Interview – David Zobrist – Indie Game Developer

Got Interviewed a long time back ..around January 2014, together with dozen of other indie devs, by http://www.slideshare.net/rlousada/developer-interviews

Since it is not a very well organized site I re-posted it here:

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Developer Name: David Zobrist
How long have you been developing apps and how did you get started? I did paint level paper design for existing games and created simple stories in form of short comics when I was around But back then their were no real option to study in the technical / creative direction like game art or game design. I found my way back into my beloved field when I was 23 years old. I studied 1 year at the Games Academy Berlin and did a 1 year internship at YAGER Development right after. Which was a lucky first step into a big gaming studio that was busy developing Spec Ops The Line for the Xbox with 2k Games as Publisher. I was not part of that huge team at all. Instead I created game concepts and pitch material for many different ideas, in order for them to have a variety of future projects to work on after their game release. I had big backlashes when I got sick and could not work for 6 months, lost my girlfriend and my apartment. But I recovered and started of in a new Company as an Intern again but this time much better paid and with better perspectives for a real position. I worked at Young Internet later re-named to Goodbeans for 3 years. Starting off as an Quality Assurance Intern moving the carrier ladder up to a Quality Manager and finally to a Game Designer.As Game Designer I was responsible for Content, narrative, monetization and feature design. Through my experience as a Quality Assurance I was highly benefited with insights in all departments and was a crossroad for development. The company did major investment mistakes and broke down step by step, shortly before the sheep sank I decided to jump and this time on my own ship. I used the first day of my unemployment to organize my self-employment plans, visiting seminars and consulting an founding expert. Which helped me to create a bad ass business plan, where I used my pitching skills and his traditional/correct way of setting up all required documents to gain a Founding support from the government. Which worked out 3 months later and since beginning of this year I’m financially supported by Berlin until Juni of this Year, where I have to start living of my own profits. I released my first app „The Sha Man“ in December 2013 and the second one „Sha Cat“ 23. of April 2014. And now I hope to reach as many people as possible with my work to make my dream come true.What do you love most about being an app developer? 

The barrier to create digital experiences was never as thin as now, not long ago you had to be able to program in complex languages, this extreme focus on one field made you very valuable in companies but independence as an all rounder was almost impossible to think off. Who would do your Art? When it’s about games it was required to have at least one artist and one programmer. Also who would publish your work? There where many open questions and insecurities, today a 12 year old boy can find the tools and create his own app in a week and get it out there on the same market where the game giants fight for the attention of the crowd. I would have loved this possibilities as I was that young, In fact I would have never done something else. I love the possibilities you have as independent Artist and it will become probably even easier.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when trying to market your app(s)? 

Reaching the right people and knowing who I’m developing it for. Since I still think I have to find my own style I can’t really now how it will impact on the market. The whole business inflation makes you

fight for any kind of attention bad or good, the worst is to be not noticed. I kind of created a protective filter on my own psyche to not take it personal, I anyways would keep on developing success or not. It is what I love doing. There are several known ways how to gain attention for your app which would be: -Get featured by apple -> The golden key to success – They want universal builds and something that highlights their device – I was not featured yet -Get featured / Reviewed by the big boys such as Toucharcade.com or Pocketgamer.co.uk -Press release agencies (some free PrMac) – Youtube – post your gameplay / work in progress / trailers -Contact successful Youtubers to play your game – I see this one as one of the most powerful instruments right now -Google + Post your Game into the right Circles -> Add people get a following -Twitter Follow/Unfollow who doesn’t follow you -> get in contact with other indies -Facebook – Does not work for community building at all -> Good as Product page and for your players to ask questions later -Development Blog Its just nice also for yourself to see your work progress step by step – It also does spread your pictures into google searches -Post in Game forums – Google Admob – Pay for installs .. Sha Cat is the first game title where I did all of this, it came as a result of seeing the absolute urge after releasing my first title The Sha Man. Specially with priced titles you will need a community else it will just sink into the depths of the Appstore. I’m now always looking around for additional ways to promote my apps.Is there anything you would like to see changed or done differently in the App Store?

I think there should be a list for new titles not only high ranked, there are a lot of very nice indie titles which get no chance because how you get known if no one see’s you. A list for general new titles would be very fluid and alive and less controlled by the big boys which pump hundred of thousands into their iTunes presence/position.Any advice you would give to developers who may just be starting out?

Be sure it is what you love doing and you not just here to make the next flappy bird clone. The App Store has become a lottery business for many people, which is heart breaking to see for people who really love the art of games.Take a moment and find out more about David Zobrist andThe Sha Man at https://twitter.com/TheShaManGame

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