The Story behind the Survival Horror game Reading in the Dark

The Story behind the Survival Horror game Reading in the Dark

The Story behind the Survival Horror game Reading in the Dark

Find it on Steam

Leonardo Delafiori

Leonardo Delafiori

Founder

Reading in the Dark / Aspects of Change

Story-driven Survival Horror with unique visuals

🇧🇷 Based in São Paulo, Brazil

📅 Founded February 2019

🏆 1 Founders

💵 Monthly Revenue = NA

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Who are you and what game did you create?

My name is Leonardo Delafiori and I am a college student from Brazil. I have lived around video games ever since I can remember and my dream was always to create and work in the industry. Now I finally released a commercial product on steam and started development on a much bigger project.

At the start of this year, I started working on a strategy casual game called Aspects of change after my teacher asked my class to create a game based on the word “Horoscope”. This game helped me understand the basics of the Unreal engine, as well as 3D modeling. Now I am feeling comfortable on solo developing my dream game,  a survival horror game with a heavy focus on item management called “Reading in the Dark”.

In my day to day workflow, I generally spend way too much time developing and planning what i’m going to do. Now with the addition of my youtube channel that I just created, I seek to not only build hype around my game, but to also build a community of people to talk about game design and study what the great games of our generation did right.

Walk us through the process of creating the game.

When I first started developing Aspects of Change, i had no idea how the Unreal engine or 3D modeling worked, but I had some experience with Unity and Godot. I ended up studying Unreal as i went, learning more and more how to create the game mechanics. Blender was hard to learn at the beginning but now I’m feeling very comfortable with both of the platforms, thanks to the development of Aspects of Change.

A really valuable thing that I learned is that organization is key to having a big project. Now, with Reading in the Dark, i have a big and growing game design document that details all of the features. Also, i have google sheets for: Chronogram on activities that i will do in the month, budget spent and control, sound design checklist and 3D model creation checklist. Trello is also a must have for day to day work.

Where did you get the word out about your new game?

Aspects of Change was launched around September, on Steam. The launch process was a bit overwhelming, with contracts and a lot of bureaucracy, but it was definitely worth it.  At the time, I had nowhere to promote my game to a larger audience, so I sent it to friends and family. The launch was surprisingly smooth. I had about 12 friends play it and none of them reported any glitches or crashes.

What are some of the most effective ways that you attract people to your game?

For Aspects of change, I’d say that the game has a different concept and is put together well. You can experience a fun strategy game for about 2 dollars.

With Reading in the Dark, I hope to bring a bone chilling experience with unique visuals and story. Gameplay-wise,  the game takes inspiration from a lot of the big horror games of our generation with my spin on it.

What are your sources of inspiration?

Currently, my main sources of inspiration are horror games like Amnesia: the dark descent, Outlast, Resident Evil and Silent Hill. These games were incredible horror experiences that I lived through growing up, and I am doing my best to dissect what made these games great and bring that essence over to Reading in the Dark. The level design and item management from Resident evil, the storytelling from Outlast, the fluid gameplay and good pacing from Amnesia and the terrifying creatures from Silent Hill.

Movies also help me out in terms of pacing and storytelling. Films like Jeepers creepers and Sinister. They help me to build the world and characters in a more convincing and creepy way, adding a lot to the experience of the final user. 

When it comes down to producing and enduring anxiety and fear of being bombarded with dislikes, my dad is my biggest inspiration. He is a man of focus, commitment and sheer will, like John Wick. He helps me keep going after the euphoria is gone.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or game creators?

This might be the most important tip that I learned. 

Never stop being organized, this can save a big project from failing. Keep track of chronograms, deadlines and checklists. Never hesitate to spend extra time in the planning phases.

Another important one is that you must find ways to keep yourself excited for your project. Since we only get paid after investing hours of hard work, we can easily lose ourselves and give up on projects that could take years. Being excited about a project when you just started it is easy, but after a while it starts to get increasingly hard. That is why you need to know yourself and what you can do to not lose this grip.

