Interview with DDmeow Games from Australia

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DDmeow Games

DDmeow Games, a game development team comprised of a married couple based in Melbourne, Australia, is dedicatedly engaged in the creation of 'Cyber Paradise,' an action roguelite game featuring significant narrative elements.

Interview With The 2023 NYX Game Awards Winner –
DDMeow Games

1Please provide us with a brief bio of yourself and your background.

We are a wife-and-wife game development team based in Melbourne, Australia, passionately working on 'Cyber Paradise,' an action roguelite game with substantial narrative elements.

Sze: I am originally from Hong Kong and I have been in the animation industry for 15 years. I'm particularly drawn to quirky, humorous narratives and I have a deep-rooted passion for video games which is why I made the exciting leap into game development three years ago. Currently, I'm enrolled in the Master of Animation, Games, and Interactivity at RMIT in Australia.

Uly: I joined Sze in the animation field around a decade ago and I am a devoted reader and film enthusiast. I am endlessly captivated by the intricate art of storytelling.

2What led you to become a Game Developer / Marketer?

For many years, we were engrossed in creating animations for clients. Then when the pandemic hit, our favorite client stepped away from her role. This pivotal moment acted as a catalyst for us, signifying that it was opportune to transition our emphasis from client-based projects to fostering our own creations. Almost like a serendipitous turn of events, we seamlessly shifted our focus to game development.

To our delight, we launched our debut game, "Psycho Bathroom," on Steam in 2022. The game exceeded our expectations, garnering over 100 very positive reviews! The enthusiastic response from players has been an incredible motivator, propelling us deeper into the world of game development.

3What is your role in the company, and what traits should a game developer / marketing professional possess to be successful in their role?

We are the co-founders of our studio, DDmeow Games and since it's just the two of us, we pretty much wear all the hats—covering game development and everything in between. While we're still on the journey toward success (our game is still in its beta demo phase), we believe the key to making it in this industry is to clearly define your objectives and pursue them without wavering.

It's crucial to identify the right goals, as chasing the wrong ones can lead you off-course. For instance, aiming to become a "famous developer" won't give you much direction for improving your craft. A more focused goal, like "I want people to enjoy my game," or better yet, "I want players to experience [insert specific emotion or reaction] in my game," can be a lot more illuminating and fulfilling.

4Tell us more about your studio / company.

As a wife-wife team based in the culturally diverse city of Melbourne, we're perfectly positioned to draw upon a rich tapestry of ideas and influences for our game development.

One of our aims is to bring female and queer perspectives into the gaming world. We believe that games are a powerful medium for representation and are excited about the opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive narrative. Whether through the stories we tell, the characters we create, or the game mechanics we design, our goal is to make a lasting impact that extends beyond the screen.

5What is your own definition of a great game?

While a enjoyable game may hold your attention, an exceptional game lingers in your thoughts long after completion. A remarkable game is intellectually stimulating, evokes emotions, and fosters a deeper connection with its characters. Moreover, it possesses the ability to address contemporary societal issues and delve into psychological complexities faced by individuals.

Sze: This reminds me of VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action. Although I've spent around 20 hours on it, it remains my all-time favorite game.

6Describe the genres of the game(s) your studio / company specializes in, as well as its main characteristics.

Our specialization lies in crafting unconventional narratives imbued with emotionally resonant elements. Take, for example, our previous game, 'Psycho Bathroom.' While it may seem to revolve around a toothbrush battling toilet plumes on the surface, delving deeper reveals themes of equality and self-empowerment.

Our ongoing project, 'Cyber Paradise,' serves as an emotional journey where players collect memories of Mini, a recently departed dog, with the goal of digitally reviving her. However, the game unfolds in a future dominated by a religion called 'Faxism,' where devotees worship an ancient fax machine. In essence, our games represent a distinctive fusion of emotional storytelling and absurdity.

7Tell us more about your ideation process.

The development of 'Cyber Paradise' has been a captivating adventure, with a significant portion of our inspiration drawn from our love for pets. It started with our routine of watching online pet videos, laying the foundation for the initial concept behind DDmeow.

The concept evolved further when we welcomed a Dachshund into our lives, marking a new chapter accompanied by a beloved pet. This personal bond with a pet became a vital emotional cornerstone in our game. Regarding the game's narrative and character progression, it's a blend of our own real-life encounters and daily experiences seamlessly integrated into the gaming universe.

