My latest Indie Corner Spotlight Interview features Spanish Indie Dev Team, Eclipse Games. The team have released many titles for various platforms and their most recent game, Legendary 11, has just released on Xbox One. Read on to find out about how they go about making games and their tips for someone wanting to get into the games industry.
How long have you been a developer?
14 years. I started working in the AAA industry in Spain in October 2004.
How many years has your team been developing games?
Over seven years. Although ‘the team’ was initially only me. We started in, and we started work on Super Toy Cars as a proper team in 2013.
Who, or what, inspired you to become a games developer?
I’ve always wanted to do games. I’ve always been fascinated by them and tried to replicate them myself. When I was 9, I was given a computer as a Christmas present. I learnt to program it at ten mostly reading books of BASIC programming and through trial and error (we were talking 1990-1991 when the Internet didn’t exist for all practical purposes in the world and particularly not in Spain).
I loved playing games in the arcades and wanted to program them in my PC. Almost 30 years later I’m still fascinated by what you can do with games and love the medium and I’m still really interested in how games work on the inside.
What was the inspiration for your team’s name?
I’m not an artist so I tried to find a name of something I could do with my basic Gimp (Photoshop open source alternative) skills. An eclipse sounded like something cool that I could replicate and went for it. Not very exciting… but quite practical.
Describe a usual day in the life of an indie development team.
I work from home which means that I wake up and go to my office and start to work. Usually, you check your e-mail first then open Unity and start working. At 12:30 we do the scrum meeting, so all the team tell each other what they did last day and what they are planning to do.
Every 2-3 weeks (a so-called ‘sprint’) we do a more extended meeting where we evaluate the goals of the sprint and define the goals for the next one. Aside from that it mostly works and relatively frequent meetings to talk about different topics: design, art, features that need to be implemented, technical limitations, artistic targets, etc.
Can you describe the process/timeline of developing a game?
We usually start the concept part of a game while finishing the previous one. Then we go on to pre-production (3-6 months) while I’m generally still doing some porting for the previous game. Then we progress on to production (6-9 months) and once we have a beta available we go on to the QA part (the last 2-3 months) and the porting to different consoles.
How do you juggle all of the aspects of games development?
We define some high-level goals and criteria. Our USP (Unique Selling Point). What defines our game. With those goals in mind, when faced with a new feature (or looking for features), you ask yourself: is this contributing to that idea that defines your game? Is this feature part of those USP, if not, how can we adjust it so that it ‘fits’ in our game?
We also use another very practical criteria when evaluating features: is it cost-effective? First, we ask ourselves if we can afford it. If we can, then we ask ourselves: is it worth doing? It has to make both financial and artistic sense. We may love to add some story to a game, but if doing so has a cost that’s higher than the rest of the game, even if it were something we could afford, we would most likely say no because it’s most likely not what the game needs (unless it’s some adventure game that is).
What is your ambition as an indie developer?
To be self-sufficient. To get to a point where I don’t have to be worried about how am I going to get the money to pay the bills next year. I’d love to make a hit and a lot of money, but I’d rather have a very sustainable business.
Maybe at that point, we would be able to tackle some riskier projects we’re currently not tackling because they are riskier than we can afford at the moment. Anyway, at least in my case, I’m working in the games that I want. I may want to work on other too that I’m not able to work on now, but the ones I’m working on, are those that I want to. And I love my job.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the games industry?
Uhm… that’s a tough one. Right now the games industry is bigger than ever. It’s easier than ever to make a game with the tools provided (Unity, GameMaker or Unreal make it a lot easier than it used to be). But it has only raised the bar higher. Before, if you did something games related you could show that at a job interview and it was all you needed. Right now, you need something outstanding to make an impact.
It’s the same with indie games. Take a look at the first IGF winners, and you’ll see interesting ideas but not particularly innovative (bar some exceptions) when considered with the current standards. If you look at this year’s IGF nominees, it’s incredible the level of quality and innovation that’s there. It’s quite humbling, to be honest.
Basically, before the technical or artistic requirements to enter the industry were so high that most people checked at the door and decided not to go any further. Nowadays the bar is so low that anyone can do a crappy game in a couple of hours with the right tutorial. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get into the industry. You now have a lot more people to compete with.
But there’s something that hasn’t changed. You still need to work hard to get into the industry. If you think it’s going to be a walk in the park you’re in the wrong place. It’s very competitive, and it requires having greatly honed skills. It’s also a gratifying job too, and I guess that’s why so many people want to do it.
Where do you see gaming heading in the next decade?
I have no idea. Honestly. I hope indie games are still there in 10 years which, by the way, is not something I’m sure of. The games industry is a very rapidly changing industry. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen 1-2 years from now, not to mention 10. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer for you.
I want to say a massive thank you to Eduardo at Eclipse Games for giving his valuable time to take part in the Indie Corner Spotlight interview. If you would like your team to be featured, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You can support the developer by purchasing Legendary Eleven on the Microsoft Store at the following link, https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/legendary-eleven/c3btm5sjxlvl?activetab=pivot:overviewtab