Zombie Cow on balancing creativity and commercial viability of indie games

Time Gentelmen Please Train2Game blog image

Many Train2Game students have pooled their resources and set up their own game development studios. These keen Train2Game students – who are already developing their own games – may find what one UK independent developer has told GamesIndustry.biz very interesting indeed.

Dan Marshall of Zombie Cow spoke about how indie developers need to find a good balance between making a game not only creative, but commercially viable enough for the game developers to make an income from it.

“You’ve got to walk a tightrope between what you want to do and what you have to,” Marshall said in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz . “You’ve got to make stuff that people want, and you’ve got to make stuff that you want to make.”

Speaking about Zombie Cows recently cancelled sequel to indie hit Time Gentlemen, Please! He said

“It’d be lovely to make another adventure game, but that’s probably not going to bring in enough cash to keep me doing what I’m doing.”

“If you look at the big games from the last couple of years or so, it’s been Super Meat Boy and Limbo and Braid and that sort of stuff. Should I be making things along those lines, because there’s obviously a market for those? Then suddenly you start to sound very boring, but it’s the reality of it.”

It sounds like a question many Train2Game student developers may have to ask themselves. There are plenty of great ideas out there, but when it comes down to it an independent game needs to be successful enough to bring the game development team an income.

Marshall also explains how not enjoying producing the game was on of the reasons development on the title was stopped:

“I wasn’t enjoying making Revenge of The Balloon-Headed Mexican and that’s one of the main reasons that it ground to a halt. If I wasn’t inspired by it, how could I expect anyone else to be? It would have been a really good game, I just don’t think it would have as good as Time Gentlemen, Please! and that’s the core of why it was cancelled.

“You’ve got to make stuff that you want to make because you’re the one sitting there typing for 12 hours a day making it, but you’ve got to make something that other people want as well in some capacity.”

That last point is some good advice for Train2Game students. They need to ask themselves if they don’t enjoy their game, is it possible for the consumer to do so?

Of course that isn’t to say a creative and innovative independent game can’t be successful! Just look at Train2Game favourite Minecraft ,which recently passed over 1 million sales. You can read much more about Minecraft and the reasons behind its success on the Thoughts of Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts about needing to find a balance between being commericial and being creative? Do you think its something you’ll need to apply to your games? Or in future are you willing to take a risk developing a game that’s very creative, but isn’t guaranteed to sell very well?

As usual you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: GamesIndustry.biz – log in required]

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