I stopped doing the monthly updates a few months ago. They’re not cancelled but I had to put them on hold. Suze and Melissa are beginning work on new projects and as they’re not yet announced it’s really hard to talk about what they’ve been doing lately. I’ve had my head down finishing off Journal and some client work we’ve been doing. So there’s not been a lot to say publicly at least. However I wanted to write something for the new year about how things have been in 2013.
I started 2013 in a pretty weird place. Kairo was finally finished after what had become a torturous three year development hell. It had reviewed well but I wasn’t on Steam at that point so sales weren’t yet paying the bills. I knew it had a lot more potential so I was porting it to other platforms and constantly trying to promote my Greenlight page. 2012 had really torn me down so I went into 2013 hoping to rebuild everything better and that’s kind of how it went.
In January Kairo came out on iOS and got featured by Apple leading to better sales than the PC version has managed. I eventually managed to get a Valve deal and in April Kairo launched on Steam. It was bit of a shock to the system. My expectations were pretty high based on all the hype around indie success stories on Steam. In truth we did not sell spectacular numbers on Steam at first, it did well, enough to live on but dreams of vast wads of cash did not magically appear. Thankfully one great thing about Steam for me is the long tail, Kairo has continued to make money every month and performs well during sales even without front page promotion. It’s keeping the lights on.
We went out to PAX East again, this time to take Journal. In all honesty when I signed up in late 2012 for the space at the Megabooth I had no idea what game we’d be showing. The build we showed of Journal came together at the very last minute. I was up until 5am the night before we were demoing getting it actually playable. I rolled up to the booth on a mere 3 hours sleep with very low expectations for the event. In reality the response at PAX was beyond anything we could have imagined.
Journal is a project I’ve been trying to work on since the start of 2007. However after multiple aborted attempts at the project it had been shelved to make Kairo. I probably should have left such a cursed project alone but I really wanted to see it through so we returned to it and cobbled together a pretty rough demo for PAX to genuinely gauge what people thought of it. I kind of expected such a story focused game to utterly tank at an event like PAX.
I know there’s a lot of very valid issues with PAX by many in the press and the indie scene however as an indie developer the benefits I get form being there are huge. Not only did I get a ton of genuine player feedback on the game, the range of press and business opportunities that came from being there are immeasurable. I left the event feeling totally reenergised about Journal, people really connected with the game so I had to give it my all.
Working on my own on Kairo was really miserable for me. I have fond memories of my days working on the white chamber with Paul and Zak. I wanted to work with people again and so I decided to re-invest most of the money I earned from Kairo along with most of my inheritance into growing as a company. So I hired two of my closest friends Melissa and Suze, both talented artists, and we relocated from London to Bristol. Now operating as small studio.
I’ve no ambition to become a huge company, and if grow anymore I want to keep it to five people or under. It’s important to me that the games we make are personal expressions and not just the compromise of a melting pot of opinions. Besides running a three person studio has proved much harder than I could have imagined, I think I’d have a breakdown if I was running anything bigger.
As the year comes to a close Journal is nearly done. Melissa has finished all her artwork for it and I’m just finalising the dialogue and some of the dream sequences. I’m hoping to come out late January if all the stars align but we’ll see. I’m also hoping out “other project” will come out along a similar timescale. So for me 2013 was a year about building myself and the company up from a pretty low point. Putting things in place so that we can do some great things in the years to come.
Going forward I decided 2014 would be a very different year for the studio. Rather than making another “game by Richard Perrin” I decided to give both my artists a chance to put something out there themselves. Each of them are working on their own game project, where they are designing and producing all the content themselves and I’m supporting with the coding and design consultation. They’ve both come up with great (and very different) ideas and I’m looking forward to spending a year helping them come to fruition.
Between helping them I’ll probably be working on a bunch of prototypes and ideas for projects I’ve had rattling around. I’m very interested in a developing my own game making tool for beginners and have a semi functional prototype for that already. Whatever I make I know it’s going to a very productive year.