With discoverability in the mobile gaming market becoming harder and harder, we've decided to shine the spotlight on the amazing and interesting indie developers out there.
So welcome to the Indie Spotlight, where each week a developer tells us about their life and work, and the challenges facing indie developers in the modern mobile market.
This week, we spoke with Toronto-based indie developer Francis Entereso about life as a one-man studio and launching a game in the middle of a global pandemic.
PocketGamer.biz: How did you get started as an indie games developer?
Francis Entereso: It all started with me beginning my job as a graphic designer. I had zero knowledge of programming, but as my tasks became primarily focused on digital, the experience I was gaining from creating interactive ads and landing pages really got me into coding and animation.
The deeper I went into learning, the bigger the things I wanted to create. I finally decided to learn/make games on the side soon after realising I've been piling myself up with personal ideas that would otherwise not come to life in any design job.
In fact, it often feels like it's impossible for an indie to stand out.Francis Entereso
What is a typical day in your life as an indie?
Every day is different but I'd say that a normal month is made up of 30 per cent programming, 30 per cent making visuals, 20 per cent marketing, and 20 per cent experimenting on new project. All of this, while learning new things 100 per cent of the time.
What have been the biggest challenges you've faced so far as an indie?
Switching between different disciplines has definitely been the most difficult - especially when you're feeling motivated about one particular area, but you need to move on to another.
Some days, for example, I'd keep trying to make visual assets better when that time would have been spent putting things together in code. And of course, the opposite is true when it's time to work on graphics but my mind is running wild with code I want to try.
How do you define 'success'?
I think it's the actual experience for me. To be able to pour everything I have into something completely mine and learn as much as I could about the things, I love doing without the worry of being pressured or segued.
What is your opinion of the mobile games market for indies right now?
I see so many awesome titles out on mobile - way too many. In fact, it often feels like it's impossible for an indie to stand out. What always encouraged me though is that every day I would see a number of new downloads. Whether that number was big or small, it meant that the game somehow managed to find an audience who was willing to give it a try.
Then, every once in a while, it would find its way into the hands of a few who would care enough to share it to a large audience. Thanks to how huge games are now shared on social media, you can bet someone will always find what you put out there.
Could you tell us about OneMan and why the game felt right for mobile?
OneMan is a "test of reflexes" type of game with a learning curve so low that it's easy for players to start getting in the zone and quickly find themselves locked in an action-packed battle against hordes of bad guys. It's a straightforward "fun-on-the-run" solution for all players who just don't have the time to invest in games with complex mechanics.
The game did not really pick up that much steam until well after the lockdown happened all over the world.Francis Entereso
Each character offers a comedic but truthful take on the one-man-vs-many cliché in hilarious expectation-vs-reality situations. The game relates to its players with a simple message: Whenever you feel like you're alone against the world and could use a surge of "badassery" to run through your veins, you can count on OneMan to provide you that instant access to fun where you can tap your troubles away.
How are you coping under the current Covid-19 pandemic?
The game did not really pick up that much steam until well after the lockdown happened all over the world. So, I can't really say for sure if it would be doing a lot better if people weren't limited to go out to travel and commute.
I'll probably set my other unreleased projects aside for now but will keep working on OneMan for as long as I see some traction happening.
What are your current plans for the future?
I'll definitely be releasing more casual titles in the near future. Still, it pains me to say that I can't work on my games full-time just yet, and that's always been a huge factor affecting how soon I can get things done.
There's also a lot of things I have to learn in order to pull off some of the ideas I have. I hope to one day move on to creating games for console.
If you had an unlimited budget, what game would you most like to make?
If I ever get that opportunity, I'd very much like to put forth some ideas I have for a 3D adventure type game with an immersive storyline. Perhaps that'll be the game I make when I transition to console.
What advice would you give other developers on 'making it' as an indie?
As previously mentioned, if you see on-going traction happening and you consistently get good ratings even from a handful of people, that's an indication that you should keep working to improve and keep sharing your game. Why? Because this means it will eventually find its way to bigger audiences and you'll want it to be in its best shape when it does.