We’d been developing mobile apps for about two years when it became so ridiculously apparent that there wasn’t really a video game brand that was cool, while at the same time feminine. As a female, I also didn’t feel there was an ‘alternative’ non-violent game that spoke to me in a meaningful way. As an indie artist, I also wanted a title project that I could fully immerse myself in and build upon with endless possibilities. From this evolved our concept title, Big Top Ballet.
I grew up in culturally rich French-speaking Montreal, yet it was my passion for snowboarding that lured me out west to chase the powder of Whistler’s Coastal Mountains. I would soon meet John Borchert, a programmer living in Whistler. Always longing to enter the games industry, by the time gaming on smartphones had emerged we were an indie match made in heaven.
We married, had a baby and started our own development firm, VectorBloom Technologies in British Columbia. Taking on minimal consulting work, we reduced expenses to the bare necessities and got to work on the Big Top Ballet project. I didn’t know where our dreams would lead, and I underestimated the reward of this conviction. I know it sounds cliched, but following your heart always opens doorways and dimensions beyond a bank account balance. Making certain choices in a creative project is often very subtle and subject to market influences. Early decisions can set the right foundation to grow an indie title, by the same token we were very aware that certain choices – such as technology – could set us up for undesirable obstacles.
In 2011, Android’s OS had begun to catch up to iOS, not to mention so many new opportunities for game distribution were appearing for indie developers. We crowd funded a modest amount via Appbackr.com using the above concept sketch. Appbackr.com provided early publicity and that little extra pressure that pushed us to approach things with a more aggressive strategy. Initially we were going to make a flat 2D game and just for the iPhone. With the future in mind of how gaming entertainment might evolve, we decided on a 3D game that would give us more room to scale. We also decided on building a multi-platform game title, which we would launch early and begin to iterate over time.
“[We asked for a] beats mistress that could awaken the souls of game players.”
As a game artist, it’s easy to imagine everything that a game ought to do during game play. The bigger challenge manifests when building for mobile and bumping into technical limitations. For example, mobile compared to desktop and console dictates some performance restrictions on terrain engine behaviors and nCloth. That said, many of the concept visuals for Big Top Ballet are also being adapted for future releases of the title where we’ll continue to build the experience with enhanced gameplay and added mini-games available as in-app purchases.