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

Things are looking very bright. Right now I am working hard on developing Reading in the Dark, managing my Youtube channel and studying sculpting in Zbrush. In the future I am planning on creating more character models using my new found knowledge of sculpting, combined with the knowledge I have from rigging and animation in blender.

Where can we learn more?

You can find me on my Youtube channel: Krimson Koala, here’s a link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY9q7Cr9g9hcdrWLLrVFQ0A?

There, I show what I am working on for Reading in the Dark, as well as discuss game development and study good game design from the big successes of the industry.

Also, here is a link for the Aspects of Change steam store page:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1136470/Aspects_of_change/

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The Story of No Ewe Productions

The Story of No Ewe Productions

The Story of No Ewe Productions

Find it on GameJolt

Isle of Ewe

You play as a Shepherd whose mischievous flock has wandered too far into the dangerous world that surrounds your family’s farm. You must venture out and bring them back home safely. You recover your flock by stacking them on top of your head and can use them as tools to solve puzzles, defeat giant golems and traverse the beautiful game world.

No Ewe Productions

🇦🇺 Based in Brisbane, Australia

📅 Founded February 25th, First day of semester 1 at university

🏆 7  Founders

💵 Monthly Revenue = Our game is not currently monetized, however there may be plans for commercialisation in the future.

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Who are you and what game did you create?

No Ewe Productions consists of 7 people, Harry, Miles, Samuel, Helayna, Zac, Will and Shell. We are all third year students studying Bachelor of Games and Interactive Environments. We all specialize in different disciplines such as design, programming art and animation. Our team consists of 3 artists, 2 programmers and 2 game designers. We have just released our first game, Isle of Ewe.

We have a very open workflow. All assets, bugs and QA were tracked using a Google spreadsheet that was viewable and tracked by everyone in the team. We have a Google drive that contains our work for the project, organised into folders. Anyone in the group is able to add and edit any documents within the drive. All communication is done through Discord. Our Discord chat is categories into different channels for each different topic (i.e. we have a separate channel for organisation, game design, programming, models and art). 

On average, we spent about 12 hours a week into making this game. There are no other employees working for us. This is our first game as a team. There are no future plans for us in terms of projects yet.

Walk us through the process of creating the game.

The entire production timeline for this game was 8 months through the 2 semesters of university. The design phase of this game was rather extensive, which took approximately the majority of the first semester (3 months). As a group, we stumbled across very different ideas. Isle of Ewe was originally going to be an open-world adventure game, where players control the four elements (earth, wind, fire, air) instead of using sheep. Because the main character has always been a Shepherd, we changed the abilities to fit into this context. 

The entire second semester was focused solely on production, playtesting and QA of the game. Towards the end of the semester, the development process picked up during the production phase. This is the phase where a lot of changes have occurred in the game. This was due to fixes being made to the game after playtesting and QA. We found that players often did not do the things we intended them to do, thus, a lot of changes had to be implemented to deliver the gameplay experience we wanted the audience to receive. 

All members of the team has experience in creating various different types of games. We chose Unity as our game engine, which was the software that was familiar to everyone.

How did you launch?

Where we got the word out about our new game: we tried our best to make an impression on the internet across various different websites and game forums. We emailed game journalists and reviewers. We built our own website, which is a hub for all the information and artworks about the game. We also have an official YouTube channel, which we have used to upload various game trailers at different development stages.

We launched our game on October 23rd on Gamejolt, IndieDB and Itch.io. First we started off by emailing a large number of various game journalists, reviewers and publishers with our press kit. After our release, we tried to post about it across various different indie gaming forums as much as we could. We are on various social media platforms (primarily Twitter and Facebook). We have also been updating our official YouTube channel with various versions of the trailers at different development stages.

Our website is built using WordPress, which was created by our animator and is monitored by everyone in the group.

What are some of the most effective ways that you attract people to your game?

