Of course, Arkedo made DS games before.
CG: Yes, we started with them.
Now, Nintendo's doing better and better at finally getting download spaces available. 3DS is much better as a downloadable game platform. The Wii U will most likely have the same ability to have downloadable games. Do you look at Nintendo as a viable target?
CG: We're always looking. We like to start with the console, or the gaming environment, and go from here. If you remember Nervous Brickdown, that was a game we made and wanted to use the specificities of the DS: using both screens and being able to blow on the microphone to push the ball a little back. It was a ball-breaker.
The same goes for Big Bang Mini. It was a game that you would only be able to do on the DS, because you had to flick the stuff. So there are many, many new ways of interacting which are fun. We even had those crazy ideas about 2-Finger Heroes, when we thought that you could detect the fingers in Kinect, and we would have made a brawler with your friend on the couch, with your fingers.
What's always interesting for us is: "Okay, what have we got? What kind of new concept can we make out of this? Let's try, let's prototype, and let's do what we can." What I love right now is that it's completely open. There's a pretty obvious way for PC, and stuff like that, but, even for the new kind of consoles, there's plenty of things to do.
Hopefully the fact that we are now published by a major publisher -- and hopefully the game will work a little bit -- it will allow us to try new things, because of what we did before. We're always trying to go one step further, but on firm ground. We're trying to make Hell Yeah! some firm ground, not be ashamed of it, possibly have people like it, and then afterward we'll see where we'll go next.
In the meantime we'll just rest a bit; we'll close the studio for 30 days, for everyone to relax. Then, afterwards, a little game, two teams; we'll split the team in two so they can fight against each other, and direct to Steam.
How many people?
CG: Oh, we're about eight now. But it's a bit too much; we'll be a little less. More than eight people, you need a boss, you need different rooms, and you need to have people make compromises between each other, and I don't believe in compromise and democracy in game design.
It's a complete dictatorship; there's one boss of the game. In this case, it's Aurélien Regard. He's my partner. He had the general idea of the game, he wrote the whole game design, and he drew every single pixel you see in the game. It was all done by one guy in 18 months, and I should probably count in hours and not in months. Basically, that's his thing, his way to go.
So we will keep on doing that. It's amazing what you can do. Let's make a game in two days! The energy you see, and the kind of things that go out, cannot be found in a corporate situation with meetings and stuff like that.
You need to have the people scream, to have the guts to try something and be famous, because that's a strong drive. People do that for fun. They always want to be recognized for their craftsmanship, and that's something that you should not be ashamed of. We are really proud of what we did now. It's faulty in many ways, and we will try and make it better, and we will try and get better. We have been doing that for 12 years, for some of us.
And in the end, for us, it's the most important thing: learning new stuff, getting better, trying stuff, meeting people, and making experiments. That's what it's all about. It's so difficult to be an indie that you must have fun among your peers. You must be able to help each other and do stuff together, and it's working quite all right right now, this philosophy.
Did you talk to a lot of different publishers about this game?
CG: Oh, yeah. There's a little thing -- a very intelligent concept, by the way -- called Game Connection. It's usually at the same time as GDC, or a few days before, and it's basically all the developers meeting all the publishers, just like a blind date.
They match before, and then afterwards they have 30-minute slots. In three days, you know if your game is going to be sold, because you're going to have 30-minute slots with the whole industry.
That's what happened to Hell Yeah! We made a vertical slice and went to the Game Connection in Lyon. And then in three days, I knew that I had seven major publishers who were interested in going one step forward, and, out of those seven, one was saying "I want it now, and I will do whatever it takes to get it."
That was Sega. And they accepted immediately that we keep the IP. They accepted not to call us for eight months so that we could completely be doing our game, and afterwards we could try to make it compatible with the market and listen to them -- but first let us do our thing. So we were really happy about that. That's how it happened. There were other big publishers that were interested in it. It was quite eye-opening because it's a love-it or hate-it concept.
Like you said, you can't see what's going to happen in two years. You're trying to start a publisher. Do you think things are just going to keep this rapid pace of change? E3 is still about giant games. Do you think that will change?
CG: This show is a little bit out of focus with reality, I think. There's never been so many indie successes, and people are still trying to do the same old thing with more money and more boobs. Well, boobs are awesome, I personally think, but that doesn't make a game.
I think there are new things happening somewhere else, but we don't have the right prism on the industry, right here. It's normal. But if you go to PAX, I think you have a better vision of what the usual gaming community is about. It's not only video games; it's also tabletop and board games. You have such a big indie scene at PAX, and I think it's closer to the real market than E3.
I don't know. It's always interesting to see what the guys are doing right now with a huge budget and very talented teams. Of course they can buy the biggest talent. But what I think is interesting is that you now are starting to have very talented indie guys. It's guerilla.
When you're small, you move faster; so, when the situation is changing, you'd better be some kind of high-running little lemur than a big dinosaur, because you're going to get a tree on your head otherwise. If you're a fast thing, then the tree -- you don't care, because you can move quickly.
I have absolutely no idea where in two years we're going to be, but I can tell you already that we're going to be very small, very happy with what we're doing, and we're always going to try to find new things. With our energy, we'll be able to move fast. And I think all indies are like that, hopefully, because it's such a risk to be an indie.
You're risking your own life like that: your financial life and sometimes also your personal life, because you're taking so much time doing that. It's a big passion. There must be something worth it. Some people want money as the prime result of that; other people want fame, or being recognized by their peers.
I'm more of the second kind of guy, because I used to be rich, back in the day. I was happy enough to be rich back in the day, thanks to my first studio. I put all of my money into Arkedo. It's a bit risky also, even in that case, because, if one of my games doesn't work, then I cannot invest in the next one, because I already have invested it. It has to be at least the level of investment to back again. But I love it like it is!