Some developers don't even need to be in the same building to make fun games

Start-Up Spotlight: Fabulapps

The internet’s ability to let us communicate across vast distances has changed working practices for ever.

And it’s enabled two French developers to combine their skills and start a new game company. Based in France, Fabulapps have created two games for iOS platforms using their long-distance communication practice.

Co-founder Gildas Quinou explained how he and his business partner got started.

How did you start your company?
Our development studio is fairly new, having been established in January 2010. It all began when the two co-founders decided to pool their complementary skills to create a game which, a few months later, became CrossRoads.

How many people work at your company?
The two co-founders are Thomas Pagot (artist) and myself (developer), both committed to the studio on a full-time basis. But we are able to call on friends or other freelancers to supplement the team (eg in areas such as music or to create particular levels in some games).

What’s your company culture like?
Working in such a small team has great benefits in terms of flexibility of creative process. The ideas come, we talk a little and, if we’re convinced that an idea is a good one, it’s a goer! Thomas works quickly to create preliminary graphical layouts, forming the basis for my code, but this process is not set in stone – it’s possible to rapidly change direction if new ideas crop up. This is one of the strengths of our compact structure, we don’t have the same problems with inertia as large development studios. Generally, we are ready to launch our product while others are still setting out frames. But we also like to take our time and do things properly.

Tell us a little-known fact or anecdote about your company.
We met on the internet and we work long days and (sometimes) nights without it being necessary to meet. And believe me, it’s an efficient working method!

What could you, and/or your team members, not do without on a daily basis?
Using instant chat (on average 30,000 messages for every game developed). And we make sure to have good coffee as the nights can be long when applying finishing touches.

Why did you decide to enter the casual gaming market?
People think that being a game developer is fun because you’re working with games. But it’s a question of designing an application as one would a utility. No, what’s really cool is that you can create entirely new and mind-blowing interfaces because you are addressing gamers, that’s what makes it fun. That’s why we love working in the gaming market, although implementing our ideas is a serious business – as it would be for an animation studio. We focus particularly on ‘casual gamers’ because we make games that appeal to us – we’re not fans of games that require hours of learning, and anyway this isn’t the iPhone target sector.

What games/tools/services have you made since forming, and how have they been received?
Our first game, CrossRoads, had great success for a first foray. Although we would have liked it to sell more, it allowed us to develop our now well-established working method. The iPad came out very shortly after our first release – we immediately adapted CrossRoads to the iPad. We now develop for both these platforms from get-go. To this list we can also add the Mac for which we adapted our second production, Kiko, which has just appeared on the App Store. Our current aim is to release a new game every six to eight weeks.

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
We have projects under way at the moment, with the next release coming before Christmas. This will be a game combining the arcade format with a more reflective approach. Without giving everything away, we also intend to capitalise on the success we have already achieved with Kiko, by releasing a Christmas Special version of our “little critter.”

What are your aspirations for the company?
We don’t wish to become a company whose size would require us to spend most of our time at meetings. What gives us the energy that we use to create our products is doing it for ourselves and we wish to continue down this path.

Who do you admire in the games industry and/or beyond?
Generally, we admire the small, independent studios that are passionate about what they do. We identify completely with their way of operating. Without being exhaustive, we could mention Halfbrick, Nimblebit or Imangi.

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