8Congratulations! As the winner of the NYX Game Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
It's incredibly humbling and motivating to win these gold awards, especially since our game is still in its beta demo stage. We're grateful to the judges for investing the time to delve into our game, looking past the placeholders and bugs to recognize its underlying quality. This honour fuels our determination and excitement to continue improving.
9How has winning an international award help promote your company and game?
This is the first time our studio has won such a prestigious award! We've already incorporated the award badges into our game trailer and marketing materials. Undoubtedly, this adds a layer of credibility to our game.
10What are the challenges of developing / marketing your winning entry(ies)?
As a two-person indie studio with no external funding or industry connections, marketing our game has been a significant challenge. Winning this award, however, gives us hope that it will boost our visibility within the gaming community.
11How has the country, you are based in, helped during your ideation process?

Uly: It was only in March of this year that we moved to Melbourne. Sze is from Hong Kong, and when she moved to my country to live with me, the experience of living in different places sparked a lot of creative ideas.

What excites us most is the community of game developers we've met here who have been very encouraging and supportive. Melbourne is also a state that's incredibly supportive of indie game development, offering various forms of assistance we can apply for. Even as a new studio, we received government support when we participated in the Melbourne PAX AUS game show.

12What are the current trends in the game industry that you are most excited about?
Independent games seem to be garnering more and more attention, which is something I'm really looking forward to. We hope that in the future, indie games will receive even more support. Crafting your own game is never an easy task, but the growing interest in indie titles is encouraging.
13What are the top THREE (3) favorite things about the gaming industry?

Uly: My favorite part about gaming development is the ability to craft my own stories. I've always loved reading and spent a lot of time in libraries or bookstores when I was younger. From Japanese manga to Western detective novels to Eastern martial arts stories, these have always been my favorite genres. The notion that I can one day create my own stories is exhilarating. Starting with character development, I've found that the entire storytelling process has been a way to understand my own thought patterns; it's like unveiling my inner world.

Sze: We feel incredibly fortunate to have stumbled upon a supportive indie game community on Twitter. From "Follow Fridays" to "Wishlist Wednesdays," play-testing, and indie game streaming, I genuinely believe we couldn't have achieved what we have without their support. So, a big thank you to everyone involved!

Before diving into game development, we dabbled a bit in YouTube animation. The fascinating thing is that while on YouTube you only have two seconds to capture an audience unfamiliar with you, in gaming, you get a whole 10 minutes! Also, the game industry doesn't require us to constantly produce new titles to stay relevant, unlike YouTube. This gives us the time and freedom to craft something we genuinely love.

14 What resources would you recommend to someone who is searching to improve their game designs and development ideas / skills?
For anyone looking to improve their game design and development skills, we highly recommend Game Maker's Toolkit and GDC Talks as essential resources for understanding game design principles. If you're focused on honing your programming skills, GameDev.TV is a great starting point. In fact, that's where our own journey in game development began.
15Where do you see the evolution of the gaming industry in the next 5-10 years?
We believe that in the coming 5-10 years, we'll see an increasing number of people getting involved in indie game development. Just like the diversity of styles and lifestyles we're experiencing in this era, we think we'll see that reflected in the games that are being created.
16Who inspired you in your life, and why?

Uly: It's hard to pinpoint just one person who has inspired me, as everyone who comes into my life inspires me in some way. But if I have to choose, I'd say Sze is the one who motivates me the most, especially since we're a two-person team. I handle part of the narrative and character development in our games, and she always provides fresh perspectives that are invaluable to my thinking process.

Sze: While I may handle the majority of the game's production, Uly brings life and humanity to the game. The characters are our most valuable assets, delicately showcasing the game's unique style. Together, we make the game complete.

17What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Knowing what kind of game you want to create is incredibly important. Throughout the process, maintain a sense of fun and optimism, and execute it carefully.
18Do you have anything else, which we haven’t covered, that you would like to include in this interview?

We'd love to take a moment to thank our fellow game developers, streamers, play-testers, classmates and teachers from RMIT and player community. The feedback, suggestions and engagement we've received have been invaluable in shaping our games.

It’s an incredible feeling to see people not just playing your game but also relating to the emotional and often quirky narratives we work so hard to build. Looking forward, we aim to continue blending emotional storytelling with offbeat creativity, and we have some exciting projects in the pipeline that we can't wait to share.

Winning Entry

Cyber Paradise | 2023

Cyber Paradise | DDmeow Games
Cyber Paradise, a 2D action roguelite adventure, intertwines deckbuilding elements within a vast digital …
(Read more at NYX Game Awards)

DDmeow Games

DDmeow Games, a game development team comprised of a married couple based in Melbourne, Australia, is dedicatedly engaged in the creation of 'Cyber Paradise,' an action roguelite game featuring significant narrative elements.

Read more about this interview with Hasegawa Hitoshi from China, the Gold Winner of the 2023 NYX Game Awards.