Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Introductions

Hello and welcome to the Dragonloft blog!

In the posts that follow we’ll be presenting an inside look at indie game development (or at least, our version of it), specifically whatever sorts of interesting problems we’ve encountered that week and (hopefully) how we solved them.

Kurt and I have wanted to work on games since we were first programming together as freshman in high school. Over the next eight years, we honed our skills through various programming competitions and game projects, became roommates, and eventually both graduated with CS degrees from Stanford.

We’d talked about doing a game startup a lot in college, but after graduation, prudence overcame ambition and we decided to get some experience (and savings) first.

I went to Volition Inc. where I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work as a physics programmer, giving me a chance to channel all the beloved mathematical arcana I had acquired to make cars do sweet drifts around corners or crumple under the weight of a tank. On top of that, I found my co-workers both excellent teachers and great people to be around.

Kurt went to Microsoft and worked as what I imagined to be a cross between a programming SWAT team and Winston Wolfe from Pulp Fiction. When a project at MS got derailed, he was the cavalry sent in to fix it. He later decided he’d rather work on a smaller team, and became gameplay lead for the iPad MOBA game, Solstice Arena.

I don’t know that there was an explicit moment when we leveled up and decided we were ready to go indie, but after ~4 years in the industry, we had learned a good deal. We also figured we’d have wives and children to look after in not so long, so we better take our crazy risks before then.

But why take the indie plunge in the first place? As my co-worker at Volition said, “A lot of people want the job you have, and if you’re leaving, it had better not be to make a Geometry Wars clone.”

And that’s not we why we left. We left because for all the intelligent and creative people that populate the AAA world, every idea is by necessity run through the wringer of “but will this appeal to the millions of people that need to buy our game for us to stay employed?” We’ve seen a lot of strange and wonderful ideas rejected for being too risky or too niche. And maybe most of them wouldn’t work, but we think it’s worth quixotically chasing a few, at least for a little while.

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