Homa Academy

Developer Spotlight - Interview with Chris Trudeau

Published:24 Feb 2023Author:HomaRead Time:9 min read

We're thrilled to share with you the conversation Kevin had with founder and lead designer at Boston Trudeau Studio, Chris Trudeau.

You can watch the full video interview below or alternatively over on the Homa Academy Youtube Channel.

Tell us a little bit of your background and story behind the studio and your expertise.

My name is Chris Trudeau and I'm the owner and founder of Boston Trudeau Studios, we go by BT Studios for short and I started the game studio back in 2017.

I was making games on my own and was lucky enough to get our first hit game published in 2018. From there, we've taken the revenue generated from that initial title and built the studio, kept on working and here we are five to six years later!

What does a small Game Development Studio Team consist of?

For my first game, I was creating all the art and looking after the game design myself. We had two freelance Unity developers working part time on that first prototype, and then, after the game was officially launched and it was a successful hit, we invested in two full time developers.

The plan was to grow the studio and obviously to make more prototypes and faster to get more games into our testing pipeline. Obviously there are challenges that come along with expansion. You're spending more revenue and it's a lot more to manage.

We had our physical office space at the time and unfortunately the pandemic hit. So, after about 6 to 8 months in the office, I decided to scale everything back and returned to just myself and one other full time developer again.

This was a lot easier to manage and, for a me personally, I felt much happier overall and can still generate one or two prototypes a month pretty quick.

I prefer working on the games, building the game, designing. I'm teaching myself 3D modelling and that kind of stuff so I enjoy the hands on project work.

When you have more people there's more managing and there's a lot of levers you're trying to push and pull and it gets pretty tricky sometimes. So I didn't enjoy the management as much for sure.

How do you get new hypercasual game ideas?

Honestly, new ideas are always flowing in me and my wife can attest to that! I'm always daydreaming at dinner. I don't set aside time to come up with new ideas, however, I have a Trello board where I just throw them all in.

They typically start out with just one or two sentences and when it's time to create a new hypercasual game, I revisit the board.

I will pick out what I think would be the top ideas to discuss and take these to our Publishing Manager at Homa.

We will then have a conversation and hash out the better ideas. Sometimes I'll come up with drawings and creative mockups, just with some art and level design, very basic stuff.

This works great to give an overall picture. It's really helpful for the conversation because sometimes an idea in a couple sentences just isn't very clear.

Occasionally I'll even mock up some 3D scenes inside Unity with placeholder models and assets to frame how the game will look. When you write things down and even when you're talking through things, having a point of reference is a really easy way for both parties to understand the concept more.

What's great about working with Homa is that I have time to speak with my publishing manager and talk through these ideas. Sometimes similar prototypes have already been tested by Homa or even in the publishing pipeline already.

This is invaluable for smaller studios and game developers working with a publisher like Homa, they're seeing hundreds of games tested each month so the experience and insights given is incredible.

Monster Evolution - Homa and BT Studios Hypercasual Game

How do you make an old game feel new again?

Monster Evolution started out with a conversation with our Publishing Manager. He was seeing a trend in the market for evolution themed hypercasual games and Homa had just published Kaiju Run.

After we finished chatting, I went away and back to the drawing board. A short time later, I came up with some ideas around that trend and the initial concept of monster evolution was born.

Here's another good little bit of advise, if you see hypercasual game trends emerging, try and approach these with the mindset of twisting these ideas with those that haven't been done yet as this will highly increase your chances of success.

So the story behind this one is that it was fully released back in October 2021. We had a very strong Christmas period and the game has been performing steady and generating great income for us.

As with many hypercasual games however, and mobile games in general, the game plateaued somewhat until last summer where we saw a pretty good spike.

We were constantly maintaining the game and fixing things a little alongside testing our new prototypes. These improvements certainly helped performance and the creative team at Homa had found some new creative wins to boost the game even further.

