Duck Reaction #1 | Prototyping

This is the first episode of a new arc in our Tales from the devs format. After Calligram Studio and The Pixel Hunt, we’re going to follow the journey of the young studio Duck Reaction. This isn’t the first time Mathieu, Simon (brothers and sole members of the studio) and I (Inksushi) have met. In fact, in early 2024, in the run-up to the Steam Next Fest, we talked about their careers and their future game Fluffy Doki Sunshine. Since then, the project has been put on hold. Today, we’re going to start by talking about the reason for this abandonment, the new concept in the works and a whole host of other things. We’ll see you at the end to wrap up this article, so enjoy your reading.

Logo du studio Duck Reaction

Inksushi: The last time we spoke was in the run-up to Steam Next Fest 2024, where you presented Fluffy Doki. Now you’ve switched to a new project, what’s happened?

Mathieu: I’ll try to tell you what’s happened since then. We need to get back to Fluffy Doki. Our goal is to get funding for this game. We set ourselves the idea of making an initial prototype and publishing it at Steam Next Fest, to gain as much visibility as possible and, from there, to try and contact publishers by proposing our prototype, our wishlists and positive feedback. All this in the hope of financial support. So we’re working hard to get the game ready for the festival. It’s a pretty ambitious project, there’s no denying it. We’re reducing the scope as much as possible because our aim is to avoid the crunch as much as possible. But the further we go, the more we feel we’re in trouble, the more we reduce it. In the end, we reach an incompressible size, but we still have to present something.

At that point, we didn’t even have the big feature that was the vampire survivor / risk of rain bonus system, which was an important element. So we’ve already done away with that, but we’re still trying to do something fun. We’re keeping the core gameplay: the herd that grows and gains in power. We’ve simplified a lot of things to save time. For example, we got someone to do the cover for our Steam page. After all, we had to have a minimum for Next Fest. Despite the reduction, we still have to do a bit of overtime, let’s face it. Not necessarily longer days, but a bit of weekend work. Of course, we do what we can or, during the week when we’re supposed to be working at the client’s or, in Simon’s case, at his other studio, we’d go home in the evening and still do a bit of work on Fluffy Doki (editor’s note: they work part-time on Duck Reaction). So, despite our best efforts, we still found ourselves crunching.

Inksushi: So you’ve been fooled by the deadline?

Mathieu: That’s exactly the point. We can’t move the date, we should have, but we couldn’t. It’s Steam Next Fest, that’s just the way it is and we really want to go. It’s Steam Next Fest, that’s just the way it is, and we really want to go. We can’t miss this chance, we’ve got to give it a go, the festival is sold as some kind of big trophy, the Eldorado. That’s less the case now, they’ve announced some changes, but before it was presented as the miracle method for getting wishlists, and therefore visibility. And we arrive exhausted, but happy all the same. We start the Steam Next Fest with our prototype, a few bugs that we manage to fix quickly, so we’re OK. Except that, as we said, it’s a prototype and in fact for the Next Fest, it’s no longer good enough.

The truth is staring us in the face. There are so many people around now that you have to show up with a demo, your game has to be finished, it has to be brilliant. We arrived with our kind of old, disgusting prototype, saying: “Go ahead, it’s fun, test the game anyway, you’ll see, it’s fun”. But what happened was a flop. But there are still people out there testing Fluffy Doki, and they’re really enjoying it, despite this little prototype. We’ve got other people coming onto the discord. It hasn’t exploded yet, but we’re seeing a bit more activity on a regular basis. We’ve got a few stats and we’re realising that most people who test the game add it to their wishlist or sign up for the newsletter. So that’s pretty positive, despite the small number of people we’ve got. Obviously, with more people, the stats would be more meaningful. But here we are, on a positive note, people seem to be enjoying what they’re playing. We’re not giving up, we’re telling ourselves that we need to get it tested by streamers, we’re boosting it to the max. The Steam Next Fest is coming to an end, and the results aren’t crazy. I don’t know what we’ve got on our wishlist, but I’d say it’s a dusting.

