One on One with Pascal Bestebroer: Heroes of Loot
Pascal Bestebroer is a Dutch indie game developer at the one-man studio, OrangePixel. I chatted with him about life as developer and how the industry has changed for indie developers. Bestebroer, who currently resides in Den Helder, Noord-Holland, Netherlands, has been developing games for a living since 2004.
OrangePixel has developed 13 games on Android, 12 on iPhone/iPad, six on ChromeOS, five on Windows/Mac.Linux and recently broke onto the Vita with a release of Heroes of Loot, which was formerly on mobile and Steam.
Some of OrangePixel’s latest works include Space Grunts, Gunslugs 2 and Groundskeeper 2.
With the release of Gunslugs 2 on the 3DS today OrangePixel makes their debut on Nintdeno's flagship hardware in North America and Europe. Bestebroer puts a strong emphasis on fun, challenge and an arcade style in his games.
Check out our review of Heroes of Loot and of course, be sure to check out Bestebroer’s other works. You can find more information on OrangePixel’s website: http://www.orangepixel.net/
KS: Let’s start with a little background on your path to becoming a game developer. At what point did you realize it as a goal and what were some of your first steps?
PB: Ever since I had a Commodore-64 and Spectrum back in the 80s, I wanted to create games. That just never left. In those days, magazines came with code-listings, and if you typed all that code into the computer, often taking hours and lots of typos, you would get a simple game that felt like the most awesome game in the world because you put all that work into it. I was hooked.
KS: What has life been like as an indie dev? I saw a tweet of yours where you mentioned your neighbors thought you were unemployed. Any truth to that?
PB: Working from home every day can have that effect on your neighbors, yes.
KS: All jokes aside, were there times where the work far exceeded the profit? How did you grind through that?
PB: I started creating games back in 2004 for mobile feature phones. So this was actually before "indie" became a thing and years before the iPod Touch and smart phones took over.
Starting any business is hard at first, so the first years I struggled with making enough money, but I just kept pushing games and also took on a lot of work-for-hire- creating games for other companies according to their specifications and ideas.
KS: Sounds like an understandably tough start. Do you think it’s still that way?
PB: I can imagine it's much harder starting a game company now with so many more games being created for so many platforms. It will be hard getting noticed, even for my new game releases it's hard getting some attention.
KS: How have you seen the industry change in your 10 years in it? It seems, from my observations of the industry, that indies are perhaps more relevant now than ever. Do you agree? Is that because of Steam/PSN and others being more open?
PB: The term "indie" has become a hype word the last few years, but it's not really something new, we've been around since the 80s where all games were made by "indies".
I do think the tools and the platforms are more open and easy to use, so the first steps are easier to take for new developers.
Also the fact that there have been some developers becoming extremely rich might have caused some sort of gold-rush from people who would normally not try to get into game development- but most of them won't make it.
KS: What are some of your projects you're the most proud of?
PB: Heroes of Loot was probably my best and biggest achievement so far. It released in 2013 and still people are enjoying the game on many different platforms. It's pretty amazing to see that happen.
KS: Heroes of Loot is a fantastic little dungeon crawler. I had a chance to sit down with the fairly-new Vita edition and had a blast reviewing it for our site. What other achievements are you proud of?
PB: The fact I've been around for 10 years now and still going at it is something I'm very proud of. There are not that many indies who can say the same.
KS: Finally, Pascal, any advice for the aspiring developers of the world?
PB: Make sure you know what you're getting into. This is a very crowded workplace, and everyone and their dog is making games these days. Be passionate about it, create the games you want to make and stay true to yourself.
More importantly though, if you want to make a living from it, learn business skills ASAP. Creating games is one thing, but selling games is much harder.