Interview with developers of Bravada: Getting to Steam is Hard

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Xsolla had a talk with developers of a small game Bravada. Ivan Taranenko from the Ukrainian company Interbellum told about the quest to Steam, their work with Greenlight and the difficulties of working with Kickstarter for Ukrainian companies.

A couple of words about the studio. When did you decide to make games?

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When we were kids (Ivan Tarananko, Andrew Michailenko and Kirill Michailento), we used to play a lot of games and talk about different mechanics and gameplay elements. Very soon we wanted to make our own game. At first we did some small table-top games like Monopoly or chess. Later we started to work in the gaming industry. In the beginning we’ve tried to make our own multiplayer RPG: complex battle system, 3D maps, upgrades, that kind of stuff. We didn’t have enough experience to make such an ambitious game. We had to start with something simple. This is when we decided to turn our independent project into a full-time job. We had no office. Just a small room with a couple of computers.

What is Bravada? What were the main sources of inspiration for this game?

We really fell in love with one outstanding game – Battle of Tiles. It had a fantastic turn-based battle system. You could easily control your units in a fast and easy manner. Actually there was nothing in that game except the battle system. We’ve improved this idea, added an interesting story and a cool mechanics, which allowed units to transform.

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Our main hero is a young dwarf who wants to become a great adventurer. There is a little problem though – he has no beard. His best friend – a nice bat – is willing to solve this problem. Friends start on their humorous adventure. You’ll create a small team of interesting characters, each with particular possibilities. Your allies can gain levels and change their specialization. The battles are turn-based but they are really fast, thanks to our cool battle system.

Where did you find the money for the project?

All the money we’ve put in the game came from our own savings. We didn’t actually spend much. We just needed some money to cover our general living expenses and pay for the Internet and electricity. Our team is pretty compact – just three people. Some other people helped with the music. A lot of our fans were willing to help with the translation in different languages.

We were not able to get our project to Kickstarter. We’re citizens of Ukraine and we needed an American representative. Of course there are various agents and middlemen, but they are pretty expensive. We just couldn’t afford to pay $1k for those services. That’s why we decided to gather money from the community, using our own website. It was enough to pay for the taxes.

What kind of middleware did you use in this project?

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We’ve used Unity. We had some previous experience with this technology. It’s a great functional and flexible tool. It is an ideal solution for small independent games. We’re using Blender to make 3D-models and animations. The files from this editor are compatible with Unity. It was Unity which allowed us to start working with the mechanins from the start.

How did you get your game to Steam?

Bravada is available in Steam. We’ve started with Greenlight. We applied for Greenlight in spring of 2013 and we got enough votes in summer 2014. The same year we won in Intel Level Up competition in Best Adventure/Role Playing Game category. Pretty cool. It wasn’t particularly easy. Greenlight is basically a filter that hold off weak games. If you want to get through, you need to attract a lot of people to your Greenlight-page. This is quite difficult actually. When the game gathers enough votes it will get to the top 100. It is very important, because it may become noticeable for Steam-administrators, who will finally allow the game into the store. That is, if they really like it.

How did you localize the game?

We had no money to work with the translation agency. We’ve actually made the whole English translation ourselves. Some guy from Australia read our poor texts in Greenlight and suggested to help. Then a couple of other people joined this project from Great Britain and USA. The Ukrainian version of the game was created by a very talented team of translators Шлякбитраф from a local website Play UA. A girl from Italy also agreed to help us with our game. Of course, all those people helped us for free.

How do you market your game?

Actually the whole marketing thing is new for us. Making the game is only half the job. You really need to push the game out. We’ve actually prepared a huge list of contacts of different journalists and send them a lot of press-releases. Every journalist was hand picked. We didn’t work with any marketing agencies. After the Steam-release, we’ve received a lot of emails from press and letsplayers. Some gamers really want to get the game and they abuse our openness. But it was really an exception from the rule.

How do you work with your community?

We didn’t start to work with pur community from the very start which was a big miskate really. After launching our Greenlight page and with the release of the game on Steam we’ve began to talk with the players, answer their questions and correct various mistakes. Gamers have a lot of ideas but we really can’t implement everything. That’s why we try to answer as fast as possible and explain our position to gamers. People really enjoy this communication.

Are you going to port your game to other platforms?

Yes, definitely! We’re really optimistic about our prospects. We’ve already started porting our game to Android and iOS. The Steam-release was a little unexpected and thats why we had to put the mobile version on hold. We’re going to work with the publisher on our mobile versions. It’s really hard to find a really involved partner.

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