New aspiring soloist lauds the ongoing democratisation of the game development sector
The iPhone represents a revolution in the game development sector, where publishing powerhouses such as EA fight on a level playing field with independent, and even amateur, solo artists.
That was the message offered by aspiring solo developer Hayden Scott-Baron, who recently stopped working for studios such as Frontier Developments and instead built his own microstudio.
“I'm certain that some developers will try going independent,” Scott-Baron tells Develop in an interview published today.
“I think the iPhone has shown me that any game can stand a chance when placed against larger publishers such as EA, especially in an environment where independent games can get just as much attention,” he added.
“You would never see that in a retail environment, and it's difficult even on PC for anyone other than enthusiasts to pay any attention to a small game made by a very small team.”
Scott-Baron’s new microstudio, Starfruit, recently put the finishing touches on the debut game Tumbledrop; an iPhone physics-based puzzle title.
His shift to solo development echoes that of former Fable II lead designer Dene Carter, who recently broke away from Lionhead to set up his own studio Fluttermind.
When asked on how the iPhone is changing the face of game development, Scott-Baron replied:
“There's certainly a strong spirit of 'give it a go' amongst developers now, knowing that there is a potential outlet without any worry of development kits or red tape.
“It's also given developers a reason to try out their project ideas, rather than letting them squander in a notepad. There's definitely a rise in alternative art styles too, be they childish 'sketch' type drawings, or incredibly abstract graphics, or simply very bold visuals, it pays off to make something noticeable.”
His enthusiasm for the increasingly popular platform is however tempered somewhat when giving considerations to the platform’s own tech and UI.
“[Going solo has] also made me think more about how games need to be appropriate for the platform. I've seen a lot of developers jump in to create very large or very complex games on the iPhone that I'm not certain are necessarily appropriate for the interface.
“The biggest difficulty is deciding whether you are willing to learn other skills, such as programming and music in my case, or whether to work with other people. Working with others can work out amazingly, but it's also quite risky because you can end up doubling the development costs.”