" I know it sounds cliche," says Stoic co-founder and creative director Alex Thomas, "but we’re making a game we’d like to play, which makes us think other people would like to play it too." Stoic Studio was formed by three ex-BioWare staffers, currently hard at work on turn-based-strategy-meets-RPG title The Banner Saga. Having worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic for half a decade, Thomas is keen that Stoic's first game should one in which he and his team are totally, personally invested.
"It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies sit down and go 'What game should we make? What do the kids like these days? Ok, a shooter.' A lot of companies are formed before they even know what they want to make.
"Shooters, MMOs, big sandbox games and casual little games are all great but there are plenty of amazing options already out there. Nobody is begging for another game on that pile. We definitely think there is a hole forming around the role-playing genre and strategy games are drying up. Publishers would say that there aren’t enough people to support it, but unlike a huge development team we don’t need to sell tens of millions and we think there are plenty of people who want what we’re making, including us."
Having worked at one of the most prestigious development outfits in the world, one might ask the question why the three of them chose to branch off into independent territory, but that strikes Thomas as something of an odd question.
"Why wouldn’t you want to get into indie development?" he says. "Working at BioWare was a great experience for all three of us and being part of one of the biggest games ever made was pretty incredible, but I can’t think of a single developer out there who doesn’t dream of making their own games. Is there honestly a better reason than that? Once The Old Republic shipped the time was right and all the pieces fell in place."
The Banner Saga will be floated on Kickstarter in due course, in the hope of generating a little crowd funding to help out with development costs, and Thomas says that it was an easy decision to make regarding the choice between traditional publishing models and self-funding options.
"Now as for why we went self-funded instead of finding a publisher or investor, that was… actually, that was just as easy. We’ve all been around the industry for a while and know that if somebody is paying you they call the shots, you may as well stay at a company. Plus, convincing a publisher to fund a 2D turn-based strategy game just wasn’t going to happen. So, we put together a plan and gave ourselves a deadline. Whether it succeeds spectacularly, fails miserably or comes to some kind of anticlimactic middle-ground we all agree we’d regret it if we didn’t try."
The Banner Saga, will be emerging in two parts: the first will see the release of a free, multiplayer-combat game this spring, with the full RPG coming later in the year. [IndieGameMag]