The profession of ‘Game Developer’ was unknown in Indonesia and only a handful of people practiced it, in obscurity. I started making Flash games in 2008 right after I graduated from uni. Flash Games and its sponsorship business model had opened doors for Indonesians to create games and earn a decent living from web-based games. For Indonesians, making Flash games was the closest thing to being a “real” game developer. There were no big AAA studios or schools with game development courses in Indonesia back then, even now access to game development knowledge is still very limited. And to make things even harder, games are still considered “bad” and not a legit career path in the eyes of parents, teachers, and government officials in Indonesia.
Many Indonesians who dreamt of working in the games industry or wanted to create their own games turned to Flash games and started forming indie studios or teams. I was one of them. Together with a friend, we established Toge Productions with nothing more than 2 computers and our savings - around $1000 that would last us 3 months on a diet of Indomie instant noodles and fried rice. To save money we used our bedroom or the garage at our parent’s houses as our office. By some miracle we managed to finish our first game in 3 months and earned $2000 in week one of release from it. It maybe a very small income by international standards, but for us - where the standard salary was less than $300/month - business was booming.
As a kid, I loved playing strategy games, so the original Necronator flash-game was our attempt of making a simplified Warcraft clone that could be played casually on a web browser. It was a hit on portals such as Newgrounds, Armor Games, and Kongregate when it was released in 2010 and was played by millions, topping the highest rated games chart. People would play Necronator at work or during classes, to scratch that strategy game itch during their busy schedule. Sadly, Flash started to go downhill in 2012 after Steve Jobs announced that Apple will not be supporting Flash in their devices going forward. Suddenly, our main source of income dried up and we had to scramble and frantically find other ways to sustain our indie studio.
They say when one door closes and another opens - so Valve’s decision to open up Steam via the Greenlight program in 2012 couldn’t have come at a better moment for us. It was such a coincidence we believed it was a divine intervention. We jumped at the opportunity and have been making premium games and releasing it on Steam ever since.
Meeting Modern Wolf was another great coincidence that felt like divine intervention. I was posting a few screen captures of game design concepts and prototypes that we were working on for our next project to Twitter. It was a turn-based strategy game with mechs set in an alternate 1970s South East Asia codenamed Kriegsfront Tactics. The post somehow reached Fernando Rizo, ex-Director of Marketing and Business Development of Splash Damage, who at the time was working on his new start-up venture, Modern Wolf, a new publisher focusing on 'strategy and strategy-adjacent indie games' and is looking to sign-up games for their first line-up. He got in contact with us and we quickly started discussing the project, our vision, his publishing philosophy, and we immediately clicked.
The only problem was that Kriegsfront Tactics was a very ambitious and risky multi-year project, so I wasn’t surprised when Fernando told me that Modern Wolf couldn’t add it to their line-up. He asked if we happened to have another project, which I did, and so I told him about my plan B. At that time, our contingency plan was to split Kriegsfront Tactics into several milestones, we would build up our tech with each milestone and turn those milestones into smaller game projects. Our first milestone was to build a grid-based 3D diorama level editor and AI system. So we decided to turn it into a unique lane-defense strategy game combined with rogue-lite deck building mechanics, and what’s better than to set it in the Necronator world. Surprisingly, Fernando is a fan of our old Flash games and he quickly agreed to sign Necronator as one of Modern Wolf’s games, and to be announced at Gamescom 2019!
I’ve never had a game announced at Gamescom before, so seeing Necronator: Dead Wrong in an announce trailer and getting lots of attention from the press and streamers was an awesome feeling. The announcement also made some splashes back home with several Indonesian media taking notice. Even the Indonesian government also found out about what we’re doing and they are quite proud with what we have achieved so far. I've included some links to Indonesian press sites, if you'd like to read more.
I hope Necronator, and our future games, can be something that changes the negative perspectives people back home have about games and that we make Indonesia proud. Now all we need to do is deliver our best.
Don't forget, you can wishlist Necronator: Dead Wrong on Steam right now!