Interview

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Ether Games on Z War 1: The Great War of the Dead

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Ether Games on Z War 1: The Great War of the Dead

The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of PocketGamer.biz. It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-styled pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies three minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers and industry pundits. The judges then pick three winners and everybody gets valuable feedback.

The indie view

The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it to events all across the world. To give you an idea of what the event is like, who attends the events and the games on show, we've sat down with a number of past BIP contestants to offer their views.

Today, we're speaking to Ether Games' Gokul Elayadath, who submited Z War 1: The Great War of the Dead to the Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco and came third.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio. Who is in the team and what are their inspirations?

Gokul Elayadath: We are Ether Games, an Indian / UK team of 10, with a combined experience of more than 58+ years based in India.

Our Design Director, Stuart Burrows, is an industry veteran of 23+ years. He has been instrumental in successful games like Drone: Shadow Strike (4.5 Stars), Drone 2, and Real Steel World Robot Boxing, with more than 50 Million downloads on iOS and Android.

Z War 1 was inspired by Stuart’s love of shooters, RTS and TD games, Charley’s War (from Battle Action), WW1 history, weird weapons, Lovecraft and horror in general… and the desire to create a shooter with some depth and that appeals to more of the core gamer, who are not currently well served on mobile.

How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer working in mobile?

It’s really tough in the current stagnating market; innovation is key to stand out from the crowd. To innovate, you need clear creative strategy and find your niche with an awesome game design that understands the expectations of the target audience.

Gameplay is one thing, but an innovative, monetisation strategy is also key, especially with a more core audience. Yes, we need to make money, but we also need to respect our players and provide good value.

We want it to be contextual and part of the experience, not the usual jarring 'now we want your money'. Even Z War 1’s shop is a full 3D armoury with a quartermaster, to keep players immersed.

Even to get this far it takes thousands of man hours. This needs considerable amount of investment to survive in mobile gaming for indie studios. The quest for funds is always difficult; I wish there was more available funds for early stage development.

When you’re competing with the big guys, as an indie, you have to continually punch above your weight to break through. For us it's ‘go big, or go home’. We believe Z War 1, is ambitious and is exactly the right game at the right time.

How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

One thing I really love about The Big Indie Pitch, and the conference overall is the instant validation of your game.

The Big Indie Pitch is great for feedback from the industry experts. This helps in identifying what the players notice and their likes and dislikes, which helps in polishing and modifying the game further. Getting third at the Very Big Indie Pitch in San Francisco was great!

What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?

Pitching itself is fun and pitching your game in four minutes also helps me in honing my presentation skills outside The Big Indie pitch. We have added a raft of new features and a 3D store – so it will be interesting to see what industry experts say.

Obviously, as a small indie, it's critical to get as much exposure as possible. We’ve had a great reaction to Z War 1 so far, so we are clearly hitting the right notes.

What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?

While our entire focus is on Z War 1 and its live operations plan to expand the gameplay, we have Z War 2 and several designs that either spin off the core mechanics or innovate in the mobile shooter genre.

We are currently looking for publisher / investor who can see the potential for Z War 1 as a genre leader and who can come onboard now and invest to help us to reach beta / global launch.

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Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you.

Upcoming BIPs include:

The Big Indie Pitch at Game Industry Conference in Poznan 2017 (October 5th 2017)

The Big Indie Pitch @ Jordan Games Summit 2017 (November 11th 2017)

The Big Indie Pitch @ G-STAR 2017 (November 16th - 18th 2017)

The Big Indie Pitch in Dundee 2017 sponsored by Amazon Appstore (November 30th 2017)

But there's more! For the first time ever this year we'll be hosting The Big Indie Awards 2017 in association with indieSky.

The Big Indie Awards marks the finale of a year of indie pitching and also offers a chance for both our pitchers and also ALL indie developers who may not have made it to our events to put their game forward for a chance of global recognition, some cold-hard cash and a trip to the awards final in Shenzhen, China!

You can register for The Big Indie Awards 2017 in association with indieSky right here.

Developer Relations Manager & Big Indie Pitch Co-ordinator / Special Features Writer

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that he's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokemon.

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