An Interview with Indie Game Developer Lucky Pause
Lucky Pause’s first title as an indie developer, Homesick, is not the first game for creative director Barrett Meeker, who has been working in CG for nearly a decade. And it shows––Homesick, renowned for its hauntingly beautiful aesthetics, has both exceeded goals on Kickstarter and received widespread approval on Steam Greenlight. In an interview with Lucky Pause, which includes Meeker, communications director Morgan Wyenn, and “office manager” Argon the dog, the developer shares some details on the team’s upcoming début, as well as some tips and insight into the world of indie gaming.
How would you describe Homesick for any readers who might be unfamiliar with it?
"Homesick is a first person puzzle-adventure game, set in an abandoned building. Through exploration and puzzles, you figure out who you are and what happened. Throughout the game you are plagued by haunting nightmares, that drive you forward."
What were some of your goals in creating the world of Homesick?
"I really wanted to create a game with a palpable atmosphere, where you felt like you were transported somewhere else; a whole other world that the player could walk around in and explore and interact. A peaceful, beautiful, relaxing but mysterious environment, but also [with] contrast in the form of the nightmares."
One of the more interesting aspects of the game seems to be the interplay between the day time world and the nightmare world. Can you elaborate a little bit on the differences between the two worlds?
"I wanted to create a duality, for the player to experience the world in different ways. The key differences are how the player feels in the same space, during the day and during the nightmares, and also the way that the player can interact with the world."
What was Lucky Pause's story behind entering the world of creating indie games?
"I (Barrett) had been working in the video game industry for almost ten years, as an artist doing CG. Like most people in this industry, I had thought about some game ideas and what it would be like to go out on my own. Then after about a year at a large video game company, I started to feel more like I could possibly pull it off! I had experience or could figure out just about every aspect of making an entire game at that point. And I was starting to feel really disenfranchised with the way the studio I was at was being run. It became the perfect time to try."
Can you tell us a little bit about the Kickstarter and Greenlight campaigning process?
"This entire experience has been amazing for us. We launched both the Kickstarter campaign and our Steam Greenlight page on the same day, and at that point basically nobody knew about us. It was just the two of us, hoping for the best. We had no idea how it was going to all be received, but we were hopeful! And within a few hours, the response was so positive and it has been incredibly exciting.
We haven’t done any marketing. We just launched the Kickstarter campaign and the Greenlight page, and from those two sites people have found us and supported us. It has been a really organic process. It has been really inspiring and touching for us to have such success and attention, without even doing any marketing."
What it was like to receive more than triple your goal on Kickstarter?
"We are so thrilled. When we first launched the campaign, we really were just hoping to meet our goal amount. Getting triple our goal has just blown us away. We are so incredibly grateful to all our backers; they have been so amazing. Also, getting so much through Kickstarter has allowed us to expand our vision for the game and take more time to really make it a more polished game."
Do you have any tips you'd like to share for anyone else looking to get involved in making independent games?
"When you are developing your idea for your game, think about what you are good at, what your strengths are, what you want to learn, and what size of game you can reasonably accomplish, i.e. the smallest game that would be fun. For example, my strength is 3D art and I don't have a lot of programming experience, so I thought of an idea that wouldn't require a lot of gameplay programming and that would rely more heavily on the art and atmosphere. Lastly, try to make a game you really believe in, and not just a clone of something just because that might sell. Try to make a game you would really love, and chances are, if you love it, then other people will love it too."
Is there a date set for Homesick’s launch at this time?
"We are trying for the end of the year."
What does the future hold for Lucky Pause after Homesick?
"We would love to be able to keep making games, as a small, independent studio. We would love to continue to focus on atmospheric, story-driven 3D games. We have lots of ideas for future games."
For more information on either Lucky Pause or Homesick, check out their website.