For our interview this month, we have Ian Gregory from Witching Hour Studios! A firm believer in immersive world-building and relatable characters, Ian has crafted together with his talented team story-rich role playing games like Ravenmark and the recent Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. Let us discover the inspirations of a person whose ambition is to make “mind-blowing vidya games” a potential made-in-Singapore export.
Check out their site – http://www.witching-hour.net/
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?
Hey there, I’m Ian Gregory, co-founder and creative director here at Witching Hour Studios. Founded in 2010, we’re a small set-up that focuses on storytelling in games. Odd thing about us, I guess, is that the founders aren’t game development trained. We were just a bunch of numb-nuts who wanted to try something different.
My co-founders were business trained, while I studied advertising at NAFA. We were lucky to meet people with the right technical skills along the way.
Q: How does your company endure as a game studio in South-east Asia? What challenges did your company face when it first started?
Luck. It’s such a volatile industry that it would hard to, and rather egoistical, to really pinpoint a set of particular actions that allowed us to keep going. We can, however, speak of the great people and supportive family we have around us that allow us to keep making games.
Of difficulty, there’s little to be said that people can’t surmise on their own. The biggest difference was the lack of technical skill. It took us a while to bring the right people on board to take care of the art and coding.
Q: What are some of the common challenges your company face when developing or releasing a project? How are resources allocated or distributed?
I think the one we contend with the most is when to stop. We’re all a bunch of perfectionists, so it’s hard to step away from a project and go, “good enough.”
The team at Witching Hour Studios
Q: How does your company handle marketing for your brand and your products?
By being genuine in our goals and personal lives. Something as simple as that ripples out and resonates with everyone. I could go grab Brian to give you a nitty gritty of how it’s done, but I think the gist of it is to be genuine. Doing so has allowed us to speak to established publications, influencers and garnered us devoted fans that advocate for us.
Q: What is your company’s work environment like? Any quirks or interesting stories you would like to share?
It’s a generally jovial setting and there’s usually laughter going on at one corner of the office or the other. We also try to do meals together and we stay back once a week, order food in and play board games!
Q: What are your views on the local game industry?
I think it’s still very young. There’s a lot we’re still not quite getting right. One of the biggest issues we need to figure out is changing how we think about running a studio. Right now, we tend to think about only just getting the next project out the door, like we have a silver bullet that will solve all our funding woes. Ironically, this mindset is the very thing that scares investors away. We need to think about a studio like a company, one that has a long pipeline, a greater vision and sustainability.
One thing that heartens me though, is the unbridled potential of it all. There’re many interesting new companies working on projects I’m excited about. There’s also been a swelling of community activity, which is always a good sign for an industry!
A beautiful screenshot from Masquerada: Songs and Shadows
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local game industry?
Right. Now that the jittery ones are gone. Have a vision about what you want to do. Don’t think that just because you have the technical skills do something, you’ll succeed. Also, learn to tell which advice to listen to and which to ignore. I’ll leave my previous comments to your appraisal.