Indie Haven July Developer Roundtable – What Did Developers Think of E3 2013? Laura Kate July 3, 2013 Features We at Indie Haven like to get you as close as possible to the games you love and the people making them. That’s why every month we aim to bring together a wide selection of of Indie Developers from all walks of life, from BAFTA winners to teenage and student devs, to discuss the hottest issues affecting games, development, coverage and the Indie community. These chats will be broken up into chunks and released across the month, before we start all over again with new developers and new questions. This month we welcome a brand new group of developers to the Roundtable. We’ve got Tom Vian (Developer at SFB, creators of Haunt the House: Terrortown), Alan Zucconi (Creator of time travel puzzle game Still Time), Ashley Ross (lead developer at OmNomCom and creator of the upcoming game Girl With a Laser Cannon), Jennifer Schneidereit (co-founder of Nyamyam, creators of Tengami) and Andrew Roper (Recent University graduate working on the game Lazarus). Owen Harris (Studio Head at bitSmith games) also joins us toward the end of the Roundtable. If you’re an Indie Dev of any size that would like to take part in a future roundtable, please email Laurak@IndieHaven.com and let us know a little about yourself. The more the merrier. “Quick starter, could you all introduce yourself for any readers who don’t know you?” Ashley Ross: I’m Rossy, I’m working on a game called Dot.Stop.Run, an extension of my Ludum Dare game “Dot.” Tom Vian: I’m Tom Vian, from SFB Games, which is just me and my brother Adam. We made Haunt the House: Terrortown for the Vita! Alan Zucconi: I’m Alan Zucconi, creator of “Still Time” and “RAPTUS”. Beside being an indie game developer, I am also conducting research in Computing and Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Andrew Roper: I’m Andrew, Developer of Lazarus and Hugatron alongside Spilt Milk Studios. Recent university graduate and cake eater. Jennifer Schneidereit: Hi! I’m Jennifer and I am one of the co-founders of Nyamyam. Currently we are working on Tengami, an atmospheric adventure game. “Okay first question. As Indie Devs, what were each of your opinions on this years E3?” Ashley Ross: It looks like Sony is really helping the whole Indie scene. I’m happy about that. Microsoft have been suspiciously quiet about their support for Indies Alan Zucconi: I have to confess that I wasn’t really impressed by what was presented at E3. The majority of AAA games reach unprecedented achievements in graphics. But gameplay-wise, I saw very few innovations. Battlefield 40, Call of Duty 120. Just to name a few… Jennifer Schneidereit: I was relieved to see a couple completely new game franchises. In previous years it was just sequel after sequel. The Sony press briefing was the highlight for me. It was great to see so many Indie devs on stage. Tom Vian: I really enjoyed both Sony’s and Nintendo’s presentations, mostly because of some great games and of course a nice focus on indie alongside bigger titles Andrew Roper: It was interesting, but it felt more of a battle between Sony and Microsoft, rather than listening to the consumers (I was chatting about this with someone on Thursday, can’t remember who). Sony waiting for Microsoft’s move and pouncing etc, it was just the same IPs over and over. Sure, there were some new IPs on show which was nice to see, but the main focus seemed to be on the current cash-cows (fifa, battlefield etc) Saying that though, the support that Sony are pulling out the bag for developers is flipping fantastic and like Ashley said, Microsoft are being very quiet about their plans for devs, but it sounds like they’re sticking to the ‘you need a publisher to get anywhere near us’ route, even for Indies. Alan Zucconi: …I wish there were many more new titles, rather than all those sequels. Unfortunately there are too many big game companies that still prefer to “play safe” and release the same game again and again, just with a better graphics. Andrew Roper: Yeah, totally agree with you there Alan. I mean, I was excited for Ryse, until I saw it was just one giant Quick time event game. Also that steampunk game looks refreshing… 1881 I think it was? Jennifer Schneidereit: I think it is called The Order. One of the most interesting titles for me. Alan Zucconi: Everyone is mentioning Sony and yes, my experience with Sony so far has been incredibly positive. And lot of other indie developers confirmed this. Ashley Ross: Wasn’t that just a pre-rendered cut-scene though? Or has gameplay been released of The Order? Tom Vian: Our experience with Sony has been the same, just brilliantly helpful and friendly. Laura Kate: That seemed to be a running theme at EToo, so many developers were talking about Sony ports of their games in the works. Alan Zucconi: Talking about cut-scenes… for me games are about playing. If I can’t play, it is not a game. No matter how good the graphics are. I am not easily impressed by polygons. 🙂 Tom Vian: Our game was even there at E3, somewhere buried in the Playstation Mobile section of the Sony booth! Which was very cool of them to do. Jennifer Schneidereit: Same here, I met the Sony US guys a couple of times. They are very welcoming and easy to talk to. Sony seems to be genuinely interested in helping Indie devs getting exposure. Andrew Roper: Word on the street is that Sony are fantastic to work with, even Tom’s mentioned it as well. I have experience with Microsoft and they’re rather distant. Laura Kate: But it does seem like every Indie dev around is being scooped up at the moment. I’ve spoken to Mike Bithell about this a fair bit, they’re apparently wonderfully supportive as a company. Alan Zucconi: I think for Sony it’s a win-win scenario. Indie game developers can get their games published on Playstation and Sony itself can get fresh and innovative games done with very small budgets. Alan Zucconi’s Still Time Ashley Ross: I’m not sure how much I can say, but Microsoft basically has no Indie department. When working for a company, I basically couldn’t get hold of anyone to ask questions about Windows 8. Tom Vian: Plus, Indie devs tend to be quite vocal about companies that support them! Whether that’s just inside the Indie echo-chamber or not, I’ve no idea of course 🙂 Laura Kate: Agreed, definitely noticed the evangelising at their conference livestream. The laughter when Microsoft announced that “there’s no bigger supporter of Indie Developers than Microsoft” said a lot. Alan Zucconi: As Ian Livingston said, Indies are the gears of the Second Golder Age of video games. I think they’re the very few who do not fear to experiment with new gameplay and ideas. This, eventually, will produce the next big thing. So yes, I think that this is what Sony is looking for ultimately. And the way they implemented their relationships with Indie developer has been incredibly good. Andrew Roper: Indeed. I have a feeling that Sony may have realised that there is a metric f-ton of new innovation and IPs coming from Indies who care about the games they are making and they want to bring something fresh to the console & vita. Like mentioned earlier, it’s a Win-Win scenario for both parties. Tom Vian: The point is, if you’re a new developer but have the next huge Indie success tucked away, right now you’re going to go talk to Sony over Microsoft just because of what other developers are saying. Laura Kate: Exactly, where as Microsoft are banking on the current big thing remaining the big thing, Minecraft. Tom Vian: In a box this time! Alan Zucconi: The majority of indie games supported by Sony will fail miserably, but few of the will make so much money to cover the expenses of all the others. I think it is a very calculated risk for them and I am sure that this will pay off in the long term. And with that we end another segment of Indie Dev Roundtable here at Indie Haven. Next time we Discuss this years London based alternative to E3, EToo. What do you think? Did E3 this year cater to fans of Indie games? Did either companies stance win you over to their console? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Indie_Haven.