We believe having a strong presence on social media is important for promoting indie games like ours. Posting to various forums such as r/indie gaming, Unity forums (a forum of the game engine that you used to build your game). We released our game on three different platforms to reach a wide range of audiences. We do not have a crowdfunding campaign at the moment. We also have a website of the game and a social media account (Facebook and Twitter) that we use to post constant updates about our progress and artwork etc.

What are your sources of inspiration?

Originally when the game was very early in concepting we had compared the open world of exploring to Journey. But overtime we started to think of the gameplay more towards LoZ Breath of the Wild, as it was an easy point of reference when we were discussing ideas as a team. We wanted to achieve a similar sense of adventure with hints of puzzling elements and various challenges. In addition, the animator took a ton of inspirations from the game A Hat in Time. Using that game to inspire the animations, characters, environment and overall feel.

As we are all individual creators, we take inspiration very personally, allowing each of us to help add a special flavour of content towards Isle of Ewe. (Personally I follow hundreds of Animators on Twitter and LinkIn and use their work to inspire me -Samuel) We love keeping up to date with other indie games that are introduced on the Playstation channel, on various forums r/indie gaming and Gamejolt, itch.io etc.

What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?

We are very fortunate to have most of our costs were covered by our university, giving us access to special tools such as Maya. Although we have still personally funded parts of this project for example, paying for music licencing, assets that we couldn’t make ourselves (the waterfalls) and marketing assets (such as banners for our showcase). Although since we are working with the student version of Maya it does leave us troubles for monetization, as we do not have proper licensing over the models/animations we produce. Our aim is to release the game on Steam, we are currently discussing about enquiring for funding from the university foundry to support the Maya licensing fees.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or game creators?

Don’t be shy to reference work, ask questions and take inspiration. 

Communication is a key role for a group of 7, as people need to have clear roles/tasks. Without this people will start to lose interest and slow down.

Aim for the moon, if you have a good concept, take that idea, and try your hardest to make it the best thing possible. This is something our group followed throughout production and would say it benefited us greatly.

Don’t be sad when things don’t make it into the final product, especially with a deadline. You can only work on the game for so long, so try your best to wrap up features, mechanics and ideas, otherwise you’ll be disappointing yourself.

You need the ability to keep working on your original concept, there may be flaws and issues you don’t see at first, get friends, family or professionals to give their opinions!

Our original ideas was horrible, but at the time we thought it was fine until we got outside opinions and we had to change our concepts fast.

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

As of right now our short term plans are to continue to patch and fix remaining issues with the game, that players have discovered and noted in comments. Once this is done we aim on releasing Isle of Ewe on Steam.

Beyond that our plans are to split up and work elsewhere. This game was a great opportunity for us to practice our skills and give us some strong portfolio pieces, so we’ll be taking that into the industry.

Where can we learn more?

https://noeweproductions.wordpress.com/ 

https://noeweproductions.wordpress.com/meet-the-team/ 

Here you can find all our personal contact details and any further information relating to our game. Since we are splitting up after this many of us will be looking for jobs over the summer holiday, while others will be continuing their studies at university. We plan on using this project to find jobs in the industry and using our knowledge and skills gained from Isle of Ewe to make an impact in the digital world.

 

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The Story of Abigail Miller and Space Bunnies on Indiegogo

The Story of Abigail Miller and Space Bunnies on Indiegogo

The Story of Abigail Miller and Space Bunnies on Indiegogo

Launched on Indiegogo

Abigail Miller

Abigail Miller

Independent Developer

🇺🇸 Based in Dayton, Ohio

Right now I am working as and I.T. professional, but work on game development in the evenings and weekends.

Link to Indiegogo

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Who are you and what game did you create?

I am, like many others, just someone who is curious and excited to learn and create. I see the world in my own unique way and want to capture the bits and pieces of joy I find to share them with others. Video games are the ideal medium because unlike books that cause you to imagine an experience, and movies that immerse you in an experience, video games force you to participate in that experience. You are no longer a passive viewer, but an actor in the world.

I am Abigail Miller, this particular creation is dubbed “Space Bunnies.” It is a prototype creation that due to positive feedback I am motivated to continue developing but also to gather a community to follow my work so I can more effectively learn through the process and better share the product.

