we are providing some games that people are using to get through a tough time.


Q:

Does Kongregate have plans to venture into any other areas? I miss the collabs section. Kongregate's journey into the world of mobile publishing seems to be going well.

A:

We're always looking forward to what's going to happen next! I don't think we're planning to bring back the Collabs, as they were a seriously underused function of the site.


Q:

One of my favorite games on your site is pandemic 2. I was shocked to see a very similar game released on steam and various appstores. Why would people pay for a game that you have had for free for many years? Has this affected you in any way?

A:

We answered a similar question here, but the basic answer is that it hasn't affected us in a significant way. The group of people looking for free games is always bigger than those looking for paid games.


Q:
  1. What's the most popular game in the site's history?

  2. Which is your favourite classic game from back in the day when Flash games were huge around the mid-2000s?

A:

What's the most popular game in the site's history?

That would arguably be Dawn of the Dragons with over 73 million plays ever since it was uploaded in 2012.

Which is your favourite classic game from back in the day when Flash games were huge around the mid-2000s?

I'm going to guess this question is looking for a game that isn't on Kongregate, so I'm going to have to go with Defend Your Castle, that game about stopping an invasion of rampaging stick men by picking them up and flinging them into the air so that they land and splatter on the ground!


Q:

How do you feel about gaming addiction? I love your site and sometimes go through major bouts of regular play, but eventually find myself in a place where I ask my account to be suspended just to get out of an unhealthy spiral--usually at least 6 months before I'm ready again. It's been at least 3 cycles of this, but knowing K has a trapdoor out really helps. Are there other organized addiction efforts you take part in?

A:

How do you feel about gaming addiction?

There are a lot of things out there, including games, that people can become addicted to. I know I've personally spent plenty of time (especially while in college) playing games when I should have been studying, and it can be a hard one to get away from. While we can't make the decision for anyone, I personally make sure that I help anyone block their account if they feel like they need our help in focusing their efforts elsewhere. :)


Q:

Which sites are your rivals/competitors?

A:

Honestly, the longer we've all existed, the more we've bonded as #teambrowsergames. Like we mentioned elsewhere, it's a mostly friendly rivalry. I sent Tom Fulp of Newgrounds a pair of Kongregate sunglasses (and a t-shirt and stickers) as a prize for coming up with the name "Korrigate" for our cardboard box Kongpanion, and he apparently now wears them whenever he goes for a drive!

https://twitter.com/TomFulp/status/698885213166968832


Q:

How deep does adventure capitalist go in terms of number of zeros?

A:

Theoretically, you can reach over 100 uncentillion, which would be up to 308 zeros!


Q:

What is the worst game you have hosted on your site?

A:

It would be pretty unfair to call out a developer's hard work as "the worst", so we're not going to do that.


Q:

What do you think of Gamestop?

A:

This is going to sound like the cheesy corporate line, but really, they've been great. Despite what plenty of people imagine, we still have full control of everything that happens in the day-to-day, so we still get to do what we think is best for Kongregate as a whole. :)


Q:

What are your highest rounds on Bloons Tower Defense?

A:

I've made it up to round 105 on the Brick Wall map, but then things start to slow down and make it harder to play, so that's the best I've done!