Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Game Dev Quote of the Week: Small Company, Big Ideas Edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 14, 2014


“Try to be unique. The current main focus for indie developers seems to be to make concentrated experiences with a  challenging core gameplay, and staying away from that might be a good start in the drive to get notice. Keep it small and focused, not only in terms off the project, but also in terms of the whole group and organization.
“It’s crazy when you talk to people that plan to start a game company with maybe ten or more people. You have to earn a lot of cash to be able to pay the salaries for ten people every month. Even after running a company for many years, I have to remind myself that a sum of $100,000 USD, which is a lot for me as an individual, is not very much for a group of people who have to share it and also pay for taxes, fees, and whatnot.”

— Jens Nilsson, Frictional Games

The interesting thing here (for me) is he talks about the current trend in indie gaming (admittedly, this was three years ago), and then recommends steering clear of it in order to get noticed. The problem is that “concentrated experiences with a challenging core gameplay” is sort of a natural evolution of the “small and focused” methodology. I haven’t seen this trend really change, but “indie” has gotten so huge since then that it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on anymore.

So what are the alternatives? A non-concentrated experience? That means… more content, which is difficult with an indie budget. Less challenging core gameplay? Like casual? Okay, that we can do… and arguably, both descriptions probably describe Frictional’s game Amnesia pretty well. It was a larger (in indie terms) experience, with gameplay that wasn’t designed to stop you from progressing.

But the best point, IMO, is the need to keep things small. If I ever go full-time, I dread hiring employees, just because things get really expensive really quickly. That means high risk, which would mean (for me) playing it safer. Maybe it’s not necessarily the case in an era of crowdfunding, but…. I dunno.

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