What’s the origin story of your company? How did you get started in game development?
I had been messing with tools like RPG Maker as far back as middle school, but I never really thought I would become a game developer. Most of my life I was focused on my art and becoming a comic book artist. By the time I got to college though, my parents, who were helping pay my tuition, insisted I be either an engineer or a doctor. I knew I could never fix humans, but fixing computers sounded interesting. It was in my first computer science class where the assignment was to make a simple python game. I had a ton of fun creating a little pac-man clone, but unlike my mainly technical classmates, I could also draw my own characters to make my project stand out.
That’s when I realized I could combine my art skills with programming and start making my own games. After college though, I got a “real” job and worked as a web developer for 4 years. Still, I spent every day after work learning 3D modeling, studying Unity, and moonlighting on my first indie game, Skyhook. As the game was nearing the end of development in 2015 I just couldn’t handle having two full time jobs, so I saved up a little bit of money, quit my day job, moved in with my girlfriend at the time, and started freelancing to support my indie career. Fast forward in 2017 with the early access launch of my second game Shotgun Farmers, and I’m proud to say I’ve finally gone full time on working on my games.
How many games have you created/worked on? Which was your favorite?
I have shipped 2 games so far, Skyhook, a 2d pixel art brawler where you fight with grappling hooks, and most recently Shotgun Farmers, the first person shooter where your bullets grow the guns. Shotgun Farmers will always hold a special place in my heart because it was thanks to the launch of that game that I could finally stop stressing about freelance work and focus on working on the game full time.
Any interesting concepts you worked on that never made it past the prototype phase?
One of my first flash prototypes back in college, and a game that will probably never get made, was my version of the original Digimon virtual pet devices. Not Tamagotchi like everyone thinks of, but the actual digimon devices that you would raise, feed, and then mash together and fight to the death! I’ve always wanted to make a virtual pet game where you can actually fight your friends (I’m looking at you Pokemon GO!) but alas I don’t think now is the time for a game like that.
If you had unlimited funding and no restrictions what would be your dream game to make?
Monster Capture MMO. I don’t want to talk about it okay! It’ll probably never exist.
Any thoughts on the industry trend to rely on “opinion makers”, specifically video content creators?
Being a Twitch streamer myself I might be a little biased to answer this question, but I think its great. While I still search for things like IGN reviews for games from time to time, nothing really captures the magic of a game like watching your favorite content creator play it first hand. They also have an incredible reach to get so even more eyes on the game which is a win for devs as well. Having a content creator tell you a game is fun is like having one of your friends tell you a game is fun. I don’t know what other forms of media can really match that right now.
How did you come across Woovit and what has been your experience so far?
I had heard about it before, but never really understood what it was until I met Chris at the Bay Area Broadcasters meetup during GDC 2017. As a dev I constantly get emails from companies to join their platform, so I had mostly ignored Woovit at first because I didn’t really get it, but it was after talking to Chris that I realized it was simply a platform to get my game in front of more content creators, simple as that, no strings attached. The experience so far has been great. While the YouTubers who have chosen to cover Shotgun Farmers have been smaller in size, they have been much more passionate and a few even came on to join our Discord community.
Who is the most interesting creator you’ve discovered through Woovit or has created content for your game?
The day I woke up and got my Woovit recent videos email, this thumbnail made my day:
With the title “Besser als Fortnite?!! 😱 – Shotgun Farmers (Deutsch/German)”, or “Better then Fortnite?!!” in German. As a huge Fortnite fan myself, it was just awesome seeing the Shotgun Farmer‘s chicken up there with the Fortnite logo. It was also great to see the YouTuber playing in German, which goes to show that localization is worth it!
Do you or your company stream? What do you stream?
I have been a Twitch Partner since January 2016. I started streaming during the development of Skyhook, mainly as something to keep myself motivated while I worked alone from home. It ended up basically becoming a huge part of my identity, growing a community of awesome supporters who have helped translate Shotgun Farmers in 12 languages, bug tested the game for me, and come up with hilarious ideas. I stream most of the development of my games, so that means C# programming in Unity, or modeling, animating, or texturing new art in Maya since I also do some of the art. I ironically don’t stream me playing any video games, as that’s usually my alone time.
Any piece of advice or knowledge bomb you would like to drop for content creators looking to work with game developers/publishers like yourself?
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that indies are super eager to work with content creators right now. Don’t be afraid of them being some faceless company, as they’d probably be excited to see you make content for their game. Do keep in mind that indies also get flooded with fake key requests emails from people pretending to be YouTubers, so sometimes it’s hard to tell who is real and fake! A Twitter DM goes a long way for this and will probably get a faster response from me than an email. Adding a link to the game in the video’s description goes a really long way for the developer as well! Thought I totally understand if some creators aren’t into this.
Any last thoughts or a story you’d like to share?
The coolest moment in my career so far was a few months ago at my friend’s daughter’s 1 year old birthday party. I was talking to a random parent at the party when she asked me what I did and what games I’ve made. I handed her my phone with the Shotgun Farmers trailer. She called to her son who was maybe 6 or 7 to come look at what I had made. The kid comes over, glances at the phone and goes “Oh I know that game! That’s Shotgun Farmers my favorite YouTuber plays that game” This was just a random kid, at a random party, who I had never met before, who knew my game thanks to a content creator.