Have you ever wondered — what does it take to build an Overwolf app? Whether you have already built one, or are just starting your development process, we’re here to break it down for you.
Welcome to this installment of the Overwolf Developers Stories!
Meet the legendary Sébastien Tromp, and his story.
So, Sébastien - tell us a little bit about yourself
“I’m 36 years old, am married and I have a wonderful small daughter (unfortunately too young to play games yet). I live in Southern France, and work as an IT developer as my day job.”
What is your first gaming memory?:
“Me playing on my mom’s work laptop — it was before we even had the NES at home, so probably the end of the '80s? I have a few memories of Space Invaders, and a Formula 1 racing game I can’t remember the name of.”
Which games do you play today?
“Since my daughter was born I cut down on game time quite a bit, but I still play now and then. I play Hearthstone (Does this count as gaming or work? That’s a good question), and have recently borrowed the Nintendo Switch from a friend, on which I mostly have been playing Mario Odyssey.”
How did the idea of Manastorm come to be?:
“Initially, I wanted to build a website where people could post videos of them playing squash! I’m a squash player in my spare time, and I thought getting advice from stronger players would be awesome. I had developed some very neat video features, like having the ability to put side-to-side videos of you performing a swing and a pro player doing the same, so you could see the differences, with slow-motion, repeats, annotations, and so on.”
“I was working with a friend then, and we decided not to restrict ourselves to squash. So we also had it for badminton, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone.”
“After some time, around the end of 2015, we realized that Hearthstone was taking off, so we shifted our focus 100% towards it. We also figured that we could build a replay viewer using game logs, and let people upload their own logs to view their games online.”
“By pure chance, Overwolf contacted me as they were searching for a way to share Hearthstone replays in their Game Summary, and that’s how Manastorm was officially born.”
What are the biggest challenges you had faced while developing Manastorm?:
“Mostly performance issues — this is an ongoing effort which I’m working on to this day, a new much better-performing version is coming :) Beyond that, it’s ordinary web development stuff. The UI itself was pretty straightforward, as it’s mostly a rendering of what is already in the game.”
“After building the app, it was all about marketing and getting people to know me — and that’s where the partnership with Overwolf helped immensely.”
So, tell us about your next project — Firestone
“While Manastorm was built for competitive players with a passion for improving and self-analysis, I wanted to make something that’s great for more casual players. Since I don’t play much at the moment, I have become a more casual player. so once again I’m building for myself as well as others”
“For a long time I thought there was a missed opportunity in Hearthstone — there are lots of ways you can enjoy the game without being competitive, but the game itself doesn’t really encourage you to do something beyond random quests. The two main ideas I had on how to engage with more casual players were around the Collection and the (lack of) Achievements.”
“So I started building two apps: one that is focused on collection features and card management, and one that would grant achievements depending on what you managed to do in-game.”
“What I wanted to do with the collection was pretty simple: build a better collection manager, help users who are collectors feel like they are making progress towards completing their collections, and provide some cool stats along the way.”
“With achievements, I started from pretty standard achievement stuff: you have a list of things to do, then you cross them off from your list as you complete them. When I brought this to Overwolf for discussion I got tons of good ideas — my favorite was adding an automatic video clip capture whenever you complete an achievement.”
“In the end, we decided to merge the two apps into one, so that we could reuse the infrastructure, have a shared design, and avoid splitting the user base too much.”
“As development progressed, we added in a deck tracker. While I believe there are really good trackers out there already, we wanted to try something more interesting with better UI and presentation (if you haven’t checked out the app yet, please do, I think the new design is great!). Deck tracking is also a rather natural expansion, as it ties in really well with the replays we already provide with Manastorm, and the achievements that will highlight your most memorable plays in Firestone.”
How did you plan to make this project, tech-wise?
“There were a few things I could reuse from Manastorm. I was already reading game logs, I just needed to generate real-time events from them that could be transformed into achievements.
Then I could leverage a lot of what Overwolf already provides — such as reading the user’s card collection, record video clips, and so on.”
I want to play a game. I’m going to say a word and you are going to say the first thing that comes to your mind:
Tilt — Counter Strike
Passion — Developing games
Coding — Fun
Card games — Magic: the Gathering
Overwolf — Nice people
QA — Life vest
Users — Thank you
Success — Enjoying the process
Failure — Spending too much time on things I’d rather not have done
Gaming — With friends
Backlog — That’s what my next evenings will be about
API — Clean code
Slack — The way it should always have been
Windows — Works and easy to use
Steam — It’s too easy to buy games now
Discord — Slack for public use
Do you have any tips for new Overwolf developers?:
“Read the docs and ask around. The community is really nice, and some people may have already solved what’s bugging you. Also, don’t hesitate to request changes or improvements from the platform itself.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while developing your app on the Overwolf platform?:
“Test and QA your own app as much as possible first. It’s better to spend some extra time and clean your stuff up since it always takes much longer to do back-and-forth with external teams or with the Overwolf QA department.”
5 years from now — where do you see yourself?
“I just hope I’ll still be able to develop for fun :)”