Interview

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Sketchbook Games on Lost Words

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Sketchbook Games on Lost Words

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 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 Sketchbook Games' Mark Backler, who submited Lost Words to the Big Indie Pitch at Develop:Brighton 2017 and took away the third place prize.

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

Mark Backler: Sketchbook Games is a small studio based at the Games Hub in Colchester at Essex University, although most of the team work remotely. I've worked at companies like Lionhead and EA and founded the studio in 2015.

Rhianna Pratchett is writing the story, Audrey Profit is the programmer, Luke Peek is VFX, Rudi Kolenc is animating, Lynne Liu and Billy Wimblett are the artists, Maurice Suckling is doing narrative design and Ben Hill from Advect is helping with production. We're inspired by games like Life is Strange, Journey and Gone Home.

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

Lost Words is a platformer set between the pages of a diary and a fantasy world. It sees players walking on words and using them to solve different puzzles. The story is about a girl aspiring to be a writer who is being mentored by her gran, but when her gran becomes ill, young Izzy uses the fantasy world she's writing about to help her deal with what's going in the real world.

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

We've been running two years now but Lost Words is going to be a Steam and console release first so we have a different model to other mobile developers, but it's definitely really hard to stand out in the mobile space as there are so many games and so many of them are free.

It makes it really hard to invest a lot in developing a mobile game, which I think is a shame because it means that we're missing out on some great mobile premium experiences.

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

It was really cool to meet so many other developers and industry experts. We got some great feedback on the game and it was really helpful to hear what all the judges thought.

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

I've learnt tons about running a studio, budgeting, fund raising, hiring, marketing, programming, graphic design and loads more! I'd like to learn about all the details of shipping a project across multiple platforms and publicising it.

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

There's lots of places we would love to take the game in future but we want to see how it goes and how we feel when we're coming to the end of development. We already have a few ideas for game two and three floating around but we don't want to lose focus on making Lost Words the best possible game we can.


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:

But there's more! For the first time ever this year we'll be hosting The Big Indie Awards 2017 in association with indieSky. Having just hosted the remote judges voiting, you can look out for our countdown of the very best of The Big Indie Pitch 2017 right here very soon.

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 she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently she's on a quest to catch every last Pokemon.

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