Seeing all the great games being presented year-end awards on various entertainment sites, it is easy to forget that there are many companies within the Southeast Asia region that have published fantastic games. Let us fix that! Toge Productions is an Indonesian-based independent game development and publishing studio best known for games such as Infectonator, Relic of War, Days 2 Die and Necronator. ‘Toge’ is an Indonesian word that means “bean sprout” and the company honours its namesake in its belief that great accomplishments can start from small and simple beginnings. Similarly, the company yearns to grow fast and adapt quickly. So let us celebrate the end of 2017 with a heartfelt and hopeful message from a studio with big dreams.
Check out their site – http://www.togeproductions.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?
I’m Kris Antoni, founder of Toge Productions, an independent game development and publishing company based in Indonesia. Other than running the studio, sometimes I also do game design, programming, pixel-art, project management, and other things. Toge Productions started as a side project in 2009 with a friend from college. We were making flash games for an online game design competition in our spare time. We did not win the competition, but it opened doors into the game industry and I’m making games ever since.
Q: How does your company endure as a game studio in South-east Asia? What challenges did your company face when it first started?
There were many challenges. We did not have money, we did not have much experience either in making games or running a business and we did not know anyone in the industry. I didn’t exactly have my parents’ blessings. At the time we did not think about any of the challenges, all we wanted to do was just to make games. In retrospect, I think we were very naive and super lucky. We were at the right time when Flash games were at its peak, so we could make crappy games in 1-3 months and not worry about it and can still make some money. Flash games gave us a safe zone where we could experiment new ideas and build our skills. We were also quite good at managing resources and project scopes, so we understood our strength and weaknesses. We focused on what we had at that time and design our games accordingly.
We also adapt to changes and explore new ways to evolve. When Steve Jobs announced that iPhones will not support Flash in 2011, we anticipated that the Flash game business would dry up, so we explored other platforms such as mobile games and Steam. We try to be ahead of the curve so when the waves hit we could adapt.
A sneak peek at the humble office space at Toge Productions.
Q: What are some of the common challenges your company face when developing or releasing a project? How are resources allocated or distributed?
The most common challenge during development is scope (feature) creep. Often times we feel that we could add a little bit more features or polish to make the game “better”. If not checked, this could stretch your projects indefinitely. What we did was that we try to identify a game’s core mechanics and create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and test it. If the MVP gets good feedback then we could pursue it further. On the other hand, if it’s not getting good feedback we would kill the idea.
We also try to break the project into smaller milestones or smaller games that are more manageable so we could release it incrementally and see the response from people. We also keep our teams small. Each game project would only have 3-6 people.
Another challenge is marketing the game. No matter how good your game is, if nobody knows about it you will not get anything. It’s very important to build visibility for your game projects.
Behold! The hardworking staff in their natural environment.
Q: How does your company manage funding and recruitment?
Before 2017 we did not have any investors, so we bootstrapped everything and reinvest profits that we got from previous game projects. Even though we now have received investment from DNC, we still have that bootstrap mind-set. As I’ve mentioned before, we try to break down projects into smaller milestones, making game projects more manageable so we can track the budget.
Q: How does your company conduct user testing?
Q: How does your company handle marketing for your brand and your products?
We try to build a positive reputation for Toge and we let our games speak for us.
Q: What is your company’s work environment like? Any quirks or interesting stories you would like to share?
Our work environment is quite chill. We do not have a strict 9 to 5 work hour. Employees are free to set their own work hour as long as they can finish their work on time. We have 3 rescued cats in our office keeping stress levels to a minimum.
The ladies and gentlemen (and cats!) at Toge Productions.
Q: What are your views on the local game industry?
I think the Indonesian game industry has a lot of potential. There are a lot of raw talents that are very passionate. Obstacles or challenges are not stopping them from making amazing games.
We’ve been collaborating with many developers all across Indonesia on many projects. Recently this year we opened our publishing division with the goal of helping local developers bring their games to the global market to Steam and consoles. Hopefully we could also help developers in the SEA region in the near future.
Relive your SNES gaming experience with MagiCat, first title from Toge Productions as an indie game publisher.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local game industry?
Join game jams and make as many games as possible as fast as possible to build your experience and skills.