5 MOST PROFITABLE INDIE VIDEO GAMES
Foundat.io/n recently had the chance to chat with Stef Mannens, the Producer & Designer behind the infinite platformer known as Möbler! Before we jump into the interview, let’s take a moment and watch a short trailer for the game below.
First, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today about your game Möbler. It’s a super fun game to play and I’m sure you’ll find me on the leader-board within the next couple of months. I just need a bit more time to try to figure out how to make the bird (is it a bird?) fly a little better. Can you kick off the interview by telling us a bit more about the concept behind Möbler? Where did the idea of a sort of bird with falling furniture come from?
Thank you for having me! It’s is awesome to hear you are enjoying Möbler and I will keep an eye out for the high score you are promising.
The concept behind Möbler was quite a simple one, during pre-production we choose a 1980’s arcade game by the name of Tetris (you might have heard about it once or twice somewhere). After which we brainstormed about possible twists and options to make a unique game. This became a multiplayer game with 1 player controlling the blocks and 1 player jumping upwards. That is where Möbler was born, we spent a good percentage of the development testing out what was fun and what wasn’t, eventually resulting in the concept for the Möbler we know today.
The bird is actually a legacy of one of the artists (Manuel Sitompul), when we started our education he made this bird we now know as Birdo for one of his projects. Birdo has returned in almost all of his projects since and with Möbler we embraced this and made Birdo our main character. The furniture itself was a more practical choice, seeing how we needed Tetris shaped objects and how furniture allowed for that very well.
How long were you in the trenches developing Möbler? Tell us a little bit more about what your development process looked like.
We developed Möbler as a school project within 8 weeks. After this we made some improvements and started the release process on Steam, for which we took our time seeing how this was our first time releasing a game.
Developing Möbler in such a short amount of time as first year students was a challenge for everyone, but we kept our calm and spent a lot of time finding the fun in our game while keeping track of the scope. To keep our scope more doable we always aimed to create code in late stage prototypes that could partially be used in the final product, which reduced the amount of time we eventually had to spenc creating the final product.
Our development process existed out of pretty much one week of pre-planning followed by three weeks of prototyping and building the fundamentals, two weeks of building the game and two weeks of QA, bug fixing, user testing and balancing.
Very interesting. What game engine did you develop the game on, and what were your bigger developmental (or technical) challenges?
We developed Möbler in Unreal Engine 4, mainly using Unreal’s blueprinting language, C++ and JSON. The biggest challenge development wise was the creation of levels, because of the nature of the game and the way the furniture is set in place within the game world, the level design was a very time consuming process at the start. We had to create a level editor to reduce the time it took us to create and change a level. Besides this, we faced the challenge of determining how the furniture would drop and how we would try and keep the game from becoming repetitive and boring too quickly. For which we created an algorithm that decided on which level to pick next based on the players current progress.
On the technical side, one of our biggest challenges was the selection system I just spoke about. To bring this to life we had to communicate and work perfectly together. Additionally we faced challenges with the see-through furniture and the performance impact of having an infinite game with an always increasing amount of assets.
As indie game makers, what are the three biggest lessons you learned during the development of Möbler? How are you taking those lessons and planning to apply them to future games?
As a first year student I have learned a lot from developing Möbler.
One of the biggest lessons is simply what is required to create a game from nothing and then publishing it on Steam. Seeing the promotional assets needed, the time it takes to do so, the processes you go through before you can fully publish your game.
Additionally, a big lesson was that for Möbler we never realized how hard the creation of levels would be until we got to the point of creating them, had we known this beforehand we could have created a better tested and more suitable level design tool (which in hindsight would have been cool to release to our players as well!).
As a third big lesson for me was how to manage a multidisciplinary team and function within it, seeing how every discipline has it’s own standpoints, reasons and view creating a game can become quite difficult. Since I never experienced this before trying to keep everyone motivated and give everyone a sense of ownership over the product was challenging.
Identifying my mistakes, shortcomings and successes, I am taking all of these lessons with me to build on during future projects improving my own skill and the quality of the product trying not to make repetitive mistakes.
How did you learn how to make games? Are you self-taught or did you attend a game development school?
Möbler was made as a first year student project. We all study one of 3 disciplines (Visual Art, Design & Production or Programming) at the International Game Architecture and Design at Breda University (Former NHTV) in the Netherlands.
How are you going about marketing Möbler? To date, which marketing and distribution platforms have been most valuable to you?
We have not put in a lot of marketing for Möbler. We have explored Indie game forums & platforms such as Indie DB, we used steam curator function to draw a starting attention to Möbler, we posted our trailer on the YouTube channel “YouTubers Music” and we have used Keymailer.
Keymailer has generated the most exposure for us, seeing influencers tweet about Möbler as well as creating YouTube videos together with the trailer we uploaded.
What do you have in store for us next? What’s on deck?
We are currently working on steam leaderboards and soundtracks for Möbler. We are also considering making a bunch more levels seeing how positive the reaction to Möbler has been!
Thanks for chatting with us today about your experiences making indie games. To our readers, if you want to play Mobler, you can do so by heading over to Steam here.