Mike Mood, co-creator of Bendy and the Ink Machine and one-half The Meatly Games, took the stage (or in this case, the podium) to talk about Bendy and the Ink Machine and the success that’s followed so far.
Something that Mike has labeled “Accidental Success”, he often explains it as a happy mistake. The Meatly, the anonymous puppeteer behind Bendy and the Ink Machine wondered what it would be like to walk in a 3D world made of sketches. During his talk, Mike went into detail about the Meatly, who prefers to remains anonymous as well as the newest member of the Meatly Game team, and labels the puppet a “creative genius”. It’s easy to see where he’s coming from when the credit start to roll as you can see he does most of the art and music for the game.
In a recent review of Bendy and the Ink Machine Chapter 2, I echo that sentiment by saying “Bendy and the Ink Machine has been a fun and very original ride. While it plays like familiar games, it’s set in a colourless world filled with colourful characters that have me coming back for more. the Meatly has done a fantastic job at world building for Bendy. It’s one of the most original pieces of art I’ve seen in a long time”.
What was interesting was the dynamic Mike and the Meatly shared. Mike explains that they constantly argued about story versus gameplay, explaining how different their trains of thought were. Despite their differences, s they often feed off each other which makes it a good relationship.
While a creative genius, the Meatly is “certainly no programmer” Mike said half-jokingly. He was surprised the game even ran. But Mike along with the help of some members of his team worked to improve the game and that hard worked looks to have paid off. The newly revamped Chapter 1 runs a lot better than the earliest stages of the game and I had no problems with Chapter 2.
Why then does Mike Mood title his talk “Accidental Success?”
It’s because they never really had any plans for Bendy. Mike and the Meatly were both working on a completely different game and had even hired a contractor to help them with until. That is until Bendy and the Ink Machine took off like a bat out of hell and absolutely exploded on the internet. Heck, even the name Bendy was a typo! When saving the file, something screwed up and what the Meatly was left with was Bendy.
From there, the community grew almost as fast as the game was being downloaded. Mike and the Meatly were flooded with fan art, cosplays and more.
Was the success really “accidental”?
Mike attributes the success of the Meatly Games so far to luck, perfect timing and common sense decision making.
When they decided to release the game on Game Jolt, Mike said he could tell the community was craving something new and something fresh. So naturally, one of the most original games I’ve ever played blew up on a platform that was looking for something new and original. Next, the Capital Gaming Expo was happening in Ottawa. Mike and the
Next, the Capital Gaming Expo was happening in Ottawa. Mike and the Meatly had plans to showcase the game they originally were working on. But with the success of Bendy, they knew it was a perfect opportunity to work on Chapter 2 and show that off at the expo and not only to gamers but to industry leaders.
Finally, Phat Mojo, a toy company craving something new approach Mike and the Meatly about a licensing deal to make toys. They ended up going to the toy licensing show in Vegas which happened to be happening at around the time the game blew up and everyone was talking about Bendy. So you can expect Bendy and the Ink Machine toys in your local Hot Topic in late August but don’t hold anyone to that date.
Mike was also adamant about not being in it for the money but rather he wants to work with cool people and create something cool. He seemed to allude to it being more about leaving a legacy behind as he stated he could die in three years where money means something.
the Meatly Games also has a great business model. When they first released the “demo” for Bendy and the Ink Machine, it was actually Mike’s wife Jillian, CEO of Jillian Mood and Partners and owner of the Capital Gaming Expo, who came up with the idea to call it a “chapter”. The lightbulb went off and Mike decided on an episodic release that allowed them to:
- Release the first chapter as a playable demo
- Chapter purchases and donation would fund the next installment of the game
- Instant feedback directly from their audience
- Free updates and improvements to prior chapters
- No long wait times between Chapters.
What can we learn from “accidental success”?
Mike says that their decision making throughout this whole process was simply common sense. Even when they weren’t making any money, they still made sure to hire the right people. Specifically, lawyers and accountants and they put the right pieces in place to not only cover their own asses but to take the responsibility off them to free up their time to do what they do best, and that’s make games like Bendy and the Ink Machine.
Mikes words of advice? Go out and find the people to take of the things you aren’t good at and focus on the stuff you’re good at. You can’t wear all the hats so work with partners, hire the experts and do what you do best.
The hardest part about the whole process has just been finding the time. Mike says him and Jillian are crazy and take on so much, putting on events like OJam (The Ottawa Game Jam hosted every year), the Capital Gaming Expo as well as a number of other events and endeavors.
For those wondering if there’s going to be a Bendy sequel, Mike stated that there absolutely could be but they don’t want to be the guys that just made Bendy. They’re absolutely planning on releasing more games, especially the project they were working on just before Bendy blew up and they’re excited to get started on that as well.
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