As part of our spotlight on the booming UK indie gaming scene, we’re talking to talent across the nation. First up, located in London (an area that is becoming an ever growing game studio hub) Hutch. They’ve been thriving over the past few years with their standout mobile games; Top Drives, Smash Bandits, and Race Kings, to name a few. We spoke to one of the team’s developers to find out more about the company and their thoughts on the current climate of indie games. We also got some tips for those looking to dip their toes in the industry.
Cliqist: Right! Let’s start with the most important question, tell us who you are and what you do.
Bex Edmondson: Hi! I’m Bex Edmondson, and I’m a developer at Hutch. We make free-to-play mobile racing games. Our latest ones include Top Drives and Hot Wheels: Race Off. Race Off’s my personal favorite, but then I’m biased because I helped make it!
What’s a normal day at the office like for you?
As soon as I get to work, the game team I’m on has its stand up meeting, where we go over what we did yesterday and what we’re doing today. From there I go straight into coding. I’m sometimes called into meetings about an upcoming feature or something like that. But if not then I’ll spend my day working on my assigned tasks. I’ll collaborate with designers to make sure each feature is as good as it can be, and go back and forth with artists to link up the UI to code. My tasks each day vary a lot: sometimes I’ll be doing the same thing all day, just working my way through a big task. Then at other times I’ll fix fifteen different bugs all over the project. It really depends!
Does Hutch Games utilize influencers to increase exposure to their titles. Do you think fans enjoy seeing games played by the creators?
We don’t at the moment. Speaking as a consumer, though, I love watching Let’s Plays! They make up most of my YouTube viewing habits for sure. I enjoy watching other people’s takes on games, and I don’t have to be actually good at the game to see what happens!
Have you been involved in any VR development?
Not yet! It’s definitely something I’d be interested in though, it’s got so much potential for creativity! I don’t think we’ve really discovered the true potential of what we can do with VR yet, so I’m excited to see where the field goes.
Do you believe that Steam has helped or hindered the indie scene in the last few years in regards to the backlash from Greenlight content and the many seemingly broken games it let through?
Speaking as a mobile developer, the barrier for releasing games has always been relatively low on this platform. I think it’s a good thing that Steam has lowered their entry bar to a similar level. I think it enables more niche games to be available to more people; games that might not have appealed to lots of people who Greenlight games can now be accessed by everyone. If you look at the sheer creativity displayed on sites like itch.io, I definitely don’t think a low barrier for release is a bad thing!
Are there any important rituals you think new devs, wanting to get a step up on the career ladder, should undergo?
I’d feel very unqualified to give advice to people already in the industry, because I’m so new. But for those who are looking to get into the industry, I think that finishing portfolio projects is the number one piece of advice I’d give, especially to coders. Small, complete, and bug-free projects are much better than half-done huge ones! If they’re looking to work in a particular area, focus the projects around that. But I make a point of recommending that junior developers don’t limit themselves to one technical area unless they’re really dedicated to it.
Do you feel that London is an exciting place to be for indie developers?
I’d say so! I think being in such a big city makes it easier to find a community of people who are working on similar things in similar ways.
Are there any gaming websites or publications you frequently read?
I tend to rely on Twitter for most of my games news, to be honest! I really enjoy the tiny indie games that are made by people in their spare time, and they’re not often reported on in bigger publications. I find that following the people that make the stuff I love lends itself to finding other stuff I’ll love. Moreso than reading sites that are meant to cater to lots of people at once.
Fun and Games
Okay, now for a tricky question – what are your recent favorite games?
It’s gotten to the point of cliche, I know, but since I got a Switch just before Christmas (thanks to Hutch for that!!) I’ve sunk about eighty hours into Breath of the Wild. I love exploring in games and this is basically the perfect game for me. It’s a beautiful game, too. I could easily spend another hundred hours just wandering around taking screenshots of different bits. And I’ve only defeated one Divine Beast!
Aside from that, I’ve become really invested in Postknight, by Kurechii. It’s this little mobile game where you play as a knight that makes deliveries for people. The art style is just adorable, and the writing’s great too, making me want to learn more about the characters that you’re delivering stuff to.
The gaming industry is, without a doubt massive and seems to be growing exponentially every year. Do you think that there are enough roles out there, given the high influx of talented game creators emerging every year?
I think so, yes. There’s definitely a fair bit of competition for starter roles, speaking as someone who was looking for a starter role two years ago. But I wouldn’t say other roles are any more rare than in other industries. I suspect there are probably more roles available in certain areas, like development, than others. But there’s also always the opportunity to make your own roles by building your own game!
A Foot in the Door
Is Hutch currently recruiting?
We are! We’re growing quite a lot at the moment, so we’re hiring for lots of different roles in lots of different areas. You can head to hutchgames.com/careers to find out more, and feel free to ask me questions over on Twitter @bexmakesgames.
Can you let us in on any exciting secrets about what Hutch has planned in 2018?
Well, we’re gonna release more games! Think that’s all I can say at the moment though – watch this space!
On that note, if you are looking to work for a successful, diverse gaming company check out the links Bex shared above. Stay tuned as we continue our UK and European roadtrip. We’ll be meeting plenty more of the individuals and teams that make up this part of the video game world.