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Ablaze Interactive discuss solo development and blending genres

Guardians of Elderon placed second at The Big Indie Pitch
Ablaze Interactive discuss solo development and blending genres
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The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of

It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-style pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies five 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.

The Big Indie Pitch goes digital.
The Big Indie Pitch goes digital.

This time, we spoke to Tiberiu Stefan from Ablaze Interactive, who recently pitched Guardians of Elderon as a part of the Mobile Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital NEXT supported by N3twork and Green Grey and walked away with the second-place prize. Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?

Tiberiu Stefan: My name is Tiberiu and I am a solo developer, extremely fond of graphics, coding and video games. I’ve been fascinated with the visual arts ever since I was a child, and I started working with 3D graphics in middle school. Once I discovered coding, I had the opportunity to create interactive content, with making video games being my ultimate dream.

I have played and I enjoy playing games of all genres, and I love analysing mechanics, art, how they work and what makes them good. In my own work, I always try to create something new and combine gameplay elements in original ways.

Can you tell us about Guardians of Elderon that you pitched at the competition? 

Guardians of Elderon (which is now in open Beta on iOS) is an action-packed base-builder, where you get to build your very own fantasy base, summon powerful guardians, go on unique quests, and attack other players to occupy parts of their bases.

In the game, you get to create teams of five guardians, each with unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and when combined with spells and equipment, you can formulate your own personal battle strategy.

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of Guardians of Elderon that players may never have seen before?

One of the most original features of Guardians of Elderon is power cores. These are areas around which you can create buildings, and can be found both in player bases as well as on quests. When you occupy a power core, it will be in your control for a period of time, and all resources produced around that power core will be yours.

The number of power cores you have at any moment also affects the damage of towers in your own base, so having a high number of power cores will make it more difficult for others to attack your base.

Guardians of Elderon is a game that blends the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and base-building genres. What made you choose these genres, and what do you think you bring that may not have been seen before?

MOBA games provide a very strong action experience, which usually also comes with a considerable amount of pressure. I wanted to recreate that action experience but in a much more accessible package, similar to a single-player game. As a result, the game uses an asynchronous player-versus-player (PvP) multiplayer model (you attack other players who are offline, and vice versa), with each battle lasting a maximum of 10 minutes.

In contrast to the volatility of MOBA games, I was also looking to add more permanency and a feeling of progression, leading to the creation of player bases. Here you can create buildings for generating resources, crafting spells, transmuting guardians, as well a suite of base defences among others.


How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop Guardians of Elderon for?

I designed Guardians of Elderon specifically for mobile, with the accessible action experience. Also, the battles limited to 10 minutes make it easy to pop out your phone and do a quick attack or quest. The game is currently in public beta on iOS, and will also come to Android for the launch.

Looking at the studio a little more now, how hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

So far, I have supported myself and the development of the game from my freelancing work. It is definitely not an easy task, but I was fortunate to be able to bring the game so close to a ready-to-launch state.

Are there any tips and/or advice you would give to an independent developer out there who is just starting out?

Speaking from my own experience, especially for solo developers, I think it’s very important to be extremely realistic about your personal abilities and resources. Given what you are trying to accomplish, how much of the game design/graphics/coding/writing can you actually do? And for the parts you cannot do yourself, do you have the connections/resources to get someone else to do it?

For Guardians of Elderon, I tried to keep everything as close as possible to my own abilities and minimise or eliminate parts I did not feel I could successfully complete by myself.

Another important aspect (maybe the most) is the magnitude of work involved. I knew from the beginning I will have to do a lot of things, so I tried to keep everything a simple as possible, in order to keep the project manageable and completable. This resulted in tools, workflows and patterns I used in coding and graphics to optimise production.

Perfectionism is another enemy I identified early on and rooted out quickly.

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

As this was my first such competition, I was actually a bit nervous and did not know what to expect. But it all went very smoothly, thanks to the clear organisation, friendly judges and the great host. I’m happy I got to meet talented creatives from all over the world, and we shared our works in the lobby while waiting for the results.

Image credit: Ablaze Interactive
Image credit: Ablaze Interactive

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

Being part of the Big Indie Pitch was an insightful experience for me, and I am grateful for being selected as a finalist. It was a great opportunity to get in touch with publishers and journalists, and I really appreciate the feedback, it only helps you become better.

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

I’m looking to make Guardians of Elderon delight players for a long time. Apart from the initial three chapters (of which I presented only the first one so far), I have a lot of ideas going forward, in expanding and exploring the Elderon universe.

Besides Guardians of Elderon, I’m also planning another game, but that is a story for another time.

Wantto 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, or even our new Digital pitches.

All our upcoming pitches including how to enter can be found over on our upcoming events page on

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