HomeBearStudio is an indie team based in Breda, Netherlands. “Just two! You Miichi, the artist, does all the art. I’m in charge of everything else”, says project lead Joshua van Kuilenburg. Right now, this is a full-time job for them, and trying to keep it this way is one of reasons for their Kickstarter campaign. The debut game NAIRI is a cute point-and-click adventure where you follow Nairi, an abandoned upper-class girl, and a rugged scholar rat named Rex, as they uncover a dark mystery within the exotic oasis city of Shirin. In addition to adorable visuals and challenging puzzles, there’s a strong narrative. So the developers say it would appeal to both casual and hardcore players. Joshua sheds some more light on the development experience and some future steps.
At ICT Hub on August 13th 2016, several top Serbian indie developers presented their games at an event Serbian Game Community which is organized by companies that included Bincode Entertainment, Thoril and COFA Games. Judges from several veteran Serbian game studios picked Kiss Hero, winning a spot to present at Casual Connect Tel Aviv as a result.
Filip Žarković has used Indie Prize as a motivating factor, pushing them to raise the quality of their games. “I found out about it two years ago when it was held in Belgrade, my hometown,” Filip said. “I’ve been following Indie Prize ever since, and participated in CC Tel Aviv last year.”
For Filip, representing the Serbian game development community at Casual Connect means a lot and its a huge validation. “We’re a recently formed studio, and this really feels like a verification that we’re doing something right, especially because the day we were chosen to go to Casual Connect Tel Aviv, our first game, Nukleus, was getting some great results on the AppStore,” Filip noted. “It also means a lot to us because the competition in the Serbian part of the contest is really awesome!”
Joymasher is the developer of Oniken and Odallus, two pixel-art titles inspired by various NES action games. The developer is based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The studio is led by Danilo Dias, his wife Thaís Weiller and their friend Marco Galvão. When they started out, Danilo confirmed that they weren’t operating under the mentality of making an “indie” game.
“Well, to be honest at the time I started making Oniken I didn’t even knew what an indie game was!” said Danilo, laughing. “I just wanted to make a fun action 8-bit game, like the ones that I used to play as a kid. Every time that I think about making a game, I ask myself, ‘Hum… I think that I want to make a Contra-like game, or a Castlevania-like game’ and so on. I know that this isn’t something refined or creative but I really love games from 8/16-bit era and I want to make games like these.”
Jeff Broadbent is a composer who has worked on multiple game soundtracks, including Planetside 2, Monster Hunter Online and the very recent Champions of Anteria. Growing up, he was encouraged to study music by his parents, and loving the music of games like Final Fantasy, Street Fighter II, Myst, and Panzer Dragoon pushed him towards composition in the interactive entertainment sphere.
“I’ve had a love of music my whole life, starting piano lessons at an early age, soon thereafter learning to play alto saxophone and later studying composition at BYU and UCLA,” Jeff detailed. “I became specifically interested in composing when I was in high school, taking jazz piano and improvisation lessons. The theory of jazz music and creativity of improvising are what really sparked my interest in composing, as improvising and composing are closely related.
Vicens Martí is the President of Tangelo Games. Tangelo Games was formed through the acquisition of Diwip and Akamon Entertainment and was formerly Imperus Technologies Corporation. While their time in the gaming industry includes being the Managing Director at Cirsa Gaming Corporation, Vicens has also been CMO at Vueling (a Spanish low-cost airline) and CEO of Custo Barcelona (a fashion label).
Cirsa is a notable casino company in Spain, Italy, and Latin America, helping to operate table games and casino slot machines. Vicens says that the experience in real money gambling was beneficial. “I did so much at Cirsa… You learn by doing,” they said.
While Vicens says they had the childhood dream of being an astronaut, they have no difficultly imagining what they’d be doing if they weren’t at their current position. “Oh, that’s easy. I am a simultaneous entrepreneur,” they described. “I have invested in a company called Appeth. I have interest in electronic music. Fintech is another company that I have going too. I have many projects going at once so if I wasn’t in the industry, I have plenty else I could be doing.”
