Eufloria Development Team
- Name and position: Alex May, joint developer.
- Time on project: May 2008.
- Location: UK.
- Staff numbers: 2: Alex May and Rudolf Kremers.
- Discography: Eufloria "the game formerly known as Dyson" (PC - just released)
» How much of your time on Eufloria has been actual development, and how much on other things?
That's varied over time. For a while non-development tasks were taking up a considerable amount of my time, up to 40%. Rudolf was always more active on that side of things as well, and that only increased as we approached release and the design and content were complete.
» So with bug fixing etc. as the busy release deadline approached you also had other concerns rearing their ugly heads. That must have been stressful.
Yes, and coordinating between distributors for a simultaneous release was rather trying. Also again, community support is very time consuming and being present online before release I think was quite important. In terms of time sinks... I spent a bunch of time on the web site, which was definitely worth it, and on the community, which is also worth the time as I say. Going over contracts was a pain, and kind of risky without a dedicated lawyer. Luckily we had some good input from people we know to get us through the first couple.
» Did you chase these people for advice as you entered into a trcky area, or was it more by chance?
The former; we know a lawyer or two between us. It's no long term substitute for having a dedicated paid lawyer but it got us going. We were lucky in that respect.
» Were there any incidents that quantified how useful having proper legal advice was?
The one big thing was changing the game's name. We wanted to avoid any of the kind of badness that Mobigames recently experienced with Edge, and so we had a good check around and asked a trademark lawyer friend about it, who gave us some sterling advice. It was quite sad as we liked the original name, but if we'd kept it we would have been leaving ourselves wide open to claims of infringement. Luckily we managed to turn the name change into publicity via Direct2Drive, who offered to run a competition to change the game's name. That was really cool.
» I thought it was incredibly smart; to turn a bad situation into a good one is fantastic. After the release of Eufloria could you sit back and relax or has there been a load of other work for you to do on it?
We did a beta test with a group of public testers, and squashed a lot of bugs in the process, but we did end up shipping with some howlers in there. We've still got an intense graphical bug that is stopping many laptop owners from playing the game, so we need to fix that ASAP. There have also been plenty of things to do like interviews, promotion, new contracts for download sites, etc. I expect it will die down soon though.
» I ask as post release work is something that should be factored in to schedules. The idea of "moving straight onto the next game" probably doesnt exist.
Quite, yes. Not just things like bug fixing but also community support and other aspects of game production that aren't limited to development can take a lot of time even before release.
» How did you manage to maintain your interest over the past year and a half?
It was difficult at times, both when the heat was off and when it was full on. Sometimes pressure can work as a motivator and sometimes it can be really demotivating - I guess the latter happens when the pressure is too high. One excellent motivator was public feedback. Since we've been freeware for a long time we were always able to get feedback, and monitor download rates and news buzz. It was cool to see people were still interested.
» You are also working full time as a games programmer. How did the well known ups and downs of regular games projects compare to that of Eufloria?
Eufloria has been much more sporadic - full time employee games work is much more regular. The studio I work for (Curve Studios) has been crunch-free since they started, so it's been really good for working on side projects. It's topsy-turvy I guess. With each burst on Eufloria I would take a week or two off the project to recover, so that was much more like the traditional view of game development.
» You and Rudolf are just known as "the guys wot done Eufloria". What happens next... will you leave full time employment? will it depend on the financial success of Eufloria? You might not want to say if you're thinking of leaving your job!
Heh, they asked me that themselves a few months ago. I'd like to work with Rudolf again, as we work well together and have a well-meshed skill set between us. It's too early to tell what will happen though. I have a bunch of projects I would like to do - who knows? Obviously one of the ideal aims is to be able to do this full time, so if Eufloria can bootstrap that then that's great, and to keep full creative control.
» Have you thought about the cost of what the two of you have invested in Eufloria? "free time" still has a cost.
Yes, there has been a massive cost, not just financially but also with life in general. Rudolf's story is slightly different as he went full time indie some time ago.
» Would you recommend to other people that they do what you did (to develop ion spare time)?
I think you have to really want to. The main points for me are:
- to know you are allowed to release something. Check your employment contract; have a clause written in and make sure it's there when starting a new job.
- to know you will have to spend some large chunks of time on it if you plan to do it commercially.
- not to get too sidetracked with other projects.
So a lot of people do hobby development, with possibly the idea of going pro one day. You can force the issue and start a project specifically for it, or wait until you make something that is pretty popular and develop on that, I guess. Either way going pro is a lot of work and if you don't realise that going in, you will end up hurt.
» With Steam - can you log in at any time and see up to the minute sales data? I figured you can't say your cut (of each sale)
In terms of sales, we get a lot of data yes. The rate we get on Steam is comparable to other similar services, and we didn't have to negotiate it. And while I can't speak for others, I haven't heard anyone complain, besides that Gearbox chap. I think in general you can expect a cut of around 30% for any DD service at the moment, aside from some of the casual portals I believe.
» Eufloria has kept up peoples interest for the past year. What gives you a competitive advantage over other products / companies?
I think updates, and originality: the fact we have a kind of atmosphere no other game has.
» If you could travel back in time to when you started Eufloria; what advice would you give?
Put in multiplayer from the start, and be more professional with things like error handling and build management. And don't feel bad about taking breaks.
As of 28 Oct 2009 Eufloria has just gone on sale, and can be bought from the Eufloria purchase page, or from Steam.