This project started like many others, on a whim with a few quick sketches which would later help define the whole comprehensive project.

Space Bunnies is a rogue-like survival game with a randomly generated world and planets with generated encounters. The primary goal is to collect resources and stay alive, while handling alien species relations and managing a small crew.

Walk us through the process of creating the game.

I start with a single idea or a question, and as time passes it spirals into more robust concepts and then eventually becomes a playable experience. There isn’t one particular order of whether I create the models and then the scripts and then the music, it is a process of tweaking, debugging, and learning along the way.

Because I enjoy graphics so much, I have spent a lot of time practicing making 3D meshes in Blender, and it has an (admittedly not very robust) game engine which has been both convenient and understandable enough for me to use to compile Space Bunnies as well as a number of my other projects.

How did you launch?

I currently have a prototype, and I am continuing development over the duration of 1/2020 to 3/2020. At the end of the campaign I will be publicly providing an executable with all the completed features. I do not plan to directly sell this game, but people may choose to support the process by donating and gaining input on design choices.

What are some of the most effective ways that you attract people to your game?

I hope that in actuality I don’t have to attract anyone except by the content of my creation. It’s not so much a matter of attracting people as much as connecting with people. I am still learning effective ways to connect with people, and I’m not active in a vast number of communities. I have been trying to branch out by becoming more active in more of the popular sides of the internet, and take advice from people who possess the repertoire that I lack.

What are your sources of inspiration?

A lot of my work, I believe, is inspired by the many classic Disney films for children. Then secondarily, there are many video games and a large variety of board games I have enjoyed that I have tried to integrate concepts in my work. I also just soak up experiences and perceptions from my daily life, and it influences what sort of experience I want my audience to enjoy.

What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?

My biggest challenge has been seeing and treating my work as a responsibility rather than a hobby. It has been easy for me to create something complicated and only leave it ⅘ complete since I never consider the possibility of having a large audience or migrating the game to a platform. I am trying to actively take my creations more seriously and develop them in mind for a larger purpose.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or game creators?

Go. Do. Learn. Create. Don’t wait until you’re in school, or have the right team, or the right resources. You can’t create something without putting the effort into it. Start early if possible. Make goals and then work to reach them. There are a lot of dreamers, but not enough doers in the world.

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

I have just launched my campaign, and hope to continue to raise interest and participation in my project until I return to scripting and development the first month of 2020. I will be posting on social media about the development process along the way.

Where can we learn more?

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The Story of Oliver Joyce and Swords and Sandals Spartacus

The Story of Oliver Joyce and Swords and Sandals Spartacus

The Story of Oliver Joyce and Swords and Sandals Spartacus

Find it on Steam

Oliver Joyce

Oliver Joyce

Founder

Swords and Sandals Spartacus

A 1980s inspired combat platformer

🇦🇺 Based in Sydney, Australia

📅 Founded 2013

🏆 1 Founders

💵 Monthly Revenue = NA

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Who are you and what game did you create?

I’m Oliver Joyce. I run my own (solo) games business, Whiskeybarrel Studios and have been working professionally as a game dev for about sixteen years now.

I’m best known as the creator of the indie gladiator game series Swords and Sandals, which to date comprises of 5 core games and 5 spinoffs and remakes.

The latest, Swords and Sandals Spartacus is an action game that tells the story of the legendary slave rebellion led by the famous gladiator of the same name. 

Spartacus hasn’t launched yet but I’m aiming to get it up on Steam around Christmas this year.

Swords and Sandals Spartacus

What does a typical day look like for you at work?

Honestly, a typical day is a blur. I work from home on the games which I find a true joy, I love the ambience and quiet. I drop my son off at daycare at 8am, race home and then churn out code until 4pm. There are never enough hours in the day. Once my son goes to bed, my wife and I will have dinner and spend some time together, then from maybe 9pm until 11pm I work some more on the game – not every night of course, that’s how burnout happens! Most weekends I don’t touch the game, it’s important to recharge.

