I recently had a chance to chat with Aly from Brush and Code, a new Indie Game development team, about Indie gaming in general and got some good advice for people working on their first projects.
GamEvolution: Ok, so I’ve got a bit of interest in Indie gaming, I used to be a developer, but that was long before things like xbox live. So why don’t you explain your background and why you’ve decided to use that platform?
Aly: You have many ways to sell your games, you can sell them for pc in your own website, but in that way you can’t get a lot buyers. The other way is to put it into a market, there’s no good pc market that let’s you just put your game there, it has to be very good game to be approved so it’s hard to make a pc game and get a lot of buyers. You have to either make smart phone games or xbox indie games. For smart phones there’s iPhone platform that you can sell a lot, but you have to get a mac and program in objective C or buy an engine and that all costs a lot. There’s the Android and Windows phone markets, but they are very small. The Android market has a lot of free games so you can’t sell a lot and Windows phone user base is not great so I decided that the best platform is xbox live indie games.
GamEvolution: So that certainly sounds like the most accesible platform to develop for. Would you say there are any restrictions or hurdles that make developing difficult for the xbox indie marketplace, or is it just a dream to work with?
Aly: The are no restrictions except the countries restriction, there’s only about 22 countries that are supported, and it costs you nothing except the 100$ for the premium ship and it’s easy to make it back in sales. The game must not have any bugs to be approved. It isn’t as big a market as the iphone market.
GamEvolution: Ok then. So about the Brush and Code team, how did you all meet and what experiences have you all had with making Professional $tealer, has it been a bit of a rocky road or has it all gone to plan all the way through?
Aly: First It was me that had this idea and wanted to execute it, but I am just a programmer, and I needed other people to help me. I just searched for free lancers over the internet, I was searching for talented people with good prices. I found Tony and Joshua and they were very helpful, they weren’t just doing what I was asking, they were suggesting things and helping me in the whole game design, from that we decided to make a team and work together to make several titles.
GamEvolution: It sounds like as a team you’ve all really gelled together, good to hear. And about Professional $tealer, it’s a fun game I especially love the challenge mode, I understand there’s an update in the works, is there anything you can tell us about upcoming changes?
Aly: We just wanted to make useful changes from the criticisms we got in the past reviews. The size of objects are tiny, we have added buttons registration and also made some levels easier.
GamEvolution: Ok sounds good, so with regards to timescale, how long did it take you to get from concept to release?
Aly: It was 8 months , but take in considiration the time that I took to search for the team and that I was working while making the game but if we were just working in the game I think it won’t take more than 4 months.
GamEvolution: Absolutely. That does sound like a pretty good timescale to me. So looking to the future, on your website you say your next project will be a puzzle game for the PC, xbox and possibly smart phones. Anything you can tell us about this?
Aly: For Professional $tealer we had many ideas that we could have improved on, but we just didn’t because we wanted to know if we could reach the market and put something out there. So what we wanted to do was to get a finished game in the market and then we will make a great game. The next game is a totally new idea that we may take about 2 years making to make sure it’s very polished and we are looking forward to getting in the dream build competition of Microsoft, but the goal is not just to get the prize , we would like to get our game in xbox live arcade , and the easiest way to get there is to join the dream build competition. We believe it’s a great idea that can be accepted in a great pc market as steam and this game can be played on a smartphone so if it was successful we would port it to work on smartphones too.
GamEvolution: I see, that sounds excellent. So professional $tealer was testing the water essentialy. Sounds like a great strategy. You mentioned the microsoft dream build, that’s another stepping stone which is a fantastic opportunity for the community of Indie developers. What’s involved with that and what benefits are there to taking part?
Aly: The dream build is a competition you can enter a project separately, but it has to be an xbox game and you have to use XNA and C# Technology, not the whole community competes. Whoever wants to join the competition can join without any restirictions and most of the countries are supported and there are no fees if you want your game to be in xbox live arcade market. You have nearly no opportunity to succeed in that alone, but dream build is much greater opportunity if your game is really good.
GamEvolution: Alright sounds good. I think that’s all my questions out of the way, anything else you want to add?
Aly: Yes, I just wanted to mention how much useful feedback we got from professional $tealer, apart from the experience every one got from that project we learnt a lot about game designing itself, so how to make our game more fun and less boring.
GamEvolution: so a very strong learning experience for everyone then?
Aly: Yes and the most important thing we learnt is how to design a fun game, or you can say “What the player likes to see in your game”.
GamEvolution: I see, that sounds great. Alright Aly, thanks for your time, been great chatting. Make sure to keep in touch with us about any news you guys have.
So there we have it. If you’re interested in becoming an Indie developer this is absolutely the approach to take, get a simple project and see it through to the end, then set your sights higher. And take advantage of the community and events to help promote yourself.
If you want to give Brush and Code’s first game Professional $tealer a go it’s available right now on the indie marketplace.