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GDC Austin: Gaijin's Roush on Bit.Trip's Indie Construction

Kicking off the Independent Games Summit at GDC Austin, Gaijin Games' Mike Roush talked about 'holistic indie console game design' in making the retro WiiWare series, explaining how project scope morphed its game design.
The original concept of the first Bit.Trip title was "Pong with music," said Gaijin Games' Mike Roush Roush -- but "we all know a great game needs more than a concept." Kicking off the Independent Games Summit at Game Developers Conference in Austin, Roush talked about 'holistic indie console game design' in making the retro WiiWare series, explaining how project scope morphed its game design. "It's very important for indie dev teams to get buy-in," he said. "If two-thirds of the team aren't into the game you are making... it'll taint the end product." Interestingly, Gaijin's Roush revealed that Bit.Trip, which is about to release its third miniaturized WiiWare title, originally had a "30-level maniac of a game" in mind, at a 1000 Points ($10) price point. But in the end, Roush and his colleagues ended up scaling back down, noting that he expected "about a 45 minute experience" from a 600 Points ($6) game, and this is the price Bit.Trip Beat eventually got released at. Part of the decision to split the game into smaller chunks appears to have been deadline-based, but it's also down to philosophy. "Not everybody needs a deep experience", he said. With that in mind, the idea to gradually evolve the Bit.Trip series with different classic game treatments seems to have evolved from the concept of bite-sized chunks. He added that the design has always been Wii-specific for the series: "Analog sticks weren't an option for us... so you won't be seeing us on Xbox 360." In general, Roush explained that Gaijin's "cohesive vision" from the start of a project has helped them "maintain a balance" in their projects. And he feels that their outreach and their business planning has helped them succeed thus far. "We know indie developers that are so focused on the game that they're not thinking of... what happened beyond the game." Roush ended his talk by commenting on the future for Gaijin Games, stressing their swift prototyping and speed to market is going to continue. He revealed that over the next three months, the company was planning on making three games, and for the next six months after that, another three more games.

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