Run Double Jump is an indie gaming gathering (organized by 2024 Studios and the IGDA) that takes place every year in Egypt. It aims to encourage indie developers, expose their games, and to help the industry in the MENA region flourish and grow rapidly.
The event showcases some of the best indie games in the region for gamers to play and test. In addition to Indie Games Exhibit, there are a bunch of sessions presented by pioneering local indie developers.
RDJ helps indie developers to share their experiences and success stories as well as the obstacles that faces them in their careers. Also, gamers will get to discover these games developed and produced by indie developers, and increase general awareness surrounding these titles. This networking will help boost the regional gaming industry.
This year, RDJ partnered with Indie Prize – Casual Connect for a contest between the submitted games. The game selected “best in show” will be able to take part in Indie Prize Berlin – that winner was Abdullah Alsayed of BNOO Games for the title Pix Hop.
Dave Bisceglia is Co-Founder and CEO of The Tap Lab. At this mobile game studio, based in Cambridge, MA, Dave focuses on game design, product management and business development. During the past two years, since Gamesauce last talked with Dave, The Tap Lab has transitioned from self-publishing their own IP to working with major publishers and third-party IPs. Dave’s role as CEO now is concentrated much more on business development and relationships with publishers and IPs. They emphasize, “We’ve been fortunate to work with some great partners on projects we’re passionate about.”
The Ukrainian team of Pinokl Games team was working on a huge ambitious project of Mecha Titans and some other casual and family-friendly games… and then got tired of that all. They unleashed their darkest thoughts and participated in Kanobu Game Jam with Party Hard, a game of a bloody massacre at a noisy neighbors’ party at 3AM, or “third-person urban conflict simulator” as they describe their creation.
The bloodthirsty theme found a response in the hearts of Casual Connect Europe 2015 critics, having brought the team the Critics Choice award in Indie Prize. The team recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Party Hard launch, having scored numerous other awards and gaining a massive creative fan base. Pinokl Games’ marketing manager and producer Alina Husevyk shares the most noticeable learnings of the year.
Christopher Natsuume is the Creative Director for Boomzap. He helped co-found the studio in 2005, though he has been working in games since 1994 on console, PC and mobile platforms. Christopher calls running his own studio a fulfillment of a dream since he worked with his co-founder Allan in Scotland.
“I have been a game developer most of my adult life – starting as a level designer, then lead designer, then producer,” says Christopher. “The truth is – nothing prepares you for running a game dev studio like working in game dev. I had the benefit of making a lot of my worst mistakes when I was working for other people – and that’s the best way to learn: on someone else’s dime.”
Still, Christopher was dreaming of being a game designer since grade school. Back then, he was designing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, creating modules and the like, but regarded it all at the time as just a hobby. “Later on I discovered that you could actually make games as a career,” said Christopher.
“A bunch of my friends also happened to work for a game company and when they broke off and started their own company, I used to play with them at their offices every week,” Chris detailed. “I didn’t work for them but I was their dungeon master, so they asked me to join and I got a job as a Level Designer, which was my first stint in the game dev industry.”
the love of making games
Christopher is definitely living the dream by being a game developer. he says that it was his dream as a child, even if he didn’t know he could make money doing it. Christopher notes that since entering game development, it’s occupied most of his time and he is happy for it.
Despite this, Christopher is quick to say that game development is not for everyone. “You should think very carefully before pursuing it. Most people want to develop games because they think it’s about coming up with great game ideas and making fun decisions. It’s not. It’s 5 percent that and 95 percent ‘figuring out how to make it work’. Be a game developer not just because you love games, but because you love MAKING them, and whatever type of game it is.”
