Ask An Indie: Lisa Walkosz-Migliacio, Intropy Games

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Lisa-Walkosz-MigliacioAsk an Indie: Lisa Walkosz-Migliacio, Co-President & Lead Developer at Intropy Games

What inspired you to start making games?

Believe it or not, I’ve been making video games for almost 20 years. Other than a fun, interactive historical game starring Joan of Arc that I created for a high school project, most of my early games have never been shown to the public.

Games are a unique medium in that they bring together visuals, audio, and tactile feedback, and it’s actually quite an undertaking to put all the pieces together in a cohesive way. I dabble in art and music, and my training as a software engineer made the transition to making games professionally a natural fit.

At what age did you create your first game?  What was it like?

It was probably around middle school in fact! I would have friends over and try to make games with them. Having a computer microphone (and knowing how to use it) was magical for them. I’m sure it’s hard for the audience to realize that a group of young girls could be huddled around a computer attempting to build interactive stories, but it did happen!

What formal training do you have that has helped you?

I have a Computer Science degree, and I have never regretted it. A software development curriculum will show you how to solve complex technical problems, give you insight into how computers work and why they behave as they do, and, of course, make you much more comfortable around new languages and paradigms.  Knowing how to code is seen as a “good thing” these days, so I highly recommend people learn it — either for making games, or for creating other opportunities as well.

What are some of your favorite tools or resources?

I use whatever makes sense for each project.  On the programming side, I’ve been able to use JavaScript and C# using frameworks such as Unity, but I’m always open to the next cool thing.

How many people does your studio employ?  What positions do they occupy?

Intropy Games is a two-person studio, with one full time.  As there are only two of us, I fill many roles in production and development as necessary — and the same goes for my partner.

What games(s) have you published and where?  On what platforms are they available?

We have a few games on iOS, but the most successful has been a cute recipe combination game called Usagi-chan Bunny Treats.  At the moment, we are working on an action puzzle title for the Nintendo eShop, Astral Breakers, which will be coming to the Wii U later this year.

What is the most challenging thing about being a game developer in the Twin Cities?

Although there is a growing video game scene here, it’s still very small.  Having mentors and a network of people are some of the most important ingredients for success, and I feel that while we’re definitely making progress, there’s still a long road ahead of us.  Groups such as the Twin Cities Chapter of IGDA and Glitch Gaming are a great start.

What is the most rewarding?

The fact that we’re a small community also means it’s easy to get to know everyone interested in making games in the area. Meeting new people who have a passion for games warms my heart.

What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?

Network, network, network.  Ask for help, ask how you can help, and know that it’s never been a better time to be an independent game developer. Only a few years ago, wide releases for independent games were non-existent, and we’ve come a long way since then (mostly due to digital marketplaces). Don’t be shy, dive in!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Now is a great time to realize games are for everyone.  So many people play, make and are involved in games more than ever before, and the landscape is changing stereotypes.  However, there is a lot of work to be done in this space.  I encourage anyone who thinks they want to try, to do so.  I truly believe especially for the younger generation, a curiosity about video gaming can produce smart, technically minded people who can fit into new media careers as they grow up.  We should encourage this for everyone.

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