Just a short disclaimer, with Bedtime Digital’s response to my questions, there is nothing really I can add to it.
I think this is best read raw and uncut — with zero ‘funny’ remarks from my side. Enjoy!
Bedtime Digital’s… Figment
Bedtime Digital Games has become a household name, propelled by the success of Back to Bed, but truly cemented by the critically acclaimed Figment. I want to pick your brain a bit: why do Bedtime Digital make games — what’s your motivation, what’s the goal?
I think each member of the company have their own different reasons, but at the core, I feel it is a combination of us being gamers, like creating experiences and games being the new big medium of our generation.
As a company, we look at games as the sum of its parts. It not just codes and mechanics, nor is it fancy graphics effects and sounds. A game is a medium that needs all of these things to work together to give an experience that no other media can.
We love working together across fields of expertise in order to ensure that the gameplay experience we try to give works together with the aesthetics, effects and audio. When nothing is playing second fiddle, the total sum is a much better game. Achieving this motivates us a lot and is the line we try to walk in all our games. Might not succeed all the time, but that is our goal.
With Figment being equal to, or maybe an even greater success than Back to Bed, the question remains, what’s next for Bedtime Digital’s creative hands and minds?
Right now we are spending a good deal of energy porting Figment to new platforms, so more players can enjoy it and experience the story we have worked so hard on creating. Just like Back to Bed, Figment is made to be playable and work on many platforms. And even though this is going well, porting always takes some time to do.
Regarding what we are doing next, I can’t be very specific at this time, but we are working on new things, and it is gonna be awesome. Some recognizable stuff and some new. So you do have stuff to look forward to, as we plan on keep making games for a long time.
Game development is a tough career choice. It requires skill, dedication, and some luck is definitely appreciated in the long run. But tell me, what are your five best tips when it comes to the game industry?
Hmmm. At the core it is to understand, as mentioned above, that game development is about people of different expertise working together. So there will always be different factors for the different expertise. But I will try and set up some general guidelines.
Game Scope presents: Bedtime Digital’s
How to Game Dev 101
- Love and play different games – It is key to like games and collect different experiences from them. Especially since it helps with getting ideas and learning from the experiences of other devs. It also helps to have common experience pool when working with other people. For example, it is easier to talk about a top-down hack & slash if all involved have played Diablo at some level.
- Look at games professionally – It is not just enough to love games, in fact, being a huge fan of just playing games can be dangerous as a developer. It is key to be able to look at games as analytically as possible. Understand why players as a whole like them, even if you don’t. You might hate the newest trendy game, but a good dev understands why others do.
- “Kill your darlings” – This term means being able to kill a bad idea, even if you have to spend a lot of energy and time on. Like above, look at games as a developer, not a player, and be able to drop something if it does not help the game experience. This is a skill that must be trained and honed.
- Garage development – Try making games, graphics or just raw game design yourself early and often. This can mean going to game jams, designing boards games, making art or running Pen & Paper Roleplays. Even just being in charge of large events can help with leadership experience. And if you like what you created, put aside for the future. Showing drive and experience is key
- Knowing limits – Here I am talking about both your own and the practical ones. If you and your friends wanna make a game in a weekend, don’t try to make an MMO. And if you don’t have any technical experience, maybe making a board game is a better use of the weekend. A lot of our initial success came from understanding out time limits and planning ahead, so we had time to polish.
Hope this gives some guidelines for people, and remember if it sounds like too much, that all of us had to learn this as well. You can never be a master at the start.
Now, long days and sleepless nights are common stories when talking about game development, especially in the months and weeks prior to a milestone. How does Bedtime Digital Games deal with the crunch?
Actually, we try to avoid the dreaded crunch as much as possible in the company. We see it as one of the worst concepts, that for many reasons, have become something that too many see as necessary in game development. In our experience crunch rarely achieves that much in the long run, it can be used in small doses, but using it as a stable “tool” have a high cost. Often it will drain the developers for far longer than the crunch goes on, resulting in a production delay on other parts of the game, and many times the product itself will suffer since there is not enough testing being done.
Adding to that:
That said, sometimes we do a little crunch, but we try to avoid it and keep to around release. But in the long run and with more than one production in the company, giving people time to relax and having weekends pays off more in the end, since the devs are way sharper and energetic.
While working games, whether it’s game design, graphics, coding, or whatever, do you still find time to play — is there still a “craving” to play games when the shift is due? After launch, can you still return home, sit comfortably and enjoy video games?
Hehe, that question is way more common than you would think. To be honest, it is hard to say, but at the end I do think that I play less games than before, but that might also be something to do with getting older and having other responsibilities.
I still play a lot of the bigger games that I always played, like AAA or specific nerdy games, but not as many small indies as before. Those games are more relegated to our company friday game, where we play indie games that we can learn from. So I get that indie itch scratched at the company.
That said, I do use a more energy on mobile games, non-digital games and pen & paper roleplay, and I know I’m not alone amongst developers around the world in this. The mobile games are easy to squeeze in a busy day, and sometimes it is nice to go outside the digital world for gaming experience.
So games are still part of our lives, just in more different ways, and luckily playing specific game for references are part of the job.