The story of Jandê Saavedra Farias and the team developing Sky Racket

The story of Jandê Saavedra Farias and the team developing Sky Racket

The story of Jandê Saavedra Farias and the team developing Sky Racket

Startup Story

Jandê Saavedra Farias

Jandê Saavedra Farias

Art Director

Sky Racket

A colorful and zany space tennis adventure, Sky Racket is the world’s first Shmup Breaker.

🇧🇷 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

📅 Founded 2013

🏆 4 Founders

💵 Monthly Revenue = NA 

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Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Jandê Saavedra Farias, and I am a Graphics Design bachelor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. I worked as an Art Director on Sky Racket, an arcade-inspired game that mixes the action from Shoot ‘em ups with the fun of Block Breakers, as if Gradius and Arkanoid had a colorful, crazy, fun, nonsensical, cartoonish baby. We’re calling it a Shmup Breaker. Sky Racket was heavily inspired by the games we played as kids, from Sega, Nintendo and Arcades, and cartoons, old and new.

Double Dash Studios was founded as a four people ensemble. Kim Kaznowski as our Programmer, Lucas Thiers as our Game Designer and me and Luiza Shimura as Artists. As our scopes and projects grew we added more people, with different skills and background. Double Dash now has 10 people plus a few frequent collaborators. As the team started to expand so did our responsibilities and ways to tackle everyday tasks. Nowadays, the first thing I do when arriving into office is writing my “Daily”, which is basically listing everything I did the day before, what went right and what went wrong, then making a to-do list for the day. We then share each other’s dailies and complete whatever new tasks came up from this conversation. From there on, I start doing my tasks, checking possible emails, talking about main and future projects and doing whatever comes up that might need my input. Nowadays, after we released Sky Racket, it’s a bit rare for me be that much hands on creating art directly, I’m mainly giving feedback to the other artists, looking for references and, well, doing my job as an Art Director. But from time to time something always comes up that allows me to draw or design something.

We’ve been working since 2015 on personal projects, commissioned games and some other more specific art and programming jobs. We’ve worked with some different brands, from international brands like Cartoon Network to more regional companies from Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. We’ve worked with a lot of different genres throughout the years. Counting comissioned, work, gamejams, personal projects, we’ve touched on adventure games, puzzles, puzzle-platformers, run-and-gun platformers, casual mobile, shoot ‘em up, shmup breaker (as we call Sky Racket), runners, arcade-style maze chasers, you name it. It doesn’t matter what we do, we always try to imprint the Double Dash style into the games: maybe through the mechanics, or the art, or even the humor. We really like exploring well established mechanics and applying a new twist to it – that’s how we got to Sky Racket, for example. I think it’s important for the player, or the possible client, to feel the quality and notice our games are thoroughly planned and made with a lot of care.

Walk us through the process of creating Sky Racket.

Sky Racket took approximately 2,5 years of development. It’s a bit hard to be precise because the first prototype for the game was made during a gamejam in 2015. We did this 72-hour gamejam called Indies vs Gamers, at the GameJolt website. We created a very well-polished infinite version of Sky Racket (named RacketBoy, back then): it was basically a rough version of the first level in a 4:3 aspect (to reference the Arcade theme of the gamejam) with infinite waves of enemies coming at you. That prototype actually got first place in the gamejam, which got our game to be played by a lot of youtubers during that time, including the three sponsors of the gamejam: Pewdiepie, Markiplier and Jackscepticeye, and that’s when we thought we had a possible winner in our hands. For the next few months we worked on it, trying to do some new content, testing mobile porting, we even tried doing a (unsuccessful) crowdfunding campaign. But inevitably we had to work on something else to make money, so we set it aside for a while and started to make the company grow. We never stopped taking the game to events or even mentioning it in our social media, because we knew we’d go back to it one day. A couple of years later, in 2017, we had the opportunity to apply for a government grant from the Brazilian Film Agency (ANCINE). It was the first grant of its kind, and no one knew quite what to expect. We sent the project and after a few different judging phases, we won! We had to wait until 2018 to receive the money and that’s when the newly-named Sky Racket (because we added RacketGirl to the game) went into full production.

As I said before, we had quite a few experiences creating games. During game jams, for clients, working for other gamedev companies as individuals, but Sky Racket was our first experience creating a big game, something that took more than a year to complete. We had to learn a lot more about team managing, time managing, cutting the fat, prioritizing, and a lot of other things that you really only get to know through experience, and might just make or break any project.

How did you launch?

We launched Sky Racket in October 22. It seemed like a date far from other big games, and it was a Tuesday, when pizzas are a bit cheaper. 

Well, we had to learn how to market our game, and that means starting a whole new relationship with the press. We did try to reach out to a lot of youtubers, websites and other different regular channels, but I believe what gave us a lot of return were the Steam Curators. A lot of them are also small to medium sized youtubers and journalists, so as we looked into getting good reviews by curators, we also ended up getting quite a few videos and articles. We are a little bit known in Brazil, so we could reach out to some gaming media here, which helps a lot. We did build our own website. We have a website dedicated for Sky Racket ( and one for the company (

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

We’ve been talking to a lot of streamers on Twitch as well, inviting them to play the game and encouraging them to recommend the game to other streamers which has been working really well, especially with brazilian streamers. We are also usually have a very good presence in events here in Brazil: Sky Racket was often invited to shows and even nominated for a few awards. We are also slowly building a community through Discord (which has steadily increased in membership and participation since we released the game) and our social media pages under the name @DoubleDashStu.