I’d have said we were up to 300 wishlists. Then we started asking around at other studios. We presented them with the project, which wasn’t great in terms of the wishlist, but it was just a prototype. We wanted to know how we could get in touch with publishers and obtain financing, because we needed money. We got in touch with the So Games association, people we knew and who brought us back to reality. They told us that a prototype is not enough, especially in 2024. The industry is laying people off all over the place, investors are very cautious, and if you don’t have a finished game, you won’t have a contract. I’m exaggerating a little, but let’s just say that you need to have a really nice vertical slice that really shows off all the game’s features and that, from a rendering point of view, we’re at around 80, 90% of what we expect in the end. Am I right, Simon?

Simon: No, that’s just it. Apart from the fact that this year has been particularly difficult for the video game industry, we’re not the target of publishers. A guy from seed by seed, with whom we’re in contact, helped us out and it’s more or less the same configuration as us, a small indie studio where there are a few more of them, but it’s this kind of game or scope that we could have had. For their first game, the first negotiation, even though it wasn’t even that time, it took 18 months to get a real signature. That’s 18 months from the time the publisher confirmed its interest to the time the contract was actually signed. Waiting a year and a half like that, with no money, is impossible. Apparently, 2026 should be more favourable. All the people who make it to 2026 will have great contracts. Publishers, even in the indie world, are increasingly demanding and more and more cautious about pitches, and it’s very complicated to sign concepts.

Inksushi: I really get the impression that they expect you to have a finished project where all they have to do is manage the marketing side, but all the dev support is dead. There are so many people chasing after them that some of them have the luxury of just getting the top end.

Simon: Yeah, either that or, as Dev, you’re a rock star. Your game’s already a big hit. It’s already sold really well and you’ve got lots of wishlists. They’re just there to boost your sales with marketing. So we’re not against it, of course, but it’s always the same thing: to make money, you need to have money to begin with.

Mathieu: Otherwise there’s another market, but one that doesn’t interest us at all. Where they take a bit more risk is if you want to do a Fortnite, a big fucking project, and there you can try to get business angels. They take more risks, but you already need to have a certain notoriety. And then you’re talking about multi-million budgets. They take risks because it’s going to be very profitable in the end.

Simon: These are Palworld-style projects. In any case, the guy who founded it doesn’t care about the use of AI. They just want to make games that work for everyone and, above all, make millions for their investors/marketers.

Mathieu: That’s not the idea at all.

Inksushi: You’re not thinking of putting out a money-making machine. It’s more the idea of trying to make a living from it?

Mathieu: So yes, but also to be able to recruit a few people for a nice little team and pay them well so that they can live well. That’s the idea, you don’t need to have shareholders living behind the scenes. At least that’s not our aim. To go back to the story, it was a bit of desperation.

Simon: How did we get to this point? We started to wonder whether we should continue with Fluffy Doki or go back to a more accessible project. In fact, we decided that this year we wouldn’t be taking too many risks, that we wouldn’t be going for a publisher’s project, but rather for small projects that could be released quickly. Eventually, in 2024, we could release two or even three small-scale games in the hope that one of them will work. The model we’d like to adopt is to enhance a small game that works with paying DLC. We were a bit divided. In the end, after a number of discussions, we decided that the publisher was a bad idea and we’d wait until later. We don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Mathieu: It’s too risky, we have to work for the rest of the year to get something decent for Fluffy Doki, and then struggle for years trying to sign something, so in the end, we’re never going to eat.

Simon: What’s more, the last three months haven’t been great from a pressure point of view. After all, it’s a big project. Some things were put in place in a hurry because we had to be quick. It’s not pleasant to work on it.

Mathieu: There’s a lot of work involved in getting everything right. Technically, it’s complicated, there are a lot of constraints. So we thought we’d start with a smaller project. It will at least help us to grow our community, if not money, at least we’ll gain visibility more quickly. It’ll give us a bit of a breather, because we still need to keep our spirits up. We’ve been really down since Steam Next Fest.

Inksushi: Once you’d got over Fluffy Doki, what was the process for defining the new concept?

