Develop 2012: Life isn't all 'glorious Vegas gambling' after your first game, warns Supermono's Tak Fung

#developconf It's when the hard work begins

Develop 2012: Life isn't all 'glorious Vegas gambling' after your first game, warns Supermono's Tak Fung
Indies spend so much time focusing on releasing their first game, that what comes next is often left up in the air.

That was the focus of the first panel session of the third day of Develop Brighton, with developers taking part warning that even a successful release or two won't radically change an indie's lifestyle.

Indeed, it's often when the hard work really begins.

To sequel, or not to sequel

"I decided not to do a sequel to MiniSquadron in the end because I was bored of it," opened Supermono's Tak Fung.

"When a game is successful, you think adding more content will start building up more of a following and turning it into more of a service. It took so long to do, however, that it didn't really reward all that work."

Fung said, personally speaking, updating an existing game is "a bit of a chore", but acknowledged that "some things you just have to do."

Even if the money starts rolling in as a result, however, he warned that life doesn't actually change for an indie all too much.

No big gamble

"Don't expect life after your first game to be all glorious Vegas gambling," he added.

"There's actually a lot of work involved after a game comes out, if not more than before."

Knowing what to focus that hard work on, however, is a quandary.

Ben Murch - co-founder and creative director at Rodeo Games – said his studio decided to do a sequel to iOS release Hunters, but noted that following up a success "isn't very indie."

"So many people are focused on just getting a game out, they don't think about what comes afterwards," opened Murch.

"A lot of studios try to target too many platforms in their first few years and end up fucking it all up," he continued, advising that developers remain focused on one or two formats in their formative years, even if their first few games are hits.

Eye on iOS

For Sam Shepard of Escapist Games, however, changing formats was exactly what was required.

"We had a runaway success and we had to follow it – we had no option," said Shepard, whose outfit started out working on Xbox Live Indie Games before flipping to iOS.

"We had no money, and it became obvious to go iOS – we used all the money we had made on XBLIG to buy a Mac and an iPhone."

Though Escapist still makes games, the developer currently makes most of its money from iOS educational release Star Chart.

"iPhone is the platform that provides the income for the studio," he concluded.

"At the moment, the money is in the App Store. It doesn't mean it will always be, but that's where it is right now."

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.