Ladies and gentlemen, new indie studio, Mainly About Games, based in Edinburgh, is the latest company to join the Scottishgames family.
Created by former Rockstar North senior and lead designer Anthony ‘Tony’ Gowland, MAG is focused on smaller titles, with ‘solid gameplay, hooks and big budget polish’ according to Tony’s very professional press release, which went out a few days ago (hope you’re paying attention at the back, there) and was picked up by Develop and led to coverage and interviews in the games press.
“With the varied distribution opportunities now available to developers, it felt like the perfect time to move away from AAA development. It’s totally viable for a small team, or even a single dedicated guy, to create and market a successful game independently”, said Tony, when we asked why he left the mighty Rockstar – many people’s idea of their dream job – to set up on his own.
Mainly About Games is also offering freelance game design consultancy services…
“Each year there are a lot of games that are very good, when they could have been great,” says Tony.
“Playing through them you often get the impression that it’s the little details that are missing or have been overlooked.
“I think there’s a real benefit to having an outsider with a proven track record play through your game with a fresh pair of eyes,” concludes Tony.
We sent Tony a bunch of questions, because that’s the sort of incisive, hard-hitting journalism we know our readers expect from us.
Here’s what he had to say…
Scottishgames: So, Tony, what’s Mainly About Games going to focus on, any specific platforms or types of game?
Tony: There aren’t any particular genres or platforms we’re aiming for right now – it’s very much a case of “making whatever we think will be fun, in the ways available to us”. Mostly we will be aiming to make games that have fairly short gameplay loops, but that offer a lot of replayability – games like Canabalt and Geometry Wars have been a big influence, for example.
Scottishgames: Who do you admire in the indie games sector at the moment? Who’s getting it right?
Tony: I think there are quite a few indie developers out there who are doing a great job. I basically admire anyone who’s making the games they want to, finding a way of bringing those to market, and making at least part of a living out of it!
Scottishgames: So, what can we expect from Mainly About Games first project?
Tony: We have a couple of things on the boil right now, and they all have fairly short time-scales on them so hopefully very soon. The most likely is a Flash game which is done, and currently up for licensing on FlashGameLicense so hopefully that should see release in the next few weeks.
Scottishgames: What do you see as the biggest issue indie developers face right now?
Tony: I think the biggest thing is still exposure (and not in the “will get you in court” way). There are gradually more and more sites taking notice of indie games and championing them, but for the most part it’s still an up-hill slog until a game hits that magic tipping point where it appears on Kotaku or something.
That’s one of the things I love about guys like Marcus Persson (notch, creator of MineCraft). He’s hit that tipping point, he’s made a success, and now he’s using the status he has of having a respected opinion on quality indie games, and he’s promoting other people’s good games that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Of course, it doesn’t help that a lot of indie devs don’t understand marketing – I was reading a postmortem earlier this week by a dev I won’t name who said they couldn’t get anyone interested in their game because they had no budget. That’s just insane. How can you afford to spend your time on this thing and then not spend time on trying to get the word out there? [Hallelujah – the Editor]
Mind you, maybe that’s for the best. If everyone was good at it (and I’m in no way saying I am!) then it’d reset the playing field and be harder for everyone again.
Scottishgames: What’s your ambition for Mainly About Games?
Tony: The dream is basically to make a living! I know, reach for the stars and all that. Would it be better if I said the dream was to own a fleet of supercars? But really, how can you hope for anything beyond being able to support yourself while doing something you love, and creating something you thing is special? Anything beyond that will just be icing on the cake.
Or icing on the racing green Aston Martin Vanquish.
We’d like to thank Tony for his time, congratulate him on the launch of Mainly About Games and wish him every success in the future. We know you do too.