#1 The Story of Candygun: an insight into the development of Dead Block
Answered by: Roger Joswig
1. Tell us about your role on the team, what your background is and what games you have previously worked on.
My name is Roger Joswig and I'm the Managing Director at Candygun. I'm responsible for the general running of the business, Project Management and QA and I've worked in the games industry for over 6 years now. My first job in the industry was as a QA Tester at cdv Software Entertainment. I then took on the role of Product Manager at cdv, where I eventually became Licensing Manager. I've worked on over 50 titles, ranging from Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games like Panzers 2, Blitzkrieg 2, Cossacks 2 to adventures like Jack Keane and Action RPG's like Sacred 2. I then "switched" sides" to development and became QA Lead and Project Manager at Replay Studios, where I worked on a game called Velvet Assassin.
2. Why did you choose a zombie-themed arcade game as your first project?
Jens, our Creative Director, came up with the idea and everybody on the team loved it straight away. It was easy to picture the game, as everybody understood the reference to the countless zombie movies where people blockade themselves inside a building. We also realised there had never been a game that took the aspect of defence and incorporated it into a game. It also proved to be the perfect first project for us, as it was possible to develop and execute the idea with a small team.
3. How many people does the Candygun team consist of and what are the various roles you have?
Candygun has a core team of five developers plus one position we cycle around, based on project needs. The core team has known each other for a few years now, as we were all working together at Replay Studios.
I fulfil many roles, as I need to have an overview of all the issues on the project. I look after the finances and communication with our external partners such as publishers, service providers, legal affairs, etc. Through my background in QA and Project Management
I have a good understanding of quality and cost efficiency, which are 2 fundamental and important priorities for a small developer like Candygun Games.
4. How did the relationship with Digital Reality come about and how does it work in practice?
I was aware of Digital Reality as a game developer from my time at cdv, when the company published their RTS War Front in 2006. In 2010 I heard that Digital Reality were starting a Publishing division and remember being excited at a new publisher with developer roots was entering the market. I arranged to meet with them at the Gamescom in Cologne to show them our prototype and they liked it a lot.
Working with Digital Reality is a real pleasure. Due to their developer roots they completely understand the issues that can arise in developer/publisher relationships. For us, this has lead to an outstandingly smooth and cooperative partnership in which both parties are aiming at the same target: making the game as good as possible!
5. What made you choose Hamburg, Germany – a city not renowned for being home to many console game developers - as your base of operations?
Actually, there are 150 companies with over 2,000 employees in total working in the games sector in Hamburg. We met each other in Hamburg at Replay Studios were we had a great team which worked extremely well together. It was during that time that we got to know and respect each other. After Replay Studios closed down, most of the team members were looking for opportunities in Hamburg. We became aware of the financial support available through "gamecity:Hamburg", a support network which works closely with the games industry in the city.
gamecity:Hamburg ran a promotion to help developers create a prototype of their game – the perfect help for our new company Candygun Games. It's fair to say that without the help of gamecity:Hamburg our company would not exist. Besides the funding, Hamburg offers many top-quality service providers such as Periscope Studios, where we did our voice recordings and some of our promotional videos.
6. Dead Block is your first game as Candygun - what have been some of the more challenging aspect in making your game a reality?
At first it was pretty difficult to gather all the team members to create our company. When Replay Studio closed its doors and people were looking for new jobs, their priority is usually to find a stable working environment. And a start-up company is anything but stable!
Once we had the team together, our next challenge was to convince gamecity:Hamburg to financially support the development of our zombie game. The first few slides of our presentation showed various pictures from well-known zombie movies which caused some irritation in the audience as their general focus is on supporting projects that are also suitable for children. Thankfully we were able to convince them that Dead Block was not a violent splatter game and that it is different to most of the clichéd zombie games already out there.
Since our game does so many things different to other games, the biggest challenge was to create an entertaining tutorial that people enjoy playing while they learn the key gameplay mechanics of the game.
I think we have completely re-written the Tutorial four times, because we were never happy with the result and the feedback from the testers and focus groups we conducted together with Digital Reality. But now we are very happy with the result and can't wait to hear what the players in the real world think of it and the whole game!