Simon: You have to find a pitch that’s the size of a jam game like we’ve already done. We brought out a game where you had to click on a fish, the kind of stupid thing you could do in a weekend. So the gameplay has to be very, very simple. And we want a mechanic that allows us to stand out from the crowd, Twitch integration. We’ve talked to a number of people who think the idea is a good one. We’ve had feedback from devs and players telling us that it’s not done very often and that it’s our identity. So we thought we’d go for it. We also want the game to be free. In any case, a basic version where you have a gameplay, a flow and then we want to add extensions as we go along. We need something that’s a bit modular. That’s the challenge: integrating all that. After thinking about it, we came up with this pitch, I don’t know why we came up with it: a fun game in which the streamer controls pedestrians, like in a point’n click, or one by one to place them. Basically, you just see pedestrians on the road and viewers can type in commands to send cars to run them over. It’s a kind of party game, streamer versus viewer, although you can play solo. You can also play co-op to survive and the cars are sent by the game. So we thought we’d come up with something cool and get back to the basics that we liked. With Fluffy Doki, because it’s a bigger game, we obviously have less time to polish it up. The idea is to focus on a small game with very simple gameplay. It’s an opportunity to put a lot of game feel into the menu, into the game. When you get run over, it has an effect, it shakes, it moves, it’s really nice. Especially as we’ve seen games that have worked, that we think are really cool, that, in terms of lifespan, don’t last more than two or three hours. But on the other hand, if there’s a distinctive graphic style and a well-developed game feel, it’s really appealing. We thought that people who like indie games would expect a game that stood out from the crowd, that wasn’t particularly long, but was polished and had a real style. It’s a real motivator!

Mathieu: To add to what Simon said, the size of a jam game is just for the basic gameplay, it’s really a small prototype. After that, the idea is not to spend too much time on the basic loop so as to really have time to thoroughly polish all the effects or the UI (user interface). I think this is the first game we’ve made that’s really going to have a ‘start’ button polished to a shine because we want everything to feel like playing.

Simon: We want to throw stuff around on the networks because, after taking marketing training courses, we’re really thinking about sticking to a schedule. The month before the release of the Steam page, we’re bombarding the basic gameplay. And it’s really just running over pedestrians, it’s not a revolution. But it’s a little party game, and I think there’s something funny about the streamer aspect. The concept really needs to be pushed because it’s a bit like drinking games, the important thing is to get together and have fun. Often, the gameplay of drinking games is simple, but it’s based on the fact that it’s chaotic because there are lots of people, trolls and you don’t listen to everyone. Twitch communities are a bit like that, I think. We want to focus more on that. And in terms of expansion, we’ve seen lots of ideas for street football where there’s a big ball, it’s the same gameplay just with a ball and goals. A werewolf killer mode, where there are pedestrians who have roles: ambulance driver, drunkard, serial killer or whatever. They can interact and help each other. They have to survive together and find out who the wolf is. Then there are the party game modes, a la Mario Party or Wario Ware. A mode with sessions of thirty seconds to one minute and then it loops. These are rounds that you do between streamer and viewer and you can do this ad infinitum.

Inksushi: From a gameplay point of view, the person who arrives on the streamer’s channel has to be able to join the game. It has to be instantaneous. Is that something you take into account?

Simon: That’s exactly what simplicity is all about. We see it as an advantage. The important thing is that streamers have to play it, because that’s the lifeblood of the game. The game is free, so there are no price constraints like Meaningless (editor’s note: their first game). The game is free, so all people have to do is download it and have fun. What’s more, players will have a ‘Join’ button, with which they can see all the people who are hosting a game. They can discover French streamers or streamers in their own language. The stream becomes a kind of platform, like a Counter Strike server. You think: “Oh, I’ve got a stream, that’s great! I’m going to play, I’m going to join, I want to play with people and not just play solo“. And then, one day, if it makes you want to stream, because you’re playing with your mates, maybe others will join in. Go stream the game! There’s a kind of incentive for us, because it gives us publicity, and for the streamer because he gains visibility.

We’re happy to be working on a chill project. We’re working on the UI. Usually it’s Mathieu who does the interface and I used to come in and say that it doesn’t look very good. Well, it’s mainly because it’s not what I imagined. The cool thing is that now we both have more time. It allows Mathieu to make a really clean Twitch tool, something we can reuse. For me, it means I can learn about the UI, get to grips with it and simply do a more advanced job. We really want something that feels right. We’re also learning, we’re pushing our tools because we have the time. Once we’ve got something, once we’re happy with it, once we’ve got a well-polished game, we can release it. We don’t have a special schedule. According to my personal estimates, I’m thinking probably around June.

