FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Six
If you’re interested in joining us for some of FGL’s Community Events, be sure to check out our forums for updates on Game Jams and Contests! This week, FGL is hosting a Game Jam! FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with developer Eric Bernier, creator of hit games like ‘Comic Book Cody‘ and ‘Herm the Germ‘.
FGL_Brian: Thanks for meeting with us today, Eric! Tell us a little about yourself.
Eric Bernier: My name is Eric Bernier. I’ve been making games in my spare time for about 3.5 years now, all released under my own name. As far as technologies used go, I’ve focused on Flash, using FlashPunk, but I am currently transitioning over to Haxe and HaxeFlixel.
FGL: For a lot of your projects, you seem to have been quite successful working in collaborations. Are there specific skills you look for in a collaboration partner? Do you have any advice for newer game developers who want to collaborate on projects?
EB: I have indeed collaborated with a handful of very talented people. I found PixelChunk, and Izzy, the two artists that I’ve worked with the most right on the FGL forums. More often than not, those that I work with have posted a long forum post, either on FGL, or other game dev related sites, featuring their work. If their style is something I like then I take the time to reach out to them, asking if they’d like to work together. Typically, I let them choose the payment method, whether it be a flat fee, hourly, or revenue split. Treat those you work with with respect, and they will hopefully treat you in a similar manner.
However, It wasn’t always easy finding talented people to work with. When I first joined FGL I had nothing to show for myself. I was willing to work with anyone who pretty much owned Photoshop and could put some pixels on the screen. Due to my lack of finished products, I often hired my artists via commission work, and this worked out well. So as far as advice goes, when first starting out, be honest with yourself. Many often go on the collab forum with no experience looking for a 50/50 rev split. Why should an artist trust his or her time with you when you have no history of past successes? Save some money if possible, and commission an artist. Respect others’ time, put in your work, build up a portfolio, then reach out to others and the collaborations should come in.
FGL: I was looking over your game portfolio at http://ericbernier.com/ and noticed you have a good mix of large-scale games and smaller finished projects. What are some of the things you look for when deciding whether to expand a game idea into something more complex, or when to just keep it simple?
EB: When time allows I try to enter a game jam, or bang out a small project if I’m feeling up to the task. I tend to work alone on these smaller projects, which is probably why they stay so small.
However, I typically enjoy larger scale projects more, as they present greater challenges, and allow for a more polished product. Also, I’m not nearly talented enough to pull these projects off alone, so I also get to work with some awesome people at the same time. Due to this, most of my projects, for the time I allocate to making games, tend to be on the larger side. Bouncing ideas off of my fellow artists and musicians is what helps my games go. Seeing someone else get excited about your ideas, and vice versa, is what helps fuel us to the finish line.
FGL: You mentioned that you’re exploring Haxe for game-making. Do you have any advice for current Flash developers looking to add new game formats / languages to their repertoire?
I could list a few more frameworks, and libraries, but those three should be enough to whet someone’s appetite for new technology. If you find yourself gravitating to one over the others then I suggest that you join their forums, participate in their respective community, and try to create some very simple, small games at first.
FGL: I noticed you’re also very active on Twitter. Do you view Twitter as a useful tool for connecting with other developers? Do you have any tips for promoting your projects using Twitter?
EB: Twitter has been useful in meeting other developers, and is another great tool for finding people to collaborate with. Join Twitter, follow some of your favorite devs, and try to join in on conversations when you can. Don’t just go on Twitter and market your game. People will ignore you, and it is not a very personal way of making meaningful connections online. I often tweet to the #gamedev hashtag, and it has led to some kind praise of my projects, and I’ve also met a few devs via that hashtag. Just don’t spam it though.
FGL: Before we wrap things up, any new projects coming up we get to look forward to?
EB: Izzy and I are working together for another game. I guess you could call it a “rogue-lite”, set in a fairy tale world, in which you play as a princess looking to escape the doldrums of everyday princesshood. The game is titled “A Wicked Curse”, and we’re hoping to target the PC market with it.
FGL: Sounds fun! Thanks for taking some time today to answer our questions, Eric. Any shout-outs before we go?
EB: Sure. Thanks to Izzy and Ionut for being two very talented artists to work with. It seems anytime I tell them what I’m thinking that they read my mind and draw something exactly how I pictured it. Thanks to Daniel Davis for being a great musician and sound guy to work with. Lastly, thanks to my wife, as she gets to have every idea I have bounced off of her whether she wants to hear it or not.
Also, thanks to all of the awesome people who have worked on the many frameworks and tools that I’ve used, including FlashPunk, HaxeFlixel, and Ogmo Editor.
I’d like to thank Eric Bernier for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Eric, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ericmbernier or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.