August 4, 2014

Indie Dev Q&A: Luke Burtis from tinyBuild, HouseOgames

Luke Burtis is one of the most connected indie developers in the Seattle game industry, and for good reason! He’s doing exciting things with his own game incubator, House O Games, which is producing excellent work. Read on to find out how he got into game development and where he hopes to go from here!

Luke Burtis1. Name and location

Luke Burtis – tinyBuild Games & HouseOgames – Both based in out of my house in Bothell, Washington.

2. How long have you been an indie dev?

Technically I’ve been an indie dev for the past 18 months or so.  Before that I helped out indies while I was the production director at Casual Connect for 7 years.   We’ve hosted different award shows, provided places for indies to demo their games for free, provided free hostel stays during our conference, etc.

3. Games released to date?

HouseOgames has released one game so far that we partnered up with tinyBuild to publish it on Steam.  This game was called “Not The Robots”

tinyBuild have released the following:

No time to explain game

4. Sum up your game / studio style in 3 words?

tinyBuild – Indie Game Publisher

HouseOgames – Seattle Game Incubator

5. Your career path – in a nutshell – to here?

I started in the industry way back in the day of the Xbox.  I worked for 3 years doing certification testing.  I then applied that knowledge to a company called Oberon Media (no longer around) whom put together the first XBLA games and need to pass certification.  I helped them for 6 months which is where I met Jessica Tams (Oberon Seattle office GM).

After Oberon — I worked at Microsoft doing DRM testing for a year at which point at the end of my contract Jessica called me up and said she was starting the Casual Games Association and wanted me to help.  At this point in time I had a choice to either take a job offer at Bungie working on Halo 2 or work with Jessica as a conference organizer.  Obviously I was going to choose Bungie, but Jessica sent me a check in the mail and said welcome aboard… So, having money in my hot little hand persuaded me to work at the CGA.  Which turned out to be the best choice thus far in my career.

I worked at the CGA for 7 years, doing various roles.  Here I met my wife Yulia who now works with the CGA and handles all the indie initiatives, and was able to travel all over, etc.  It was a fantastic experience.

After 7 years it was time to move on.  At the same exact time a good friend of mine wanted to start and indie studio, so not 1 week after I left the CGA, tinyBuild was born.  Then 6 months after that I formed HouseOgames to entrench myself more into the indie community.

And now — here we are!

6. Your favorite 3 tools or resources for indie development?

  • Unity is pretty amazing!
  • I often utilize pixel prospectors website — it’s full of awesome tidbits.
  • Talking to my fellow indies!

7. Biggest lesson you’ve learned since being in the game?

This industry changes so rapidly, you have to always be one step ahead or you’ll be without a J.O.B.

8. A piece of advice from a fellow indie that has always stuck with you?

One of the pieces of advice I’ve heard from a fellow indie is to always ask yourself “What makes me different”.  This has helped guide us down the path on not being just another game that everyone has seen before, and something I think everyone should consider in all aspects of game development.

I think that every indie should watch this talk by Alexander Bruce.  It’s very emotional and very real and it just hits home for me.

9. What are you working on right now?


Tiny Build GamesTinybuild

Follow Luke and his great projects online:

Get No Time to Explain on Steam now!

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