We recently sat down with acclaimed indie developer Thunder Lotus to discuss their latest game Sundered (which I bloomin’ love - check out the review), the difficulties of turning a profit in an oversaturated market, the power of conversation, PC emulators and more. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about your team at Thunder Lotus Games?
We're a small team, around a dozen people at the peak of each project. We're based in Montreal, Canada. The company was founded by Will Dubé, a young veteran of a now-defunct mobile game studio (Sava Transmedia) here in Montreal. Back in 2014, Will left Sava with the goal of bringing an indie game to Kickstarter. In a few months, he had recruited most of the core team from his old colleagues at Sava, and other friends that had some experience among the AAA devs that pepper this city. That core team would go on to produce our first game, Jotun, in September 2015 - and the same core was on-board for Sundered as well!
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit?
It is difficult, and only getting more so. The golden age of indies, where just releasing a game on Steam or Xbox Live would almost guarantee a profit, has long since ended. It's definitely no longer enough to simply make a great game. Great games are now coming out weekly. We would suggest that it's almost impossible to expect a viable product unless you take risks, artistically and otherwise, so that you (and your potential audience) can take one look at your game and identify what is unique about it.
"Strike up a conversation with a dev at a game con, or a local indie meet-and-greet, and you'd be surprised what professional opportunities might come from it!"
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
It's not a hard industry to break into, at least in a city like ours, where a solid core of AAA devs have bred a healthy indie scene. It's staying profitable, so you can keep making games, that's the real challenge. But if you're just starting out, don't know where to begin, you just need to go out and meet people. Indie devs are by far the most approachable creators I've ever seen, speaking from experience, having worked in the music, movies, and TV industries. Strike up a conversation with a dev at a game con, or a local indie meet-and-greet, and you'd be surprised what professional opportunities might come from it!
Where do you think the industry is heading - is VR the future in your opinion?
Tough to say. VR doesn't seem ready for mainstream prime time in its present form; maybe next generation, once it credibly evolves beyond on-the-rails-lower-res-FPS-ports, prices come down, and some unanimously praised revolutionary killer apps start appearing. In the mean time, it looks like more of the same for the industry over another two or three years, just with slightly better resolution and HDR.
What game(s) have had the biggest effect on your life, and why?
Strictly personal response here, but the games I played obsessively when I was young basically fused themselves to my DNA, and still define "fun" for me in their specific genres: (in no particular order) NHL 94, Wonder Boy III, Ultima V, Revenge of Shinobi, Civilization I, Pirates!... I could go on.
What does the future hold for Sundered & Thunder Lotus Games?
Most any news will be revealed when the time is right. Anyone who followed the Sundered Kickstarter knows that we have some DLC planned for the game, but our lips are sealed as to what and when it will be. Meanwhile, prelim work on our next project will begin in parallel - but it will be a while before we're ready to give any details!
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
No single console would keep me from missing the others terribly. I'd cheat, and bring a PC that could emulate as many of the classic machines as possible.
Thanks to Rodrigue at Thunder Lotus for talking to us. Both Sundered and Jotun are available now - go and check them out!