The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Figaro Wig

Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Venezuelan studio Physicz Games explains how Figaro Wig, a game about opera and a pink wig, ended up on iOS devices everywhere.


What's your game called and what's it about?

Figaro Wig is a physics-based puzzle-platform game about Wig, a sentient fashion item created to overcome baldness by barber-turned-mad-inventor Figaro. Of course, things don't go as planned for Figaro, as Wig escapes to live a bald-sweat-free life.

Physicz is a Venezuelan development studio -- how does a Venezuelan perspective help shape the games you make?

Venezuela has a very unique idiosyncrasy. Its socialist stand on politics and economy are definitely not the best climate for a game-development studio. Video games are a luxury item, and therefore they get no attention and much less support from the state or financial institutions. This means we have no access to international currency, our tools are very expensive and hard to come by, and there is no local video game industry to speak of (or to speak to).

This, of course, is an oversimplification of our situation, but we're here to talk games, not politics. So here's the challenge we faced: How to make a competitive game with the same perceived production value that is expected from our audience, while keeping our budget in sync with our reality. Hence the old-school development approach. It's easier here to find craftsmen and artisans trained in the more conventional mediums of illustration, animation and music, than to find professionals in the cutting edge of technology, so we might as well harness that.

I have to ask: Why a barbershop theme with a wig named Wig for a character? How did that idea come around?

The original idea was set in an entirely different world. The main character was one of those hairy coconuts set in a tropical setting. But then we realized the character we designed was very similar to others we found in some movies and even in the gaming world. Changing the hairy coconut to another hairy object led to a Wig and the rest is history.

Any plans to bring Figaro Wig to other platforms?

We've just released Figaro Wig for iPhone. We have no plans to release for other platforms, because doing so would require us to re-write all the code from scratch, but if we get enough support from the iOS community and the gaming community in general, we would be thrilled to be able to bring Figaro Wig to as many people as possible!

What inspired you to make Figaro Wig?

Game design of any kind is something we've always wanted to do, and the new developing hardware and software tools for iOS are perfect for up-and-coming studios like us. Looking at the current wave of iOS and Android games from all kind of companies and indie developers, we saw a nice opportunity to finally launch our first foray into game development, trying to keep our costs low and quality high.


What's the coolest aspect of Figaro Wig?

The art direction is definitely something we wanted to be special. We set out to make a game that looked "handmade", so we worked with illustrators the old fashioned way and hand-painted all the backgrounds and characters, and animated everything frame by frame. Even the music is played by musicians on real instruments. We also wanted the game to be simple to pick up and play, but hard to master. I think we got pretty close to what we set out to do.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

It's something we talked about early on and we decided to focus our time in doing a good job on our own and learning the ropes, so that in the future, if we ever decided to go with a publisher, we would have a bit of leverage and knowledge.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

Absolutely! We haven't been in touch with much people in this new and big indie movement, but we clearly feel like one more of them, with the unique feature of maybe being the first ones to enter this movement from Venezuela.

Sell Figaro Wig in one sentence:

For hairstyle... for good looks... for fun!

What's next?

We are going to split the team to have a focus on casual games with quick development cycles and another one focusing on more ambitious "hardcore gamer" projects. We'll keep you posted!

Figaro Wig is available now for $0.99 for iOS devices. Stay fashionable and grab it before it becomes so last week.

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.