Indie House: Developing Games Professionally From Home

I’m sad to say that my duration as a full-time instructor here at VFS Game Design is coming to an end. It was a very difficult decision for me to make, especially since working here has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience for me, because of both the students I have had the pleasure to teach, and the other instructors and TAs I got to work alongside.

The reason I am leaving is because I am entering the game industry as a full-time indie developer once again. But this time things are a bit different, this time, I’ll be working out of Indie House. So this post will be about Indie House, what we are doing, and hopefully will serve as an inspiration to those of you who want to get into making games.

WHAT IS INDIE HOUSE?

Indie House is a large house located in Richmond, BC, Canada, and is currently occupied by four full-time indie game developers who are all working from home. We have all known each other for many years, have collaborated on many games and projects together, and all make a living doing what we love… making video games.

WHO IS INDIE HOUSE?

  • Chevy Ray Johnston – Yours truly, a programmer, artist, and game designer most famous for creating the widely-used FlashPunk game engine
  • Matt Thorson – Creator of dozens of indie games such as the Jumper and Give Up Robot series, and the upcoming multiplayer combat game, TowerFall!
  • Alec Holowka – Unity master, creator of the award-winning Aquaria, wonderful musicvideo tutorials, and the popular Infinite Ammo podcast
  • Noel Berry – Creator of many web games including Prism Panic, Broken Robot Love, and Chunkadelic, also a talented web designer and artist

WHAT GOES ON IN INDIE HOUSE?

The best part of all being in the house together is that we are always surrounded by other creative people working on projects, and there are always many different cool projects happening in Indie House! It is an energetic, collaborative workspace, but it also doubles as our home, where we can watch movies and play games too.

There is always so much creative work being done at the place, that I couldn’t possibly say it all, but here’s a few bullet points to give you an idea of the kinds of things we do;

  • Alec continues to host the Infinite Ammo podcast inside the house, the most recent being an interview with VFS industry mentor Kayla Kinnunen
  • Matt Thorson continues to develop TowerFall (click for trailer!), for which Alec is actually writing the music! The game is a launch title for the OUYA game console, was being displayed at E3 last week
  • We host monthly Mini Jams, basically weekend-long events where the doors are open, dozens of developers visit, and everybody shares what they are working on. The games get feedback, play testing occurs, and brainstorming sessions abound
  • Alec plays piano and Matt plays the drums, so it’s likely that you’ll find the two jamming on music for their games from time to time
  • As well as games, we also develop tools and software, such as Matt’s open-source level editor called Ogmo Editor, and our upcoming pixel art animation tool, SuperPix
  • Recently, Matt and Alec released a game they collaborated on called Planet Punch
  • I’m running a new blog with Noel’s help called Game Design Tips, where all the advice is in doodle-form. Noel and I have been brainstorming doing an interactive webcomic based on video games as well
  • I’m collaborating with out-of-town developers on a game for Adult Swim called Zombocalypse 2 that will be coming out later this year

A typical day at Indie House: visitors, laptops open, working, chatting, sharing ideas

COLLABORATION, COOPERATION, COMMUNITY

We at Indie House like to collaborate, work together, and share what we make. We’re not secretive about our projects in development, we share source code, Alec writes music for many people’s games, we’re constantly teaming up with new people, and constantly seeking new creative endeavours to partake in.

Game development is a successful industry, but the best part is that it is also a massive worldwide community. The biggest goal of Indie House, is to help support and uphold that community so that more people can make games, and more people can make better games, and we can do it as a team rather than in competition.

I collaborated on a 72-hour game jam with a friend from Brazil, after which she drew this lovely picture. Our game was called Pillow Pets!

It was wonderful being a part of VFS, but I have many creative ambitions to fulfill, and many many games to make! Though I am no longer a full-time instructor, I will continue to help out as a Game Design industry mentor, helping students with design and technical problems while they create their final game projects.

I am looking forward to the games that will come out of VFS in the future, and I hope you are looking forward to mine!


Chevy Ray Johnston is now a Project Mentor for the VFS Game Design program, and a founding member of Indie House