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 believe they deserve a wider audience with the Joystiq Indie Pitch: This week, the boys from Threaks talk about the early indie success of music-mixing, action-adventure title Beatbuddy.
What's your game called and what's it about?
Beatbuddyis an action-adventure that takes you into the world of a song. You take control of our main character Beatbuddy and navigate him through levels where everything you see, the enemies and challenges you encounter, are synched to the music and rhythm of the individual tracks that make up a particular song, which you can manipulate and basically re-mix through your interactions.
The game will feature licensed music that you will be able to move freely through, assembling and disassembling the track. We're planning to feature a great line-up of popular artists and songs and have developed a proprietary sound-filtering technology, which allows us to create levels matching each song with animations that are right on beat.
What was the IGF experience like – entering, waiting for finalist announcements, and getting an honorable mention?
Well, we here love to compete, so it was extremely cool especially to get the honorable mention. Getting the version ready to be entered was of course a bit of a crunch, as we tried to put as much into a short demo level as we could. Ahead of the announcement, we all got pretty nervous – I think none of us could sleep. Getting the honorable mention felt like a real milestone, especially considering the calibre of talent that was in the competition this year.
To be in the company of games like Fez, Tiny and Big and all the others, is a special thrill. We're looking to maybe do that extra step to a nomination with the game next year, when it's finished.
How important were the hand-painted visuals to the overall tone of Beatbuddy?
Well, we started the project with three designers and no programmers, so you can imagine that the look of the game was very important to us. Our artist Denis is an immensely talented illustrator when it comes to 2D visuals, so we'd be stupid not to make use of that strength. The feedback so far has been great, and with games like Rayman Origins making excellent use of a similar style, we're very confident in the road taken. Right now, we're building more diverse graphics sets and varied levels each with their own style.
What inspired you to make Beatbuddy?
The basic idea came about when we were still in university and wondering about a way forward for the music-game genre. The idea that formed was to create a game that allows you to move backward and forward in a song, a game that basically translates a song into a game world that you can explore freely.
What's the coolest aspect of Beatbuddy?
What's cool about the game is the feeling you get when playing that everything in the game world is moving to the same groove, like a kind of interactive music video – at the same time, you don't need to be blessed with musical talent to experience this. Our game is first and foremost that, a game, and not a music tool, so everyone can experience that feeling of "playing" music.
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
We had the chance to keep working on this project as it has grown bigger and bigger, and through a number of fortunate events we have been able to finance it independently so far. We're very happy about that because it allows us a great degree of freedom, even if we have to work twice as hard for it. Getting up in the morning to work for your own company feels infinitely better than if you're working on someone else's payroll.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
I think there's a definite sense of fraternity among the young indie teams we have met over the last years, and everyone is eager to help each other out and spread the word about each others' projects. We have formed a lot of friendships with other teams across Europe, in the Netherlands, in Sweden and also here in Germany. The indie scene here is still a bit in its infancy but already things are starting to coalesce and we're doing our part for that.
Right now we're working with a couple of other indie devs to set up a web platform for the local scene and I feel that this is really typical of the kind of cooperative spirit that marks so many indie teams. It's awesome to be a part of that.
Sell Beatbuddy in one sentence:
Beatbuddy takes you inside the world of music like never before – also, it will make you very popular with the gender that you want to be popular with.*
*No guarantees. No returns.
Which platforms do you want Beatbuddy to be released on?
Right now we will definitely be doing a digital release on PC and Mac and we're also trying to find ways to release on iOS, and maybe there also is a console version in the future. If you want to keep up-to-date on that, visit our website and be sure to follow us on Facebook.
We're gearing up to finalize and announce our music line-up. We're in talks with a number of majors and independent labels. Then we only have to finish the game....
Beatbuddy is available in a free demo on Steam right now, and is planned to launch (published by Reverb) in 2013. Get down with your bad self. Or your good self. Whatever, we don't discriminate.
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.