Published on June 6th, 2014 | by Patrick Garde0
Interview with Gregor Ebert of Headup Games
Bridge Constructor Medieval, a construction game with physics-based puzzle and simulation elements, is an Android game we covered recently. It received a score of 4 stars in our review. Hence, it encouraged us to get to know its publisher based in Germany, Headup Games. I had a chance to chat with Gregor Ebert, PR & Marketing at Headup Games, where we discussed about their background, favorite games growing up, their latest title, inspiration behind the theme, good game engine to use, and some advice for aspiring indie developers and publishers.
What’s the story behind Headup Games?
Headup Games was founded out of the belief that in the 80’s and 90’s the industry has taken a few bad turns. When publishers became more powerful than the creative artist behind each game something seemed wrong to us. Adapting to the new age of gaming where gatekeeping and funding are not as single channeled as in the past we felt that there was potential for a company dedicated to the independent scene, young studios and honest representation of the developers while taking unwanted workload of their shoulders. So in 2009 and with a little private money, Headup was founded has well established itself in the games landscape, now humbly earning fruits of hard labor with awards such as Best German Publisher in 2012 and 2013 (awarded by the German Developers association) or through the awards for the published titles such as The Inner World (Best German Game 2014).
How did you come up with the name?
Honest answer: Headup is a great song by a marvelous band called Deftones J That’s all there is to it…
What were your favorite games growing up? What inspired you to get into developing and publishing games?
Games of our managing directors youth: Ultima 6, Sonic, Wonderboy in Monsterland, M.U.D.S., Street Fighter, Mail Order Monsters,… and so many more. Having originally studied law, he was simply much closer to the business side of things than he was to development. And it is one of the greatest satisfactions to deliver royalties to a developer, knowing that both parties jointly created a sustainable success.
Do you believe that independent games are the backbone of the industry?
I wouldn´t say independent games are the backbone of the industry, but nevertheless they are very important for the market as many indie teams don´t care about trends and hypes, but are just passionate about games and want to create games they love. Indie games often have an artistic approach or are special by some means or other, what makes them hard to market to a broad audience. I think it´s important and good for the industry to have a diversified range of games no matter if AAA, indie game, casual or whatever.
What makes Bridge Constructor Medieval special?
Even though Bridge Constructor Medieval is based on the original Bridge Constructor, again offering high quality, great gameplay and beautiful graphics, it also introduces new game modes that are completely new in the genre. And last but not least the game travels back in time to the ages of knights and castles, so we have a fresh but very popular setting.
What is your favorite feature of the game?
I really love the new game mode where enemy troops are trying to attack your town, so have to build your bridges so that they collapse under the load of the enemy units to send as many of them as possible into the abyss.
What can players expect from this sequel?
A great construction game with new game modes and a funny story. Bridge Constructor Medieval is suitable for fans as well as rookies bringing the original IP to the Middle Ages.
Are there any glaring differences from the original Bridge Constructor?
Of course there have been several improvements overall but the biggest differences from the original Bridge Constructor are the new game modes, new building materials and of course the new setting.
Your game is unique as it has puzzle, physics, and simulation elements all in one. How did you come up with the idea of building bridges as its main gameplay?
We all liked the older bridge building games and so we decided to develop an own, contemporary and easy accessible bridge building game to do our first steps on the mobile market.
Bridge Constructor Medieval is available on iOS and Android devices. Do you plan to publish it on other platforms?
Yes, at the moment we are working on a PC and Mac version and we are also considering further platforms.
What’s the inspiration behind the medieval theme?
We personally like the medieval setting, so we had the idea to adapt the game into the dark ages. Additionally it was a perfect fit to implement the new game modes.
Which game engine did you use?
The game engine we used was Unity.
What makes it good for indie game developers?
The Unity Asset Store is a very valuable source for small development teams to focus on the game itself. It offers a big variety of cheap and really good tools and assets to speed up and relieve the development and art creation for small studios. Additionally Unity has a very big and helpful community and the engine itself is very powerful but still easy to use. Last but not least, the guys from Unity are very Indie friendly and always helped us getting our hands on early Alpha/Beta-builds to be on new platforms right from the beginning.
What are the challenges you’ve handled as a developer and as a publisher?
As the game has been developed by an external development team we can´t tell about the challenges on developer’s side. For us as a publisher usually the biggest challenges are the timelines, as we have to plan our PR and marketing work etc. and this of course needs adjustments if something does not work and takes longer than planned
If given a chance, would you do something differently regarding the development process or the game itself?
No, not really. There were not that many problems during the development and we have a great business relation with the developers what really helped solving problems as fast as possible.
Finally, what advice could you pass on would-be indie game developers and publishers?
Do the game you would love to play yourself. Don´t start with too huge projects – keep it small in the beginning. Don´t think your game is greatest game in the world – usually it´s not. Don´t think you will earn Millions of Dollars with your first game – some developers do so, but it´s a very small percentage. Just keep on developing great games and it will pay off some day. And last but not least don´t try to do everything on your own. You´re developers, so you don´t have to be marketing experts. Find a good partner who can help you with all the stuff a developer should not have to do.