Aussie indie filmmaker StudioBento is on track halfway through a Kickstarter campaign to fund its adventure through the world of independent game development. The project, GameLoading, will ultimately be the result of years of filming, and aims to gain insights from the indie game development world in a time when our perceptions are shifting about what a quality game is. I spoke with Lester Francois, one half of the StudioBento team, about invading the houses of many indie personalities.
If all goes to plan, Francois hopes to have GameLoading out by around September next year, and he'll be filming right up until the end. That includes following indies on trips to events like GDC, and throughout their daily routines. Based in Melbourne, there's no shortage of quality indies around, as anyone at PAX Aus could tell you - our lack of big studios has forced many down the indie path, and it's a path Australia has done well with. But one of the more heavily followed teams is Armello developers League of Geeks.
"They should be releasing their game sometime next year," says Francois, "and we'll be covering development, marketing, and then the release."
I asked how much hard drive space is involved with following multiple indie teams and recording everything.
"A lot! We've already got terabytes and terabytes stored away, mutliple copies of everything stored across three locations, multiple hard drives in the office, a clone in the house, and a clone in a secret location."
But while GameLoading will certainly aim to capture some unscripted magic moments, it's not trying to be a replica of Indie Game: The Movie. Rather, it aims to spend quality time with the developers and gain an insight into their craft.
Francois started filming for GameLoading in early 2012 with fellow filmmaker Anna Brady, and his first stop was an indie meet-up in Perth called Let's Make Games.
"That was super important. I was a little naive going into this. They really set the story straight for me, what their ambitions are, and what they want from a film like this. We shot a lot of interviews, learned a lot, made mistakes... And I think we'll include some of that in the film, because I think it's important to show that journey."
Since then, they've been travelling the world, and although GameLoading is a local project, there's a full list of international interviewees, including Trip Hawkins of EA, David Helgason of Unity, and Jerry of Penny Arcade.
The project is on track so far, after a blitzing first week bolstered by support from the indie scene itself.
"The first 48 hours was crazy, it really blew up. We were hoping for that, but when it happens, it just takes on a life of its own, the first night we went live, it was 11am new york time, we were hoping to hit the launch button, go to bed, and wake up to see how it went. But instead we were up until 6 am, watching it and seeing people write to us - it was a thrill.
"At end of first week we hit the 30% mark. That was an important milestone for us, and now that we're in our lull - which happens - we're at about 36%, and we're still climbing slowly. But for our lull period we're doing okay, and we'll have to do another media push this week."
Francois says the support from indies themselves hasn't been hard to come by.
"There's a 'Be in the film' tier, 20 spots for developers allowing them to contribute money and have their footage in the film, and the credits. We're barely 2 weeks in the campaign and all those slots have gone. Now we're opening up another similar tier - we haven't sorted the details out yet but it'll be priced at a higher rate so those initial backers got the earlybird rates.
"The developers feel a strong need for this to be made. There's a groundswell of support for this around the world, they're demanding we finish this film and make it happen."
You can support GameLoading through its Kickstarter page.