Evanatiks' Evan Ike and his partner, Randy Bares, are here working on their first title, an online tactics game similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics mixed with the trading-card elements of Pokémon. (The team also includes Nathan Christie, who works off-site.)
The program has helped the two improve communication between each other. Previously, they worked remotely, and Ike's art background combined with Bares' programming history meant that they often had difficulty getting on the same page.
"When I'm talking about value, I'm talking about shadows," Ike says. "When he's talking about value, he's talking about numbers. When you're here face-to-face, you can make gestures, you can draw things on napkins and show it to them."
For his part, Bares enjoys the focus that the program allows. Like many independent developers, he takes on freelance work to pay the bills, which means that he rarely has time to concentrate solely on the game.
"It's nice to say, 'This is the only thing I have to think about today,'" he admits.
Runt, Inc. formed just over a year ago, when Tobias Batton teamed up with longtime friend Richard Horne to make an indie game, despite one small problem: Neither one of them had done much coding.
That's not to say they lack experience. Batton, a serial entrepreneur, has plenty of small-business acumen, and Horne's background as an artist at 2K/Visual Concepts allowed them to quickly define the look and feel of their project. They also brought on Horne's brother, a musician, to score the soundtrack and write the script.
Eventually, Batton says, they solved the coding conundrum: "We downloaded Unity and just started making things as we were defining them conceptually."
The result is a currently untitled parkour-based action-platformer with what Horne calls an "old-school NES mentality" to difficulty. "Let's make this game real tough," Horne recalls telling Batton, "and have people maybe break a few phones here and there."
Batton and Horne applied to Indie Open House to bring some structure to their workdays and avoid the many distractions that plagued them while working from home.
"I've put out a lot of SKUs not as an indie," Horne says, "and I know the amount of dedication and effort and willpower to drag something across the finish line is tough. I think that's what we're dealing with right now. We know what we're doing; we've got that locked down. We just need to do it and finish it."
"We were working in a vacuum before," Horne says. Seeing the response their game has generated among the other development teams has convinced them that there's a legitimate interest in what they're doing. In Horne's words, "You want to know you're not drinking your Kool-Aid."
Batton sees a value in the program beyond their current project. "One of the big things for any game, no matter what platform you're making it on, is distribution," he says. "A lot of these -- you have to know people there if you're an indie. Well, now we know people."
More than that, he's excited to maintain relationships with the other developers in the program. Batton and Horne have already become close with Cryptic Sea's Alex Austin and Evanatiks' Randy Bares, who's been using his real-life parkour skills to help Runt, Inc. nail the climbing and jumping aspects of their game.
Horne agrees. "It's almost like a graduating class," he says. "We're here with these guys, and as they develop and we develop, we're able to grow with them and see how they do in the future... You never know who one day is going to blow up."