Today I interview Nathan Sundy, an indie dev whose team is currently working on a survival horror game Broken Minds. The game is still in its early stages of development, but Nathan and his team are dedicated to bringing it to completion. I’ll be talking to him about the game he’s working on, and about his experience as an indie dev.
TechRaptor: I would ask if you can first introduce yourself, and give us a bit of background on yourself? Have you developed games before or is this your first one?
Nathan: My name is Nathan Sundy, and I am one of the three main heads in the team (with William Raymer being the main head of both the team and the lead designer of this project). I have been in game development beforehand when I made a game called Enchanted Quest (which I’m hoping to convince the team to remake later)… but overall, this is our first game as a team.
TR: About Broken Minds itself, the only thing I’ve been told so far is that it was survival horror. So before asking about specific details, maybe you could start by giving me a general overview of the game.
Nathan:(quoting team member William) “The game is called Broken Minds; a labyrinth of the subconscious. We had a different title going for a while but I just found out it was taken. As for an overview, you play as a character going through a near death experience, instead of life flashing before their eyes, you have to navigate them through a maze built from the memories of their past and their subconscious.”
TR: The basic premise of the game seems fascinating. Who deserves credit for coming up with the idea, and how did they come up with it?
Nathan: Interestingly enough the premise was cooked up by William and myself without either of us being fully aware what the other was doing. I talked about the idea stemming from a personal experience and William taking inspiration from Sherlock.
TR: So lets talk about the gameplay. From the overview I would guess that navigation through the maze is going to be the central gameplay mechanic, is that right? Are there going to be any other gameplay mechanics, such as combat or puzzle solving?
Nathan: The main mechanic of the game is navigation. We do plan on implementing some puzzle solving, but right now we are more focused on exploration.
TR: Since the game is heavily focused on exploration, is there going to be more to it than simply finding a way out of the maze? Like are you planning to have things like notes or audio logs or something along those lines that can be collected to give more backstory. Are there any other optional items to be found?
Nathan: Yes, there will be notes written on the wall here and there, but really the back story will be dealt out via the scenery, the monsters, the rooms and the items you have to find. Technically all the items are optional, you just wont get the good ending if you don’t find them. There will be more than a few rooms that will give you an insight on your character along with the monsters.
TR: Are there any other games out right now that you consider to be an influence on Broken Minds?
Nathan: I think it’s safe to say that Silent Hill 2 was a major influence on Broken Minds, that and the steady diet of survival horror we’ve eaten on over the years.
TR: You said there were three main heads in the team. Could you give us a basic idea of what role each of you plays in the development of the game?
Nathan: William is the main guy over seeing the game, keeping everyone motivated and on task, Templar is HR, he helps look for new talent and takes care of meetings when Will is out, while I am the team’s main marketer and lead tester. I focus on making sure that as many people enjoy our game as possible.
TR: So how exactly are members of the team able to survive during development? Do you use crowdfunding, or maybe pitched to investors to get a source of income, or are you all basically forced to work other jobs in addition to developing the game?
Nathan: We’ve been making this game in our spare time, most of us are either full-time students or work full-time at burger joints, retail, or factory jobs.
TR: Given that nobody is currently being paid to work on this game, and it’s basically being done in everyone’s spare time, is it difficult to keep the team motivated to work on it, or is everyone really dedicated to the project?
Nathan: Well the team’s dedication towards the project has kept everyone going, and it just keeps fueling itself as we push forward to complete Broken Minds.
TR: What platforms is the game being developed for? Are you using a third-party game engine, such as the Unreal Engine or Unity, or basically building the whole thing from scratch?
Nathan: We are developing this game for the PC using Unity. Right now, we are working on a demo of the game to see whether or not people will like it…. once we release the demo, we plan on selling T-shirts to raise funding for the full game.
TR: Do you have any time frame for when the demo will be released or when the game itself will be released?
Nathan: We are hoping to have the demo out by June, as for the full game, we’ll jump off that bridge when we get there.
TR: Have you learned anything working on this project that you think would be beneficial for aspiring indie devs to know?
Nathan: Well our advice to every aspiring indie dev is to stick to your projects to the very end. Being patient and knowing your limits are also an important thing to have as a game developer. This project changed shape and hands more than a few times, we had many people come and go, but those who stayed made this game grow from a simple idea to a reality. It took us a while to get some traction, but when we got it, we moved like mad men on a highway or salmon up a waterfall. Even if the project falls apart, you can learn a lot from that failure.
TR: Is there any final comment you have to add about the game?
Nathan: If you’re ever interested in our game, we do have a dev blog where we post updates about our game and we hope that everyone enjoys our game.
TR: Thanks for your time.
Nathan: OK, thanks for interviewing us. 🙂