Like many solo game devs, I tend to work on many things at once. An hour of level design, tweak a few sprites, hunt down a few bugs etc.  I tend to plan out my day while in the shower, the aspects of the game I want to tackle.

Do you have any partners or employees?

I work with a business partner in New York, eGames. They handle the marketing / customer service side of the projects and also hold the rights to the Swords and Sandals IP.

What type of games do you make?

In my career I’ve made hundreds of smaller games of all genres but the Swords and Sandals series is primarily a role playing game series. I’ve heard from many people RPGs are amongst the most complicated games to make but I feel like I know the genre so well they are much easier than, say, a physics puzzler.

Walk us through the process of creating the game.

Most of the games I make take around a year to build. I’m finding that despite the further along in my career I get and the more I hone my craft, this time frame doesn’t shift too much – I can just pack more content and polish into that year.

I’ve been building games since I was maybe 8 or 9. Way back in the 1980s I was given my dad’s old PC ( no hard disk, just floppy drives!) and I started coding up Choose Your Own Adventure style text adventures, learning to code from a book on BASIC. These were magical days, you’d type out each line one by one, then hope it worked. Eventually you’d get the confidence to edit the original game and make it your own. From that early age I was hooked and made little games all through my teenage years.

I’ve been working professionally making games for about 16 years – mainly smaller Flash games and mobile games, some client work and so on. About 6 years ago I set out on my own, founding Whiskeybarrel Studios in order to make more significant games. All up, I think I’ve made over a hundred games of varying sizes and scopes.

Swords and Sandals 2 Redux.

Where did you get the word out about your new game?

Primarily social media. Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Discord are all useful to varying degrees. The other Swords and Sandals games will promote the game on their main menu when Spartacus goes live.

Interestingly, the major boost for previous games has come through YouTubers doing ‘lets play’ videos. The games have a large presence particularly in Eastern Europe and with each of these videos the games sell more and word of mouth spreads – particularly more than any particular promotion I could do myself just because of the huge subscriber base of these YouTubers.

What are some of the most effective ways that you attract people to your game?

Personally, I am not that well known. I have a few thousand followers on Twitter and about 5k Facebook fans for Whiskeybarrel Studios, but the Swords and Sandals brand itself is a lot more popular.

I’ve never done crowdfunding, though it’s something I am considering for the next game in the series, Swords and Sandals VI , a game I think will be the biggest and most ambitious project I’ve done so far.

My business partner at eGames runs weekly ad campaigns for the game through Twitter, AdWords, Facebook, Reddit. They have proven to be fairly effective in translating to consistent sales for the game.

What are your sources of inspiration?

Richard Garriott (creator of Ultima)’s book Explore / Create , Jesse Schell’s The Art of Game Design and Scott Rogers’ Level Up! , three books that I constantly find myself reading and re-reading for inspiration and advice. Reddit’s gameDev subreddit is also another hugely useful source of ideas and knowhow.

Primarily I follow and engage with other game devs via Twitter, but Gamasutra is also a great resource for game developers. I am a member of IGDA Sydney and follow a few YouTube channels but more just to keep an eye on industry trends than for any real inspiration.

I think the greatest thing about the wealth of information out there is that no matter where you are in your game dev career, chances are someone else has been in a similar situation and has documented it. You can learn so much from others successes ( and failures ) just through following other game developers and their journeys.

My wife has been a constant source of support and inspiration over these years, encouraging me to keep working on the games even when I felt a bit hopeless about it all. I have a few close friends who are also game developers, Silas Rowe of Smashtastic Cricket fame and John Stejskal, developer of Blood and Mead. I talk to them on a regular basis about their projects and their lives.

What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?

For me it was starting out on my own after working for the one games company for nearly a decade. I didn’t have the rights to Swords and Sandals, nobody really knew who I was, so I really had to work hard to make a name for myself.

I had to hustle for a few years with freelance jobs, building up a new social media presence, releasing new games of varying sizes, letting the world know that I was the creator of Swords and Sandals etc. I was fortunate that the old company ended up selling the rights to S&S to eGames, and I was able to do a deal with them to revitalise the series once again.

