Demigod Studios // AL.I.V.E. Interview
As always for our fans from abroad we have translated the whole interview for your reading pleasure.
“When the tributes on Greek video games development teams started through the “Team of the Month” there were actually around 10 companies and as many other teams in the landscape along with those who had ceased to exist. So we said that in two years we will have finished.
Having started the second year of our tributes we are confident that we will write continuously for the next five years. At least. The same time that the Greek gaming industry makes its own team-booms, 2003-4, 2007-8 and now in 2012-13.
Of course there were always groups or companies in the last 20 years at least that were starting to develop video games in Greece but in these years we observe an up rise in starts like a baby-boom (so the team-boom).
But if 20 years ago you had to make your own engine starting from libraries for graphics cards or the mouse and making your own sprite editors by buying a book to do so, we understand where we are today.
Better than reminiscing about the past is to meet the people who experience the current circumstances and so immediately to read what Stratos Kampourogiannis replied to the questions we raised to him for the “Team of the Month” October 2013, Demigod Studios.”
Q. We have described you as the youngest group hosted as “Team of the Month”. Will you tell us about your start?
The truth is that the start was very sudden and not something that was planned long ago. I wanted to enter the video games industry for many years but I knew that if I wanted to do something serious I had to go abroad something that i couldn’t do at that time.
Sometime ago i started paying attention to developments in Greece and what I discovered was that there is a lot of talent. It just needed the right guidance, organization and plan. So the group started as an idea by me in late 2012 under different circumstances, plan and composition.
In early 2013 there had to become a radical reorganization since the initial plan as it was made unfortunately could not work because major problems would appear in the future. This made us good in a sense as it made us think what was not working properly and what should be changed in order not to have the same problems in the future.
Since last February until mid May we were constantly reorganizing and creating a plan so that in the end of May we gained official legal status. Since that time the company is constantly evolving with small but steady steps.
Q. Tell us some things about the team structure. You work in an office, remotely or a flexible mix of both?
The company at the moment is working with external partners from Greece and abroad. Since our headquarters is located in Athens those who live there or relatively close try to have meetings as often as we can in order for members to know better each other and collaborate more directly in the development of the games we are working on.
Currently there are two groups working on Demigod Studios, which work independently of one another. Team Theseus which was the first created and is currently working on BioLAB and team Perseus that works in a title which we have not officially announced yet.
Q. Describe us a day developing video games.
A day developing video games in contrast to what many believe has much work and fatigue. Right now the time is divided into two parts.
First by collaborating with the members of both groups to solve problems that arise and giving directions to each member individually and second in game design for both existing and future titles because we always look what will come next and not only what we are currently working on. But at the end of the day no matter how tired, when you complete a certain number of jobs you really feel that it was worth all this effort every day.
Q. It is an open secret that programming is not doing well with art thus the rumours of conflicts between the two parties when developing a video game. How do you bridge this gap?
With good mood and a lot of effort. Because these two will always conflict and it is the duty of the project leader to always find the right balance so that the development can proceed without problems and delays.
But all members have understanding and in the end we are all striving for a common purpose and that is none other than the completion of each project. I once read an interview with a game developer who said that “a studio is nothing but a bunch of useless machines. People are what give it value.” This particular phrase i believe very much and that’s why I pay attention to anything that concerns the team members because they all strive for the best and sometimes not under the best conditions.
Game Art from Demigod Studios next game
Q. Have you included the promotion of your games from a certain point in your plan or you complete them first and after look about that?
For a serious company that wants to grow, promotion is very important otherwise you can create an amazing game that no one will know. Promotion is a bit more difficult for Indie groups that do not have marketing departments and everything should be done by the members themselves.
So with our company, promotion of each title we produce is very important and we create a plan in advance and not at the last moment.
Q. What percentage of the company are not game developers such as people for marketing and sales?
Currently there is no qualified person to deal with the marketing in the team although it is something that we are thinking about. Apart from the community manager that the company has all the other members are actively involved in the game development.
Q. We know companies that started before the crisis while others faced it during their birth. How is the decision amid constant crisis to start a business?
The decision is not difficult. But you need to have a plan and know exactly what costs you will have to avoid surprises. Prior to founding Demigod Studios there was a clear idea how much the whole project will cost and what expenses there will be. If you remain stable and do not deviate from this plan then there is no danger to get to the unpleasant point of being unable to pay the costs of your business.
Q. What is harder: to start a company or to maintain one in time? I’m asking this because one fourth of development teams we have presented no longer exist.
I personally think that it is relatively easy to start one but frighteningly difficult to maintain and grow it in the future. Starting is easier because there is excitement that motivates you and you do not think about the problems that can occur after.
But when you pass this initial enthusiasm, when the mind is clearer, there should be as proper planning and determination so that even in case of a problem to be ready to deal with it so it will not affect the rest group.
Q. Going back to your startup, did you thought instead of starting a new team to reach an already existing one and collaborate?
No because I knew from the beginning what I wanted to do and none of the existing teams had the ideology or the planning that I would like the team to have. I’m not saying that other teams have wrong planning, simply they didn’t offer what I was looking for and didn’t have the elements I consider essential for a game development company to succeed.