Brandon Smith – CEO

Brandon Smith – CEO



“I’m either making really weird games, or really weird noises.”


 

Brandon, thanks for joining me.

“Thank you for having me!”

 

What is your current title and where do you work?

“I am the CEO of DarkShot Studios, an indie game company based in Houston Texas.”

 

What are some titles you’ve worked on previously?

“Nothing notable! This will be our first published title, but I’ve worked on for fun projects for the past ten or so years. One of them was a Mega Man fan game I creatively named Megan Man.”

 

ROTii

ROTii

Clever.  What is the title your studio is currently working on?

“We’re working on a 2D puzzle platformer called ROTii for PC.”

 

How did DarkShot Studios come to be?  Did you help found it?

“Me and three other friends got together with the goal of making a AAA level rpg a few years ago. Once we discovered that those things take money to create, we formed a group around the idea of working on more attainable projects.”

 

#MakingGamesIsHard.  We’ve all had that discovery at some point in our career. Better to figure that out before going into major debt.  You mentioned you making games for fun for 10 years or so.  How did you get your start working on games for fun?

“Back in the Ps2 days, I read about RPG Maker III in a Game Informer magazine. I was blown away by the fact that games could  ‘be made!’  Instead of using that one, however, I got the RPG Maker for PC, and spent the next few years endlessly toying around with it.”

 

It was your gateway into game development.  Did you get any formal schooling in game development?

“Only a single class a few years into my career. Most of my training was from experimenting and YouTube videos.”

 

Where did you grow up?

“Born and raised here in Houston. 26 years and counting.”

 

Not a lot of game studios in the Houston area, but there are a few, right?

“There are some smaller studios spread out through the city, but only one big one at the moment. I hope to see my studio become the next one!”

 

As a smaller studio, do you collaborate or work with other indies in the Houston area?

“I’ve worked with a few other developers for things like Global Game Jam, or smaller projects. A lot of the time, the indies here are also busy with their own work!”

 

What is your typical day like as a CEO?

“Pretty jam packed. I also work a full time job to pay the bills, so I usually put in about 11-14 hours worth of work over all. Mostly day job work, sending out emails, and chatting with the team during the day. Evening is reserved for usually programming or networking.”


“You have to be able to decide on a plan, and have enough consistency to stay the course each and every day, even when “new and shiny” things come creeping along.”


 

The life of an indie is forever jam packed!  Did you receive a college degree?  If so from where?

“I got my Associates from the Lone Star Community Colleges. Still working on my Bachelor’s from University of Houston – Downtown. I’m studying business, which actually comes in handy as a CEO.”

 

What skill or trait is most important as a CEO?

“Consistency. As a CEO, you spend a lot of time making important decisions for your company. At least in my case, there’s a lot of temptation to change aspects of our game, or make other major changes to the company. You have to be able to decide on a plan, and have enough consistency to stay the course each and every day, even when “new and shiny” things come creeping along.”

 

ROTii

ROTii

I wish those words could be heard by some former employers of mine.  It’s so true to keep steady course when developing and only making changes when it is best for the game and the people you work with.  What is the biggest misconception about what you do?

“I would have to say the cost of being a young business owner. These days, young entrepreneur types are glorified in the mainstream eye (some rightfully so). While I think most people understand there is a lot of time involved, I don’t think many people take into account the degree to which this line of work can be very emotionally costly, not just time and money wise.”

 

I can’t fathom the cost of trying to do a startup.  I can only think it is some lean living.

“It certainly is! The making money part is definitely not an easy milestone to reach. I’m still working towards that moment myself.”

 

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of becoming an independent developer?

“Start by just working on stuff. Small projects, work for family and friends. Get a feel for who you are as a developer and potential business person. If you know what you’re capable of, you can much easier make a plan for what things you need to get to be successful.”

 

How do you like to spend your free time, if you have any free time?

“The little free time I have these days is spent on Pokemon Go! It’s sort of a double bonus for me; I get to play a videogame, and take in some nature!”

 

ROTii

ROTii

YES!  You have to keep training if you want to be the best Pokemon battler in the world!  You are not alone with Pokemon Go.  Are there any other trends that have peaked your interest?

“The trend for ‘oddball’  things has me interested (is that even the proper word?). When I look at games like Undertale, or shows like Adventure Time, there is often this aspect of quirkiness that makes you do a double take. It takes me back to Earthbound for the Super Nintendo.”

 

That is a great observation.  They do not follow the status quo.

“Indeed. It definitely inspires how I approach design. In my opinion, trying to do the standard AAA game is never going to work, not at an indie level. The best thing I can do as a game developer is bring my uniqueness to the table.”

 

What one game has influenced you the most?

Earthbound for sure. It was a very different kind of RPG when it came out in the 90’s. I like to imagine they looked at various RPG tropes, and asked  ‘does it have to be this way?’ That kind of thinking is what yields truly unique results.”

 

If you have to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  What is your tagline?

“I’m either making really weird games, or really weird noises.”

 

Perfect.  LOL.  If people want to find you or our company, how can you be reached?  

“We’re on practically all social media platforms @DarkShotStudios. We also have our own website http://darkshotstudios.com

 

Thank you for your time today, Brandon!  Can wait to see how ROTii turns out.  Best of luck!

“Thank you! This was fun!”

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