In part two of our interview with the I Hate My Job development team, I interview Gage Randall.
Acting as CEO/Co-Founder of Devious Gamers and Director/Game Designer/Co-Writer/Gameplay Programmer/3D Modeler/Animator for the mobile game, Gage has many responsibilities to balance, all of which ensures success for his company and team. From giving insight into what Devious Gamers is about, to telling the story about the I Hate My Job development team’s ambitious and inspiring goal to build a 3D game using the Unreal 4 engine with no prior coding experience, this is an interview you will want to check out.
You can help the development team achieve success, by checking out and donating to their Kickstarter campaign (click here to view the campaign).
VG Tribune: How did I Hate My Job go from being just an idea to development? Whose idea was it originally to make it into a game? How did the entire Devious Gamers team collectively come to the decision of wanting to make a game for it?
GR: Johnathan Buie and I held jobs at a local Walmart. He had been developing this wacky idea in his head for quite some time. When I revealed to him this idea of Devious Gamers, a privately owned and therefore free-to-be-whatever game company that would try to do it all, from game dev to journalism to social networking, it didn’t take long for us to realize what needed to happen. Especially when I mentioned that we were gonna take a ballsy next-step of jumping right in to making a mobile game.
I wanted us to begin with the mobile market for several reasons. Mobile hardware is still pretty limited, meaning small, inexperienced teams like ours (oh yeah, none of us have ever made a game) can jump into the fray with a good enough or catchy enough idea to make a reputation to move forward with. Plus, mobile gamers love easy to play, addicting, simple games to play for a minute here or there on their phones. We wanted to find the medium that could most quickly get the idea of our company across, and mobile was absolutely the way to go. Also, the mobile market is booming right now. There’s a lot of potential there to find funding via ad revenue to allow us to further our goals and dreams of bringing this all-in-one game company idea to gamers’ minds.
We’re not in this for money, but money is necessary to give gamers cool experiences. That’s why we’ve opted for private ownership, so the gamers themselves can help us and grow with us. We’ll never sever that connection, and will never take your support, whether it’s donating, playing our game, or simply mentioning it to a friend, for granted. Technically, while we are using the “freemium” model in the sense that the game is free and you can purchase things in-game, we are staying far away from the greedy attitude that a lot of top games possess right now; you’ll be able to unlock everything, play as much as you want, and get tons of updates with tons of new content… all without ever spending a penny. But we recognize that a lot of mobile gamers prefer those paid options to be available, so they’re there for those people.
SO!… *exhale* THAT’s what led to our decision to take this idea of I Hate My Job and put it on everyone’s phones! I Hate My Job on mobile represents our humor, our attitude, our mission to provide unique ideas to gamers in a way that’s effortless for them, and makes it possible for a small, nooby team like ours to make it happen.
VG Tribune: Tell us more about your specific job/role on developing I Hate My Job. What is your responsibility (i.e.: Programmer, Audio, Design, Art, etc.)? What’s been the toughest thing working on the project so far? What’s been the most rewarding?
GR: I do lots of things in the project: 3D modeling, rigging, animations, game design (levels and implementation of mechanics/assets), programming the gameplay… but my primary role is as the director. I mean that in a very humble way. My role is to recognize what’s possible, what’s not possible, adapt the project to our growing skills and ideas, and make sure we function as team first and foremost. It’s also my responsibility to make sure that everything we make remains cohesive and makes the game better. We’ve managed to find a really effective pipeline between such a small team with no experience. Over time, we saw our strengths and weaknesses become more apparent, and I shifted our work flow and individual roles to accommodate that and maximize our productivity and progress. Personally, learning Maya 2015 and Unreal Engine 4 simultaneously, and with no previous experience, has probably been the biggest mind-melt of my entire life.
The overall most challenging thing for us as a team stemmed from my decision to use only top-of-the-line programs in our pipeline, and to develop the game in full-3D. It was risky, but it served a purpose: once we had spent months and months of extremely hard work teaching ourselves these titans of software, we found ourselves possessing invaluable skills and the ability to rapidly implement ideas as they flourish. Our biggest challenge turned into our most rewarding accomplishment; we can make 3D games now!!! It goes without say that seeing our creations come to life is incredibly rewarding. The most exciting day so far was when we hit that beta stage, where the game just worked and played well, awaiting only addition of content, and we sat there for hours just… playing our game and having fun. It was a dream come true.
