6 Idiots is a Copenhagen-based game developer with quite a different approach to developing games. In fact, part of their core principles is to have every game started and almost completed within 72 hours.
6 Idiots is an independent games studio in Copenhagen that has sprung out of the Chroma Studios company that developed and launched TWIST3D last year.
While the game was very well received, it didn’t generate enough money for another year-long development cycle, however, and that was when the philosophy behind 6 Idiots was born.
“We spent over a year making our last game, “TWIST3D”, operating under “Chroma Studios”. Whilst we had fun making it and people enjoyed playing TWIST3D, we didn’t make enough money to continue to operate Chroma.”, 6 Idiots co-founder Tim Shepherd says to Nordic Game Bits.
“So, we formed “6 Idiots” as a kind of development experiment before we all go get Real Jobs – the same team but with crazier ambitions: every game we make must be started and (almost) completed within 72 hours!”
The first title to come out of 6 Idiots is Balance Benny, an iOS-exclusive “skill game” revolving around balancing a character on a balance board.
And this is where the creativity and crazy ambitions start. Because instead of just creating a skill-based balancing game for mobile, 6 Idiots took the bull by its horns and contacted balance board manufacturer Indo Board directly.
Once they heard about the game, they were more than happy to start a partnership with 6 Idiots – already before the game was even finished.
“I approached Indo Board with the game and they dug it, and added us to their affiliate program pretty much immediately. Not sure what the future holds but we are enjoying the early stages of this partnership, and enjoy playing on the boards as we develop.”, Shepherd says.
For many developers, creating a game in 72 hours is something you try once or twice a year during game jams. But one of the advantages of short 72 hour development cycles is that they force you into thinking creatively. Not just about game development, but about marketing as well, Shepherd adds.
“We applied what we learned from our earlier Chroma titles (particularly what didn’t work) to this 6 Idiots theory. It’s about getting as creative with marketing as you do with development”, he says.
The core philosophy behind 6 Idiots’ marketing and product development approach revolves around 4 key areas, Shepherd elaborates. These are:
- We thought hard about where kids could be finding the cool new games from (hint: we think it’s YouTube), and how we could create a game which would be easy to reach them through that media.
- Balance Benny was chosen as a concept because we could identify a clear target audience based on other leading titles, AND we knew it was a unique gameplay concept which translates well to video media and will hopefully appeal to Let’s Play/YouTubers/streamers
- We knew which sort of publishers we might want to work with in the future, and made some conscious decisions on the aesthetics and gameplay so that it might appeal to their portfolio.
- Integration of Everyplay: our short-sessions, skill-based gameplay, and unpredictable/funny bails system make for funny viewing in replays, also helping us cultivate a ‘ground-up’ community
When it comes to marketing a game, most developers will jump onto every Facebook group and throw a few #Indiedev and #GameDev hashtags onto every tweet without hesitation. But does all that social media effort really pay off in the end?
Not necessarily, according to Tim Shepherd, who shares four important notes that he has learned along the way as a game developer:
- No-one gives a shit about Facebook any more – at least not for finding games. FB bury visibility too much. Are you spending a month implementing the FB SDK and all the social graph features? Stop right the fuck now and do something different.
- Facebook game dev communities quickly become echo chambers for themselves, as they are closed networks. They are good for support and feedback, but not for promotion
- For the same reason, stop using #gamedev hashtags etc on Twitter for PR; no-one gives a fuck. Actually, stop using Twitter
- Games review sites do not give a shit about your small, unknown game. Reach an audience a different way until you are no longer unknown. Then they will come to you.