Seeing new games pop up on Kickstarter is nothing new. It seems like every day we get a handful of potentially awesome games to browse through. All have one thing in common – that particular game is the next best thing. Most are not able to even come close to that lofty goal. That is why we are very careful about what Kickstarter campaigns we cover here on Retro Gaming Magazine (article here). For instance, when I heard about The Painter’s Apprentice and looked at the gameplay video and screenshots, I knew I needed to cover it. Along with that came an opportunity to interview Jasmine Greene, president and designer for Luminosity Mobile.
Retro Gaming Magazine) Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Jasmine Green) Hello, I’m Jasmine Greene, president and designer for Luminosity Mobile. The company has been around for the past two years. The Painter’s Apprentice is our third game. Our first was Once Upon a Runner (available on iOS and Android) and House of Red which we completed for a game jam.
RGM) What is the inspiration behind Painter’s Apprentice?
JG) The idea came about because I have a lot of friends who are artists. While there are some games that have incorporated similar ideas (Epic Mickey comes to mind), there weren’t any until recently that actually focused on actual art. I wanted to create a game that was fun to play while also acting as a way to appreciate the arts and learn about art history a bit.
RGM) Have you ever played a game called Silhouette Mirage for the original Playstation? It was a color coordinated style game that many loved.
JG) I have not, but I’ll look into it!
RGM) What are some of the hurdles you are having to clear as an indie developer?
JG) Every studio has their own unique set of circumstances. For our team, we face a few big hurdles. Perhaps the biggest is community building. It’s a slow and arduous process, but it’s always worth it. We’ve attended events like MAGFest in Baltimore and more local events in New York to show off The Painter’s Apprentice. Thanks to this we’ve been able to expose our game to people and gain fans. Even better, these expos have acted as a litmus test for any updates, additions or changes we might need to make to the game to make it more interesting. While we’re pretty active on social media and run a blog on our site, ultimately nothing really beats meeting people in person and having them play the game in front of you. It’s one of the best forms of marketing, in my opinion. Of course we also reach out to folks on YouTube and press outlets to get name recognition out there as well.
Which leads to the next hurdle – money. While you won’t really hear too many developers talk about it, it’s something many indies worry about. Many indies are self-funded with the money generally coming from their day job. I myself work at a health startup as a digital marketing assistant. As much as I and I’m sure other developers would love to work on our games full-time, the hard truth is that there needs to be a steady income source to pay for everything from developer fees on Steam, Apple and Google to promotional materials. And of course going to events like PAX also cost money as you need to pay for your booths. While there are certainly indie studios that are able to bring in an income, many many more don’t break even with their costs. On average, games on Steam only sell around 32,000 copies and on iOS and Android the number is much lower. While technically the average is around $5,000 for mobile markets, in reality that number is skewed due to the top games like Clash of Clans, etc. making a ton of money. Most app developers are lucky to see $1,000.
Of course, if everyone on the team works a day job then there’s the next obvious hurdle of time. For us, we all work on the game when we have a spare moment. Sometimes it’s only an hour other times it might be a few hours. Naturally we all try to put in as much time as possible to push the game forward, but it takes much longer to finish a game this way versus if we were able to work on game development as our full time job. With that said, there’s plenty of room for improvement and we’re ramping up our development process so we can seamlessly transition from one game to another. We’re hoping this reduces overall development time and we’re always looking for ways to improve our processes.
RGM) Do you have a publisher or will you and your company be handling these duties as well?
JG) We do not currently have a publisher though it has been something we’ve looked into. There are now dozens of amazing indie publishers out there so we’re taking the time to look into each one to see if there could possibly be a fit. Right now though we’re doing everything in house.
RGM) You have Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight covered, are you planning on supporting other platforms such as Itch.io to reach more fans?
JG) Yes, we are planning to release on iOS and Android after we get our game on Steam. As for itch.io it is definitely a possibility we’re considering.
RGM) Why such a low financial goal on Kickstarter? Does this mean the game is further along than just the “early days” of development?
JG) Yes we are very far along in our development. Our goal for Kickstarter is to have enough to help with our recurring administrative costs and also provide enough to attend a few conventions in the upcoming months to show off our game. And of course we also want to provide incentives for our team members.
RGM) Speaking of the Kickstarter, how has the response from fans been so far?
JG) Our fans have been very supportive of our Kickstarter campaign, but of course we need to reach out to more gamers to reach our goal. We’ve got some pretty awesome tiers in there if I do say so myself.
RGM) Will we possibly see Painter’s Apprentice hit platforms other than Windows?
JG) Yes we will also have a Mac build and will eventually release to iOS and Android. We don’t have plans to go on consoles just yet.
RGM) Anything you would like to say to the fans reading about Painter’s Apprentice for the first time?
JG) Whether you’re an art buff or not, The Painter’s Apprentice will hopefully incite some art appreciation for you as you travel through eight different art styles. Of course, it’s also a very classic action platformer. We took inspiration from games like Super Mario and Sonic so it will feel familiar to those who played and loved those games.
If you’d like to help us reach our Kickstarter goal pleasepledge: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/luminositymobile/help-bring-the-painters-apprentice-to-life
Or of course vote for us on Steam Greenlight: steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=780357821. You can find a demo of our game for download on Steam as well!