This very question always lingers in all our minds and something we are asked often. Why we do what we do? Well, for starters we still work on a lot of external development and game content for studios, publishers world wide. This is something that has helped shape us. Had we started building our own Game IPs day one, we sure would have brutally suffered. Building games is a long journey no matter how small or big the game is. It can only be dealt by teams who show immense commitment and patience – let alone the skills needed.Being very well aware of it we didn’t want to burn all the cash and resources building games that we hope that would work – hey after all we are Indie right ? We instead took the route of building a great team to begin with which puts us right into the middle of a puzzle. Now rest of the puzzle can be beaten by building games – easy yes ? How we wish!
Being small allows us to be agile and pivot without any fuzz! Finishing 3 years has kinda given us a better edge and control over things – all our team members have very much matured – we believe it now shows in the work we produce. There are enough stories about many developers kicking off things with a higher spirit only to see it dying out and at the end not shipping the product and we wont be any exception to that. Even before we wanted to start building games, we have been having a fairly long and rigorous process of strengthening and building expertise. This can only be built by building content of international standards and working with the best in business. We have been very fortunate on that front so far. We are very proud to be building class leading content. Shoddy stuff doesn’t work at Hammerplay and our guys have developed a keen eye in spotting one. When people take note of our work and have a word or two to appreciate – it is very reassuring.
Now that the foundation has been built – what next ? Well, we will only continue to better this. We have been experimenting on a lot of ideas for all along and have been miserably failing in many. We are in fact very fortunate to have a decent luxury to try many things out and more importantly kill a lot of ideas that wouldn’t work. Honestly we have failed and have been failing on a lot of areas for a variety of reasons. Games that we had to cancel, publishers cancelling on us due to reasons beyond our control and reasoning, pulling plugs on the development and some of them leaving us in a lurch. In some cases we had to take conscious calls in cancelling some of the stuff we went too far in. Again our teams have built this incredible ability to leave all those behind and march forward without any lull. This is very important for any Game developer, we simply cannot afford to slow down because of failures.
We have been starting to build our original Game IP and are in the middle of pre-producing some and producing some- Yeah finally! Some of it are really under the hood and we are unable to announce them just as yet. But they are super unconventional given the current trends. In many ways we have gone back to the roots with some of those games!
Like all developers, the fear of failure haunts us too! But that cannot hold us back either – so we have to hit that tide and make it. The worst we have been fearing are things like reputation and culture. We have always been a very unconventional development studio from day 1 – something that we were very conscious about. If culture isn’t set day one, it can never be later on. In fact the giant leaps we have been taking have always been with our work culture and the general way we function as a group. For starters, we don’t practice the following.
- Leaves and latecomers policy – Absolutely nothing on this. Rule of thumb for teams is to give a heads up if they are off or late.
- Work timings – As if we have all the time in the world to build all the stuff we dream of! A day is never enough at Hammerplay.
- Reporting structures– It kills it when you are small – we dont plan on this even when scaling up.
- Managers/ Leads– There is no point in having the best members on board and hand hold them on what needs to be done or tell them how to work!
- Human Resources– Nope! People should discuss issues with people and not take it around to make them worse.
- Dress Code– We are easy to spot in T shirts, Shorts, Flip flops – hey that’s us!
- Long Meetings – Nah, we rather prefer to be in our seats and get work done!
So of-course people tell us these are ok and easy to practice when you are small. Well, its a Yes and No. When these radical or rather unconventional things aren’t implemented while being small, there is no way you can retro fit them when scaling up.
So why we do this ? We really believe there isn’t a better way to build games – for that matter any creative content. We are firm believers of giving space and control to every member in the team regardless of their experience and role. Its pretty much like film making in a much more organised form- you have to entrust the individuals with their respective role and have them give their best. In a lot ways its more of an organised chaos when it comes to a Indie development team. So you would obviously wonder what if the given culture is abused by some of the members ? Well it can possibly be, but in our case we have never had a terrible derailment either. These things only add up to your responsibility and add a positive pressure on the shoulders. When you know you can take leaves whenever you can or play games whenever you want to, you don’t tend to abuse it- because you know you have those as a necessary way to function. Especially when you build an environment and culture that is a such a joy to work with, who would want to miss the action – right? Its a like a little toy fair where every kid wants to participate and play without being restricted. Potential can be fully explored only when there are no constraints.
People are our real assets without who we are going to only have computers and walls around.
Image Courtesy- The Internet!