The Final Station: The Struggle of the Indie Developer
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by Catalyst
10 hours ago

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The Final Station: The Struggle of the Indie Developer
20 October, 2015
Interview

Building indie games has never been easier… or so they say. While it may be true for a lot of studios, some companies are still struggling to promote and sell their games. We’ve talked with Oleg Sergeev from a small company, Do My Best, which is currently building an awesome pixel art game The Final Station. Interestingly enough, this upcoming zombie game had trouble getting to the press. In our little interview we’ve discussed the game production, the visual style, and marketing.

Introduction

We’re not actually a company. Do My Best is just a name we came up with to put something on the title screen. There’s just me and Andrey. Just the two of us. I got into the game development, because I really wanted to create something. It’s nice not “to solve problems”, like you do in the design industry (that’s my main line of work). In game development you can really create something. The production is obviously far more complicated. There’s like thousands of problems you need to fix, and every step you take helps to build the game.

The Final Station

The Final Station is our debut game. It’s a story of one machinist, who finds himself on the train in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. You know, classical stuff. In terms of gameplay, it’s a mix of train simulator and zombie shooter. Our hero travels a certain track, runs away from zombies and saves as many people as possible. He also has to take his passengers to a safe place. I haven’t actually seen Snowpiercer, although a lot of people encourage me to do so. The idea was born from a combination of various things. There’s no single source of inspiration.

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We’ve actually started with a small prototype, which was produced relatively quickly. However, a couple of very important mechanics were actually missing from this prototype. Because of this we had to make a lot of changes. The next step was the creation of a demo which featured all the mechanics. This version of the game was given to press and publishers. Only after this step did we start to build the game levels and other content.

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We’re actually using Unity with some plugins. For example, Behaviour Designer is used to build AI and script logic. ProGrids helps in level production. CHi (this is our own development effort) is a nice tool to deal with complex objects hierarchy.

Pixel Art

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Pixel Art was actually the quickest way to build a game for us. It’s quick to produce, animate, and create backgrounds. These are probably the main things that really guided us towards pixel art. It was the practicality of this style. There are some disadvantages of course: some people are actually tired of this kind of stylization, but I think there’s no big problem there. If the game’s good people are going to play it.

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Animation is a very important part of our game experience. The most important thing while working with the animation is to show the feeling of the character’s weight. If your guy just walks around like a robot, it’s difficult to feel like you’re inside the game world. In pixelart you can really cheat with animation: you can always open animations from other games and watch frame by frame how it works. It’s a nice way to find new ideas.

Marketing

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It’s not enough to have a nice demo, a website, and a trailer to break through. Even local Russian press is a challenge. We’ve actually submitted our game to all the game websites. We did like hundreds of emails and got no response. Slowly we managed to get better results, thanks to our friends! I think to market the game in the future it’s best to work with a publisher, who will do all the marketing. I think it’s a nice way out for small companies like ours. I think we’ll release the game next year, if everything goes well.

Oleg Sergeev, Do My Best

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