React Games has been incredibly busy since its inception in November 2008.
It started off by remaking EA’s classic strategy game Archon for iPhone and PC. And that’s just one of 26 titles the firm has released.
It’s made LEGO Star Wars on Facebook, as well as How to Train Your Dragon tie-in title, Dragons Adventure for a variety of mobile platforms.
Its most recent title, Super Dungeon Bros, started out life as a project in a 10-day Ouya development competition. It’s a chaotic rock music-themed multiplayer game – and the studio’s president Brad Moss says that the firm’s independence has been intrinsic to the title’s development.
Being indie involves having a lot of freedom, certainly in terms of art and vision of what you want to do,” Moss explains.
No-one is telling you what to do or what demographic you need to hit. It’s all about the spontaneity and what comes out of the spontaneous ‘oh, let’s do this’ moments: the ‘let’s put wings on this fish’ or ‘let’s put dinosaur legs on this alligator’ discussions.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Indie or independent have become broad terms, encompassing everything from coders working in their bedrooms, to the likes of No Man Sky studio Hello Games. Even Moss isn’t sure what the term means these days.
I don’t know if everyone understands what indie means – I’m not sure I know what the full definition is,” he says.
People throw it around. It’s something of a buzzword, there’s a sense of ‘against the man’ development, right? That’s what the idea of indie is.
As an indie in the games scene, we’ve independently funded good chunks of all that we’re doing. But we’ve had partnerships. In general indie is about a small group of people with small ideas that build up somewhere and then it gets bigger, instead of being created in a machine. I’m not even sure if that definition makes sense.”
Super Dungeon Bros’ headline feature is its multiplayer focus. Any combination of online and offline gamers can play together. Local multiplayer appears to be making a bit of a comeback via indie titles like Robo Pixel’s Gunnhiliation and Xyrtica by Geraldo Nascimento.
I don’t know if it was player driven or developer-driven, as it’s easier to put this whole thing on one screen,” Moss says of why multiplayer went so heavily online.
We had a lot of conversations about whether we put all players on one screen or do we let
them all roam throughout the world. For a lot of different reasons we found it was better to have everyone stay on one screen, it makes it easier for the couch play, easier for the online play and easier for Bro-awareness, which is what the game is all about, understanding where the other characters are and the co-operation.”
Despite funding the game itself and valuing its independence, React Games has turned to Watford-based publisher and production house Wired Productions to help release Super Dungeon Bros.
Wired has been a tremendous partner,” Moss says. We couldn’t be happier. Wired stood out as someone who really respected all of our opinions and our creative control on the game, but also being 100 per cent behind what the team is doing.
And Wired is an expert in terms of what it’s doing in publishing the game and the marketing side of things. So we take a lot of feedback about what will work in various markets, things we didn’t even think about because we are deep in the code.
There’s a few smaller things you can do to help round out some of the edges that we wouldn’t have seen because we have blind spots, we’re not dumb. We know that we have limitations and the more skilled people we get in a room talking about working on something, the better the end product is going to be.”
Interface takes place on November 12th at St Mary’s Church. Indie devs can bring their projects along to pitch to the likes of Execution Labs, Channel 4’s All 4 Games and 505 Games.
You can book tickets to the event here, and find out more viawww.interface.events.