The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Puny Astronaut talks relaxation and experiences for everyone

We speak to Puny Astronaut, who came second at the Big Indie Pitch at Abertay University in Dundee 2017

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Puny Astronaut talks relaxation and experiences for everyone

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 Cian Roche and the team from Puny Astronaut, who submited upcoming Nintendo Switch title Skye to The Big Indie Pitch at Abertay University in Dundee 2017 and walked away with the prize for second place. Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio. Who is in the team and what are their inspirations?

Cian Roche: Puny Astronaut is an imaginative eight-person studio based up in Dundee, Scotland. We all met at university when we entered the Dare to Be Digital (now Dare Academy) student games development competition. The team is made up of the following:

Cian Roche, producer/MD: I love the accessibility of games, and how they have the power to make you feel so much more attached and involved with an experience or story than other media. Games like Flower, Abzu and Limbo are definitely strong inspirations.

Erin Stevenson, artist/animator: I'm always looking for ways to learn new things and improve my work, and having something that I can tell where I've had input and see how I've progressed is exciting and motivating.

Sam Donaghey, environment artist: Danny Devito.

Mark Cully, technical artist: My main inspiration is to learn and improve, and always trying to push my work to the next level of quality.

Chris D’Arcy, sound designer: I'm Inspired by the creative restrictions of the past, especially of the foley and sound design of the 50s to 70s. Getting hands-on and diving in the deep end is go-to for me. People I'd consider closest to idols would be John Roesch, Ben Burtt and Jeff Lynne.

Philip Duff, game designer: I wanna release the very best, like no-one ever does; to make games is my real test, to design them is my job.

Harry Haston-Dougan, systems programmer: Games are a great way to be creative and competitive. Making games is the same but I get paid. Ish.

Grant Stranaghan, gameplay programmer: Inspiration is volatile. I prefer dedication.

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

Cian Roche: Skye is a relaxing exploration game set in a world that couldn’t be happier to see you. Take your time flying around charming worlds as Skye, the friendly dragon.

Along the way you’ll meet friends looking for a helping hand, like a gardener looking for seeds of pretty flowers to plant in her garden, and a fisherman trying to catch his son’s lost toys.

You’re more than welcome to spend hours exploring the world to see what’s out there, or help everyone you meet straight away. There’s no wrong way to enjoy this tranquil, cheerful game.

How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

Well, you need to love and believe in what you’re doing and be prepared to sacrifice for it.

I would say it’s as difficult as starting any business from scratch. There are long hours, low pay and there’s always the risk that it wont work out the way you wanted it to.

It’s not romantic - everyone should know the realities of the job before they make the decision to go in, and know that for every success story you read about there are a hundred failures.

Having said that, at the very least you get to work on exactly what you want to. Even if it doesn’t work out, you did something you loved for as long as you were able. That’s how we feel, anyway.

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

It was definitely an adrenaline rush. It’s great practice for concentrating down exactly what makes your game special and communicating it as effectively as possible.

It was tricky conveying the ‘go-with-the-flowness’ of Skye in a very rushed setting, but I got great feedback and loved the opportunity to pitch to some industry vets who knew what they were talking about.

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

It was a great chance to bolster our network of knowledgeable people for all aspects of the industry, including devs, publishers and marketers, and for them to then be invested in your story if you contact them.

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

We’re hoping to keep building Skye into a very deep world you can get lost in for hours, to the point where discoveries are traded secrets between players. That’s a pretty lofty goal so that’s what we’re concentrating on for now.

But for future projects we want more people playing games with one another, not just next to one another, which we think is a mistake a lot of co-op multiplayer games make.

Whatever we do, we want to keep making fantastic games for everyone!

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:

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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.