Inside Team Rudimentality, an Indie Game Studio
We recently published an article describing a few of the many reasons ROBLOX is the best place to dive into indie game development and cited a couple of examples of developers who’ve come to be very successful here. Those examples were only the tip of the iceberg.
One of the coolest indie game development stories we’ve uncovered is that of Team Rudimentality. Although the group is comprised of members who span the globe, they’ve been using technology to their advantage for the better part of the last year to work collaboratively on innovative games. Not only is their gameplay quality consistently high, but the aesthetic approach makes a Rudimentality-developed game unmistakable.
We jumped at the chance to talk with three members of Team Rudimentality about managing group projects, the importance of constant communication, and maintaining game balance among external pressures. wesBan, devAdrian, and WhoBloxedWho are all accomplished ROBLOX developers, and each of them brings a distinct skill set to this game development collective.
ROBLOX: Andrew and I figured it would be interesting to explore the dynamics of a game studio on ROBLOX. You guys are one of the biggest — certainly one of the most organized. You’ve also cultivated your own “style” as well.
wesBAN: I think we’ve learned to mesh so well because we’ve all known one another for a fairly long time.
devAdrian: Colors. Colors is our style.
ROBLOX: Let’s start at phase one. How and when was Team Rudimentality started?
WhoBloxedWho: devAdrian and I started the group with a few other friends back in July. We basically just wanted to make a group that could make great games and have fun doing it.
wesBAN: It really picked up when devAdrian started working with all of us on Bracket.
ROBLOX: Oh right, I remember we wrote an article about the development. Were you really selective about who could join your development team? How do you collaborate when you’re creating a game?
devAdrian: We didn’t really selectively “pick” people, they just sort of joined in. Once we had our main group, we weren’t looking for a specific type of person. The only guy we’ve actually hired based on his skill set alone was DevNathan — I noticed early on that he was Tweeting a lot about programming.
The process to creating a game typically starts with one of us having some whacky idea. -WhoBloxedWho
WhoBloxedWho: The process to creating a game typically starts with one of us having some whacky idea. In a way, we’re all freelance developers who are always between projects, so the group is a refreshing place to bounce any idea, no matter how crazy, off a bunch of developers. Many of these ideas never become a reality, but every now and then you’ll get a group member who jumps on a project idea right away.
devAdrian: Place Roulette was just an idea that actually became a tangible experience on ROBLOX, 30 minutes after it was proposed.
|Place Roulette is an experimental place that uses our teleportation system. In it, you can jump into one of the several chambers and have it transport you to a completely random ROBLOX game. The beauty of it is that you never leave the game — it all happens in your current instance, right before your eyes. Neat stuff.|
Managing a virtual game studio
ROBLOX: How do you allocate work? Are specific people given specific tasks?
devAdrian: Generally, no. Everyone just sort of does whatever, and we constantly bounce ideas off one another. Overall, the primary members of this group have the same skill set. That being said, there are specific things that each member specializes in. Like wesBAN is really skilled at creating sounds, while DevNathan specializes in networking and web development.
WhoBloxedWho: I’m best when I focus on design and visual aspects of a game. But I can also script and do things on back/front-end programming. I’m all over the place, and can usually help with any questions our members have. devAdrian is more of a back end programmer, but he’s also very skilled with design work and making games balanced.
ROBLOX: I think people are really curious about the game development studios that are starting to surface. We encourage collaboration, but we know it can be challenging. You guys live all over the map — what’s the biggest challenge to developing a game as a group?
Communication is, like, major. -WhoBloxedWho
WhoBloxedWho: Communication is, like, major. We have to make sure we’re always on the same page with whatever project we’re working on.
wesBAN: We’re almost always talking to each other, though. We’re constantly communicating.
