Founded back in September 2011 by 4 friends and gamers, underDOGS Gaming Studio is one of India’s most lean game development and publishing companies. With already 6 games for Android, they have released their latest game Skatelander on iOS and are doing quite good. It’s a game that started as a 2D project and turned into an endless 2.5D experience. It was nominated for “Best Game Art” at Indie Prize Casual Connect Singapore, and UnderDOGS’ founder Vaibhav Chavan now tells how this influenced his studio and the game.
Initially, in January 2014, it was a 2D, pixel, side scrolling skateboarding game. Having worked for a month, we got busy with some big projects and the game went on shelves. A year later, after a lot of iterations and an effort of 3 months we gave birth to Skatelander – an endless arcade skateboarding game with 3D Lego graphics and an addictive gameplay with 2.5D camera.
Indie Prize and the Impact
Skatelander made it through the selection process for Indie Prize at Casual Connect Asia in Singapore and was one of the few games to be showcased from India. It isn’t easy for indies to travel to international conferences, but putting everything on stake, two of us headed to Singapore to showcase the game and with a little hope to find a publisher for it.
83 games in total, 3 days of non-stop showcasing and talking to more than a thousand people to help make the game better. It all paid off when the game got nominated in the “Best Game Art” category along with 3 other games. Getting nominated was the best thing, and there was more to come as it had a lot of influence on the people’s perception.
Publishers: more attention than expected
The very first bonus was getting attention of the publishers. The third day of the showcase was much busier than the first two as we were flooded with requests from publishers to meet. We had high hopes for finding the publishers at the conference and getting meeting requests before coming there, but the case happened to be different. We got around 8 requests from publishers at our showcasing table itself and therefore didn’t need to go and look for any after the nomination.
We spoke to almost all the publishers and chose our Top 3 (few of the biggest in gaming) to have a detailed discussion on the contract and deal. After all those intense negotiations we realized that Spil Games was the best publisher for Skatelander as they had a lot to offer in terms of outreach and visibility. The deal was sealed before we left Singapore to fly down to India. We released the game on the 15th of October 2015 with Spil Games – on iOS and Android, and both of us are really excited about the same thing.
Game Improvement and Publisher feedback
During the 3-days showcase we learnt a lot from the feedback from people of all kinds who played our game. The casual gamers had a different perspective, the hardcore gamers had their own. This helped a lot in improving the game later on, as well as the playtesting by the people at Indie Prize.
We kept jotting down every thing that players pointed out during the showcase, be it good or bad, and worked on all the possible issues once we were back.
Indies often work in an unsystematic manner when they have no one to answer back. Working with Spil Games was an exceptional journey where we learnt every form of process that needs to be taken care of during game development. Hopefully, we will apply some of the streamlined processing in our further development.
Along with the publishers, the other most important aspect of marketing and promotion that took interest in us was the gaming press. A variety of gaming websites, printed media and video reviewers showed up at the Indie Prize. The nomination got many of them to have bits and bytes about our game. It also resulted in couple of articles that were published a week later on their respective websites and forums. This gave us another boost in terms of downloads and visibility.
it’s all about networking
Conferences are all about connecting with people and expanding your network, and that was the secondary objective we were there for. But along with the nomination, it was altogether a different story and a different perception that people had about us. And they were happy to connect and wanted to share their experience and take some of ours. We met lot of ad network channels, incubators like GameFounders, publishers, fellow developers, press and gamers.
The team is currently working on the major christmas update for Skatelander with few more characters and environments. Meanwhile, you can play Skatelander on iOS and Android devices, and look forward for underDOGS Gaming Studio’s next creation planned for Steam in 2016.