The Big Indie Pitch interviews: What does it take to make a game all about esports?

Agate talks creating a title all about competitive gaming

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: What does it take to make a game all about esports?

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 Dave Fabrian from Agate, who submited Esports Saga to The Big Indie Pitch at GDC 2018 and walked away as with the prize for joint second place - the first time a joint second has ever been awarded at The Big Indie Pitch. Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio. Who is in the team and what are their inspirations?

Dave Fabrian: Agate is an Indonesian game developer that founded in April 2009 by 18 passionate founders with a simple premise that we want to pro-actively contribute to world happiness from our games.

Our early products were Flash-based games, we launched a football simulation game for local market named Football Saga in 2010. It was quite successful in Indonesia, but since the web-based games market was declining we are now focusing on developing games for the mobile market.

Esports Saga’s team consist of nine core members which call themselves Extreme Justice, and their inspiration are:

  • Riki Suliawan (creative director): I was part of an esports organisation in Indonesia (Rex Regum Qeon). My idea was based on my experience when I worked for the team.
  • I Made Teguh (game lead): Whatever game that I've worked on, I always look at Kingdom Hearts 2 as my main inspiration. I want our players could have a meaningful experience from our game like I had from Kingdom Hearts 2.
  • Nelson Gustav (game designer): I want to deliver the exciting experience that I had when I played a simulation game like Football Manager and Football Saga.
  • Bestly Edyson (game designer): Watching League of Legends and Counter-Strike matches.
  • Sanrio Hernanto (programmer): Watching a DOTA match.
  • Aswin Juari (programmer): Watching Counter Strike Go’s match is always helpful for developing our match engine.
  • Halilintar (3D artist): I agree with Aswin.
  • Sefilianto (UI artist): I love the UI design of The Sims, C.A.T.S and Pewdiepie Tuber Simulator, those games are influencing my design direction.
  • Aprialdo Yasin (2D artist): I watch videos about military exercise as my main reference for this project.

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

Our game, Esports Saga, is a management simulation game where you assemble a first-person shooter esports team to take on the world championship.

You can recruit, train your team members and battle with other players in online matches. Our creative director Riki was a hardcore FPS gamer and in December 2016 he pitched an idea to create a game for casual players who want to feel the unique experience of being an esports team owner.

He realized that even when gamer is only watching FPS game being streamed, it’s already a fun experience for them. So we think that this idea might be interesting for mobile gamers.

How hard is it to survive as an indie developer?

We were bootstrapping in the first six years with our initial salary and we worked 90 hours per week to pursue the capability gap that we had.

We nearly went bankrupt several times, and sometimes we were forced to loan some money from friends and relatives to makes sure that we had enough cash for our operational expenses.

But whenever we hit a wall and fall down, we are very grateful that we've always managed to bounce back.

Now we’ve become one of the leading game developer in Indonesia, and we believe that our positive culture and strong purpose have played a big role in our sustainability. It’s not an easy journey, but we really enjoy it.

How was your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

It’s an honour to be part of it. I was really excited when I got the email from BIP that our game was allowed to enter the pitching session. It’s actually my first time pitching our game at an international event.

The judges were very great, they focused on what I said and what I showed to them, they were asking good questions and they were able to understand a lot about the game quicky despite just having a limited time to see it.

When Simon announced that our game won, I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t wipe my smile off my face for the rest of the day since it’s been a long time since we started. It means a lot to us.

What do you feel you have gained from these experiences and what do you still hope to gain?

We got some good insights and advice about our game from the judges. But the most important thing is that our game’s concept got approval from the judges who understand about mobile games and its market

I think it's important for our validation process. After this we hope we can prove that this concept could be accepted by players too.

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

We really hope that we could create a great community from this game. For our future projects, we're developing several games aside from Esports Saga, and we plan to launch them on mobile or console platforms within one year. I hope we can announce them in the next few months.

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

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.