We tried doing a crowdfunding campaign back in 2015, trying to ride the youtuber attention we got from winning the game jam, but we couldn’t reach the goal. We were very inexperienced back then, and those things take time to be done right.

What are your sources of inspiration?

We are a very diverse group, so we take inspiration from a lot of different things: games, movies, cartoons, books, comics, music… I think it’s pretty obvious, as a lot of people pointed out, how our game takes inspiration from 60s anime (RacketBoy’s Astro Boy-esque hair, for example) as well as more recent cartoons such as Adventure Time and Steven Universe. Personally, I grew up playing Sega games in the 80s and 90s with the Sega Master System and Mega Drive, that’s something that had a very strong influence when trying to emulate that era. Fantasy Zone, for example, with its colorful pastel visuals and cute enemies was a big reference when first designing the crazy world of Sky Racket. The parallax effects of some early Mega Drive games like Sonic and Arrow Flash also always amazed me and was one of the first things I wanted to do when creating the backgrounds.

Double Dash Studios is also a founding member of RING, the Indie Game Developers Group in Rio de Janeiro. We’ve met a LOT of great devs throughout the last few years, exchanging experience, knowledge, opportunities, success and failure stories. This kind of unity between devs is fairly new here in Rio, and has been doing great things for the scene here. We try doing monthly events, sometimes even bringing people from the outside for lectures, or reaching out to the public to playtest our games and get to know a bit more about game developing.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far creating SkyRacket?

Well, everything non game-related, I believe. Learning how to deal with contracts, managing people, looking for office space, dealing with clients (good and bad), dealing with money, payments, salaries, banks, creating a company, talking to lawyers and accountants, maneuvering around bureaucracy… I think a lot of indie devs never take these things into account when thinking about creating a videogame company, but, well, it IS a company. We were lucky to know a few people that already had walked that path before, so we had someone to ask for guidance, but still, it’s kind of scary to have all these responsibilities suddenly falling on our shoulders.

Now, being a company, we need to survive financially, and every new day, week, month, year is filled with little decisions that might impact not only on our future, but also on people that work with us. We learned that being transparent can be a very good thing. We try to be very open with everyone, always explaining the risks and situations we are getting into so no one is surprised by sudden changes or if something hits us. It also helps a lot when thinking about solutions for possible problems that might come.

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

Well, I believe first of all, you have to make games. People often ask “how do I begin to make games?” and I always answer “Look for a game jam”. Some devs like working alone, having their finger in every single aspect of the game, and that’s great, but some (like me) prefer working on a few aspects of the game and having other people do other things. Game jams are a great way to begin because you can create on your own, you can create with a group of friends, you can create with complete strangers, but you have to create. Having a finite amount of very focused time is a great way to gather experience in a lot of things: brainstorming, prototyping, creating art, programming, music, learning to prioritize, learning to let things go. It’s not by accident that so many great indie games are a product of game jams (such as Super Hot, Goat Simulator, Gods Will Be Watching and, well, Sky Racket!). It’s a great way to let creativity flow and do something crazy and experimental, and learn new stuff. There are a lot of companies that do their own internal game jams in order to dish out new ideas, experiment, and a lot of gold can come out of that.

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

Right now we are on the post-launch phase of Sky Racket. We’ve been doing a lot of marketing efforts, talking to people, streamers, youtubers, doing interviews (like this one!) and trying to get the game in as many hands as possible. All of that while still doing some commissioned work. Our monthly revenue is very unstable since we still don’t have any kind of regular income. Sky Racket is our first commercial release and we hope that might turn into a nice source of income in the next few months, especially after we port and launch it on consoles next year. The majority of our sales are still from Brazil, but we’re trying to branch out. We’ve got some attention from the US, Russia and Japan, and because of that we made efforts to localize the game for those regions, but we still need to really reach that public.

We’re on the talks now about our next game. We have a lot of projects in the drawer, some more developed than others, that we would love to do. It’s all a matter of finding out which one makes more sense for us right now. Even though Sky Racket is and will be our main game for a while, we want to try something different, new mechanics, new genres (our projects vary from puzzle games to metroidvanias and other more experimental ideas) and a whole new universe of characters.

Where can we learn more?

We are on nearly every major social network, and we are very approachable! We love giving and receiving feedback, talking about games and anything else. We are always present in our Discord server as well to whoever wants to talk to us.

Sky Racket:


Instagram: @DoubleDashStu

Twitter: @DoubleDashStu



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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


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:

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:

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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


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 tell us about Swords and Sandals!

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 Swords and Sandals.

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 Swords and Sandals?

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 Swords and Sandals?

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 of Whiskeybarrel Studios?

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 about Swords and Sandals Spartacus and Whiskeybarrel Studios?

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

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