Inksushi: You can add content as you go along. So you don’t have to work on a project for a year to see the game in real-life conditions.

Simon: When the streamers play it, we’ll get some feedback. In fact, it’ll be a godsend because as far as Meaningless goes, once it was finished we were a bit lazy about adding stuff, but now we’re hoping to do something a bit like Smash Bros, where you really have lots of parameters on your run. Do I want items? Do I want this? or this? We want to listen to players and make the game evolve in a way that pleases them.

Mathieu: We’re still in a niche market. Overall, it’s mainly streamers who are going to buy the game. Because the single-player mode will be there to test, but there are lots of things you won’t be able to play, just the base. But that doesn’t matter, streamers will get a free base. Our business model will be based on players who want to add content for a few cents. They buy what they like in the game and depending on the expansions or modifiers they get, they’ll really be able to customise their game. It could even be a way for viewers to reward a streamer. They could offer him an add-on because they all want to play it together. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the streamer who invests. And we also think that it will be a win-win situation for the streamers, because there aren’t many games like this. The last one we heard about was Kukoro, I think. It’s the closest thing to the concept we want to do. There aren’t fifty of them, but those games seem to have done pretty well. For streamers, it’s really a way of creating a link with their communities, which is very difficult to do when you’re playing. Being a good streamer is very complicated. You can see that there are a few who get a big slice of the cake and the others who only get a few crumbs. But that’s because they don’t always have the right tools. We think we can offer something new.

Simon: Meaningless has a number of advantages: it’s a small game that downloads in thirty seconds, so it’s light. You start it up quickly, there’s no loading. It’s really the idea of going back to what we thought worked well with Meaningless and pushing the controls all the way.

Inksushi: Do you have a mobile version planned?

Mathieu: Well, not quite. We came up with a little something later on. We said to ourselves that Twitch games are played via chat, you type in commands. But it’s not always easy to use, you have to type a bit fast on the keyboard and so on. But it’s not always easy to use, you have to type a bit quickly on the keyboard, etc. I know it’s not serious, to start with, you can have fun like that, there’s no problem. But we can think of solutions. We could suggest scanning a QR code on your phone to join the game. Rather than typing a command line in the chat, you’d get a quick overview of the game and buttons to perform actions. There won’t be a mobile version, but rather a mobile phone that becomes a controller. This would also potentially expand the market. Basically, you can play in your living room, you launch the game on your PC or console and your mates, who come and play at your place, don’t need a controller. They just pick up their phone and off they go. It’s a bit like quiz games.

Simon: For another improvement, we thought of using overlays so that viewers can see what they’re doing but not the steamer. We also think that there’s a lot of potential for fun, really cool, in the sense that some people have the information and others don’t, that sort of thing. These are functions that we’ll be able to exploit in the future.

Mathieu: There are quite a few plugins on Twitch but not many games that use them. I haven’t found many examples, I think there’s Borderlands 3 which had a special mode for Twitch.

Inksushi: There’s Cult of the Lamb too. From memory, it’s very limited. Viewers can give their names to characters and make offerings to the Streamer. That’s as far as it went. (Editor’s note: the principle has been extended via updates, one of our podcasts talks about it here) And it broke up the game because you have a big harvesting principle. How are you going to overcome this?

Mathieu: That’s a bit of a problem when games aren’t designed for Twitch from the outset. You add a feature, like we did on Meaningless, and it always adds fun, but it can break the gameplay. In this case, we’re really doing the opposite. Our game is designed exclusively for Twitch. All the rules are designed with Twitch in mind. We’re also going to manage the delay on controls because there’s a bit of latency, so we’ve thought about things like that.

Simon: You’ll have a cooldown on the controls. Controls will be a basic thing, it’ll probably be unlimited. On the other hand, extras like “wipe the screen” or put up spam screens to piss off the streamer will be cooldown. If there are a lot of people, we could add a bot system that refreshes and every five seconds you can take an action. It could also be completely anarchic, with the first person to enter choosing the command. There are lots of systems that can be configured. We’ll certainly be adding variations as we go along. We’re trying to find a place for the streamer’s cam. You’ll have a reminder of the rules for people who arrive in the middle of a stream. And a little Twitch banner that will be a bit of an info bar to find out about the controls, a latency indicator and so on.

