I first met Joshua and Jessica, the dynamic duo from Doppler Interactive, at Unite 2012 in Amsterdam. They were instantly likable – funny, friendly, and full of energy. They are active in the Unity community with a popular plugin, and their latest game Cube & Star: An Arbitrary Love is a uniquely beautiful title that has won numerous awards.
1. Name and location
Joshua & Jessica McGrath – Doppler Interactive. Los Angeles, California.
2. How long have you been an indie dev?
Oh man…. five or six years?
Since Unity 2.6 was released I think. So… since early 2009.
3. Games released?
We released a few … early games of dubious quality. But our big games were / are:
Ball of Woe – www.ballofwoe.com
Cube & Star: An Arbitrary Love – www.cube-and-star.com
Oh oh and we made a few tools for the Unity Asset Store (Tidy Tile Mapper was the biggest). I definitely recommend getting involved with the Asset Store. It’s a really solid foundation for an independent development career – in terms of revenue and experience.
4. Sum up your game / studio style in 3 words
Joyful midnight cynicism.
5. Your career path – in a nutshell – to here?
Oh man. “Career path” is such a misnomer. You work super hard, random things happen and you wake up and you’re slightly better than the day before.
We decided to start making games together. And we just… started.
We practiced, we made games that weren’t great – but every subsequent one was a little better.
We got involved with IGDA and Global Game Jam and started to really find our style and stride.
We released “Ball of Woe” – the first game that really tapped into our unique style, and started a little experimental game called “Cube & Star: A Love Story”.
Jessica submitted Cube & Star to a few contests (Indiecade, Intel LevelUp) and we got a really nice response (Indiecade Finalist, Intel LevelUp Winner, SXSW shortlist, A.MAZE shortlist).
And… we’re about to start all over again with our next game.
6. Your favorite 3 tools or resources for indie development?
Oh that’s tricky. Twitter, Google and a whiteboard – I would say.
Creativity is just rearranging information, I guess.
7. Biggest lesson you’ve learned since being in the game?
Keep your head down, keep working. There’s no silver bullet or secret ingredient. Avoid endless conceptual debates. The real secret is… effort.
Or as Dory from Finding Nemo says “Just keep swimming”.
8. A piece of advice from a fellow indie that has always stuck with you?
Jessi probably gave me / us the most valuable forced-advice thus far: Enter every contest. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there.
In terms of game design and creation, the talk “Juice it or lose it” by rymdkapsel developer Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho was also pretty influential – the crux of which is “make it juicy”. Adding movement, sound, and responsiveness to the items in your game can massively change the feel for the player.
9. What are you working on right now?
We’ve got a few things happening right now. We’re porting Cube & Star to Wii-U.
We’re making a fun little follow-up to Ball of Woe in which you must reconstruct the world you killed by spreading seeds and harvesting organs.
And we’re starting work on our next major work: “Queue”; A dark, surrealist social simulation about… lining-up.
And of course… we’re striving, striving ever so hard to keep our Visas by working an office job. The soul crusher, the life giver, the work killer.