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Epic Win dev: Indies "can sort of lose perspective"

"Keep a style in your game, keep it consistent" - SuperMono's Tak Fung

SuperMono Studios boss Tak Fung has revealed some of the lessons learned since leaving Lionhead to go indie.

"The fact I stopped [full-time employment] to do this gave me the urgency to succeed," he claimed at the World Of Love conference in London last week. "That was my big decision. I had to do this or go down in flames."

However, he warned that ambition can get the better of inexperienced indies, having at one point erroneously believed he could create iOS game MiniSquadron in four weeks.

"It's so much work – it's not just the art, it's not just the code, it's all the little things that require polish."

Nonetheless, his ability as a coder meant "I can make things very quickly and [especially] on the iPhone." An early prototype using crude hand-drawn graphics was, in hindsight "completely rubbish but when you're an indie you sort of lose perspective, so I thought that was genius."

He told developers in the crowd that they should "Keep a style in your game, keep it consistent. If you lose that, you lose polish," and observing that " If you look at iPhone games right now you can very quickly see what's a polished title from a professional outfit."

Many revisions later, MiniSquadron proved a success, with Fung enthusiastic about the platform despite the hard lesson learned. "What I found out was doing the iPhone game was definitely easiest. There's so little barriers, you don't have to talk to people about the [terms and conditions] and everything like that."

What was necessary was alternative marketing, however. "The last thing that got MiniSquadron to become a success is the PR. I knew if I did not tell people about the game it did not matter how good it was; if you did not tell them they would not buy it."

Forums, videos and approaching the TouchArcade community had proven critical here. "That was enough to push the game into the consciousness of a lot of people. Without that it would have gone the way of many many much better indie games."

Fung concluded by urging that more developers should consider the indie route. "You don't always have to sell your house, risk it all, go absolutely crazy."

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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