FTL dev: ‘Competition deadlines helped drive our project forward’

By Dave Cook
21 November 2012 09:42 GMT

FTL developer Matthew Davis – one half of Subset Games – has said in a new interview that if it weren’t for game competitions like IGF or Indiecade he would have probably stayed in his apartment for the whole of the game’s development. However, he now believes that the pressures of public showcasing and competitions are valuable for driving indie projects forward. Find out why below.

In an Gamasutra interview, Davis admitted, “I was happy to just live in my apartment and program,” but he quickly saw the importance of getting out among the industry pros and shopping his project around when Subset Games entered FTL into the IGF China showcase.

On his IGF China experience, Davis said, “It was perhaps the most exciting part of the entire development. We had these judges tell us that it was fun, and that was really important in telling us it was something we should continue. IGF also led ultimately to our first public exposure, which was PC gamer. They loved the game and they put us in the magazine, which was a surreal experience.”

Competition deadlines forced the the team to get their game into a presentable state with each submission, and this constant pressure to improve FTL for submission kept driving the project forward, Davis revealed.

On their submissions to Indiecade, the core IGF showcase, Fantastic Arcade and other showcases, Davis stated, “The constant deadlines were huge. The deadline of people wanting to play this game, and ultimately judge this game, was the motivation to get this into something playable.

“These deadlines would come up every 3-4 months, reminding you that it has to be a balanced, functioning game that people can play. That was important for us because we don’t have marketers or publishers telling us we have to do anything.”

So while being a bedroom coder can work, and has been proven to work in the past, Davis argued that competitions, “get you out of your cave, assuming you do go.”

Indie developers certainly are getting out and about more, as seen at events like PAX and Eurogamer Expo, both of which feature indie game developers showcasing their wares, meeting gamers and other developers, as well as getting their project out in front of the games press.

Would you like to see indie devs given more exposure? What else could be done? Let us know below.

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