Who’s the team behind it all and how did the game evolve?
Many consider Kickstarter as the starting point of a new production. In fact, Splee & Gløb have a history that dates back several years before making their appearance on Kickstarter.
It all began when Jessica, Julian, Dominik and I (Sebastian) met at MD.H, a university for design students which also provides a B.Sc. class aimed at game developers. Up to that point, I’ve been working in the advertising industry and at some point joined Ubisoft Blue Byte as a marketing artist. As for many in the industry, my first point of contact with game development was the modding community. Starting in 2003 with new multiplayer levels for Jedi Outcast and later the Jedi Academy mod Movie Battles 2, I founded the mod team for “Star Wars: The New Era” with Lindsey Freeman from the US, after being quite impressed with VALVE’s tech demo Lost Coast.
Despite ramping up to a 60 people development team and the fact that we earned a lot of praise in the early days for our visuals, the project hit the fate of many mods: real-life obligations interfere, people no longer find the time for their time-consuming hobby and the team slowly falls apart.
Despite never having released the mod, it was an experience that changed my view on what I really wanted to do professionally. And I found several like-minded people during my studies who were convinced enough to pay the very high tuition fees (at that time, only private universities would provide game design studies). Part of these studies required us to do project work in teams. In fact, our thesis project was a full 3D game demo – from concept to realization. This is where Jessica, Julian, Dominik and I really started working together as part of a larger team with other students. The result of our efforts was Minion – a grotesque puzzle platformer that involved controlling an NPC sidekick indirectly while staying out of his sight.
When the studies ended, we were facing the question of how we should continue. My contract with Ubisoft ended and the industry in Germany was sparsely populated. So there were essentially two choices: relocate to another town or found a company of my own. Since I wasn’t quite keen on abandoning all the friendships I’ve made during the studies (once you have your pack of geeks, you certainly don’t want to let them go), I seriously focused on going self-employed despite having no real experience in that field.
As it turned out, some of my fellow students had exactly the same thoughts. So we set up a meeting and invited everyone who was previously working on Minion. Well, almost everyone. As you can probably imagine, you always have a certain percentage of slackers during your studies which you can’t drag through into a company. And of course, not everyone was willing to pursue the adventure we were heading for. So in the end, it was up to the four of us. While everyone around us was telling us that it would be nearly impossible to raise capital to found a game developer studio, we agreed on giving it a try nontheless. However, we had to keep the costs low to get a realistic chance. After creating a project plan for Minion, we realized that it would cost around 300.000 – 400.000 € to make the game. So the project was frozen in favour of Splee & Gløb.
In fact, Splee & Gløb didn’t really exist at that time. When brainstorming for a game concept, we thought back to all the projects and prototypes we created during our studies and found one particular draft quite interesting: It was a mix we created from the action and tower defense genres. But originally, it was a 2D game with a military style. And while the gameplay was quite fun (and by far too hard), the art direction really sucked.
As our focus on gameplay changed, so did the art style. We thought back to the good old days where we were playing Age of Empires and had our fun with defensive gameplay (littering the map with towers). So, we really wanted to create an online title with strategic depth that would allow the player to do more than just tower building. At the same time, we wanted to create a game that would be more frustration-free than the typical RTS game where new or casual players typically get rushed early. With this direction for the game in mind, we created a setting that would set itself apart from the many medieval, military and sci-fi settings out there. The result was the bizarre monster-filled world of Splee & Gløb and luckily, it also looked interesting particularly to casual players.
Now, the really challenging part was to get the company rolling and secure ourselves enough funds to make this game reality. But that is another story.