Creating a game is a personal process. It’s full of passion, sometimes a bit tense and even – dare I say it? – a bit frustrating. Much like marriage, some might say.
But 100% Indie, the team helping Android indie developers worldwide get published, has noticed more and more couples working on some fantastic games. Marriage extending into the app marketplace is a noticably rising trend.
So what’s their secret? Is it down to chemistry? Or would game developing couples (Devouples? Decoups? Gooples?) advise you to stay solo or work in a larger team, for the sake of your sanity?
It’s a recipe for success, says Alix Stolzer of Robot loves Kitty. She and her husband Calvin Goble have been creating games together for over seven years and have a strict work-split to ensure maximizing productivity and harmony. The RobotLovesKitty website sums up this division of labor quite well, listing Calvin’s title as “Game Dev” while Alix takes care of “Everything Else.” As she says, “The programming is all Calvin, and the business and marketing is all me.” It’s an arrangement that clearly works well; their project pulled in almost $33,000 USD on Kickstarter back in mid-December of 2012, well exceeding their funding target of $5,000. The key for Alix throughout? “Coffee and communication!”
Emilia Ciardi, of Sparkling Labs, agrees that bespoke roles are necessary: “I’m a developer and graphic designer, while my husband is a strong coder,” she says. Their first game together, Liv’s Cupcake House, was one of 100% Indie’s first 30 Indie Heroes, promoted at E3, GDC and Develop. The couple have ‘day jobs’ in the games industry and are already working on two more titles, both of which they plan to launch as Samsung Apps through 100% Indie as, being a small company (“We’re just a team of two”), they found themselves somewhat lacking on the marketing side. “It was helpful to work with a third party like 100% Indie who can advise on any tweaks and help you get self published as opposed to just getting lost,” says Emilia. “Marketing the games and showing them off is so valuable, as share of revenue streams can be useful only if the games themselves are visible and have actual chances to be discovered. This is a learning curve that we’ve found incredibly valuable.”
She sees herself as the creative force while her husband Paquale is the practical motivator, keeping things focused and energetic – and with day jobs as well as the odd creative slump, motivation is a key factor in game creation, as any developer will testify. “We try to be an inspiration and motivation for each other,” says Paquale. “As a real life couple we should be pretty accustomed to that, shouldn’t we?”
Ville Mönkkönen of Instant Kingdom agrees that working with your partner can really help in a slump: “My biggest development enthusiasm only ever lasts for about two weeks when I start a new game,” he says. “After that it’s mostly work, and I have to force myself to it daily. To me it’s tremendously important that I get to share ideas with Anne in the evenings, watching a movie, or when taking a walk. She always finds a way to encourage me.”