Scrap Mechanic is a PC game developed by the two-man team at Axolot Games in Sweden. The game evolved directly from a Minecraft Xbox 360 prototype built for Mojang back in 2011, and is now ready for Steam Greenlight.
It was the year 2011 and Pontus Holmbom and Kacper Antonius, the two-man team who would go on to found Axolot Games in 2012, had finished a prototype build of Mojang’s Mincraft for Xbox 360. The collaboration between Mojang and Axolot Games never went further than that one prototype build, but Kacper and Pontus had been so inspired by working on the prototype that they decided to develop an entire game based on their ideas.
“It’s actually a funny story”, Kacper Antonius starts out, as he explains the story of how the game came to be. Once Kacper and Pontus first started developing the game that would eventually become Scrap Mechanic, the two Swedes quickly realized that what they had set out on was more than just a simple Saturday adventure. “At first we wanted to do something simple. But the more we worked on it, the more we realized how much fun it was, so the ambition level just kept going up.”
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Since its start as an idea originating from the development of a Minecraft prototype, Scrap Mechanic has come a long way, and today, the game differs greatly from Minecraft both in terms of art style and game mechanics. With that said, however, the game still very much attracts a similar audience of gamers who enjoy creative building survival games focusing on exploration. And for Kacper Antonius, it is no secret that his inspiration did indeed come from creative inventions such as “Theo Jansen’s amazing creations, lowriders with hydraulics, and Minecraft.”
There are a lots of decisions to be made during the development of a game, but while player-testing is often highlighted as a great way to test the decisions you’ve made in regards to gameplay mechanisms and features, Axolot Games didn’t do a whole lot of testing for Scrap Mechanic. In fact, most of the time, the team would rather go with what they believed to be most fitting for the game than relying on outside feedback.
The advantage of this approach is that the game becomes very coherent in its design. But while the player data Axolot Games now have available shows that the team were right for the most part, Kacper Antonius still advises other game developers to take user-testing seriously, and incorporate the feedback from players early on.
“I would still encourage indies to test things early on. We should have done it also because ideas you have in theory don’t always turn out that great in practice.”
Economically, the Scrap Mechanic adventure has relied primarily on self-funding from the two founders. At some point, however, building a very ambitious game requires more funding than what most normal people have lying around, and the team therefore recently decided to bring on-board an undisclosed angel investor.
“At a certain point, making a ambitious game like this gets pretty tough and we decided to bring in a small funding from angel investors. That’s where we are today.”, Kacper Antonius explains to NordicGameBits.
People differ when it comes to the amount of financial risk they’re willing to take. But as Kacper Antonius emphasizes, when you are searching for a co-founder, the most important thing is that you both agree on the amount of risk you’re willing to take. Developing Scrap Mechanic with personal funding as the primary financial backing for the project was only possible because each co-founder had a very entrepreneurial and risk-willing approach to developing games, he says.
“I think it’s really important to find a co-worker who believes in the game idea as much as you and is open to take risks. You have to have some sort of a entrepreneurial mindset.”
When it comes to great advices, one of the things the team at Axolot Games often see indie developers mess up in, is marketing. “They often make the game and when it’s done, they slap marketing on top.”, Kacper Antonius explains. Instead, marketing should be integrated and developed simultaneously with the game design, always “thinking about how to touch the viewer’s emotion. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.”
Do you agree that integrating marketing too late is one of the pitfalls that indie game developers often fall into, or what do you see as the largest pitfalls of game development? Let us know in the comments section below!