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You don’t need to have seen Indie Game: The Movie to know that independent videogame development is a difficult road to travel. Only a small portion of titles will ever find success and to create one requires a special blend of technical programming knowledge and artistry. Only the truly dedicated that will ever make a game of their own volition.
Such prospects didn’t stop a Huddersfield based trio of undergraduates from forming the independent development studio, HyperSloth, and the ups and downs of their own development – getting accepted through Valve’s community-voting service, Greenlight, but underfunded on Kickstarter – haven’t deterred them from progressing their aptly named first-person adventure, Dream.
I caught up with Samuel Read, Co-Founder of the studio and Lead Designer on Dream, to learn more about the trials and tribulations of going it alone.
You’ve taken the past year out of University to focus on developingDream. How has that been?
It’s been really, really good. We’ve learnt so much working for ourselves and doing this as a full-time job for the first time, so that’s all been great. But it has obviously had its ups and downs throughout the year, like I’m sure most game development does. At the start of the year when we saw you at Eurogamer(Eurogamer.net’s London based videogame expo) we were on a massive high because we had been working on the game for three or four months, and everything was new, so that felt great. And then we went to Eurogamer and we got a Greenlight on Steam, so we knew that people liked the game and we knew that we could make the game. But then when it comes to funding, that’s still sort of a battle we’re going with today. It’s hard to get people to give you money.
How has the exposure you’ve had through Eurogamer and getting accepted through Greenlight on Steam helped?
It’s sort of helped open those doors to talk to publishers and different funding agencies. The only thing is getting to the next step of saying that we can make this game, just believe in us. So I think, to be honest, most of their issues come from two things. For one we are doing, for a publisher, what would be considered a “risky” game in a relatively unexplored genre, which gives us quite a niche market. So there’s that side of it, and then there’s the fact that we’re still students. We don’t actually tell anyone that anymore, because to be honest we would rather not go back to university, we would rather not be students and we’d rather work like we have been for the last year. I think it’s just… if it was one or the other, then someone would get behind us, but because of the combination of these things, the risk adds up.