Irish Video Game Developer Week : Interview with Ralph From Bitsmith Games Studio

Irish Developer Week

Featured Studio : Bitsmith Games

Interviewee : Ralph Croly

Date Dec 3rd 2011 

Today we talk to Ralph Croly from Bitsmith Games who have an intriguing looking game on the way taking ancient Irish Mythology and giving it a modern twist. I have long believed that the Mythological Irish stories are perfect for the gaming world with incredible heroes, villains, magic and myths better than any fantasy game being released in recent years.  

First question, tell us a little bit about your company, when you started out, who is involved and what was your initial mantra?

People involved

Owen Harris – code, game design

Basil Lim – Artwork

Ralph Croly – Sound & UI Design

Initial mantra “To make the games we wanted to play on Tablets”

What games have you already released so far and how have they been received?

We are still making our first game, Kú – but so far the feedback has been pretty positive!

Have you any projects in the pipeline that you can share with us?

See above. We have two other games in pre-production one is a turn-based strategy game and the other… we cannot talk about right now.

What made you decide to move to Ireland/set up in Ireland and remain in Ireland.

It seems like the right time to be here, there is currently a lot of activity and we are proud to be a part of that.

How difficult did you find it starting out?

It’s not hard making the game, because we enjoy it. The hard part is finding your feet, and dealing with all the other necessary non-game things that come with starting a business.

The lack of precedent when it comes to indie games, not only in Ireland, but the world in general, makes it hard to judge our progress, as we were often unsure if we were going down a wrong track, or which decisions were most effective when working in a group. There isn’t really an Indie Game Manual out there! We’ve managed to find a good balance through luck, trial and error, but it’s definitely a learning experience.

Who/what was the biggest help while finding your feet?

The NDRC Launchpad scheme has helped us greatly with all the afore-mentioned business issues, not to mention the funding! They have also helped introduce us to some great people form the Irish game industry, who have been an incredibly valuable source of advice.

What was the biggest obstacles you faced in the initial start up process?

Right now it’s money. We all need to make rent and eat and that can be a challenge. Next year out greatest challenge will be getting noticed on the app store. There are a sea of iOS games, but we are hoping to stand out form the crowd.

What was the best piece of advice you got from someone else, when starting out that proved invaluable? 

SuperGiant games, the makers of Bastion, talked about just jumping in to game development and building something straight away rather than spending weeks and months waiting for the perfect idea or planning. We followed this and had a prototype up and running in a week. As they said, this made it much easier to be taken seriously, get other people on board and communicate what we were trying to do.

Taking in your own experiences, what would be the best piece of advice you could now give to others looking to set up in Ireland? 

Just start. There has never been a better time to make games. Ever. The tools are free and easy to use, so all you need is a computer, an Internet connection and an idea. Once it’s build you can self publish, there are no gatekeepers in the 21st century.

How have you found other studio’s/publishers ? is there a good community between the developers in Ireland?  

There really is – everyone has been really supportive. We talk with the other developers in Ireland on a daily basis. Every one is super friendly and helpful.

Is there any support groups or associations that Irish developers should join to get the help form the community?

You should jump on to gamedevelopers.ie for a local community. If you are looking for something international, there are tons of options. Personally, we hang out in redditsgamedevelopercommunity.

Where do you see the Irish scene going in the future especially with so many big studio’s now setting up shop here? 

The games industry is really changing at the moment; you don’t have to be a massive multi-national AAA studio any more to make money doing it, thanks mainly to services like the App store and Steam. 

The indie scene seems to be taking off in a big way in Ireland, especially with the recent governmental initiatives regarding gaming. The very fact that gaming is being recognised as a viable industry for Ireland by the government is a significant step forwards for mass acceptance. 

The big studios setting up here are definitely promising for the games industry. This, coupled with more games-orientated college courses creates the potential for a powerhouse of games development, especially if college graduates are given internship experience at these studios, or are able to apply for jobs without having to emigrate, as has so often been the case in the past.

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