The following interview is with Raymond Teo, developer for Secret Base.
Hey Raymond, thanks for doing this interview with us. Why don’t you tell
the readers a bit about how you got started as a developer?
Thanks for having me. I started making flash advertising games, back when I was in a start-up design firm partnership. It wasn’t our key service, but as a hardcore gamer, it’s the kind of project I enjoy the most. About 2 years later when I left the company, Singapore was also pushing the industry, calling for proposals to fund local developers. I was lucky enough to get in and created my first game. It was a horrible game as I know nothing about game design then, but the fact that I finished the game from beginning to end was an extremely important step.
What is it like being a game developer in Singapore? How is the gaming community there?
The government has been pushing the local game industry since 5-6 years ago. Today, we have AAA studio like Ubisoft, Lucasarts, EA, etc. all 30 minutes away from where I live. It’s amazing and I’d never imagine it 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the indie scene is not as active in comparison. There’s quite a few making Facebook games, and a few indie developers that try to make 1-2 iOS games and give up. It might have to do with the Asian culture’s need for stability, hence individuals here tend to be less adventurous.
With that said, I did see a few promising titles in the work, so hopefully, we get to see them soon.
Independently developed games are catching on in the mobile gaming market,
how do your mobile games do compared to your traditionally distributed
titles, through Steam/Desura?
There’s pros and cons to both. The mobile platform is obviously a lot easier to access, but equally easy to get lost in. There’s plenty of apps, experienced publishers, price wars, and things get outdated really fast with no chance of a comeback. Of course, there’s always the chance you strike it big with the huge userbase, but I’m not sure if you can do that with just a good game alone. With the intense competition, the knowledge of how the business runs, and how to market, becomes much more important.
As for Steam/Desura, the “down side” is that the game usually needs to be much bigger. Afterall, it’s a game meant to be played when you’re well seated in front of your PC, and you’re probably going to sell it for more than $5. If you’re going for Steam, it gets a little more tricky, as you need Valve’s team to actually play and like your game to put it up. They get tons of requests a day and you really need a solid game to make your way in. The upside is that things are a lot easier once you’re past that. You get quite a bit of exposure by default, and you don’t get completely forgotten after you move out of the “top 25” chart.
Recently your game, Tobe’s Vertical Adventure, was featured as one of the
titles in the Indie Royal Spring Bundle. With nearly 20,000 bundles being
sold, it is safe to call the Spring Bundle a success.
For readers who may have missed out on the bundle, are there any plans to
feature Tobe games in upcoming bundles?
We do get quite a few request for bundles every now and then, so it’s possible. But I do try to hold things back, to be fair to players that support us at full price, too.
The Tobe games seem to be your main franchise, are there any plans to add
to the series in the future?
Well, I imagine Tobe to be my mascot as Mario is to Nintendo. So yes, I hope to make sequels and spin off for the series. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be making something else, I’m not sure at the moment, but I’ll definitely come back to Tobe every now and then.
In the credits of Tobe’s Vertical Adventures, LUT! is listed as the
co-producer of the original version and Soh Yi Heng and Nicholas Sim are
listed as original version programmers. What is this original version that is mentioned?
The original version was really just the Xbox Live Indie version. When we ported to PC, we reworked on quite a bit of stuff, so to be fair, we had a separate list of credits.
As for the extra members in the credits, LUT! was my partner then and co-produced the game at an early stage. Eventually, he went off to work on Explosive Barrel, and I founded Secret Base. He’s actually really famous for the flash game, Straw Hat Samurai and a few others. If you haven’t tried it out, you should.
Another one of your games, BiteJacker, is a parody of indie-game show
Bytejacker, featuring the two hosts of Bytejacker, Anthony Carboni and Jon
Rivera. How did this game come into being? Did the Bytejacker guys come to
you for this game?
I was a big fan of the Bytejacker show then and often play it by the side while I worked on Tobe’s Vertical Adventure. Anthony and Jon have amazing personalities on the show, and it just makes sense to star them in a bizarre zombie game. I came up with a screen mock, sent it to Anthony and Jon, and all hell broke loose.
Finally, just for fun, do you have any favorite indie games you find
yourself playing in your free time?
Thanks again, Raymond.
Thanks again for having me 🙂