This month we have an interview with Desmond Wong, co-founder and CEO of The Gentlebros Pte. Ltd.! His company, situated in Singapore, has been responsible for the award-winning game Slashy Hero (iOS and Android) which won Best Game Design and Best Mobile Game at Casual Connect 2016. At this moment, they are working on their new game Cat Quest. Let us hear the story of a company whose motto is “Part gentleman, part bro, all awesome”!
Check out their site – http://thegentlebros.com/
Q: Give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your company. What is your role? What is your company about? What is your “origin” story?
We were all originally ex Koei Tecmo developers! We so happened to sit next to each other and decided to one day just make a game for fun. It was something we would do in our free time after work.
That game turned out to be Slashy Hero (our first game) and that game got picked up by Kongregate. One thing led to another, and Gentlebros was born.
Q: How does your company endure as a game studio in South-east Asia? What challenges did your company face when it first started?
I think all studios face the issue of money when they first start out. Thankfully we were picked up by a big name publisher right from the get go, so we had some money there. We were also awarded with a grant from SPRING Singapore too. That helped a lot.
Being in South-east Asia, there’s actually a lot of stuff you can do. Google has a strong presence here and they’re always willing to help developers. Yes, true, all the big stuff still takes place in the west, but with the internet, that gap is quickly shrinking. At the end of the day, it’s not really where you are, but how far you would want to go.
Q: What are some of the common challenges your company face when developing or releasing a project? How are resources allocated or distributed?
For us, keeping the scope of the project small is always tough for us. As creators, we’d always want to give the very best we can. But that ‘very best’ comes at a cost….a monetary cost. We’re still not great at it, but we’re learning to cut things where needed to get the game released before we go broke!
Marketing is always the toughest part when you’re indie. Getting your game exposed with as little money spent is tough! It usually ends up with using a lot of social media, going to game shows to spread the word, and building a community. It’s really tough work, and having to build a game on top of all that isn’t easy!
One of the game projects from Gentlebros: Cat Quest
Q: How does your company manage funding and recruitment?
Right now we’re sustained by the money we’ve made so far, as well as negotiating investments.
With regards to recruitment, we’re not at the stage where we want to expand really crazily yet. So for now, we’re looking at freelancers for short projects.
Q: How does your company conduct user testing?
That’s what friends are for! And family too! Well, closed ones are always the best places to start. But eventually you’d want to go bigger! Thankfully, there are organisations like IMDA, Pixel and even schools that can help with these.
Q: How does your company handle marketing for your brand and your products?
Ah, this was touched on a little above, but it’s a lot of social media, and building good connections with the media. We also go to game shows too, as that’s where you’re meeting the players as well as meeting the media face to face!
Q: What is your company’s work environment like? Any quirks or interesting stories you would like to share?
We’re super chill. Being friends and a small team, we just talk about anything under the sun while we work. There was one time, one of us was sick, so we decided to all wear black and face masks. People thought we were ninjas!
The team at Gentlebros
Q: What are your views on the local game industry?
I think it is really cool! It’s not the biggest yet, but whatever is here is really great. There’s a really friendly atmosphere around, but a slight competitive spirit to it too. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Koei, Ubisoft, and other big companies. It’s always good to have big companies in the scene to offer experience and knowledge to the smaller ones.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local game industry?
Be prepared for ALOT of hard work. Making games is fun, but it’s going to eat your soul. Thankfully, if this is what you want to do, you’re going to enjoy every second of it.
One tip though: get a full team together before you start…and HAVE A PLAN! Don’t go quitting your job to go indie with no idea of how you’re going to put food on the table. That’s just foolish! And if you’re fresh out of school, same thing! I know the allure of making your own games is tantalising, but always have a plan. And if you think you’ll need more experience before starting, then finding a job first is a great first step.
Q: If you have anything more that you would like to talk about, feel free to add them here.
A shameless plug seems fitting here, but we’re nearing the end of development of our second game ‘Cat Quest’! It’s an epic 2D open world RPG about warrior cats saving the world from an evil dragon lord. It’s really good fun and we’re just trying to make a game that makes you smile and laugh. See the trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUbzC5fX0t4