WhoBloxedWho: As we speak we’re in a Google Hangout. A lot of our challenges actually come from a conceptual level. When you’re developing a game, it’s easy to just burn out.
devAdrian: Things can get really tricky when you’ve got these huge projects that need certain assets from certain people. When you’re just sitting around waiting for assets it’s easy to burn out.
wesBan: Speaking to that effect, samaxis recently built us two new maps for Strobe, which are insanely awesome.
devAdrian: I think it comes down to a 50-50 split between motivation and constant communication. We are in constant communication, yes, but a lot of times people just don’t have the motivation to start a brand new project. Every project that’s actually been created in our group comes down to the work load of one or two very motivated members. Then there’s bug fixes, assets, and small features that other members contribute. We assign about three members per project — when you have more than three, things can get crazy.
ROBLOX: Team Rudimentality is juggling several projects at the moment, correct?
WhoBloxedWho: Don’t forget, we recently threw together Seige of Quebec. Also, I know wesBAN is working on putting together a god-like sandbox game.
ROBLOX: I imagine it was rough, having to take all the popular titles you’ve each developed and starting from scratch and re-publishing as a game development studio.
WhoBloxedWho: It wasn’t that bad for us, really. We want to get our groups’ games working towards DevEx — we’re 63% of the way there! Our fans seemed to catch on quickly that we had relocated all the places we’re working on.
devAdrian: Since we became an official group, it’s become a place for our subscribers to go to listen to our shouts and follow what we’re doing. If you’re a game studio, it’s important to have a centralized place for your fans to go.
ROBLOX: I don’t think we’ve gotten the chance to talk to a group that’s looking to utilize DevEx — how do you allocate money you earn when you’re in a group?
WhoBloxedWho: Any money we earn will be put towards game development.
devAdrian: Licensing for development tools, funding server costs — we actually had a domain name, but the server was too expensive and we had to stop hosting it. DevEx would get us back up and running again. As it stands now, http://ruddev.com just redirects users to my Twitch stream, where I do live programming.
WhoBloxedWho: Monetization is something we are constantly struggling with.
ROBLOX: We can relate to that. We’re working to make ROBLOX a place where developers can support their hobby financially.
WhoBloxedWho: It’s interesting, because I think Strobe is a great game that we could make a lot of money from. Thing is, we don’t want to add anything that will change or alter the overall experience of the game. We don’t want to change anything about the mechanics, or give users the ability to change the mechanics.
wesBAN: We see in a lot of games that people offer Game Passes that “upgrade” their characters. But none of us can agree on doing that because it would make Strobe unbalanced.
ROBLOX: What if you guys disagree about a feature you want to add? Is it put to a vote?
We settle disputes by engaging in gladiatorial combat. -devAdrian
devAdrian: We settle disputes by engaging in gladiatorial combat.
ROBLOX: Ha ha.
WhoBloxedWho: It’s way more about trying to find an even ground on any given issue.
devAdrian: There can be some pretty heated debates. The bottom line is that we try not to implement features just for the sake of implementing features. Does that make sense? We all collectively understand that anything we do will eventually effect the game design.
wesBAN: Like, I had a bunch of people telling me today in Strobe to add kill streaks and radars and all these other fancy things. But I mean, that just doesn’t suit Strobe. It was intended to be a very arcade-ish shooter.
devAdrian: Exactly. That’s why all of our rewards are for different classes in the game.
wesBAN: I’ve found that putting people in different classes when they first enter helps fill roles in the team, even while they’re trying to figure out the game.
devAdrian: The biggest challenge with a role-based game is teaching the player to embrace their role and help their team, rather than themselves. We don’t want to take players out of the game and force them to use a tutorial, we want it to be instinctive. This can be especially hard when certain players think that a certain class is underpowered, or overpowered.
ROBLOX: What’s in store for the future? Anything you’d like to share?
devAdrian: Right now I’m starting up back-end code for a isometric 2D RTS game I’ve been developing. DevNathan is messing around in different mediums to expand our selection of development choices. DevAndy is working on improving his website skills.
wesBAN: I’m learning more about sound design and effects, as well as music. We’re still developing Ignoble. Wheatlies is rewriting Island. Strobe is always a project in development, and will be getting several updates in the future. I’ve got some personal projects I’m working on, but I’m big on secrets, and ain’t sharing those ideas with nobody.
ROBLOX: Guys this has been great, thanks so much for taking the time.