Along those lines, Christopher notes he has very little free time for hobbies, though it is a sacrifice he is willing to make. “In all honesty, essentially all I do is develop games and exercise to prevent the physical decay caused by a life at a computer,” Christopher notes. “I run, swim, bike, and do a good bit of climbing. Depending on how things are going with the company I am either very fit, or very unfit. The size of my gut is inversely proportional to the current success of the company. I also do some work with a charity organization that builds schools in the mountains of Nepal.”
Making the Legends of Callasia
Christopher’s creative process is one of iteration, looking at different games, whether made by him or someone else, and trying to find something that he can improve. “Our strategy game Legends of Callasia actually started as a trading simulation game, but you couldn’t fight anyone,” noted Christopher. “We decided it was boring, so we redeveloped it into a fantasy-themed multiplayer world conquest game.”
Along those same lines, playing old games is also a huge inspiration for Christopher. He claims that his experience in making games for a long time is less relevant than his time spent playing different games. “There’s value in the fact that I have played a metric ton of games such as Ultima Online, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Zork. I was into tabletop games such as Axis & Allies, D&D, and Diplomacy before I became a computer gamer,” said Christopher. “I get a lot of my inspiration from games I grew up playing with, and when we built Legends of Callasia, I wanted it to look like the traditional fantasy games.”
Legends of Callasia is a game that is near and dear to Christopher’s heart, so it’s not surprising that he would love to expand on the idea if he had unlimited resources. “I have always loved playing strategy games like Crusader Kings, but I never have enough time play that anymore,” said Christopher. “Legends of Callasia is the answer to that. It has all the fun of grand strategy games condensed into one to two hours, and it’s the game I’ve always wanted to make. Maybe one day if I do have unlimited resources and time, we’ll make an MMO of it? That would be the ultimate project.”
Unfortunately, financing is the hardest part of making games, between getting a publisher and paying everyone. It’s very rewarding in the end, though, especially since there are always new ideas to explore in new games. “The time between having an idea and implementing that idea is too long,” Christopher says. “I have more game ideas in my head that I can ever make in my lifetime.”
you have to leave the nest to grow
Christopher is very proud of what the company has built over at Boomzap. The studio being virtual is a huge convenience for him and other members.
“I get to see so much of my family, and be part of my family life so much more than other people I know, especially in the game industry,” said Christopher. “I work where I want to. I don’t waste time or money commuting. I don’t have to spend a fortune going out to eat. And in the winter I work every day in a very comfy pair of fleece pants and a Japanese hanten jacket… it’s like I never got out of bed.”
Managing a studio is always a challenge, and can often involve people leaving to pursue their own ambitions. When that happened at Boomzap it was hard for Christopher, but eventually that feeling was replaced with pride over what the former team members accomplished. “Two years ago, three of our senior staff left our studio. At the time, I was pissed off, but over time I realized that it was a dream they had and one they could never achieve while at my studio,” he said. “I’ve been watching them develop their games and some of the processes they use are from what we did together in Boomzap. It is fascinating to watch them build their company and go their own direction.”
Gary D. Nissenbaum is the managing attorney and founding principal of the Nissenbaum Law Group, a commercial law firm with offices in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Gary has over thirty years worth of experience in business litigation and transactions. Along with overseeing the firm’s commercial litigation in the State and Federal Courts, Gary also represents clients in substantive areas like Internet law, entertainment law and domestic and international commercial transactions.
“When the internet began to impact our clients in a meaningful way in the mid-to-late 1990s, we saw an opportunity to develop the ability to provide legal advice in this area. We have continued to try to keep up with our clients’ technology law needs, most recently making a full-court press to expand our practice into the area of gaming and apps,” Gary detailed. “There is a tight-knit circle of professionals who work in this area, and hopefully we have joined those ranks. We want to be a firm that clients in the entertainment and gaming industries seek out when they are serious about running their businesses.”
Five Legal Specialties for Game Makers
The Nissenbaum Law Group currently deals with a large amount of work in the area of video games and app development. Gary says this breaks down into five distinct categories.