No Support: The Developers of Indie Minion Master Go It Alone
“One of the toughest things for me is having to face my wife every night when I come home,” Steinwedel said. “Not that it’s bad; she encouraged me to actually do this, and she was great and said, ‘You need to go try. This is your dream, you need to go do it. It’s better to try and fail than to have never tried at all.’
“But at the same time, I want to be able to go home and bring her gifts and take her out and treat her the way she deserves to be treated and spoil the crap out of her. And it’s just hard — you have to put your life on hold and you have to put yourself on a pretty strict budget and make a lot of decisions based around that. You don’t get to go out and do a lot of the fun things that you want to do with your friends. You have to keep your expenses in mind and keep your activities cheap and stuff like that. So going from triple-A development where you’re paid pretty well to tightening the belt – it’s totally doable but at the same time, it’s not fun.”
But there’s also an incredible freedom, Steinwedel said: the freedom to make exactly the game BitFlip wants to make.
“We could have never made a game like Minion Master at a traditional studio. It’s just totally different from anything else that’s out there. It’s kind of our baby and we’ve been able to say, you know what? Let’s make this wild and crazy game and every day is an adventure.”
And then there’s the thrill of accomplishing something. The guys said their reception at conventions such as PAX had been promising. “There are two responses that we get,” Steinwedel said. “The first one is, “Oh my god, this is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Thank you for making this game.” And the other one is, “See ya later.” That last reaction surprises us, but it was confirmed by Gillilan, who added that he’s been told “It’s not an RTS so I don’t care.”
That reaction, we admit, comes as a bit of a surprise. We had the chance to experience it firsthand at PAX Prime in September, and though only slightly different from what was available prior to the show, the experience of playing it in a room packed with hundreds of people made it feel as fresh as our first look online. Perhaps because it simulated the experience of old time table top card games. The result: what was intended to be a short trip up to talk to the team ended up being a lost hour or more. Minion Master is easy to play, fun to learn, and as it turns out, one of the most addictive games you’re likely to play in any format. What’s not to love?
Well, not a lot, though the team revels in mixed reactions. “It’s really that they either love and they totally get it and they’re into it, or they just don’t
care,” Steinwedel said, to which Somberg added “[my] favorite thing anyone has ever said to me about Minion Master is, “Shut up and take my money.”
“The first time we had the game on the screen and it was ‘The Game,’ with graphics that Delaney had made and sound that Dave had made, and all the code that we put together and the minions are all kind of grouping and fighting – seeing all that come together, it’s like, we made this, from nothing. From zero,” Somberg said. “…Now we have a game that people are paying for and playing and enjoying with multiplayer and the cloud. We did all that, from nothing. That just really makes me happy.”
In a sea of sequels and endlessly exploited genres, there’s something comforting about a back-to-basics approach to the fun of just playing a game. At the risk of sounding unprofessional, it made us happy too.
Minion Master is currently available for pre-orders, and can be tried for free here. Snagging a $20 pre-order also gets players beta access to a number of additional features, including six-player multiplayer matches. Minion Master also is currently up for voting on Steam Greenlight: Find it here.
This piece is a collaboration between Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln. Read more of Hornshaw’s work here and Lincoln’s work here, and follow them and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw, @rossalincoln and @gamefrontcom.