With this new lease of life, we all felt it was worth dedicating more time on it and we began to iterate and test some new ideas.

We've been testing some new rewarded video challenges, new level design tweaks and essentially testing a bunch of things! It's amazing that keeping an older game updated, coupled with some fresh new re-marketing can increase the LTV and longevity like this.

My motivation of course has also been lifted through all our efforts and optimising the games performance and LTV means I'm enjoying it even more.

Just like I mentioned previously regarding using Trello for our hypercasual game ideas, each of our games has dedicated board to record progress and ideas specific to that game. We call it our "Ice Box" column.

In here, we throw all our crazy ideas while we're working on the game so we can always revisit them at a later stage. It's super important not to loose even the wildest ideas. In combination with that, we keep a keen eye on the market looking out for fresh and new design ideas.

Overall, it's great to be working on the game again plus it's also paying the bills right now!

Monster Evolution Game Mood Board Design Doc

Monster Evolve Game Design Mood board

Homa Academy Note:

Think of a mood board as a hyper light game design document. We're huge fans of this approach and have an entire tutorial dedicated to this inside the Homa Academy.

This can serve as a central reference point for ideas and visuals that you can revert back to throughout your development and ensures you don't lose sight of your original concept.

Furthermore, you can also see the full breakdown on how Chris designed and planned Monster Evolution and was featured by Infinity Designer here.

Hypercasual Games in 2023, what does this look like for you?

We be continuing to update Monster Evolution in parallel to creating many new hypercasual prototypes this year.

In terms of the overall goal, I have to admit it's a little bit month by month and there's no major changes planned for our overall workflow. What we've been doing seems to be working we have our our games that don't make it of course

I would just like to focus more time on optimising how our projects are done and further streamline our pipeline.

What does the average game developers day look like?

It's definitely full time on game devlopment as I don't have any other job. We have a four-year-old son and he takes up a lot of my time so when he's at school, we get to work that full day and then usually, after he's home ,I don't get back on the computer until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m.

If I'm in a crunch I might work until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m and then be back up at 7:00 a.m. If I do need more sleep, I might cut it off at midnight. It’s extremely flexible this way and my wife and I take turns and alternate accordingly.

What are your best mobile game development tools for 2023?

Aside from all the standard day to day tools I have some goto software that I use daily in my game developer job. I'm learning Blender right now and there's so many tutorials on Youtube it's a powerful 3D modelling package.

I think I use it a little bit too much when I could find an asset on the Unity asset store or even hire someone for cheaper, but I feel it's worth the time getting better and working on it as a skill.

I use Affinity apps for almost everything design wise. They're an Adobe competitor but have way better pricing with a one-time lifetime fee.

All my games start out as design concepts in those programs where I make a PDF and this is what I send to the publishing manager.

I use them for every part of the game design from the UI to any 2D assets & mock-ups.

Mobile Game Developer Software and Tools

Affinity Apps ( 2D Designer software "like Photoshop" Free! )

Blender ( 3D Asset creations )

Trello ( Project management and game ideation )

Slack and Homa Academy Discord ( Comms & Community )

Fiverr ( Freelance Models & Assets )

What are your 2023 hypercasual game predictions?

I think we might see some more retro style themes come back. I'm not sure if it's more 2D games or pixelated games but I have a feeling we might see a little bit of resurgence.

We've seen all kinds of 3D polished games now so people might taking a step back and trying to find something a little more and a little more friendly. Recent successes like Survivor.io and even Among Us proves players love these types pf games.

Wrapping up!

We'd like to once again thank Chris for being so generous with his time and sharing all his knowledge.

If you're a mobile game developer interested in Hypercasual, Arcade Idle and Hybridcasual games and would like to take your game building to a whole new level, then join us inside the Homa Academy.

Inside you'll discover our extensive library of training videos, resources and market insights to turbo charge your game development.

Don't forget to head on over to the Homa Academy Community Discord Server for all the latest games to hit the stores, industry insights, game feedback and support for your games.

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