The biggest lesson of my career. Never give up your IP. Not for any reason, unless it’s Disney offering you a billion dollars (and even then!) . When I was a young and naive developer I sat back and did nothing when the company I worked for at the time decided to trademark the games and game world I’d created.

The major issue was I’d come up with these games long before I even started there, and when Ieft, I had no rights to the Swords and Sandals name, or anything I’d created – even though these were games and concepts, characters and places I’d been working on since I was a kid. A similar thing happened to Richard Garriott with Origin and EA, (on a much bigger scale – eg he can’t ever make any new games called Ultima, for example.) 

I vowed never to make the same mistake again. It’s all worked out fairly well now with a business partner who is excited about the series, but I will never again allow any new IP to get out of my hands.

As the old saying goes, the key is to learn from your mistakes - make new ones, sure but don’t keep making the old ones.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or game creators?

As I mentioned above, never give up your IP. Number one rule. Some other advice I might give off the top of my head would be to don’t follow the trends. If there’s a game that’s taking the world by storm, don’t instantly think “I should make my own version of that” because that’s what a thousand other devs are thinking at that exact same moment! Look for niche and untapped markets where possible.

The other (well trodden) bit of advice is to start small, make simple game loops but add an interesting meta game around your game. If you have a little endless runner, add upgrades and unlockables between each play, earned by collecting coins or whatever etc. It’s the meta game that keeps people returning!

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but I feel like the main thing I’d do differently in my career would be to go out on my own a lot earlier – it took me until my mid thirties to find the courage to go full indie.

I’ve never looked back, never been happier and never been in more control of my own destiny.

I will, hopefully, never work for another company again - the fruits of my labours should be my own. I guess that’s the indie dream, and I’m very close to realizing that!

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

What’s your monthly revenue? 

I can’t say exactly, but it’s enough to sustain me and my business partner – not quite enough to hire other developers or artists on a permanent basis yet but it is something I’m aiming towards. The margins are fair but not amazing yet – a lot of hours goes into games. We have a good back catalog of games that have a remarkably consistent ‘tail’ when it comes to sustained sales. I feel like if I can produce a game every year.

Where do the majority of sales come from?
Steam, by a factor of about 5 to 1. Apple and Google Play sales are consistent but never reach the heights of the big Steam sales where the games sell really well.

Are there any other metrics you can share?
The mobile games have had about 2 million downloads in total since the first one was launched in 2016. We’ve had over 50,000 downloads on Steam but the price for each game is obviously higher so it’s more lucrative.

Are you launching any other games?
As I mentioned earlier there are 10 games for sale in the Swords and Sandals series both on mobile and on PC. I’m aiming to get started on the next one, S&S VI, right after Spartacus launches. No rest in this business!

Are there any causes or charities that your business supports?
Nothing in particular – as a solo developer and private citizen I give to charities at my discretion but there’s no official tie in with a charity as a business yet. Hopefully when the business grows enough to support me full time and others, it can be something I will consider!

Where can we learn more?

Great to chat today – look for me on the links below. I am always keen to talk game dev and anything Swords and Sandals related!

Swords and Sandals Spartacus on Steam

Oliver Joyce on Twitter

Whiskeybarrel Studios on Facebook

Whiskeybarrel Studios on YouTube

https://whiskeybarrelstudios.com

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Building Fallen Angel and Launching a Kickstarter Campaign

Building Fallen Angel and Launching a Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter Story

Kickstarter Story

Building Fallen Angel and Launching a Kickstarter Campaign

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Hunter Wu

Hunter Wu

Founder

Fallen Angel

Pixel Art Hack and Slash RPG in which you take the role of Lucifer and explore a twisted version of Heaven 

🇺🇸 Based in Philadelphia , PA

📅 Founded August 2018

🏆 1 Founder

💵 Monthly Revenue = NA

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Who are you and what game did you create?

