Four strangers across the world are drawn together by their passion for games.
Adithya Srinivasan (18) from Chennai, Ben Hill (25) from Australia, Yvonne Yoshishige (30) from Hawaii, U.S., and Sam Alhambra (30) from Philippines have nothing in common except their gaming company: Misnomer Studios.
Having met each other through Facebook/Deviantart, their passion for gaming and business drew them together to set up their game development studio: http://misnomerstudios.com.au/ where they develop games for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, as well as browser based games with HTML 5 technology.
Adithya, a first year, M.Sc. student at Anna University, talks about their unlikely partnership.
How did it begin?
I grew up playing a lot of games. I loved the escape from reality; the immersion into another world that games made possible. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a game developer.
Similarly, like every kid, the four of us played various games since the Commodore64 first came out, and we’ve always had a love for role-playing games such as the Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda and Pokemon. Our common interest got us together. Besides, I’d always wondered how a game is made and that’s why I jumped into the technical part.
Tell us about your team…
The company is a registered proprietary limited liability company run from Australia by Ben, the lead developer. Yvonne is the Artist, Sam is the Developer while I am the Content Developer.
My role is to develop content, test the games to find bugs/glitches, design concepts, managing the player community and come up with new ideas or refine ideas.
How do you work together given that you are all based across the world?
Skype is a huge asset. Since we are in such different time zones we are not all online at the same time. But that also works to our advantage as we usually have at least one person online on Skype at a given time. We rely on a lot of text-based message conversations over Skype to communicate plans and get everyone’s opinions.
We also use game forums and and direct e-mails to a certain extent Facebook. We split our work and assign tasks to be done within a certain period. It helps that we co-ordinate well. We understand how busy people can become; usually we try to get together at the end of a week over Skype to chat.
There were some weeks, particularly those that approach the finals week of university, in which everyone is so busy that we are unable to meet, but that’s okay. Sometimes we have to take a break from work to get our personal lives in order.
What do you personally get from this?
Ben manages a successful business performance management consultancy called Astros through which I gained much of my people skills. The rest I’ve learnt organically through coding and playing games while growing up.
It’s been a wonderful two years since I met the team and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being in the inside of things I have learnt how exciting the behind-the-scenes of game development is.
At the same time, I also understand how stressful it is to manage games, especially when games go offline due to server crashes or major bugs. Bad things happen but so do good things. The main thing is to learn from it, keep improving, provide a better experience for users, and to have fun!
Is running a business as easy as you guys make it seem?
Not at all! It may look relatively easy from the outside, but personal commitments, money pressures and the simple fact that we are all human and have needs can make this line of work quite difficult. We are lucky, though, that we are all united by our love of good games.
The game development industry (specifically the App Stores) are said to be fickle. But if you build a game concept out of gameplay, there are bound to be others who share that with you.
So our advice for other indie developers is to develop what you love and love what you develop.
We are transitioning from being a hobby to being a dedicated team. There are a lot of things we are learning along the way.
Misnomer Studios will be around for many more years to come but perhaps not forever in this format or with this name.