Profile – Good Night Brave Warrior

Sling Ming_green

Good Night Brave Warrior are a studio of twins (Andreas and Mattias) with shared ambitions of developing a game together and shared responsibilities. Currently developing their first game they take a relaxed approach to development and believe there is work to be done about the growing rift between developers, games media and the gamer community. This is their profile!

Could you chart your entry into the industry and the formation of the studio?
While growing up we always played games together, starting with Philips G700 and C64 then fighting for Sega in the console war. The Amiga sparked our interest in creating games as well. PC and the internet led to the forming of Brainchild Design together with our buddies Martin and Anders. We released a couple of freeware games, of which Jump ‘n Bump became the most popular. In the end we had to call it quits, as university studies started to occupy too much of our time. At this point the timeline separates for a bit.

Andreas doubted one could make a living doing art for games and prepared for a life as a boring but responsible engineer. Then on a whim he applied for a job as an artist at the newly founded Playfish, got it and surfed the crazy wave of freemium gaming on Facebook. Until it plummeted (or moved over to mobile?).

Mattias worked at UDS for a while, then went solo to make games as Bitbliss Studios. One of his games was chosen as IGF student showcase, but he failed spectacularly at making a living. He joined startup company Power Challenge and helped them grow from tiny to not so tiny. Then he jumped ship and worked at Avalanche Studios for a year, at which point he got sacked and ended up as an IT consultant.

In 2012 the stars aligned and we decided to make games together again as Good Night Brave Warrior. Andreas draws pretty pictures and Mattias writes complex code. We share the rest of the responsibilities like game design. If you want to be clever you could say that Good Night Brave Warrior is a twindie games company.

What would you describe as the company philosophy to development and as a team?
Do what you love and don’t listen too much to what everybody else says? We don’t always make the most rational decisions. Heck, we don’t even do that much planning. But somehow there’s always something to do, and when that’s done there’s this other thing.

We continue to work on Sling Ming because honestly, there’s only so much we can do before feeling compelled to create games. There is nothing else we would rather do. It’s such a nice feeling to create something. With games you create whole worlds without wasting the resources of the world we live in, that is just be the best!

What challenges do you face as a small indie outfit and what steps do you take to overcome them?
Each and every day our creativity is challenged, but we cherish and thrive upon those challenges. What gives us headache is the market uncertainty. We are absolutely unable to predict how many units our game will sell. Secretly we suspect that everybody else has the same problem, but they hide it behind fake smiles and fancy business buzzwords.

Cash flow is a problem, of course. We do a bit of contract work to bring in money, but not enough to support us. Personal savings make up for the rest. It’s only money, right?

Perfectionism is our greatest enemy. With no boss supervising and telling us “stop, that’s good enough” the development could possibly go on forever. How do we overcome these challenges? We don’t, really. We accept them and hope for the best.

Let’s talk about Sling Ming. What is it and what inspired the need to develop a platform based mobile based game?
Sling Ming is – this is usually where we stumble for words and show the game – an acrobatic platformer. First you set the path you want to go and then you start swinging. A mix of puzzle, physics, adventure and action.

Actually, the game started out as a princess-on-a-leash racing game (!) but have drifted towards a classic platformer. The leash mechanic came about as a way to control a character without resorting to a touch joypad. We hate touch joypads.

Making a platformer was sort of a given, we grew up with and absolutely love platformers! The mobile market needs more (good) platform adventures. Leo’s Fortune is a great example which made us really happy. It’s kind of what we’re aiming for!

You’ve chosen to develop for mobile platforms. Why is that and do you see the studio expanding to other platforms?
Mobile was chosen to keep us from making an overly complex game. Restrictions boost your creativity, forcing you to focus on gameplay. We also wanted a wider audience to try our game, not just the core gamers.

Since we made our choice – that’s over two years now – the mobile market have evolved. Performance is not a limiting factor anymore, at least not for indies. And while the audience is wider than ever, so is the offering in the App Store. Getting noticed is harder by the minute. Mobile gaming is a scary market to aim for.

Hedging our bets seems like a sensible thing to do. Sling Ming is made with our own cross-platform tech. In addition to iOS and Android, it also runs on Windows and Mac. In the back of our minds we’ve kept the idea of a PC release, but we fear that people will dismiss Sling Ming as “just” a mobile game.

How would you describe the indie scene in Sweden and the Nordic region? Is there a collaborative spirit?
Our impression is that the indies in Sweden know what they are doing. There are quite a few big game studios here, so if a person just want to get a job within the games industry there’s plenty of opportunities. Going indie is a conscious decision, often made together with former colleagues or student buddies.

Collaboration is surely happening, but we’re not involved in it to be honest. We’ve met up with a few Stockholm based indies, but that’s about it. There are jams like No More Sweden and Nordic Game Jam, but we haven’t been to either of them. We really should make more of an effort!

That being said, most indies are very approachable and nice people, if a bit busy. Connecting with them is easy, through Facebook, twitter, meetups or expos.

What areas of the scene could be further developed?
The games industry is doing exceptionally well. The general acceptance and affection for games is growing by leaps and bounds. Games are broadening their appeal, inviting more people to play and appreciate how wonderful games are. By and large everything is dandy.

But there is this one thing. Time to bring out the soapbox.

The relationship between developers and gamers has gone a bit sour. You might call it a lack of mutual respect, if you will. Gamers demand an awful lot, while being fairly unwilling to pay more than a pittance. Developers retaliate by giving gamers “free” games, which are about as free as the bait on a fishing hook. Other power struggles include Kickstarters, preorders, early access, games journalism, etc.

The hostility is escalated through social media, reaching unparalleled levels of “lack of mutual respect”.
More respect and less hate, please. Respect for yourself, your game, your fellow developers and gamers. And everybody else.

Stepping off the soapbox now.

Who are the developers you look to for inspiration in Sweden and the Nordic region?
There is so much talent, it’s hard to even keep up with it all! We recently played The Swapper by Facepalm Games and Steamworld Dig by Image & Form Games, both great platformers but still very different. Teslagrad by Rain Games looks amazing and is next on the list of games to play. Limbo by Playdead is an absolute classic. Leo’s Fortune by 1337 & Senri is stunning. Mediocre inspires us with success after success, as does Simogo. Knytt by Nifflas is a bit older, but still a master class in atmospheric minimalism.

If you could impart a word of wisdom to a new industry entrant, what would that be?
There is absolutely nothing stopping you from making games. Each and every gatekeeper has been slain. Cheap or free tools are available no matter what field you’re into. There is an abundance of information online and in books. You can self-publish games for most platforms. Nobody can stop you from creating games, if that’s what you want.

However, it takes a shit-load of practice before you’re able to create anything good. Ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? There is more than a little truth to it. Your first objective is to score enough practice hours. Don’t look for shortcuts, just put in the hours. Wax on, wax off.

Know that your ability to judge if something is good or bad will grow faster than your ability to create. This means that, for a while at least, you will realize that what you’re creating is crap, while still lacking the ability to make it better. It’s frustrating. Continue practicing to get over the hump.

After finishing your education (recommended) you’ll face the choice of getting a job or going indie. Working at an established game studio offers tremendous benefits, like getting a salary while learning tons of valuable stuff. Only consider starting your own studio if you’re part of a really tight group of people – that is one thing which is hard to replicate later in life.

Most importantly, never let your fear of failure stop you from trying. Everybody fails. That’s how we learn!

Good Night Brave Warrior
Good Night Brave Warrior on Twitter

Leave a Reply