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Capy's Nathan Vella on the advantages of building a studio
Capy's Nathan Vella on the advantages of building a studio
July 10, 2014 | By Mike Rose

July 10, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Business/Marketing

Today at Develop Conference, Capy's Nathan Vella urged game developers to consider starting a studio with multiple people, rather than going it alone with the hope you can achieve the same sort of success story that often gets passed around.

"The indie dream has become the expectation and the motivation," he says. "Developers see the successes and believe they can do it too... I think you're more likely to make a high quality game if you're not working by yourself."

Putting a studio together rather than going it alone can help your outfit be more sustainable, he argues. Studios can potentially work on multiple projects at the same time, and can choose to take on co-development projects with other studios, or throw some time into side-projects.

"People look at games like Braid and Minecraft and think it's possible. It's not," he adds. "It's super challenging to have high quality art, programming etc without lots of bugs."

"It's extremely challenging to be that person. I think wearing many hats can ripple through your work."

"I think you're more likely to make a high quality game if you're not working by yourself."
There are plenty of other advantages to being a studio rather than a solo venture too -- most notably, if you have multiple talented people on your team, your chances of success increase.

"The bar is high and getting higher," says Vella. "More talented people make hitting the bar more likely."

Other advantages: "Being sustainable buys you time. Being a studio buys your focus... Being self-critical makes great games, and it's easier to be self-critical in a studio setting... More diverse opinions make better games."

"Whatever independent development is now, studios need to make themselves sustainable," he adds. "Ideal sustainability involves being able to mostly, or entirely, self-fund. Make a studio and be sustainable."

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Matt Massier
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Encouraging and I realize this wasn't the point of his talk, but as a non independent developer I find it daunting to even find the money to sustain a one person development, let alone a studio. The start up costs alone seem astronomical, then to also be sustainable indefinitely? Maybe I should go to business school so it doesn't seem so vague, but "Make a studio and be sustainable" seems a little out of reach for most people.

nathan vella
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The point was that the goal should be to work with people and aim for sustainability (not that its easy). That can be done without added cost (ie partnering), and I covered in my slides how a lot of independent studios choose work in a team of co-founders/partners. Hope that clears it up a little :)

Trae Bailey
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Hello Mr. Vella, this may sound like a rather daft question but, are you implying that aspiring and current indies should establish a physical studio or simply a metaphorical one? I believe that both have their own perks, but they are each radically different in terms of financial investment.

I think that there are tremendous benefits to working in a team as opposed to working by yourself on ambitous projects (mainly due to scope), but it seems more realistic to establish a metaphorical studio (or one based out of a living space) before making the financial investment on a professional studio.