Welcome to Ask An Indie where we interview local independent game developers to learn how they make, do and create.
What inspired you to start making games?
Like a lot of Indies, I grew up during the NES and SNES era, which was a pretty sweet time to be a kid and gamer. I bought my first Nintendo at the age of 6 by collecting pop cans and saving up, so I earned it! From there it was an obsession with playing as many games as I could. It wasn’t until well after high school that I had the attention span to even start programming and I didn’t start studying game design until I was 26.
At what age did you create your first game? What was it like?
Hmmm… What’s a game? I did some ad agency games in my 20’s, but my first real game was Hey Hey Shooter. I made that as an indie back in 2008. I still love it!
What formal training (if any) do you have that has helped you?
None. Just straight school of hard knocks! Seriously though, there isn’t a better teacher than experience and failure. Get out there and just keep trying and know that it will be hard. If you’re passionate, you’ll stick with it and be successful in your own right.
What are some of your favorite tools or resources?
Unity, Google Docs/Sheets, Trello, Slack, PlayFab, Visual Studio, lots of Unity plugins/tools.
How many people does your studio employ and in what capacity?
There are two people in my studio. I do engineering and design and Terrence Simpson does the art.
What game(s) have you published and on what platforms are they available?
Turbo Town! was released last week. It’s out now on iOS. You can also play it in your browser on Kongregate.
What is the most challenging thing about being a game developer in the Twin Cities?
Resources and connection to money. Everyone pretty much bootstraps themselves around here and no one with any money understands games. I spent 4 years in San Francisco and it’s just a complete different beast out there. Hopefully we come around here and see the potential that we have here a it gets more funding.
What is the most rewarding?
Seeing/hearing people online and in reviews that get a kick out of your game and rate it highly. We get compliments like this on Turbo Town and it really gets your engine going. Knowing that someone is pouring time into something you created, it gives you that boost you need to keep going. For the nights are long in front of a computer screen and full of coding.
What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?
Get experience and know that you may not get to stay in Minnesota to get the experience you need. You have to be willing to get out there and break out of your comfort zone. Like I said before, if you’re meant for this tough industry, you’ll make it through and be more passionate and a better person for it. Life is an adventure and there are lots of great people out there to learn from. That and it will help your network and believe me, that makes a whole lot of difference in “making it.”
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Game creation and being “indie” is no joke. Have a plan and try and stick to it. Seek out others that are in the same boat as you, be it if it’s in person or online in Facebook groups or whatever. Go to conferences and meet people and break out. And know that if you fail, use that failure to get a contract or job in the game industry and have a plan to try again. When you do figure out what you would change and how think you could be successful. Rinse, repeat. Cowboy up and get out there!