Earlier this year, a game called Tobias and the Dark Sceptres
turned hundreds of thousands of heads, as a relatively unknown developer offered up the game he had been working on for the last 13 years
In the days that followed, a short documentary about the game received around 400,000 views, and approximately 50,000 people downloaded the free title from Adam Butcher's website. Butcher is, in fact, a filmmaker by trade, so the entire ordeal was quite the experience for him.
"It felt really great that so many people watched the film, and that so many people seemed to like it," he tells me today. "What was most rewarding, as a filmmaker, was when people said they were 'moved' in any way. I get such a kick out of that, it's what filmmaking is all about!"
"I think a lot of people responded to this story because there's a huge community of game-players and game-makers who are just really positive and supportive about this sort of thing," he adds. "I'm not sure that a film about, say, a filmmaker taking 13 years to do something, would've been met by such a warm uncynical response."
"I'm not sure that a film about, say, a filmmaker taking 13 years to do something, would've been met by such a warm uncynical response."
He was not expecting the overall reaction to the game at all. Someone had downloaded and completed it within four days of its release, despite many of the clunkiness issues -- which are rather forgiveable, given that much of the game was built by a teenager in the Multimedia Fusion engine.
"The bulk of what I received were lovely emails of congratulation and encouragement, as well as bug reports," he laughs. "But people also kindly donated some money to me by buying the soundtrack, which was really appreciated. It helped cover my excessive server costs for hosting the big game file myself!"
Butcher received a number of distribution deal offers in the following weeks, and even game design job offers -- "but as a filmmaker first and foremost there were none I felt like taking," he admits.
So does Butcher now plan to make more games, or is he sticking with film?
"Someone at Clickteam gave me the complete latest version of Multimedia Fusion," he says. "I could make an iPhone game now if I wanted to..."
: Meet the developer who spent 13 years making his childhood game