Vlambeer Aims to "Make Better Games, Not Bigger Games"

Vlambeer Aims to "Make Better Games, Not Bigger Games"

Ridiculous Fishing screenshot

Vlambeer's Rami Ismail kicked off IndieCade East with his keynote, which told the history of Vlambeer and its two developers.

In the opening keynote of IndieCade East, Vlambeer's Rami Ismail ran down the history of the two-person game development company that is now best known for Ridiculous Fishing. Vlambeer has no intention on making big games; in fact, Ismail announced to an audience that he wants to "make better games, not bigger games."

As a part of the talk, Ismail described how Vlambeer formed - going back as far as the childhood of both himself and Jan Willem Nijman - giving context for why Vlambeer does what it does. Nijman, who did not attend IndieCade East, practiced game development by making a rapid succession of short games through The Poppenkast, where he participated in many three-hour game jams. Ismail said these quick game jams led to Nijman's game design sense.

"Even though he really didn't make anything good, he did make a lot of stuff," Ismail commented.

In his keynote, Ismail chronicled Vlambeer's winding road to success. Going from game to game, Vlambeer consistently had little money. By the end of 2011, Vlambeer only had $2,000 in its bank account, and the company almost fell apart. Even so, Ismail and Nijman decided the best course of action was to continue making games. Later on in 2012 when "things weren't working" for Vlambeer's game Hyper Crate Box, the solution again was to work on dozens of different games, continually making little games and finding the game that just hasn't been made yet.

When Ridiculous Fishing launched on iOS in March 2013, it became a hit, and it took some of the stresses of money problems off of Ismail and Nijman's shoulders. The duo is currently working on Luftrausers. Vlambeer is a more well-known company now, but its climb to success meant trying a lot of things. Bottom line, Ismail and Nijman keep making games, and they work on making them better. However, Ismail stressed that there is no single road for success.

"There are really no shortcuts to making games," he said. "And there really is no right way of making games." Any game developers aspiring for success have to make their own luck - be active, meet new people, but most of all, "make games." Those two words lay on the final presentation slide.

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UPDATE: Vlambeer's Rami Ismail has been hunted down and killed by EA and Activision under the charge of 'heresy'. An Activision spokesman had this to say, "We at EA and Activision pledge to bring you bigger selling IPs at a faster rate. We believe, as always, in quantity over quality, and simply could not allow the foolish notions of one man get in the way of our well established regime."

Thats what nintedo been saying for a long while. To note, nintendo has the top 15 best selling games of all time secured all for itself. So they are doing something RIGHT.

Well that's an interesting foundation. I wonder what games will come from it, then.

Strazdas:
Thats what nintedo been saying for a long while. To note, nintendo has the top 15 best selling games of all time secured all for itself. So they are doing something RIGHT.

Heresy! Nintendo does nothing right and is awful and poo poo and you're a doodyhead because rawr I'm angry about games for some reason!

In all seriousness, you're right, and they're right. Instead of chasing the trends and trying to do what the other guy is doing but bigger, honing your own craft is probably the way to go. Find your market, make it work. Doesn't just go for making games but a lot of business ventures.

Strazdas:
Thats what nintedo been saying for a long while. To note, nintendo has the top 15 best selling games of all time secured all for itself. So they are doing something RIGHT.

Going by the list on Wikipedia, they have 8 of the top 15 games. Still very impressive, though!
I'm also inclined to agree that a bigger game does not a better one make.

I have no clue what anybody means by "bigger games". Is Vlambeer talking about file size, average playthrough time, average overall time spent on the game, price of admission, price of creation, mechanical depth, number of mechanics, time spent in development, or scale of the marketing campaign? I don't know if this is Vlambeer's fault because of a bad keynote or if it's roseofbattle's fault because of a bad article, but since I can't actually watch the keynote to figure it out for myself I'll just storm off to the corner to fume and be angry and stuff.

Also, this is kind of obvious. A game should only be bigger if it needs or has to be and should be devoid of required filler or irrelevant content. This would be nice to see in AAA circles, since it's been proven to work fine in the indie scene (see: Bastion, Shank, Bleed)

Klumpfot:

Strazdas:
Thats what nintedo been saying for a long while. To note, nintendo has the top 15 best selling games of all time secured all for itself. So they are doing something RIGHT.

Going by the list on Wikipedia, they have 8 of the top 15 games. Still very impressive, though!
I'm also inclined to agree that a bigger game does not a better one make.

I was going by VGChartz global sales data. If you have any proof this information is wrong i would gladly read it.

Li Mu:
UPDATE: Vlambeer's Rami Ismail has been hunted down and killed by EA and Activision under the charge of 'heresy'. An Activision spokesman had this to say, "We at EA and Activision pledge to bring you bigger selling IPs at a faster rate. We believe, as always, in quantity over quality, and simply could not allow the foolish notions of one man get in the way of our well established regime."

I would find it both funny and yet completely predictable to hear that EA has been playing The Most Dangerous Game due to all of its FPSs.

 

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