Profile – Bedtime Digital Games
Bedtime Digital Games is a six (soon to be seven) person game development company based in Aalborg, Denmark. The core members of the team were also on the student production for the first version of their game Back to Bed (due out in August). As a company, they define ourselves by our love for a wide variety of games, great aesthetics and a very open door policy when it comes to people interested in our games or the industry. This is their profile!
Chart your entry into the industry?
IGF Showcase was the turning point. Not only did we get a lot of attention, but the game also got attention from investors, one of these being Danish CAP NOVA. Our project manager, Klaus, and I had been discussing that the weekend development was maybe not the correct way to go, due to a lack of steady progress and difficulty of communicating with a very large team not in the same location. The interest from investors opened up a new path.
How important was the award win in the decision to continue along the path of game development and the formation of the studio?
The other reason the award was important is that we are all Danish and it is ingrained in us not to overstate our own skills and ideas, even when we may have something worthy of attention. Danes do sometimes have their feet too solidly planted on the ground. It is something that we really work on, and feel we have mostly overcome, but is far easier to take this step when other people are backing you up.
What would you say are some of the major challenges you face as a relatively new and small outfit?
Getting into the mindset of doing PR and marketing is also a bit of a challenge. Many of us in the game industry have a tendency to focus inwards on the game, without letting the rest of the world know what we are doing. However, if no one knows who we are and what we are doing, a success seems very unlikely. It is something that developers have to spend both time and some money on, whether we like it or not. We do feel thou that we understood this challenge at an early point.
This leads into a very tricky challenge that might sound a bit strange, the challenge of actually releasing a game. The challenge of setting a date and being satisfied with what we have made. At a certain point further polish will not improve the game, just alter it. This is a business decision, and something it seems many designers and artists have a hard time doing. Our own team have had fair share of these discussions.
What is Back to Bed and what inspired its striking aesthetic?
Playing through the game will tell the story of how Bob falls asleep at work and walks out the window. His journey is being told via a series of parallaxing artworks that the players must interpret. We have our own interpretation of the story, but we are very much looking forward to finding out what players see.
Where do you get inspiration for your titles from?
On the gameplay side, we get a lot of inspiration from other indie games that we can relate to from both a size and a business standpoint. In addition, many larger games, which relies on puzzles, are a source of inspiration, such as the Zelda series and essentially every adventure game out there. It helps us to see what have worked before, but also what did not work for others.
Having said that, a lot of the time we try to go for that which is strange and unexpected. Take a good idea and make it just bit stranger, or add a surreal visual to it. The goal is always to create something that turn heads and catch the interest of the player.
How would you describe the indie scene in Denmark and the Nordic region?
In the Danish public and amongst politicians there is still a lack of understanding for games. People enjoy games in Denmark, but when it comes to development and business people mostly think of something that can be used to teach or some awkward little brother to the film industry. We are starting to see a change in this view though, and we think this will change further in the coming years.
What areas of the scene could be further developed?
I recently talked to a person trying to develop the learning game scene, and my main point for her was that there is a lack of understanding when it comes to size of the game industry and how it functions. Small indie companies usually have little or no interest in taking on an underpaid work-for-hire project on a too tight time schedule. Projects of this type eats a lot of time from a company’s own projects and there is a risk of losing money on it. I feel that the first step to any real improvement must be to understand what it means to develop games.
Though there may still be a general lack of understanding for the games industry, it does seem like there has spawned a greater degree of interest for games. When you reveal to someone that you develop games for a living, this tend to spawn interested questions rather than long stares.
Who are the Nordic developers you look to for inspiration?
It is a very positive experience when you say you are doing a premium game, and people just look at your game and nods, understanding immediately that not everything must be free-to-play. In general, we feel right at home in the Nordic scene.