August 8, 2019

In the final part of our series on indie games, we spoke to the indie game developer behind Boyfriend Dungeon. The title began as a Kickstarter project in 2018 and is the first game from Kitfox Games. In the video game, you plunder a dungeon as you fend off dangerous monsters and take your weapons on romantic dates.

Victoria Tran, Communications Director for Boyfriend Dungeon, offers some insight into the struggle of the indie game developer and how conventions like PAX help: “One of the hardest parts about making games is people have to know it exists. Especially with thousands of games coming out every year, some with huge marketing budgets, getting noticed is a difficult task for an indie!”

According to Tran, conventions like the upcoming PAX West are a good way to get your game in front of eyeballs you might not have gotten elsewhere, especially since potential players are not necessarily following their studio on social media or keeping up with gaming news.

“But even more than that, the charm of being an indie developer means you often get a more human connection with your community,” said Tran. “Being at conventions lets you meet other fellow indie devs and players in real life. That’s really rewarding.”

We got to chat more about indie games with Tanya X. Short, the Captain of the Boyfriend Dungeons team. In her role, she acts as a creative director, designer, and writer. Short, since in contrast to our other interview with Supergiant Games, Kitfox Games is just at its early stages but already generating buzz with Boyfriend Dungeon.

Twofivesix: How would you define an indie game? And how does Boyfriend Dungeon fit into that category?

Tanya X. Short: For the term ‘indie’ to be helpful to players and developers in differentiating their taste, it becomes quite personal. One person’s punk is another person’s sell-out. But over the years, I find that my personal inclination to use ‘indie’ to describe the financially independent is less and less common. It’s probably most widely accepted to use ‘indie’ as a genre, indicating innovation, freshness, relatively low-budget, new IP. Boyfriend Dungeon is certainly self-funded and self-published and self-distributed… and I like to think it’s innovative and fresh enough to count as indie. I suppose that’s up to critics to decide.

Twofivesix: How many people worked on Boyfriend Dungeon? In what capacities?

Short: The permanent, core Boyfriend Dungeonteam is five people, and we’ve also had smaller, off-and-on contributions from contractors and freelancers.

Twofivesix: What do you think draws people to indie games?

Short: I was a player of indie games for much longer than I’ve been developing them, and I was drawn by the dream of the art form, growing and changing one game at a time. Maybe I’m a novelty-seeker, but I really love being surprised or having my expectations subverted or amused, and there are very good reasons why high-budget games just can’t risk doing that very often. I love feeling slightly weirded out, confused, or lost. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised millions of people prefer to not feel that way.

Twofivesix: Do you tend to play mostly indie games or a mixture with AAA games? What motivated you personally to play indie games?

Short: Just speaking for myself, I play mostly indie games, but once or twice a year I’ll plunge into one of the bigger ones. I think I’m drawn to the unique surprises indie games can offer, and lately, it’s much easier to find chill, cozy experiences on the indie side than in AAA. Maybe if one of those giant high-production games takes a cue from games like A Short Hike and Ooblets, I’ll start playing more AAA.

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