Interview

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Headshot Labs talks thumb wars and game jams

We chat to the runner-up from the first ever Big Indie Pitch in Estonia

The Big Indie Pitch interviews: Headshot Labs talks thumb wars and game jams

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 Headshot Labs, who submited THUMBOFF to The Big Indie Pitch at GameDevDays 2018 and walked away as the runner-up of the first ever Big Indie Pitch in Estonia.

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

Headshot Labs: Headshot Labs was formed to realise an ambitious student project called Killtype: Synthetic, which did not get finished due to being overly ambitious. Unwilling to give up, our luck finally struck and an excellent team with a brilliant idea was born at a game jam here in Tallinn.

The THUMBOFF team consists of passionate young spirits striving to grow in the game development realm. We have all kinds of talents on the team: Siim Raidma (design lead), Ingvar Lond (programmer) , Karl Petti and Henri Viies (sound) and Julia Iljina (art).

We take inspiration for our project mostly from the simple things in life; like getting together, playing games and eating pizza.

Our goal is to make something people want to spend their time playing. We believe that our strong motivation will keep our spirits ready to rock until we release (and far beyond that).

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

THUMBOFF is a bizarre concept game that came from a recent GameJam entry. The idea was to make a game about a demoralised guy at an airport, contemplating on the unbearable struggles of life while thumb wrestling with himself.

When development started, we decided to give a physics-based thumb wrestling game a shot, inspired by the likes of Gang Beasts and Octodad. This really worked out in our favour, with the game taking an even more ridiculous and absurd form than initially planned.

How hard is it to survive as an indie developer?

Making games is the easy part, we have great tools to create games easier than ever before. The difficult part is figuring out what players actually want. Wasting time on features and optimisations that players don’t need sounds like an extreme challenge every developer should overcome.

The harsh reality is, that it is a tough market and just making a game that you would love to play is sadly not enough if you want to survive financially.

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

We were super stressed before the pitch. We held a general meeting discussing our pitch plan and direction. On the day of the pitch, we let Julia do the talking, while Henri would answer technical and business questions.

From the enthusiastic reactions and feedback we received during our pitching, we both quickly became more confident and talkative. By the time we reached the last pair of judges, we were having so much fun that we had completely forgotten our anxiety.

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

We got tons of positive feedback from game development veterans. Although, expert opinions will not fully guarantee our success, we got a lot of energy to proceed.

Validation from the the community is something we truly wish to gain. If something created at a weekend GameJam is good enough to stand against games that have been in development for months or years, this is definitely a good sign.

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

We plan to get as much expert advice as possible on how to proceed with this project. Luckily, we already found one fantastic advisor and we are currently analyzing what really makes THUMBOFF so special.

Using feedback from playtesting at gaming events and parties, we want to implement features our players want to see in the game and improve the gameplay. If we can compress the unique selling point of THUMBOFF into a MVP, we are going to launch as soon as possible.

We are currently working on our business model, which could lead to more games in a similar style. We're looking for investment at the moment, so that we can afford to hire some industry professionals and outsourcers.


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.

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