Yoan Fanise, director of Valiant Hearts, started his own indie studio with co-founder Anne-Laure Fanise in Montpellier, France. He gives details on it.
After 14 years with Ubisoft, Yoan Fanise decided to go on a new venture and create his own indie studio (Digixart) with co-founder Anne-Laure Fanise. He had a choice between joining a studio somewhere far away in another country or starting brand new and staying in France. He decided to stick with the latter. This happened sooner than expected because just a month ago he wasn’t sure what the future held in terms of the creation of his own ‘real indie’ studio, especially after being called ‘fake indie’ during his 2 years on Valiant Hearts. The funny thing is it was Valiant Hearts that was the inspiration for the name of the indie studio because after receiving a prize for Valiant Hearts called the “tenth art”, he decided to combine the Roman digit X with the word “art” to create Digixart.
The two founders have managed to acquire a group of developers and an office space in a building completely covered by solar panels in Montpellier. Yoan believes the region is the ideal place because there’s many indie developers, the Mediterranean Sea, and 300 days of bright sunny weather. Although they had the money to launch Digixart they haven’t released any details as to how they were able to get the money to do it. However, Yoan did give an explanation as to why he launched his own studio and what he hopes to accomplish with it.
First of all the total creative freedom it allows; there are so many ideas I want to try, ideas that the market might not see as “in fashion” or trendy. Some with deeper meaning, moving experiences, a lot of themes that have not been treated in videogames yet. And secondly, to lighten the “mass.” Like in physics, mass is an important parameter in game development — the more your company has a heavy mass, the more energy you need to move it, and the slower it reacts. So starting from scratch resets mass back to something close to zero: no more jiras, long meetings, just pure prototyping and talks with gamepad in hand. That sense of rapidity is unbelievably powerful; it makes you even more productive and creative. I know that growing the company to gain a bigger production capacity will come with the challenge of not getting too “heavy”, but that’s not yet a problem.