Meet our students: how Kaan launched his indie game studio
After passing his Japanese Language Proficiency Test and enrolling into an Information Management college, Kaan realized that indie games was what he always wanted to do, and that this degree would not get him there. He dropped out of vocational college, and embarked on an amazing journey that started with Le Wagon Tokyo!
Thanks a lot Kaan for your time! So, what have you been up to since graduation?
“Let’s start with the most important I guess. Right after finishing Le Wagon, I went back to my home country (Turkey), and started working on a simple mobile game, Geometry Elude. After that, I kicked off a much bigger project, which took me roughly 4 months to complete, and is now available on Steam as early access! It’s called Beholder’s Lair, and it’ll be ready for download on August 28th." Nice! That’s a couple of steps away from Web Development already.
Yeah it’s been a long journey since graduating (laughs) — I actually thought about doing some freelance web development right after the bootcamp, but I was constantly coming back to building games, so I just went for it.
Wait… What’s an indie game studio?
Can you tell us a bit about the journey, and what you’ve been learning along the way?
"I am actually still learning! Having your own indie game studio means you need to do everything by yourself, from game design to marketing. I already had some experience with game design, and I started learning two game engines, Unity (C#) and Godot (GDscript). Right now I am studying game marketing: games make the most money during the first 2 weeks following launch day, so you need to get as much exposure as possible during that period. I started a Youtube channel as well as a Twitter account — The whole marketing world is quite new to me. Also, I am doing it on a low budget, so it definitely makes things a bit more “challenging” (laughs)."
"Having your own game studio means you need to do everything, from game design to marketing"
Can you tell us more about Indie Gaming in general?
"Sure — It’s gotten very popular starting from 7–8 years ago, and it leverages a lot on platforms like Steam. It basically is a new way to distribute your games, as well as allows you to constantly get feedbacks and update your game evene after release. That’s a new trend: in the past, once a game was released, it meant being shipped to retailers in packaged boxes, so it was too late to update it or fix bugs. It also reduces production costs, and somehow, the risks associated with developing a game. It’s very exciting, as it makes game development accessible to people like me!"
Designing a game from scratch
So Beholder’s Lair… that sounds scary.
"(laughs) Not that scary — You’ve basically been captured by some cultist folks, and they’re all controlled by that one guy, the beholder. You have no weapon to defend yourself, so you’re trying to collect keys and escape from each dungeon. The unique point about Beholder’s Lair is that there is only one single enemy per level — but he’s really smart! It’s also a permadeath game, so you have to restart from the beginning if you get caught. The game is not that long, it’s only 9 levels. If you do a full run it will probably take you 25–30 minutes, but you’ll have to spend much more time to figure out how!"
How did the development go?
"Well, it took me 4 months to develop the game. Actually, if I had to make the same game today, it would probably take me only one week. The thing is, when you develop a game, you experiment a lot: for example, at first I had a whole system to automatically generate dungeons. It took me 1 month to build that, and eventually I am not using it. Game design requires a very diverse set of skills: you need to tell a story, define how the game is structured, what’s the pace, the mechanics, do pixelart… But personally, what I like the most is the programming part."
Le Wagon can take you anywhere
Yeah that’s a lot of different skills — Do you think that going through Le Wagon helped you?
"I had a little bit of programming experience before the bootcamp, but I had never worked on large-scale applications. So working on Flavie (Kaan’s final project at Le Wagon) definitely helped me learn how to structure a larger project. Also, I am currently launching my actual game studio, Alpar Entertainment, and I am building the website from scratch. Le Wagon’s network is super useful too: I have access to a dedicated #gaming Slack channel, and I could share my games to get some followers.
"Le Wagon made me realize that I can learn fast, and build anything I want"
But the most important is, I would probably not have started my career as game developer if I hadn’t gone through Le Wagon. It made me realize that I have the ability to learn fast, and to do anything I want."
So what’s your plan for the months to come?
"Well, first of all I am going to work hard to try and make a bit of money with Beholder’s Lair. I also have some fine-tuning to do after it’s released, and this will probably take me a month. After that, I will start working on a new game! I am a one-man game studio after all (laughs). I still don’t know if it’s going to be a mobile game or a desktop game, and I guess it will depend a bit on how well this first game does.
"I want to gain experience, refine my skills, and become famous with my own studio!"
I am also thinking to come back to Japan, so in parallel I am exploring opportunities to work for a small studio there. But I don’t want to make a career as an employee in a studio. I see it as a way to gain experience, refine my skills, and become famous with my own studio!"
And we wish you the best with that! Any last words?