Mathieu: We drew inspiration from Kuroko for the information displayed. And we’ve thought of everything to make it simple for the streamer. He knows where to put his camera and he doesn’t need to explain to viewers how to play. It’s all there, because when you’re streaming, it’s not easy to see everything that’s going on. If the players have as much information as possible, it will help. We’ve also thought about the fact that when people play, it tends to spoil the chat. To avoid this, viewers will be able to send whispers directly to the bot. Anyway, we’re trying to refine the experience as much as possible. We’ve noticed that there were quite a few mini-games where, the first time, streamers were a bit lost. We’re trying to simplify things as much as possible. You arrive, you do start and then you’re off. You just play, no questions asked.

Inksushi: The principle reminds me of arcade games, doesn’t it?

Simon: Exactly, it’s got that arcade feel, it’s all big buttons and it’s fun. We want to get back to that thing where you click with your mouse and it has to be fun. I think that’s where we can stand out. There’s a tendency in big games and in some indie games to have a strong narrative side, a kind of coherence. What’s also cool is when you have bigger teams because you need people who write well. But when it comes down to it, we don’t care about consistency, we just want to do something fun. We’re really looking for fun, that’s what we’re offering people, something spectacular, in the sense that it’s fun. The important thing is that people enjoy themselves and have a good time. It has to be accessible to everyone. Our reference is Nintendo games, and there’s enough of that vision that we really like.

Inksushi: You’re on Unity. Didn’t you think about changing engines after the rather indelicate announcement at the end of last year?

Mathieu: Of course we thought about it. For Fluffy Doki, we didn’t really have a choice. There wasn’t really any alternative given the technical constraints. It’s also a bit a case of not wanting to change, I think, because we’ve got a good grasp of Unity. I wouldn’t have made a game like that with Unreal, it’s just not right for me. The other alternative was Godot, which is really cool. On the other hand, we’d have a lot more things to do, because the asset store isn’t as well-stocked yet. We’d have had a lot more trouble with a lot of things, and the idea is to go fast. It’s true that Unity was a bit of a bastard, it has to be said. But what reassured us was that John Riccitiello had left in the meantime. We thought maybe we’d get back on the right track. In any case, we need to get back to basics. We’re not really concerned about the costs involved. And even if one day we do have to pay, it’ll be a good sign that our game is selling.

Simon: In any case, we’re keeping an eye on Godot and Unreal. Being a safe bet, we’re considering Unreal for something else. We might have an idea for a Twitch-oriented horror game, because on Unreal, horror games are easy. It’s pretty much made for it. Godot, I think we’ll have to wait a little longer. As Mathieu says, the asset store and the tools need to expand. You get the feeling that there haven’t really been any pro studios working with Godot. It’s happening now, and that’s cool. I think it’s going to be like Blender. In the next year or two, the big indie studios are going to come out with some great games that will promote Godot. And tools will come out, very good tools. We’re definitely not closed, but as Mathieu says, for the time being, we’re keeping things simple. Players don’t care about technology anyway. It’s normal, they know a bit about Unreal, but that’s where it stops. There was a hype: it’s made with Unreal so it’s going to be great, it’s going to look great. I can’t wait until there are lots of games on that are all crap but look great because they’re made with Unreal. And for people to realise that just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good.

Mathieu: Yeah, because there’s a community of gamers who are mainly interested in graphics.

Inksushi: I’m sure we agree. That’s what the big studios are promoting. And then there are the small, completely indie games with their DA slapped on the floor that manage to crush the big behemoths.

Simon: There’s Minecraft, I think, which is a great example; it’s a game that has sold extremely well.

Inksushi: Lethal Company isn’t very pretty, and from an animation point of view it’s sometimes a bit shaky, but the principle works really well. And it’s constantly adding new content. Is Lethal Company one of your inspirations?

