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  • How Cohabitation Can Jumpstart An Indie Team

    - Morgan Lean, Rohan Harris and Leigh Harris

  • Leigh: Since we began our project (and it most assuredly is a 'project' until we gather enough sales that we can call it a business with a straight face) with zero start-up capital, we had to save our pennies to hire accountants (who are mind-bogglingly expensive). This is where an alliance with Epiphany first came in handy. We based our choice of account upon Morgan's recommendation (in fact, we bowed a lot to his and Epiphany's expertise in the early stages), and did the rigmarole of registering as an Australian company (a requirement to publish our game on the iTunes App Store).

    The next step was to bring others on board. Epiphany had their own artists, animators, lighting people and much more besides, but they were (as they should have been) engaged on the company's primary project -- the PC RTS Frozen Hearth (which is now on Steam Greenlight).

    Epiphany's Frozen Hearth

    Partly as a way of proving ourselves capable of actually creating a team to begin with, and partly to show we were serious, we set about finding people who would be able to sign a similar contract with us to the one we'd signed with Epiphany - one which divided pay by a percentage of profits.

    This, crucially, meant that we'd have to bring people on who believed in the project, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's easy and downright sensible for people to turn their nose up at something which doesn't guarantee pay out the gate. On the other, the only people who have been working on our game since the beginning have been people who want to be working on it. We don't have people doing it for the pay check, so a certain minimum amount of enthusiasm for what we're doing is to some extent assured.

    The four people we brought on board to do our art, animation and music were more evidence that we had an idea that resonated as a viable game.

    Since our approach was to ask local video game colleges if there were any appropriate people in their graduating ranks, we had to make it known that we were professional and serious about what we were doing.

    Epiphany gave us that ability.

    Meeting with our team in the Epiphany board room with the heads of the studio present to discuss the art style lends legitimacy to what we're doing, which in turn empowers the team as a whole (and us as well) to know we're committed to creating something which is real and viable. No sensible business person running their own independent developer (see: Epiphany) would invest their time and resources in a game from an unknown unless they were sure it was a worthwhile enterprise. This investment flows back onto our entire team just as much as it does onto Rohan and me.

    This legitimacy expands outwards to include the wider Sydney development community, as well as anyone else looking to become a serious developer and not just a pair of kids with a hobby.

    Flat Earth Games' debut title

    Morgan: I could tell when they told me about their goals that Leigh and Rohan's dedication to the project meant that their game would succeed -- they just needed the oomph of our technical expertise to make it a very solid offering. I'm always impressed with how much joy the game gives me even in these early stages, and the graphic style is really appealing.

    I've also found that having multiple projects coming out of our studio at once helps the overall creativity and productivity of the entire office. Our other teams working on our bigger project have gotten quite excited by the additional influx of creativity that having a new title still in its conceptual phases brings, as their own project has been in the refining stages.


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