Interview

The Big Indie interviews: We discuss creating a modern retro puzzler and all things indie with Octagon Game Studio

Big Indie Pitch runner-up Octagon Game Studio discuss what it takes to survive and thrive

The Big Indie interviews: We discuss creating a modern retro puzzler and all things indie with Octagon Game Studio

The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of PocketGamer.biz. It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-style 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.

The Big Indie Pitch goes digital

Today, we're speaking to Dmytro Kyrychenko, Olexiy Dyachenko and Andrew Proniuk who together founded Octagon Game Studio. The studio behind OctoMaze which recently pitched at The Digital Big Indie Pitch #5 (Mobile Edition) and walked away as the runner up.

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

Dmytro Kyrychenko: We are a small team of 3 professionals with about half a century of combined experience in game development. All team members are cofounders. Our inspiration has been to create games that our audience can enjoy.

Tell us about OctoMaze that you pitched at the competition

Olexiy Dyachenko: The game takes place over a variety of pseudo-real locations, which have some fantasy elements. In this world, priceless artefacts were stolen long ago from the Octopus tribe by their eternal enemies, the parasites. These parasites infested their home, and have remained there ever since. In order to stop the parasites from spreading and save the tribe, they must be retrieved. The young octopus Aristotle has spent years in search of them and has become quite the adventurer. Seeking the last of the missing artefacts, he believes his adventures are drawing to a close. That is until he begins to discover keys along the way.

The player will help him navigate through various areas of forest, a junkyard, a city, an ocean, a laboratory, and his final destination space, from inside a starship. The main objective of the game is for the player to guide Aristotle’s tentacles through obstacles to successfully pass various levels while gaining as many points as possible, killing parasites on the way. During the process, a player can find objects both hostile and helpful that the protagonist can interact with.

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of OctoMaze that gamers may never have seen before

Andrew Proniuk: OctoMaze is a breath of fresh air in the puzzle genre. The gameplay makes use of a new game mechanic unique to OctoMaze - you solve puzzles using the octopus’ tentacles. With it, you can both destroy enemies and collect items as well as objects while avoiding the death of a tentacle. It's a lot of fun and has an interesting twist on the puzzle genre. It's not just an age-old puzzle game with a fancy skin slapped on, it's a unique and creative take on the puzzle genre as a whole (with a fancy skin slapped on).

OctoMaze is a retro-inspired puzzler. What made you choose this genre, and what do you think you bring to it that may not have been seen before?

Dmytro Kyrychenko: Playing OctoMaze you can find elements reminiscent of such famous classics as – Snake, Oil's Well, Anteater, BomberMan, Sokoban, Frogger, and Tapper. Some well-known games have their roots and influences in old games and their mechanics. For example, Crossy Road from Frogger,

Plants vs. Zombies from Tapper, but it was only one game mechanic. The uniqueness of OctoMaze is in the number of those different game mechanics it combines. Let me quote Sydney Butler: “The game’s aesthetic harkens back to the good old days of PC puzzle games.”

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop OctoMaze for?

Olexiy Dyachenko: Solving puzzles by using the octopus’ tentacle works well for different kinds of platforms, both mobile and desktop. We decided on Android for creating the first builds, as well as for open testing. After development is complete, we will port OctoMaze to iOS and PC (perhaps other platforms too). We use Unity engine so it is possible.

Looking at the studio a little more now. How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

Olexiy Dyachenko: I think that, in order for you to survive in game development, your games not only have to be very good but such that they will be remembered after switching them off as well. It might be unique gameplay, visual design or just great OST. Whatever it is, your game has to “stick” to players.

Are there any tips and advice you would give to an independent developer out there who are just starting out?

Study the greats, study the worst and understand the differences. Be genuine, honest, patient and persistent. Embrace failure, ego death and limitations. Look after your back. Be kind to yourself. Find your limits but work to sustain yourself over a long period of time. Pull from non-gaming spaces. Make personal games. Make a game for someone you love. Treat players with respect. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing from time to time. Show your work. Teach others. Smile and keep your teeth clean.

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

Dmytro Kyrychenko: Great event, very well organized due to charismatic host of the event - Sophia Aubrey Drake. I think that this event is very helpful for indies – many thanks Steel Media for organizing it.

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

Olexiy Dyachenko: I think, how to do a catchier presentation, due to the short time we have to present.

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

Andrew Proniuk: I hope that OctoMaze has the potential to be one of the great puzzlers. About future projects – firstly we dream about make OctoMaze F2P game, but we’ll need funds for this project.


Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye on our events page for an event near you.

Upcoming Big Indie Pitch Event Pages & Registration

April 20 - The Big Indie Pitch (PC+Console Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6
April 21 - The Big Indie Pitch (Mobile Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6

More coming soon so make sure to regularly check our upcoming events page here and over on BigIndiePitch.com.

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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