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 Flying Turtle team in Portugal talks barebones marketing and Steam Greenlight with its stylistic indie platformer, A Walk in the Dark.
What's your game called and what's it about?
A Walk in the Dark is an action platformer set in a dark fantasy world; it's about a journey of a little cat named Bast trying to save his master, Arielle. The gameplay is fast and challenging. You play as a cat, after all, so you better feel like one.
What's the coolest aspect of A Walk in the Dark?
Play as a ninja cat, dodge fatal traps with your feline moves and pull off crazy stunts. We vary the gameplay throughout the game to keep things interesting, so you really get a sense of progression as new gameplay elements are introduced. You will find yourself running on the ceiling, jumping off a wall to avoid flying bats and inverting gravity in the middle of it to land with your paws on the ground.
What inspired you to make A Walk in the Dark?
We love platformers and we wanted to create one where you could pull off these crazy moves with cat-like agility. Levels present high-risk challenges, but you feel awesome when you finally are able to master the level.
Did you draw any inspiration from recent platformers such as Limbo or Super Meat Boy?
Yeah, we build on top of the ones that came before us. We tried to see what made the games we loved so special and drew the inspiration to improve and create a game that we love even more. As a platformer, the controls had to be tight, with a challenging and interesting level design.
Therefore, we were inspired by Super Mario, Super Meat Boy, N+, VVVVVV and other great games. We wanted to have an interesting atmosphere that could be easily readable, so the visuals were influenced by film noir movies, shadowplay and games such as Limbo. And to bring it all together, we have some subtle sound effects and the great soundtrack made by Cody Cook.
What marketing did you do for A Walk in the Dark and what worked best?
We had no budget, so advertising was out of question. We've tried to work with our own resources. Fortunately, nowadays there are lots of free platforms to spread out the word. One team member spent two full months (with little sleep) producing the debut trailer. It was a lot of work, but fortunately it worked. We put it on YouTube and spread the word. It had some exposure and gave us some attention in the media.
Meanwhile, we were searching for people and websites that could be interested in our game. We put out some press releases and got some responses. We think the important thing here is to have something interesting to show. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or even better, a video.
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
This project started as a part-time work. We worked together in a multimedia software company. We wanted to work as game developers, but unfortunately in our country there aren't many options, so we started to build a game on our own. The freedom of doing our own project was very appealing. Along the way we lost our full-time jobs due to the adverse economic situation that is affecting Portugal. After that, we started working on this project full-time. The growth of digital distribution and self-publishing made us believe that is possible to be successful with these kinds of projects.
Now you see genres being revived and even invented that publishers would never go for, because they are too risky. An indie culture is on the rise.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
We are certainly part of an indie culture. We were able to develop and release a game thanks to many that came before us. Lots of possibilities are now open, no matter who or where you are. And that's great!
But we wouldn't call it a movement, because there is not a fixed agenda or common objectives. It's more like a culture that was able to grow in recent years and is getting increasingly more attention by gamers. Usually being "indie" means that you do things out of passion and not of market tendencies. Now you see genres being revived and even invented that publishers would never go for, because they are too risky. An indie culture is on the rise.
Sell A Walk in the Dark in one sentence:
A Walk in the Dark gives you tight controls and challenging platforming levels, set in a beautiful, dark fantasy environment that is propelled by an awesome soundtrack... and you get to play as a ninja cat: How cool is that?
We are trying to get the game through Steam Greenlight to reach a larger audience. We will continue to support A Walk in the Dark and we would like to add interesting achievements and some challenging bonus levels to test the skills of those that catch all those shinies.
What would it mean for A Walk in the Dark to get on Steam through Greenlight?
It would be a dream come true. Steam is the major platform on PC, so we would be able to reach a huge audience, and perhaps even turn out a profit that allows us to start working on a new project.
A Walk in the Dark is available to purchase now through Flying Turtle's site, and it's prowling the charts on Steam Greenlight. Might as well get in on this one now; with at least nine lives, A Walk in the Dark will probably be around for a while.