How do you feel being a little splash of yellow in a sea of brown around you, as you look around the E3 show floor?
CG: I love it! It's the best place to be for little splashes of yellow. I think we are allowed to make games that don't take too seriously, and that won't teach you how to torture after having told you how to kill a man with a headshot, and after having told you how to kill anyone. There are other ways to have fun.
I'm not saying this is bad -- even though, for my children, I'm going to have to fight to protect my children from my own industry, which kind of sucks. But this is taken apart, as a father.
There's something interesting happening right now, and it's even better for the indies that people have a tendency to have bigger and bigger projects or less and less risk: "Let's try and do the same thing that happened just a few months ago, because there are such huge things at stake in terms of finance." Many people making decisions on those higher levels probably haven't played the game.
So I'm really happy about all of these things happening right now. Traditional publishers still have great things to do, but I think that there's room for little guys who can try and do some stuff. The indie bundles are doing great! The people who buy them are really happy about that.
Let me give you an example: When we were making boxes for the DS, we sold a game for 30 bucks, and we got two out of them. The Arkedo series, we sold for three bucks, and we got two. We got the same amount of money, and if we were able to charge the customer 10 times less. What the hell? Then let's do just that!
But can you make money selling those little indie games to people -- enough to keep a studio going?
CG: For me, it's two different things. The company I'm starting is a new company, and Arkedo stays and is very well, and we hopefully will keep being on a roll. My job is to keep Arkedo alive for 15 years and see what happens. I'm so glad about the talented people I've picked up. It's been 12 years that I've picked them up. It's working, it's coherent, and people love to fight against each other in terms of creation. It's based on pride and pleasure, and I just cook for them and have them happy. That's quite great.
It's another thing, indie guys. I believe that, right now, big publishers' job for the last 10 years was to have their map of the 50-plus [staff] studios and know where they are, what they are working on, and what their big thing is. Now, we are talking about a map not for 50-plus people, but less than five people. Many great things happening in the last few years have come from teams of less than five people, and they are completely lost about that.
I want to try to experiment and do my little crazy things that I've been doing for 10 or 12 years in Paris, but give it a broader appeal. So I will of course be cooking, but the idea is to get prototypes really quickly in two months. IP stays for the indies, of course. Thank God! I mean, I've been fighting for this for 10 years. Now, when I'm doing my company, I won't do the opposite. We're trying to make the publisher that we've been looking for for 10 years and didn't find. There's lots of opportunities, I guess, right now.
Do you think it's going to be difficult to work with the console companies, and as a publisher, do you think it's even important with the rise of Steam?
CG: Oh. (Laughs) I'm not yet a publisher. I'm trying to. I'm upcoming.
Well, you're working on it.
CG: I think the relationship with Steam is very important and very nice. I have no idea what the attitude of the major console manufacturers will be in the next, let's say, even two years.
I mean, Microsoft should be given regards for what they did with XNA. XNA was a very, very, very intelligently well-done framework for making quick games and putting them on the Indie Games channel -- which has its own issues with visibility, and basically bad vibrators. With the older games that were on Indie, lots of them were vibrators -- using the pad to vibrate.
CG: I'm not kidding! To sort them out by success -- not the opinion of the player but the number downloads -- you get vibrator apps. I swear to God. So there's a bit of a shame about that kind of stuff. But they should be thanked for the XNA, because it's just like you were trying to start to build a house and you just go into interior design immediately. That's awesome!
To give you an example of how scalable this tool is, Hell Yeah! was done in XNA, because we started it as Arkedo Series Number 5, and then we wanted to add some depth and then wanted to really have some fun, and we put a lot of energy into making a vertical slice two years ago.
Microsoft seems to be backing away from XNA.
CG: I have absolutely no idea. Do you have information about that?
They say it's not going to work with Windows 8 [EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's some recent discussion on the subject.]
CG: That's the rumor? Is it true? I'm not sure. It's a question we have. Oh well, you know? We have our own tools, and we can do many things; but it would be a shame because it's a very fine piece of software.
That was the first thing to market from Microsoft, and I think they did a great job about that. Maybe they didn't put in the coal in the thing in order to keep the machine rolling, and stuff like that. Someday, someone forgot to put some coal in the oven, I guess.
That's a shame, but I can understand that these are corporate strategies and we are a very, very tiny aspect of the general problem. The console right now is not even primarily sold as a gaming machine. It's a global entertainment machine.
Yeah, especially Xbox.
CG: Especially Xbox. So imagine when you're indie and you're already down in terms of visibility, the more it's difficult to be there. But I have hopes that those kinds of things will change. What makes me happy is that there's a whole world going on outside of this, with the PC industry and the PC guys, and they are having tremendous fun -- and they're sustainable. So there's something new coming up.