Mathieu: Lethal Compagny, there’s the fact that it’s co-op, I think, clearly creates some fun situations. Simon and I were a bit disappointed when we played it. He’d come to stay with us, we’d spent the weekend testing out games like it and everyone was really excited about this one. We quickly got bored with it, and I got the impression that it wasn’t designed for two people, that you needed four to play it. We had a hard time, we didn’t understand what we had to do and that bored me a bit. Then we tried Pizza Possum. I think we had more fun on Pizza Possum than on Lethal Compagny. It didn’t last long, we finished it in one evening, but we had a great time on it.

Simon: Frankly, I can’t wait until we can do a little Twitch live with the members of the Discord so that people can try out our game. It’ll probably be just before we release it and we’re making good progress. We’re happy with it and we’ll see where it takes us. We’ve got other ideas for other little games like this, so that’s cool. In any case, given what people are telling us in general, we’re thinking it might work.

Inksushi: Do you have any idea how you’re going to contact the streamers? I imagine that the principle of paid OP will be complicated.

Simon: We have a base of old-timers, even if it’s not many, but in any case, we’re going to try to count on them and hope they have a good time. We’d like to take advantage of their visibility, and then it’ll be word of mouth. We’ll be bombarding social networks to get people to see us. Threads in particular, it’s a good community base of streamers, so that should at least get things moving a bit. We’re probably going to try a commercial OP or two, but that’s just to really kick things off. We’ll try to work on all fronts, just waiting for one to catch on and get things off the ground.

Mathieu: Of course, compared to other games, what’s often done is to offer keys to streamers. This time it’s more difficult because ultimately we want streamers to buy it, so we’re going to offer fewer keys. I think we’re going to be selective. Of course, there will be free keys, but it’s going to be more limited, or maybe we’ll offer some DLC, but not all, it’s not defined yet. It’s on dropme that the streamers get the game and they have to play it, for example, for an hour and they’re paid according to that. We’ve already tested this with Fluffy Doki, and we also ran a campaign with Meaningless. This time, however, we’ll be more restrictive. We offered a lot of keys for Fluffy Doki so that people could try it out and we ended up with players who weren’t the target. For example, I had a streamer whose thing was fighting tanks and boats. And then they were playing Fluffy Doki in front of his community who didn’t understand what it was doing there, they hated the game. I didn’t notice, it’s my fault, I accepted it, I thought it had good tags. But if I’d looked more closely at his profile, I’d have refused because he has the right tags, but in fact his community isn’t at all receptive. So, for the future, I think we’re going to be much more selective about the streamers. That’s not to say that we’ll be selecting on the basis of the number of views, the little ones can contact us too, no problem, it’s more a question of making sure we’re hitting the right target. We’ll be more careful about that.

Simon: I’ve taken the time to look at lots of streamers, small, medium and large, to identify French streamers who might be a good match, those who play indie games. And we’ve got a short list, so it’s going to be on the spur of the moment. It means sending an email and hoping they see it.

Mathieu: A free version will be available. No ads, it’ll be a complete game. It’s just that if you want more fun, there will be paid modes available. But the game will be really replayable, so you can spend an hour or two with your community and have a good laugh with no problem. And you can even play it regularly – it’s a party game. You’ll have plenty of time to chat with your viewers. There are a lot of games that don’t give you much time to chat. With us, you can. You can chat when the game pauses, that’s the moment, you chat, that’s fun. You can almost let your girlfriend play on her own too. There are plenty of moments where everyone can do what they want. You can have the game à la carte.

Inksushi: I think it was a very good turnaround.

Mathieu: We hope so. We’re starting to run out of time and it’s getting a bit hot.

Inksushi: So Fluffy Doki has been postponed? I don’t imagine it’ll be totally abandoned, but put on hold for a while?

Mathieu: For me, it’s just a break. Simon, it feels a bit different.

Simon: I think it’s just that we need a break. As far as I’m concerned, the project needs to be overhauled. I sound like a politician, it’s terrible. There’s something about the design that needs to be reworked. There’s something too complex, I think. I realise that I’m more happy talking about small projects. Maybe that’s because there should be five of us, a team. That would seem more accessible to me. I tell myself that there are things that were a bit superfluous in this project that we can revisit. We just need to experiment with other things. And I think that afterwards, if we come back to it, it will be pretty obvious what we do with it.

