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The twisting tale of the production of papercraft extravaganza Derrick the Deathfin and how it landed me in swimming pools of lovely debt!

gordon midwood, Blogger

October 31, 2012

4 Min Read

it all seemed so straightforward at the beginning: funding was secured from Channel 4 & Screen Yorkshire. our partner agencies were on board. Different Tuna was set up. our explosive extravaganza was all laid out on paper: we were to complete our production run on our PSN game Derrick the Deathfin in 11 months, and launch in late summer 2011.

looking back now, that seems like the most ridiculous sentiment in the world. i'm not sure how any of us believed that would be possible. perhaps we were all on drugs. thanks to Ron, most of the papercraft creatures that made it into the final game still are of course.
some background: Different Tuna is a venture that consists of myself & Ron, specifically founded to make Derrick but one which is set to power over the awesomeness horizon in the future too. we were aided and abetted by contractors Tuna, ten24 & Pitstop along the way but we are a 2 man team. Ron makes everything look sexy, i do the rest. Ron has been beyond great, he's a genuinely amazing & talented guy & worked for many many months for free.

but enough about Ron, back to me and my eternally expanding ego. i do game design, level design, development, frontend, press, business administration etc etc. it has been enough work to keep me at my desk for 12 hours a day every day for 2 years, and even after all that time I have no actual idea what the term "business administration" means.

as for myself? well I'm a ruggedly attractive, sensual yet dynamic independent games developer who managed to piggy back on the critical success and commercial catastrophe of my previous game, lilt line, to secure funding for Derrick the Deathfin. amazingly, I am married. astonishingly, I have two children as well, aged 3 & 4. they arrived with a complementary mortgage. so quitting a well paid job to pursue some half-assed dream about paper fish was probably a little foolish. luckily my gorgeous little family is inhabited entirely by angels and they all supported me 100%. well, my wife said it was okay and i promised the kids some crisps & a holiday if they kept quiet for a bit and that was that.

so long story short: turns out making a console game is a bit tricky, especially one made out of paper, and 11 months was wildly optimistic. in the end it took 24, but we only had sponsorship for 11. Channel 4 and Screen Yorkshire have been insanely supportive throughout the entire development of Derrick, but nevertheless after 11 months I needed to find income to support myself until the game was done. i certainly wasn't about to give up, nor was i prepared to take a break and come back to the project a few months later. no sir, Derrick was going to get done & i would beg, steal and borrow the money to do so. Which is exactly what i did, apart from the stealing bit. Here's how: that was enough to finish it all up! since completing the game I have been on a promo tip as all my twitter followers will doubtless know (sorry everyone!) & doing some freelancing with the lovely folks at Preloaded too, which has helped out a bit.

due to sponsor requirements, revenue shares between those involved, platform costs and so on for each copy of Derrick sold i personally receive just under £1. it's entirely possible, or indeed by the looks of things at the moment 100% probable, that sales will never amount to enough to pay back even a quarter of my personal debts.

but here's the thing: i don't care. i love Derrick. i'm deliriously happy that Ron & i managed to finish the game and make it so beautiful and fun too. i would do it again tomorrow.

just don't tell my family i said that.

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