15 Nov 2016
Today we brought you a different flavour on our interview series. This time, we talked with Abraham Cózar, serial entrepreneur and founder of Chibi Games. Chibig is an apps and mobile game studio with a strong focus on narrative. As you'll see through the interview, art and illustration play a decisive role on Chibig process and success.
Tell us a bit about yourself: how did you get in the path of mobile development and entrepreneurship?
I'm a Telecommunication Engineer from Valencia. When I finished my degree, I got into entrepreneurship and the Lanzadera Incubation Programme, where I created my first company with other partners, aiming to develop educational applications for mobile devices.
This first entrepreneurial adventure didn't work out, and we went out of business. But I learnt a lot through the way, both on business and technical sides. A year and a half ago I decided to start Chibig studio, in order to put these things I learnt into practice and keep learning new stuff.
You founded Chibig, a mobile app and videogame production studio specially targeted to kids and youg adults. How this project started?
I always enjoyed videogames since I was a kid, I just grew with them. When I first began learning programming, I suddenly understood I had the tools to create my own games. I first began to do so in my free time, as a hobby. It was something that was always there, but years had to pass for me to make the decision of making it my career.
With tablets and mobile devices, videogame distribution has become hugely accessible to small teams. I saw one indie studio after another making big titles, so I decided to give it a try.
I always liked to write and tell stories, too. My main intention with Chibig is to create titles with a strong narrative content, games that develop stories and characters which hook the player. I think there's a lot of room for that in mobile games and that there is a lot of audience looking for games like that.
One of your latest games, Deiland, had more than one million users. How did you arrive to such a milestone?
When I started the game studio, our main objective was to be profitable as soon as we could. We wanted to be sustainable without private investors. We started creating small games and apps were we didn't spend more than 2 months of development time, so we could test user acquisition and monetization strategies as soon as possible.
Not every app did have the same success, some of them worked out while others didn't. But we learnt about our audience and improved our creative process with each one of them.
The success of Deiland was kind of a surprise. I developed it in 2 months, launched it on the app stores and just in two weeks got top ranking positions on a lot of countries. People loved it: they reviewed it, scored it well, or recorded gameplays on Youtube. It got a very good position without any advertising investment, and kept getting users until it got more than one million.
All your games and apps have a strong focus on art and illustration. How do you fit illustration into the production process?
From the very beginning, I wanted to make games with professional illustrations. For 3D models, I use a lot of pre-built assets that can be purchased on Internet. This gets the production process very agile, but the result won't be that unique and will lack personality. Having illustrator Miriam Barea working on the games allows us to make things unique and different.
The illustrator work is present over all the production process of the game: from the idea concepts, to character and user interface design, to the very release of the game and its launching campaign. Our illustrator is a key part of Chibi Games!
What do you need from an illustrator to feel comfortable working together on a project?
A very important thing we need is the artist to be independent! She has to be able to work on an idea and developt with just some lightweight guidelines from us. The illustrator is a key part of world building in the game, and a creative, talented and proactive person is needed for this.
It is also important that the illustrator finds balance between the amount of detail in artwork and the available time and deadlines for the whole project.
And last but not least: What is being cooked right now at Chibi Games? What new stuff can be expet??
We recently launched our latest game: Ankora, which is a prequel to Deiland. We put more work in this project that the others before (about 6 months of development), trying to put in it the things our users found lacking in Deiland. We are polishing some details right now to release the final version.
After first weeks of testing, we are very glad because players have connected well with both games and uderstood they belong to the same shared universe. Our intention is to keep expanding the Deiland universe, developing new games with more stories and characters, releasing a Deiland saga game every year.
That aside, we'll keep creating smaller games that allow us to keep experimenting with new stuff. Our most inmediate release will be a small pet-game project, where players we'll have to take care of a baby dragon.
Thanks a lot Abraham!
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