My name is Hunter Wu, and I’m currently and undergrad senior at Drexel University studying Game Design. I’ve been doing game development since middle school and Fallen Angel is my first commercial project! Fallen Angel is a pixel art hack and slash RPG. I wanted to make a game about Lucifer since everyone knows of him, but few games explores his story. I was super inspired by the game Hyper Light Drifter, and I wanted to make a game that would be interesting to HLD’s fans but also be its own unique game. 

I am now currently back in school, but I was working on the game full time this past summer. As my own boss, I woke up and got to work whenever I wanted, which was around maybe 11 am. This was probably the best part of running my own startup! I got through my to do list by 5-8pm and spent the rest of the night in my free time. However, there were crunch and crisis moments a few nights when I had to work through the late hours.

I work with 5 independent contractors, all my friends or people I met online. My programmer is from Brazil, and my environment artist is from Norway. We work online together using discord. I’m also in contact with many publishers who are interested in a partnership.

Walk us through the process of creating the game.

I have been working on the game as a passion project on the side since I started college. I met my first programmer online on reddit, he was from Portugal. We started development in Unity, but he eventually left the team and I was forced to scrap that project because I am not very skilled in programming. I continued working by myself in creating a dumbed down version of the game in Game Maker Studio, which was easier for me to use.  

Development really sped up the past year after my school gave me a grant to fund my game startup. This grant was huge for me, and basically got me all the progress this past year. It allowed me to attend conventions such as PAX West where I got the most attention about my game. Overall, it’s been over 3 years of development.

I made a lot of games in highschool that did not commercially release, they were just little projects. I created these games in Game Maker Studio, and I’m still using GMS to develop Fallen Angel. You can find my previous projects here!

How did you launch?

The game is still in development, but we launched a Kickstarter campaign on Oct. 8th. We used social media, mailing lists, and the help of a marketing team to spread the news of our project around gaming communities online. Our website was built on wordpress with the help of the web designer on our team.

What are some of the most effective ways that you attract people to your game?

We have 800-900 followers on Twitter and Instagram, our main sources of social media presence. We got this number by posting frequently for a year about our game. We showed gifs of the gameplay often and it really attracted people to our game. Our Kickstarter campaign is currently mostly funded in the past week by our friends, family, and social media followers. We are also running ads through facebook but we have yet to see a rise in backers from ads.

What have been your greatest sources of inspiration?

Our game is inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This 17th century epic poem is the story of the War in Heaven and Fall of Lucifer. We also take a lot of inspiration from general biblical mythology. I’m a hardcore gamer myself, and just playing all the amazing indie games out there really keeps me working hard so one day we can make it into the spotlight. I am also part of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio here in Philadelphia, and we are all students or former students trying to start indie game studios. At EGS, student dev teams incubate and get help from other experienced developers. This is a huge source of inspiration and help for me.

What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?

Creating Matrioshka Games was my first venture into the business world of game design. I had to create an LLC and establish my bank account, and deal with real money for the first time in my life. I learned a lot about running a real business, and it was all worth it in the end because all these steps allowed me to swiftly get my game on to Steam.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or game creators?

As a student, I was able to get a lot of help from my university. I would advise any student to look for opportunities at their school! For non-students, don’t be afraid to contact people online. 

I found the bulk of my team just by meeting other developers on reddit, and in today’s world you can honestly really start a venture over the internet with anybody.

Just make sure you get contracts out so no legal issues happen. Creating a basic contract is also not that hard, but making sure it is legally operational might be difficult. I am able to get legal help from my school, but outside school it might cost some money.

In general, the greatest opportunity we ever got was going to PAX West. Gaming conventions are the best way to increase your exposure, meeting developers, and meeting potential investors in your game. If you have the funds, definitely showcase around at as much conventions as you can, it is so worth it, you never know when you might meet one person that may be key to your success.

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

Currently, we are hard at work making sure our kickstarter campaign reaches our goal. Depending on how that goes, our development roadmap will change over the course of the next month. If publisher negotiations work out, we might also be able to strike out a deal!

Where can we learn more?

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