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, 2 Dawn Games' Carsten Boserup talks crowdfunding and indie publishing with his Steam game (now on sale!), Ravaged.
What's your game called and what's it about?
Our game is Ravaged and it's a multiplayer-only first-person shooter focusing on vehicle combat and car chases in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max environment.
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
Working with a publisher tends to mean that you are giving away parts of your game's creativity and control. We wanted to create a game exactly the way we wanted and imagined. Going independent also meant that our marketing capabilities were limited, which is why we created a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was a success and we almost tripled the amount we asked for to help with marketing.
Our roots are with modding, as the core team created the popular Battlefield 1942 mod, Desert Combat, so we decided very early on to be 100 percent community-based. This means that we take feedback and ideas from the community and do our best to add it to the game. We also engage a lot with our community by hosting events and opening up our TeamSpeak virtual office to the fans, which is where we spent most of our time.
Your Kickstarter project was a huge success – how did that affect your development process or mentality? Have many of those backers become players?
It was a huge morale boost for sure. It showed that a lot of people believed in us and liked our vision of a different type of FPS focused on ground and air vehicles. We were really surprised that so many players were interested in helping to fund our marketing efforts, which really isn't an exciting thing to ask for. Most of our backers have become players, too.
We're in it for the long haul though, so we are happy to build our own strong community up over time.
The other big surprise from our Kickstarter campaign was the amount of press, partners, volunteers and developers that reached out to us. That was a great and unanticipated bonus of being on Kickstarter. We were also fortunate to be the first crowdfunded game to be sold on Origin.
How has working with Reverb been?
Reverb's Doug Perry has been a tireless supporter of the title and has helped us immensely with our PR. Tim Page has also been a big help maintaining our distributor relationships and working on sales strategies. It's really allowed us to focus on building the studio and the game. As with most indie studios our biggest challenge has been a limited advertising budget and unfortunately most of the big gaming sites don't support advertising for indie titles (most have a minimum spend of tens of thousands of dollars), so that's a bit of a struggle. We're in it for the long haul though, so we are happy to build our own strong community up over time.
Where would Ravaged be if not for Kickstarter or Reverb?
It's tough to say. Obviously, we would have taken a bit longer to release and we would have had less exposure in the press. Ravaged was in production for three years before Kickstarter and it's been built from the sweat of its developers, some of whom also invested money in the project in addition to working their day jobs. The project has been a labor of love so it would have finished, but probably not as known as it is now.
What inspired you to make Ravaged?
The movie Mad Max was probably our biggest inspiration. But also movies like Book of Eli, The Road, and games like Borderlands, Fallout, and Team Fortress inspired us to make Ravaged the way it is today.
What's the coolest aspect of Ravaged?
Definitely the vehicle battles and chases. We put a lot of energy into making the game fun and crazy both when you are on the ground walking and when you are driving around in one of our awesome makeshift vehicles. Between all the blood and carnage you will see a lot of humor, with players taunting each other and cars making insane stunts and crashes.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
Yes, indeed. Indie studios and their games are getting more popular each day. And that's good. Indie companies also have the luxury of being close to their community without the restraints that are typically built into publisher-owned studios. I hope and believe that indie games will continue to grow, bringing more diverse games, but also more affordable games.
We released our first free DLC just in time for the apocalypse, which included a lot of new content and features in addition to performance optimizations. We released a new map, more vehicles, new weapons and a unlock system based on XP. We are also working hard on getting the groundbreaking Dumptruck mobile base (with helipad) in the next DLC, as well as more vehicles, weapons, maps, game modes, offline modes and a lot more. We'll also be adding bots and maybe even a zombie mode.
Additionally, now that Battlefield 1942 has been released as a free download on Origin, the team's been looking at bringing back support for the original Desert Combat mod! Subscribe to our newsletter by registering on 2dawn.com for the latest. We'll also have some exciting news about our next big multiplayer PC project, which will be a collaboration with more great talent in the industry.
Ravaged is available on Steam, and is on sale for just $5 through January 5. Put some "post-apocalyptic multiplayer gun battles" in your holidays this year.
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.