Outlast dev warns against romanticising the idea of going indie

Thursday, 7th November 2013 22:10 GMT By Mike Irving

The developer of indie horror hit Outlast is advising developers to ensure they know the risks associated with going indie, and to not romanticise the idea.

Philippe Morin, the co-founder of Red Barrels, spoke to Games Industry International about a talk on the subject he will present next week at the 2013 Montreal International Game Summit.

Primarily, Morin will discuss the challenges he faced in setting up the studio, after leaving EA. “I remember telling my wife I’ll quit my job and within three or four months we’ll know if it works out or not,” he said. “And it took a year and a half.”

The delay was largely due to issues with securing funding. Morin shopped Outlast around to the big publishers and other investors, and struggled to get the backing of the Canada Media Fund. Most of the trouble, Morin says, came from ignorance of how the system works, and imparting what he’s learned about the process to aspiring indie developers is the goal of his Game Summit presentation.



  1. TheWulf

    These guys really don’t represent the spirit of indie, it’s more like they were trying to be a startup AAA studio in ethos. Perhaps that’s due to the lingering essence of EA that followed them.

    Usually, someone goes indie because they have something they want to make, to hell with success. That attitude has created some of the best games I’ve played, and I love it. It’s a philosophy that’s become even more common since the advent of Kickstarter, where people can perhaps realise their dreams with the aid of others. And even then they might not see a profit, but at least they won’t go broke.

    The best games are the games that were made because someone really wanted to do it. It’s like the best books, films, or TV shows. If something has a lot of mainstream appeal, with marketing, focus testing groups, and hopping on whatever the most popular bandwagon is at the time then it’s not exactly any different than what an AAA studio would do.

    Cheap, schlock horror is popular at the moment. So they went with that in the hopes of making oodles of money, since they didn’t have anyone who’d take that money away from them, which seems to be more the desire for being independent here than making.

    It’s not that all horror is bad, it isn’t. There are horror games out there which show their elegant craftsmanship and wear their heart on their sleeve. Amnesia is one of them. As much as I’m freaked out by it, I can’t help but respect them because they’re passionate about what they’ve set out to do. Interestingly, A Machine for Pigs was really, really quite bad by comparison.

    That was The Chinese Room trying to pick up on some of the Amnesia love and benefit from schlock horror, but their heart really wasn’t in it, and it had none of the heart or craftsmanship of Amnesia.

    Nor does Outlast.

    If you’re just in it to make money, just stick with the big development houses, because that’s what they’re all about. If you’re not in it just for the money, then the hurdles are worth it regardless.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. CPC_RedDawn


    If they have worked for a large company before, why not include that on their CV/Resume? They wanted to start their own company and get funding from a publisher that would let them have more freedom on their projects.

    They made an excellent game, which completely nailed the atmosphere, tension, suspense, shocks, gore, graphical quality, with a decent back story.

    The game was a massive success and they did it on their own because obviously publishers were blind to their ambition and potential in what they could do.

    I for one can not wait for the DLC and the sequel. I had a blast with the first one sure it was short but it was only £14.99 on Steam and it was well worth it.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. sh4dow

    I hope that the presentation will be made public, as it sounds like it may be great information.
    I’ve considered doing a project on my own but frankly, it would probably be years until I have saved up enough money to take enough time off (never mind the risk involved with self funding), so learning more about funding opportunities would certainly be helpful.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. TheBlackHole

    @1 So many terribly subjective assumptions, based on nothing but your own opinion, and on top of that you also claim to understand people’s motivations and commitments to very specific projects.

    Seriously, I wonder how many of you actually believe the shit you speak sometimes.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Phoenixblight


    Most of us just ignore his posts. I treat them like loki posts. Its just brain droppings from a person that is so self involved that he has no idea of the real world.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. DSB

    I’m definitely gonna get Outlast on the next sale/whenever I run out of other stuff to play.

    It looks really good, but I don’t get why they launched when they did. It was like right in the middle of a “horror wave” and I just gave up on seeing if most of these games were actually any good.

    Outlast sounds like a standout though. That and Machine for Pigs is on my list.

    @4 Pfff, how dare you. That sounds nothing like TheWulf.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. TheBlackHole

    @5 Right. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve not been subjected to TheWulf much before. Less prevalent than some of the worst offenders on here.

    @6 Ha :)

    #7 1 year ago
  8. sh4dow


    For what it’s worth, if I remember correctly, I usually enjoy your comments :) (In my opinion, there are really only a few members who stand out either very positively or very negatively)

    #8 1 year ago
  9. YoungZer0

    @4: Pretty accurate description right there. Bravo.

    @6: Uh, you definitely need to get it. It’s hands down one of the best and most immersive horror titles out there. If it had a little bit of combat – like Condemned – it might have kicked it off its throne for me.

    #9 1 year ago

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