IndieGame: Secret Item Games
Een aantal weken geleden zijn wij naar Gamescom gegaan en daar hebben wij veel games gezien. Wat mij opviel tijdens dit bezoek was dat er ook veel Indie spellen op dit evenement staan.
Na Gamescom kwam ik in contact met Oswald Weber. Hij is de oprichter en CEO van het bedrijf Secret Item Games. Hieronder is het interview met Weber te lezen over zijn Gamescom verhaal en zijn spel Super Paperman:
Q: Before we get started it would be nice to know how we got in contact with each other. I was on my way home after Gamescom and was very satisfied with the days spent there. You weren’t as much as I was, how come?
A: First of all we were very satisfied with our Gamescom appearance. We got about 1000 visitors per day at our booth, that’s about 5000 people who played our game. In fact our small booth was full 95% of the time. We got in contact through a tweet where I mentioned that non of the press we invited did showed up. Don’t miss understand press showed up, however the press we invited, about 50 mid to big German youTubes did ignore our invite. But being the internet things apparently got misinterpreted and went out of hand. From the dozens of positive tweets I send the only one which was negative got read and shared the most. Making it sound like no one showed up when in fact it was exactly the opposite and we barely had 5 min time for example lunch break. That’s how we got in contact. Over a misinterpreted tweet.
Q: As a developer myself and writer for a website I can go into both mindsets. The developer standpoint and the journalists standpoint. How hard was it for you to secure yourself a stand at Gamescom? By that I mean you must have gone long distances to being where you are today.
A: Well Gamescom is never really an end to anything. Its just a call out to Gamers saying hey we exist. You haven’t heard from us but we would like to get to know you and we are interested in your feedback and your honest opinion. If you ever exhibit at fairs like Gamescom get feedback. That’s the most imported thing for exhibiting. If you don’t exhibiting at fairs for consumer feedback you are doing something wrong. The second point is meet new contacts. That could be press/youtuber, other developers, or a publishers. You never know which opportunities may present themselves simple because someone noticed you, or your team. But to get back to your question. Getting to Gamescom is not very hard. Its expensive yes and you should be able to spend a few thousand Euros. But that’s about it. Everything else you can do with hard work and as a developer that’s basically what you do every day. For getting enough money I recommend working on something that does produce money as long as you are in development. For example we are doing contract work in porting existing games to consoles. We financed Gamescom with porting 3 games to Wii U.
Q: I feel that with the likes of Steam Greenlight for example the floodgates have opened for developers to create everything they want. Do you feel Steam Greenlight and such is a good thing? Or do you feel that it got to the point where quantity is over quality?
A: The floodgates have been opened years before Greenlight even existed. There were always way more games being in production than the market can handle. The only difference is that the consumer began noticing the mass of games being produced once they where allowed to get on steam. Of course there are a lot of awesome games out there which wouldn’t have been known or made without programs like steam Greenlight or Kickstarter. But you have to know that for every Games that does make it there are thousands who never even get noticed. And a lot of those are really really good. There is an article “‘Good’ isn’t good enough”, which shows the problems indie games are having now a days. Most people thing a game will sell if it is good. But the truth is a game being good or excellent does mean nothing. You can create the next triple A game and you may still fail terrible. In fact chances are high you will and you have to come to terms with that. And if there is someone who is reading this thinking hey I can start a company, make an indie game and earn some money. Most of the time you won’t. If you are thinking about that ask yourself the question: Can I work on this for the next 2 to 3 years full time, without getting payed for it and maybe have a 10% chance (if at all) to making it profitable?
Q: You began working on the game Super Paperman in 2014. Being where you are now and with the knowledge you have today, would you do things differently?
A: Of course everyone does learn when they start. In fact we replaced all art and code assets of the first year of development with better looking and working once. But that happens when you start out inexperienced. Think about your work back one or two years. Do you still think its up to your current skill level? Fun fact: It never is. And that’s not just games. That’s every creative work out there. Would I still have started working on Super Paperman with my current knowledge when I started out, probably yes. Would I do everything the same way today again one more time? No, I would go into an established company. Starting something from nothing is hard and not really rewarding at all. And earning a normal amount of money would be nice. The games industry does not nearly pay as good as any other industry that requires the same skill level.
Q: At one point you decided that doing everything on your own would be too big of a task. So you persuaded your mother into helping you. Was she already into art and what did she think of the idea that the two of you were going to create this game?
A: My mother studied art and was painting traditional Art for over 25 years. She did a few art exhibitions herself over the years but didn’t really do much painting the last couple of years. Again an industry that doesn’t pay as good or frequently as a normal job. When I started doing my bachelor in game development my mother didn´t think it would be a good idea to working in the games industry. Its really hard to describe to your parents or most people in general that game development is a serious business and that it’s in fact a combination of science and art. A lot of people working on games have an actual bachelor or masters degree in science or art. I got mine in science by the way. So it took a lot of convincing my parents to let me move out and study game development for about 3 years. After that I came back and wanted to start my own company. Since I was looking for an artist I asked my mother, who by that time did understand what I was actually doing and she started doing the art of our game, Super Paperman. It still took about half a year for her to actually learn how to work digitally. I am thankful to her for doing all that for me. I am sure most parents wouldn’t.
Q: Do you have any heroes or people who you look up to in the game development scene?
A: Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, Team Meat basically. There story in Indie Game the Move kind of inspired me to go indie. I still don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. We will see.
Q: Your game is set to release on the Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. If I am not mistaken this means that you need to go into three different cycles before your game is even approved in the store. This process can be really hard I think?
A: We did 3 Wii U ports as contract work already so we are familiar with those processes. However I don’t think I am allowed to say anymore. We signed NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) after all.
Q: Looking at the screenshots you created a wonderful world with Super Paperman. I really like the simple but cute characters in it. After this whole thing is done and the game is in the stores, do you plan on going forward with game development? What gamers forget most of the time is that for an indie developer it is A LOT of work and time and money.
A: We are not sure yet. We got the tech up and running so new Plattformers shouldn’t take as long anymore. We could optimize the whole thing and go on other platforms as well, maybe a mobile version, maybe Apple TV. It would also be interesting to do an Vive, or PlayStation VR game with Paperman. All just ideas at the moment nothing specific yet and if we do that it may take a few years. But I don’t think that’s the end of Paperman and his friends.
Q: How far are you with the development of Super Paperman?
A: We are currently in the build content/polish part so still a lot of work but about 2/3 done. Still porting also takes time so we are planning to go for Wii U first followed by the other consoles.
Q: What do you want to say to the readers of this article and journalists reading this?
A: Just take a look at Super Paperman it´s a 2.5D Platformer made in 2D but works in 3D. Meaning you have different paths through a level. Some in the foreground, some in the background. Also you can race your friends with up to 4 local players. It is made to be played together (of course alone works too) and you have to race against each other (collect the most points) and play together at the same time (you have to finish the level after all). Just imagine Raymen Legends, old 2D Sonic games and Little Big Planet thrown into one game. Its ridicules and makes a lot of fun and that’s what we play games for after all.