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Independent Games Summit: The 2022 Failure Workshop

Adrián Novell  (Game Designer, Electronic Arts)

Ido Yehieli  (CEO, Stellar Cartography Interactive UG)

Keith Burgun  (Game Designer, Keith Burgun Games)

Dave Proctor  (Director, Mighty Yell Studios)

Location: Room 2001, West Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 22

Time: 10:50 am - 11:50 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

The Failure Workshop offers developers a chance to speak openly about their game development failings in the hopes that others might learn from their mistakes. This year, Adrián Novell (Electronic Arts) will discuss how refusing to give up on their game, SkyRider, nearly broke him. Ido Yehieli ( Stellar Cartography Interactive UG) will share the challenges of adapting game jam ideas and principles to full-time development. Keith Burgun (Dinofarm Games) reflects on how many years to come to terms with the fact that 'these genres might just not fit that well together'. Finally, Dave Proctor (Mighty Yell Studios) will offer us a new lens to view 'success' and 'failure' beyond just sales numbers.

I Had to Abandon My Game After 4 Years And It Nearly Broke Me
Adrián Novell, (Game Designer, Electronic Arts)
Shared knowledge and experiences after 4+ years of developing an indie game, tried everything to make it work and still failed. How being naive, South American and young game developer lead us to make a mistake after the other.

Not Every Busker Can Play at the Orchestra
Ido Yehieli, (CEO, Stellar Cartography Interactive UG)
In 2012 I took part of "indie buskers" - a group of indies taking ideas from the audience and live streaming a game jam over a weekend (for "pay as you wish" support from people viewing the stream). The resulting game of that jam was very popular, raised a bunch of money from viewers & I decided "if I made *that* in a weekend I'll bet I can make something really amazing from it in a few months!".

The talk is about why that didn't happen, and at the end of 3 months I ended up with a game barely any different than the original weekend jam game. It sold very little of mobile, I couldn't get a flash sponsorship for the web version. It didn't recoup even the modest amount of money I invested into extending it these few months (a lot less than the original buskers version did).

Escape the Omnochronom!
Keith Burgun, (Game Designer, Keith Burgun Games)
In 2018, a strange and mysterious game appeared on Steam: Escape the Omnochronom! A weird turn-based combination of rogue-likes and MOBAs, with a dark, bizarre setting. The story behind the highly experimental game -- and why it did not work -- is an interesting one that includes a number of important lessons, particularly for solo indie devs like Escape the Omnochronom's creator, Keith Burgun. What was it that made this game not work? When do you decide to pull the plug on an idea, particularly in the world of strategy games where things are often not fun until a game comes together?

The Real Failures Were Plans We Made Along The Way
Dave Proctor, (Director, Mighty Yell Studios)
If you can believe it, sometimes a game isn't an earth-shattering global number one hit on day one. We can plan and project and prognosticate our desired outcome, but as the landscape of how we sell games changes, so too must our expectations. Dave Proctor was game director on The Big Con, and while the game is far from a failure, he wants to talk about everything that went wrong. Also, as it becomes harder and harder to understand the randomness of the market, how do we define what real failure is and what lessons we can really learn from it?


Attendees will be asked to question what their actual measures of failure are, and how they can apply them to learn from future projects. Attendees will also study the failure-learning cycle and attempt to reconcile its speed with the speed of the games market. Hopefully, attendees will also have fun, and leave inspired.

Intended Audience

Anyone who can learn from other people's mistakes. Anyone looking for the catharsis of being open about our collective failings. Anyone who is interested in indie game development but has yet to hear the flip side of breakaway successes. Anyone who has stumbled in their game development journey themselves and would like to not feel alone in our humanity.