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Indie developer BetaDwarf lived in a classroom for seven months


Denmark-based developer BetaDwarf raised $65,413 on Kickstarter in December 2012 to fund its action arcade game, Forced. Similar to other developers, the team relied fully on the crowdfunding campaign in order to make its game a reality: As BetaDwarf CEO Steffen Kabbelgaard Gronning put it at PAX Prime, the Kickstarter "pretty much saved our asses... If that hadn't went through, we'd have had to abandon the game, I think."

Described on its Kickstarter page as a mix between Diablo and Left 4 Dead, Forced has players battle enemies in a combat arena. The game's development traces back to January 2011, when BetaDwarf was founded at Aalborg University in Denmark. During the summer, classrooms at the university went unused, so Gronning and his friends took over one abandoned room to use as their studio.

"We moved in and we didn't really want to go home, so we moved in beds and microwaves and refrigerators and things like that and until there are like, eight guys living there our whole vacation," Gronning said. That "vacation" turned into an extended stay, as the group "managed to be there for five more months" since the university "didn't really want to use that classroom," he explained.

"One day, after seven months, a lecturer randomly ventured into the classroom, and we were just in our normal morning routine, sitting in our boxer shorts, brushing teeth and coding," Gronning continued. He said the developers were "immediately thrown out," and with no other options, they agreed to "a really big house far away from anything." The group, which had grown to 10 by that point, lived together under one roof for one and a half years.

Gronning said BetaDwarf took out a private loan and also earned $40,000 from the Danish Film Institute to help cover its various costs along the way. "Then we got the Kickstarter and we decided to move to Copenhagen," he said, pointing to the strong presence of other game developers in the city. One such developer is PlayDead, creators of Limbo, whom Gronning said the team talks with a lot.

Seeing success on Kickstarter and getting funds elsewhere didn't mean the team was done bunking together, however.

"I live at the office with three other guys, so I basically have been living with the guys for three years," Gronning added.

Forced is available now for PC, Mac and Linux via Steam Early Access, and will see a full release on October 24. Gronning said the team wants to bring the game to next-gen systems, and has already talked with Nintendo about developing for Wii U.

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