Mathieu: And then, if it happens by then, the market will have evolved and the game will no longer be at all interesting and it might not be worth doing it.

Simon: Potentially, I see it more like this, there’s a sort of Fluffy Doki base, this crowd management that we like, that we could reuse in another game. What we experimented with in Fluffy Doki could appear in another game. For the moment, at least, that’s how I see it. We’ve been experimenting with things, a bit like with Meaningless. In fact, we spent three months making a puzzle game, and in the end we decided that it wasn’t the puzzles that were good, it was Twitch. It’s funny, puzzles are boring, we don’t care, we’re bored. We spent a lot of time and energy on Fluffy Doki, and at the end of the day I think it’s just having lots of sheep that’s the fun.

Mathieu: So maybe Fluffy Doki will be back, but in a new form.

Simon: Maybe it’ll be some kind of idle game where the aim is just to collect sheep and you don’t care, you’ve got nothing to do, just have fun with lots of bugs. Your sheep will just have the names of your subscribers and that’s that. But, afterwards, I’m glad I did it, no regrets. It was horrible, but in the end I think we experimented with a lot of things. There are a lot of things I feel really confident about with this new game, thanks to what we did before, the art part for example. I feel that I’m a lot more organised when it comes to a lot of things and that’s pretty cool. It’s also more enjoyable because Meaningless is a bit of a mess in some ways, it was originally a jam project. But there’s something pretty crazy about it, and I’d advise everyone to start out with an ambitious project and then do a little thing where you say it can be easy to make a game, I think that’s pretty crazy in terms of the feeling of dev.

Mathieu: It always comes down to the same thing, making the game isn’t the most complicated part, it’s when you want to tackle the marketing part that all hell breaks loose.

Simon: That’s why we decided to play little games, when we realised that half our time is taken up by communication. Today, for example, we spent our morning writing the newsletter, reviewing it and so on.

Inksushi: I think that on a small project, you have this side where you can publish lots of new things regularly, where you move very quickly, etc. But when you’re on a big project, on a big development phase, you don’t have much to show and you struggle a bit to find content to put forward. But when you’re on a big project, in a big development phase, you don’t have much to show and you struggle a bit to find content to put forward.

Simon: Completely, when you’re going to add an extension, because there are ideas emerging, you do it, it’ll be so cool. But when you’re playing a game in space and you want to control time, the devs have to go back to the drawing board because it wasn’t planned. Mods, on the other hand, are usually a snap. Finally, you can quickly update the base, it’s much more flexible. It’s a different way of dev. In any case, we’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Inksushi: I’m talking to another developer who leaves the big games to others. As far as he’s concerned, you make a small game quickly, but you invest a lot of time and effort in making something that’s ultra polished. You spend three or six months on it, and you get your work out. After that, you either complete it as you go along, but your game is always there to get people talking about you, or you go straight on to another project and just keep on doing little projects. Eventually, you build up a catalogue that will represent you and give you an identity.

Simon: Yeah, the catalogue is cool. A publisher goes to your Steam page, scrolls down and sees that you’ve already got four games with an identity, so you’ve got a point. What’s more, if you last until 2026, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Mathieu: Our aim is to have the money to last until 2026. And then we’ll be the masters of the moment.

Simon: We’ll be able to get games signed up by saying we’re going to do projects on Twitch and they’ll give us the funds.

Mathieu: “We’ll just make little sketches on the board and that’ll be enough. These ideas are brilliant. I’ll give you three million.” *read with the voice of a suit and tie, pockets full of cash*

It’s on this humorous note that we end our first Tales from the devs with Duck Reaction. I hope you’ve been able to grasp the difficulty of coming up with a workable concept. It’s not easy, when you’re brimming over with ideas, to restrict yourself to something reasonable, especially when it’s your livelihood. The aim is to convey the passion, but also the constraints, that a very small studio can encounter. In the meantime, Simon and Mathieu’s discord is available in the links below, where they share a lot of things. We’ve scheduled the next episode to take place after at least the first playtests. This series should follow the siblings for a year or so. In the meantime, other studios talk to Point’n Think, and other articles and podcasts are available to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes in the video game world. See you soon for the next Game’n Breakfast.


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