November 12, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili
After a string of successful indie releases for various platforms, French development team Arkedo Studio has clearly impressed someone at Sega.
The company revealed last month that it will be publishing Arkedo's next game, tentatively titled Project Hell Yeah!, although no details were divulged regarding release platforms or date.
Arkedo's co-founder Camille Guermonprez smiles when Gamasutra's Mike Rose asks if he can slip us a few details. "No, we cannot," he answers. "Sega put a gigantic amount of resources helping our game come out at the right time, on the right platforms, and with the right marketing."
"They have a precise plan, and we will follow it... we are pretty OK with this, as for the moment, we are busy making the game."
Fortunately, he's all too happy to explain how the whole deal came about. "We made a prototype, showed it to publishers, and Sega signed it," he says simply.
Expanding beyond the nutshell explanation, he adds, "Since our last big game -- 'big' for us meaning Big Bang Mini on the Nintendo DS, which we loved making and are still playing today -- Arkedo sailed across a pretty rough sea."
In reality, the studio has been rather touch-and-go over the last two year, admits Guermonprez, with a constant feeling that "we are always ready to die tomorrow."
However, Arkedo wasn't ready to go down without a fight, and the team's anger from constantly teetering on the knife-edge has now been transferred into their upcoming game.
"A lot of this rage went into making Project Hell Yeah," he says. "We felt we did not have the opportunity to release anything really noteworthy for the past 2 years, so we wanted to throw a last firework. The idea was to say 'See? It would be a shame for us to go so young.'"
After showing the prototype to Sega during the 2010 Game Connection in Lyon, the team finally had a shining light in the darkness.
"What happened last December is the kind of bedtime stories you tell aspiring game creators," says Guermonprez.
However, the Arkedo man explains to Gamasutra that Sega's involvement will not affect that classic Arkedo magic.
"We keep the IP. That was not on the table," notes Guermonprez. "Sega does not contractually have a say on the content."
He continues, "It is always a great moment of joy and pride for us when we get Sega's feedback on Project Hell Yeah!, for many reasons. There is always the risk for us of going a bit too far with it, and we are currently too deep into our own game to realize it."
"'Arkedo turns all knobs to 11' is an interesting concept and it's really refreshing for us, but there is always the risk of overacting, or us simply not being funny. So sitting on shoulders of giants like this, being able to whisper about our game in their ears while watching their reaction, is priceless. It allows us to push the concept to its limits with Arkedo, and then have an exterior opinion and know if we were right."
Sega's involvement also brings question to whether or not Arkedo classes itself as indie anymore. While Guermonprez is happy to be free of some of the problems that indie devs face nowadays, he also knows that the "strong tie that binds indie devs together" will always be a pull of the scene.
"I believe it is a question of money, and attitude toward risk-taking," he explains. "Every indie dev feels in their guts, everyday, that they are playing with their own money, and if they fail, the price to pay is usually immediate, with severe effects on their family life."
"The risk/reward mechanism in this case is pretty simple: if your current project is not successful, you close shop and shame on you. It's pretty real! Here's to the crazy ones, as someone impossibly inspiring once said."
He continues, "It's really risky, yet many people choose this way of making games. Maybe it's an urge? Whatever it is, it definitively is a strong tie that binds indie devs together. There is a reason we help each other so much, talk together so much, sometimes share tools and bits of code, and welcome newcomers."
"It's because no-one is pretending: we are gambling our current financial life on our projects, so we must be pretty confident on its relevancy."
Arkedo has been developing games since 2006, and has released titles for Nintendo DS, Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone 7, with the latest game no doubt due to be available via yet another platform. Does the studio have a favorite platform?
"Can we say all of the platforms we developed on? It may sound an easy answer, but it really is the case," answers Guermonprez. "We have been pretty lucky to be the one cherry-picking our platforms before starting any of our projects."
"Technically, as our games are mainly 2D, we often use only a fraction of what the hardware is capable of (that was less true for the DS), and prefer to put our focus on providing fresh stuff, easy controls and use our additional time to hide easter eggs wherever we can!"