People often ask us: “How did Naked Sky, a small, independent game development studio, get into the business of making such an ambitious game for Xbox 360 Live Arcade?”
Well, it all started with a technology demo for the Intel dual-core processor. Developed in eight weeks and showcased at the 2005 IDF and GDC, the RoboBlitz Tech Demo (aka RoboHordes) was an Unreal Engine 3-based, single-level game that featured entirely physics-driven game play.
When people approached us at GDC, asking questions like, "Who is publishing this?" and "When is it coming out," we realized we needed to develop it into a full-fledged game. Unfortunately, the original game was built purely as a tech demo, so in order to develop a robust and engaging commercial product, we had to rip out and re-implement pretty much all the code, art, and design.
When it came to the question of how to go about distributing the game, we were confronted with several challenges. We wanted to keep control of the intellectual property while staying independent, which steered us away from the traditional publishing route. Thankfully, we met with the Live Arcade group at Microsoft when they were in the early stages of forming their plans for the upcoming Xbox 360. It was the perfect platform for RoboBlitz, as long as we could keep our title under 50MB.
Because we decided to go the self-funding route, we didn’t enter full production until November 2005, after raising private funding and getting an office. The game was finished eleven months later. As an indie developer, we pretty much encountered every obstacle imaginable in the process. Fortunately, we pulled through and are now the proud parents of RoboBlitz!
Our biggest asset at Naked Sky is the people. We believe you can achieve anything as long as you work with the right people. This doesn’t necessarily mean the smartest or most experienced people, but passionate, talented, dedicated, hard-working, and good people. In short, people with great potential. Everyone on the Naked Sky team possesses these qualities, and a whole lot more.
About half of our team is composed of recent college graduates that majored in game art or programming. This works in our favor financially, because as a small indie, we can’t yet afford competitive wages for industry veterans. Of course, you can’t have a half-green team without capable leaders to guide them, and we’re very fortunate to have smart and savvy leaders spearheading our team. They’re very hands-on in training the new hires—not just when demonstrating new tools and techniques, but also when illustrating different problem solving methodologies. Through their training, everyone has become self-sufficient and is capable of taking up any urgent or unexpected responsibilities from their team lead.
Our team is very tight—we’re not just a company, but a family, or famiglia as we call it. We look after each other and we help each other out. We’ve always believed in and trusted each other, and we’ve built up a sense of camaraderie through both hard work and hard play. We have ping pong and Street Fighter 2 matches daily, and outings to celebrate our major milestone completions. We also load up on healthy Costco snacks for our “growing boys.”
Together, we laughed through the good times and jumped over the challenging hurdles. Because our team was treated well and everyone was happy working together, magic happened.