When video games are developed solo

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When video games are developed solo

Among these names that have become famous, we find Lucas Pope, Toby Fox or Eric Barone.

Several video games are developed solo.

The development of the most technologically advanced video games now takes place in studios made up of hundreds of people, but some people also try the adventure solo, in the hope of surprise success. The Canadian Dan Beckerton is notably one of these people.

Several works, with modest budgets, have thus been noticed by critics and the public in recent years, being carried by a unique person.

Some of these famous names include Lucas Pope, author of Papers, Please (2013), Toby Fox and his Undertale (2015) or Eric Barone, designer of Stardew Valley (2016).

The Stardew Valley video game.

These examples have fueled my motivation to work on my own game, acknowledges Canadian Dan Beckerton, 33, who is fine-tuning the final details of Spirittea due out in early 2023.

The player embodies a character responsible for managing public baths, where spirits come to rest, in a colorful and soothing universe inspired by the animated film Spirited Away.

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Spirittea, which got a budget of US$20,000 (CA$27,000) through a crowdfunding campaign, is the result of almost three years of solo work, which allows complete creative freedom, but requires x27;be multitasking.

I create the graphics, the game mechanics, I write the story and the dialogues, I compose some of the music and the sound effects , details Dan Beckerton.

After two years spent in the Parisian studio of the video game giant Ubisoft, Géraud Zucchini started his own business in 2018.

The decision to quit wasn't easy, he recalls, but my desire to develop solo games was stronger.

On his YouTube channel, which has more than 86,000 subscribers, Doc Géraud (Géraud Zucchini) documents the progress of his third project, Larcin Lazer. A way to keep in touch with your community and escape a particularly solitary activity.

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When I first got started, the first thing I kinda missed was the social side. I no longer saw anyone, confesses Géraud Zucchini, who needed almost a year to adapt to his new life.

However, it is difficult to explain why some of these games can be successful, at a time when large productions combine ultra-realistic graphics and gargantuan content.

These are games very personal and it shows, analyzes Mike Rose, founder of No More Robots, a British publisher specializing in this kind of productions, and which publishes Spirittea.

For Alizée Veauvy Guilliams Janin, one of the organizers of the Parisian Indie Game Nation festival, one of the explanations also lies in the originality of these creations.

We can afford more risks because these are sometimes very short projects in time and, above all, which do not necessarily represent a financial risk, she argues.

In an environment where competition is particularly fierce, approximately 90% of the games released on the Steam computer gaming platform are not or only marginally profitable, standing out is essential, whether through word of mouth or video of an influencer.

If successful, the numbers can however make you dizzy: six months after its release, Stardew Valley s& #x27;sold nearly 1.5 million copies.

These are relatively rare cases, delays Alizée Veauvy Guilliams Janin. A profitable independent game for its creator is already very good.

In 2021, Géraud Zucchini's first two games earned him around 12,000 euros (CA$15,800), nearly half of his annual revenue.

No enough to make a decent living from it, but, like the author of Spirittea, he hopes one day to experience the same success as one of his illustrious predecessors. His latest creation, Larceny Lazer, should be released at the end of October.

  • Braid (2008)

Developed by American Jonathan Blow, Braidwas released on the Xbox 360 console in 2008, then in 2009 on PC.

Its creator was nevertheless supported by a designer in the final stages of the production of this game of inventive platformer, filled with puzzles and riddles, that took three years to complete.

As a millionaire, Jonathan Blow invests his winnings in a new, more ambitious project, The Witness, one of the most notable games of 2016.

  • Minecraft (2011)

Becoming a social phenomenon, this world-building game has exceeded 200 million copies sold.

Originally, the prototype made available to players in 2009 was the work of one man: the Swede Markus Persson, alias Notch .

With the growing popularity of his game, he quickly founded Mojang Studios and developed his project with a few acolytes for release in 2011.

The success was such that Markus Persson sold Mojang in 2014 to the American giant Microsoft, for 2.5 billion US dollars (3.4 billion Canadian dollars).

  • Papers, Please (2013)

Released on PC in 2013, Papers, Pleaseputs the player in the shoes of a person working at customs, who must decide whether or not to let migrants through, leading to moral choices with sometimes dramatic consequences.

Its author, Lucas Pope, left Naughty Dog, one of the biggest American studios, to embark on his own in this difficult project to describe, especially as something fun, he tells the BBC in 2014.

The same year, Papers, Pleaseis named in the category best game of the British ceremony of the Baftas, in the same way as the last success of Naughty Dog, The Last of Us.

  • Stardew Valley (2016)

Great fan of the series Harvest Moon< /em>, a simulation of life on the farm, Eric Barone decides to decline this concept in his own way. After more than 4 years of difficult and lonely development, Stardew Valley is released on PC in early 2016.

Six months later, it is x27; had sold nearly 1.5 million copies, generating nearly US$21 million (C$28 million) in revenue, according to American trade journalist Jason Schreier. In March 2022, the game surpassed 20 million sales.

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