Indie Spotlight: Magic Notion's Richard Franke on learning to run a business and making inclusive games – Pocket Gamer.Biz

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With discoverability in the mobile games market becoming harder and harder, we’ve decided to shine the spotlight on the amazing indie developers making creative new titles.

So welcome to the Indie Spotlight, where each week a developer tells us about their life, work and the challenges they face in the modern mobile market.

This week, we talk to Richard Franke, founder of Magic Notion, best known for its games Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker and the recently released Kitty Powers’ Love Life.

PocketGamer.biz: How did you get started as an indie games developer?

Richard Franke: I always knew that I wanted to be in a creative industry. Preferably a nerdy one.

I studied art and ceramics, but drew comic books in my spare time, as well as running several tabletop RPG games. The comic book portfolio got me a job at a games startup back in 1996 after my degree finished. Back then there wasn’t a formal way into the industry, so I was pretty lucky.

What attracted you to developing dating sim-style games?

When I started developing games independently I gave myself a brief to satisfy multiple criteria. I wanted to make a game:

  • with situations that everyone could identify with
  • about making people happy, instead of killing them, just to redress the balance a bit.
  • that was inclusive, but not in a preachy way – a game featuring everyone essentially.

Nobody had made what I considered a ‘warts and all’ true simulation of dating.

Richard Franke

  • that was super accessible, and as fun to watch as it is to play, enabling a sort of casual multiplayer by using game-show style gameplay elements.
  • that included Kitty Powers, as I needed a unique marketing hook, and she needed some kind of focus. But in a way that didn’t feel tacked on.
  • that the player could play at their own pace for convenience
  • that brought the player to the characters and focused on their social interactions
  • that included a lot of procedural elements, as I love those, and I love the replayability they give the player
  • a game that would port well across multiple platforms

In answering these, a dating sim seemed like natural fit. Also, nobody had made what I considered a ‘warts and all’ true simulation of dating.

A lot of these criteria also made the game very YouTuber friendly (which was unintentional but taught us a lot).

What is a typical day in your life as an indie?

I work from home, talking to my team on Slack, using Trello as a task management tool. I do all of my own social media, and customer service (with the help of my team) and I occasionally do guest appearances as Kitty at conferences and conventions to promote the game.