The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Ant Workshop talks micro studios and twin stick shooters

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Ant Workshop talks micro studios and twin stick shooters

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

The event gives indies four 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 Tony Gowland from Ant Workshop, who submited Dead End Job to The Big Indie Pitch at Abertay University in Dundee 2017 and walked away as champion. Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio. Who is in the team and what are their inspirations?

Tony Gowland: Ant Workshop is a micro studio I set up in 2015 to make games with an off-beat sense of humour. I’d spent quite a few years by that point working for other companies making things like GTA and Call of Duty on handheld and mobile, and making things that made me laugh really appealed.

And when I say 'micro studio' that’s really a fancy way of saying 'it’s just me'. I use freelancers a lot though, for things like audio, artwork and PR.

Tell us about your latest project that you pitched at the competition.

The super-short pitch for Dead End Job is that it’s Ghostbusters meets Binding of Isaac meets Ren & Stimpy.

It came about because I was thinking of interesting takes on the twin-stick shooter genre. Initially it came from the idea of making a shooter without any shooting, hence sucking ghosts into a vacuum cleaner - yes I am quite a fan of Luigi’s Mansion, I’m not sure how you knew that?

The art style comes from a combination of the team’s love of 90s cartoons and also a desire to do something that felt quite different for the genre. There are a lot of pixel art twin-sticks and we wanted to try and do something bright and eye catching.

It helps that Joe Blakeston - the lead artist - has worked with Aardman in the past and has a feel for doing the squishy cartoon look.

How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

It’s definitely competitive out there. So many people are making amazing games that you have to be constantly thinking about how you can get your games in front of people and how the game’s going to convince people it’s worth them giving it a shot when you do.

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

I love the Big Indie Pitch events and I’ve done quite a few of them now with different games. The judges are always super friendly and the time flies by, five minutes doesn’t last nearly as long as you might think! It probably helps if you really enjoy talking to people about your game.

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

The Big Indie Pitches are always really useful in a bunch of different ways. You get a lot of practice honing your game’s elevator pitch, figuring out which bits people respond well to and what questions they often ask.

You get a lot of first impression feedback on your game to see if that core loop really hits the mark and people 'get it'. And last but definitely not least, you get to introduce some really influential people to your game.

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

We’re hoping to get Dead End Job finished and released in 2018, possibly even get a seasonal update out for it right at the end of the year.

We do have a few other things going on this year as well but nothing we’re allowed to talk about yet. And who knows, maybe Nick Faldo will finally respond to my LinkedIn request and I’ll get BattleGolf off the ground - NFBG is a game where 100 people are dropped on an island with some golf clubs. Here’s hoping!

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:

Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / 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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