These days you can watch live feeds from space on your phone, you can play Call of Duty with your friend in Vietnam and – fortunately for us – you can work every day with a partner who sits twelve hundred miles away.
I came to England to become a part of the creative industries. In Hungary, being a designer or a creative is not really a thing as you can’t even study it in University. After a year of me being here and working for clients, my brother travelled over here to visit. He was working as a web developer and we began discussing how my illustration works on computers until suddenly he said, ‘hey, why don’t we make games?’ It seemed so obvious.
He left his full time job right away and began honing his games skills. All we wanted was to jump in and make games, it was exciting and it was perfect… except one thing; we could not afford to start the company if he moved here.
Creating your own indie games is time consuming and expensive. For him to come to England and afford the cost of living, we realised he would have to take another job and there wouldn’t be enough time for Demon Apathy. So, he couldn’t come here and I really didn’t want to go back there. If we wanted to start a games company then working apart was the only option.
We weren’t too worried about that prospect. It’s not like we’d ever worked face-to-face anyway and so it’s all we’d know. It’s really fallen in to a routine where, ok, it would be nice to be sitting next each other, but the technologies that are now available mean we hardly notice the difference.
We’ll pretty much start the day by chatting over Google Hangout; what are we doing today, what’s inspiring us, how was night? We make sure to discuss all these little things because that’s what you’d be doing in the morning if you were in the same office.
When you are emailing each other all day, it’s easy to suddenly only talk business. People are also friendlier and more patient when face-to-face, so we are very careful to only write as we would speak to each other. Otherwise, the risk is that our working relationship could become too formal, like a list of back and forth requests. It would probably stop us being creative and exploring options and so we always start the day by just ‘hanging out.’
From there we really just get on with our work. A chat box is always open so we can send examples of what we’re doing in real time, I can share snapshots over project management software like Asana and we can talk through any problems we’re having on Skype. Communicating and sharing work through our screens instead of in person has just become second nature. These days when a friend says ‘let’s catch up’ I’ll email them and say ‘shall we Skype or Google Plus?’ I’m starting to forget that I can just phone someone and then go meet them!
It’s cool that we can rely on all these online tools but of course they are prone to technical issues. Sometimes relying on them so much isn’t great, as Skype might go down or the WiFi give up – usually together! – and all of a sudden a whole productive day is wasted. It’s very annoying.
When it comes down to it, nothing beats face-to-face interaction either. It’s easy for your opinion or a bit of information to get taken the wrong way when communicating online, and so we’ve started to only talk about big ideas such as our next game when visiting each other. We just can’t afford for those big conversations to go wrong!
But all-in-all, working this way has allowed us to start a company, and no matter how many negatives there are – that is the important thing. Online technologies have given us the means to work remotely and to make our dream a reality. In these hard times, where it’s easier to start a company than to find a job, I think more people will start working this way; collaborating on incredible work with other creatives around the world – all from bedroom offices. That’s a very exciting prospect!
Demon Apathy are an indie games studio, made up of two brothers, who specialise in hugely creative mobile games.
Illustrated by Peter Simon
- One Thing I Know