How did the independent game studio, which fell to the bottom, save itself and revive itself

When Abbey games, a Dutch studio, was founded in 2011, the team had only four co founders, several of whom were still in school. They used the loan to develop their debut in the steam store in 2013 and achieved success. < / P > < p > in 2019, Abbey Games has launched three games, and the team size is at least three times that of the start-up period. But as the new work got into trouble, the studio laid off all its employees, and a co-founder left the studio, leaving behind only creative director Adrian Jensen, playwright Manuel cosmekos and fine arts marten vedenhof. < / P > < p > a year after Abbey games laid off staff, kosmicos and Jensen finally had time to think about what went wrong and the future direction of the studio. In an interview, Jensen frankly admitted that Abbey games went wrong mainly because the founders could play games but didn’t know how to build a team. < / P > < p > according to Jensen, during the development period, the four co founders cooperated very well. They all want to set up a flat structure, everyone has an equal voice in the studio. Among the four people, as the other three are still in University, only Jensen can develop full-time and plan the direction of the team’s development. Revenue was good, so Abbey games decided to scale up and start developing a second game. < / P > < p > “when it’s done, we have a lot of money.” “It drove us all crazy, and then we started thinking about the future,” Jensen said. We know how to make games, but we don’t necessarily have the awareness we need to run a company. We are so idealistic. ” < / P > < p > “when we started making, the first thing we did was hire a lot of people. We’ve doubled the size of our team by hiring four or five new employees before we’ve prepared for anyone. ” < / P > < p > at that time, Abbey games worked in the same building as the developer, vlamber, who often worked with freelancers. Abbey games wants to take another model. However, they didn’t assign specific tasks to new employees, and they basically did what they wanted to do. For example, two employees wanted to develop an engine, so they started to make a game engine. < / P > < p > “we were like a bunch of headless flies and the whole team was in a state of chaos.” “Of course, we will have a long and extensive dialogue on all issues, such as: ‘is this a good idea? Should we do this? ” But as long as you talk to your colleagues long enough, you can always find an argument for anything and think that any idea is good. ” < / P > < p > in this state of chaos, still achieved success, so Abbey Games began to prepare for the development of. Although the four co founders advocate a flat corporate structure, as the team expands, they realize that there is a need to make some changes to the company structure. < / P > < p > “most of our colleagues are our friends, right?” “We talk on a very equal basis and a culture has developed within the company,” Jensen said. But for the first time, we’re beginning to realize that we need some kind of structure and leadership, but we still don’t know how to integrate the two. ” < / P > < p > “in addition, the four founders have different personalities and often have different ideas, but they don’t want to conflict because of different ideas. We just think, “as long as we continue to discuss, we can always reach a consensus in the end.” Several of the founders of Abbey games hired a CEO in the hope of devoting all of their energy to game development rather than day-to-day management. The problem is that they are both founders and developers. The appointed CEO is the nominal boss, but they have to work for them As a result, there is a lack of a unified vision, and everyone just wants to develop what they think is the most interesting. < / P > < p > “in this very egalitarian and open culture, it’s hard for us to unify our ideas.” “We might say, ‘we’re going to make the game look like this,” Jensen said Other developers thought, “I’ll have to spend more time polishing that part.” But that part may not be as important as he thought. Or he doesn’t care about the overall vision of the game. ” < p > < p > Jensen gives an example. In the game, the city was originally only one part of the player’s upgrade. However, because too many developers have invested extra energy into it, the city part becomes bloated and “the real core cycle of the game is extremely shrinking.”. < / P > < p > as it nears launch, Abbey games knows it has problems. Jensen and kosimakos say that all developers know what needs to be changed in the game, but no one can unify their goals and get the project back on track. Everyone is shirking responsibility, blaming others for the lack of coordination between the content developed by others and the game; the power is so decentralized that anyone can have the same impact on the overall direction of the project. < / P > < p > in August 2019, a preemptive experience version will be launched in steam store. The sales of the game are not good, and several members of the team are exhausted. A few months later, with no improvement in sales, Jensen realized that according to the current situation, the studio could only last until January the following year Abbey games had to start laying off employees, leaving only three founding members in the company by the end of 2019, and one of the co founders left voluntarily. < / P > < p > according to Jensen, the three remaining co founders are determined to “at least make it a decent or good product because it’s about reputation.”. So they started making free patches for, and everyone focused on optimizing one or two key parts of the game. < p > < p > in August this year, Abbey Games was finally satisfied. The studio recruited some freelancers to help with the work. The three founders focused on polishing the core cycle of the game, giving up some functions that cannot be completed by current technical strength. In the steam store, the overall positive rating of the players increased from 54% to 70%, and reached 73% in the past month. At the same time, the player retention rate has improved, and players have become more positive about the game in discord chat. < / P > < p > “it may sound silly, but at the end of the day, we are game developers. If we don’t know whether our game is good enough, we may be in the wrong line Self reflection is very important. It may not lead to success, but you can at least look at yourself and say, “this game is not bad. I like it. I made it.” Jensen said. According to Jensen, there are several important lessons that other developers can learn from the tortuous development of Abbey games. For example, he realized that if a founder lacks a clear vision of the company’s development, he can’t expect to solve leadership problems by recruiting outsiders – “that’s a ridiculous idea.”. < / P > < p > “in addition, I think culture has more influence than structure. Even if you say, “we’re going to do things in a different way,” it doesn’t work if the culture is still the same. ” < / P > < p > cosmekos added: “we have never really changed the studio culture over the years, but we have made radical changes in the organizational structure, such as appointing different CEOs and adjusting the process of product planning. We have separate project teams for engines and games, so there are still a lot of changes. ” < / P > < p > “ironically, the more we focus on the company structure, the worse things get I think it’s because the structure gives you a false sense of security. Whether it’s internal discussions or board meetings, what really matters is the people who participate, and people are always more important than structure. ” < / P > < p > Abbey games is still recovering, but the studio has weathered the most difficult times and its debt is close to being paid off. The three co founders finally found the joy of making games again. However, Abbey Games has no intention of expanding the team at present and will continue to work with freelancers. If the company decides to hire more people in the future, at least one founder needs to take up a management position, says Mr kosmicos. < / P > < p > “if someone gave us a lot of money to expand the studio and create really cool games, I think we should be better at it than in the past. At the same time, we are also afraid of repeating the same mistakes and falling into the trap that made us miserable a few years ago. In other words, we don’t know how to avoid falling into the pit. ” Jensen said. < / P > < p > “we’re talking about this topic, but we won’t make it a top priority. We may have to hire new employees to make a cool new product, but we don’t need to scale up aimlessly. ” Video Number assistant internal test online! Four functions let you send 1g video on the computer