Monday, July 7, 2014

A (new) Introduction : our first 6 months

As of this week we are 6 people working full time on this game project plus many others doing part time work and a great many others helping us with their time, enthusiasm, opinions and encouragements by testing the game and challenging our decisions every step of the way.

We have built an amazing team and we are so thankful to everyone who has helped Burrito Studio.  Much work still needs to be done, but we can confidently say that we are halfway to a first game release and that things are in full motion!

As we start this blog it seems a good opportunity to take a look back to where we started and the challenges we had to overcome.

For now we will just make a quick overview of the crazy helter-skelter that has been the last six months, but we hope that underlying the process of building a small company from scratch will get people interested and that we will receive many specific questions on the challenges we had or are yet to overcome.  Please feel free to drop some comments and questions; we’d love to read and answer them!

This story has two prologues I guess, two branches that merge together.

At the tip of one branch you have Alex that is in the process of leaving a big game company where he had been a programmer for a little less than 8 years and got promoted into entry-level management.  It was a very big company with AAA productions where dozens or even hundreds of people could be working on a title at the same time.  The challenges were greats and the team he was managing was amazing, but he felt somewhat distant to the real production & creativity issues involved in building a video game.  Without a clear path ahead of him to get more involved and feeling slowly sucked-in into more abstract programming work / middle-management grounds, Alex made a leap of faith and decided to quit and try other projects on his own.

On the other branch leading to this story you have Jonathan and Maude, the two other co-founders of Burrito Studio, that have been living together for a while and shared many dreams & ambitions.  Six months ago, Jonathan had just finished a music degree and was looking to undertake his next artistic project.  As an avid gamer, he always had some game stories and ideas at the back of his mind, and had the idea of positioning himself in the game industry in the sound design field.  As for Maude, she is a talented graphic artist currently studying 2D animation and did some contractual work for game companies.  Maude and Jonathan started sharing ideas about a game world and some gameplay mechanics.  This grew into a pet project.  When the three of them had their first discussions about this game project, they already had some concept art in place, a basic narrative framework and about two dozen pages of game rules ideas.

So we have Alex leaving his game programming job and going freelance on one side, and Jonathan and Maude having their part-time game project on the other. They all lived in Montreal not that far from each other and had some very fun evenings with a few drinks, talking about the good ol’ days and the future days and projects to come. Alex shared his feelings about his job, and Jonathan and Maude shared their game project idea.
It seemed there was an opportunity to start something here.   

Back then, we never thought it would grow very big. Alex thought he could maybe kick-start Jonathan and Maude, give them a few pointers about game integration in Unity, maybe work a basic framework with them and get involved in their pet project as a part-time hobby. And that would be a fun side-project.

But as we all started to get slowly involved, I guess we all started to really enjoy ourselves.  That’s as simple as that, the basic cornerstone of our venture.  Having fun.  And the project just grew bigger and bigger and we sank into it head first without even realizing.

Soon we saw we had our hands on something and the work grew exponentially larger than anticipated.  We took a step back and realized that if this pet game project was going to lead anywhere, we needed to focus all our efforts and just go full time into it.  It was a big step to take, but it was a natural decision for all of us.  We laid out a very basic planning and time frame to release a game, formalized our commitment on paper, and also consulted with people having their own small businesses to get their take on it and learn what to expect. 
We knew a little of the indie gaming world and had some ideas on how to start a business, but looking back it really wasn’t much.The process of starting a company is like taking educated guesses one after the other: every time your guesses are better but the question is bigger.

So we had a project we were willing to commit.  The last thing we needed was some kind of catchy name to identify ourselves as a little indie start-up.  That’s when Jonathan and Maude's overexcited cat  jumped out of the corner sneakily and began to play with a roll of toilet paper. His name is Burrito, and the studio got founded.


Photomontage of the year.

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