VG Tribune: As it’s been mentioned in your Kickstarter, Devious Gamers aims to be the first ‘all in one’ games company (i.e.: game development, news, etc.). When promoting the Devious Gamers brand, do you intend for I Hate My Job to be that first impression when people think of your company?
GR: Absolutely. With our website and Facebook following, we’ve been able to express our personality and goals, but in a more limited fashion. It doesn’t represent our entire mantra because, well… we don’t have any games yet! I Hate My Job represents our dedication and fanatic desires to accomplish things without the necessary resources or experience. We want to show gamers that not only are we serious about our mission early on, but that they, too, can do what we’re doing. After all, we’re just a group of gamer friends that decided to go for it. We want to demonstrate that you can dream big and make a difference whether you’re in a position to do so or not. The divide between “indie” games and mainstream games is fading, and we want to push that boundary as hard as possible. And we want to have fun doing it, staying true to our roots as gamers.
VG Tribune: What do your development schedules look like for I Hate My Job? Is it more sprint-based, where the team works in short iterative cycles to deliver small, but many pieces of the game? Or do you focus more on developing larger pieces of the game before moving into the smaller things?
GR: We meet up with a pretty typical work schedule; 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week. The majority of the first, man…. 6 months?… was spent learning. We come from a background of precisely 0 full games worked on. Making games is an incredibly complex and rewarding process, far more so than I ever imagined before we delved into it.
I Hate My Job is full of challenges, especially for a new team. I make sure we take care of the big features and bugs before getting into details. More than that, I want us to be able to adapt. If a new direction leads to a better game, and it involves redoing/trashing older work, it’s something we can’t take to heart. And that’s what’s so amazing about this team; each time I suggest a wildy new approach or change, everyone is excited. We all want this game to be fun and addicting. Performance and gameplay always come first for a game like this, and once those are solid, we go to town with the details (levels, unlockable characters, etc.).
VG Tribune: Can you give us insight into when the I Hate My Job demo will be available for download in the Google Play store?
GR: We are making sure that the game runs as well as possible before releasing the demo. We want the experience to represent what the final game will feel like, as far as performance. We are very close to an optimal Android build! You should be seeing the demo very soon.
VG Tribune: What would you say makes I Hate My Job unique to other similar (if there are any) apps in the mobile market today?
GR: There are definitely similar apps, like Office Jerk and Paper Toss. Our original concept was actually very similar, but with a tad more flair; it was a first-person view with no actual character body, so the items would come up on the register belt and you’d slide your finger on the screen to toss it at customers. It felt very similar to the games I mentioned.
Our game is definitely unique now.
The cinematic perspective with your character on the left side of the screen is both menacing and immersive. Your character physically picks up and throws every item, something that is not seen in most AAA console games. The ability to tilt your phone to look around the environment/aim adds another level of depth to the experience, and really separates it from the rest of the mobile arcade crowd. We’ve also injected a lot of humor in the form of the PA system, so you can look forward to that. We’ve really done everything we could think of, within the scope of mobile game design and a small team, to make I Hate My Job immediately stand out. I feel like we’ve been successful so far.
VG Tribune: What was the recruiting process like for assembling the game’s talented development team?
GR: I made a guild in the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic back in summer 2013. I brought in my college friend, Preston Lee, and we thought it’d be cool to make it a guild network that reached across multiple games. Eventually, I came up with the idea of us also making games and providing a social networking medium, because why not? That’s been our philosophy ever since: why not? I contacted a couple friends, JJ Dunne, Johnathan Buie, and Syed Anwar, and filled them in the idea. We started meeting up and brainstorming game ideas. We ended up with 2 focuses: a vast RPG title and a wacky mobile game. The RPG was something to work toward, and the mobile game was something to get started on with development. We would also dream about what our website would become and what features we would offer, such as having a master DG account that worked between our games and website (we are hoping to offer this feature for our second game!).
As these ideas grew, we thought we might be onto something. Especially when John refined this hilarious idea of getting revenge on customers called I Hate My Job. Preston and I formed the company Devious Gamers in June 2014, and trademarked the DG name along with I Hate My Job. His strengths lie in writing, and mine in technical learning, so he continued the RPG script (he’s already written 50,000 words for it and it’s only halfway through the story outline) and I dove into developing I Hate My Job. John, more of a journalism man, went to work on the website.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d need some help on the game if it was going to be released within a year. However, we didn’t have much money. The only thing I really had to offer was a wild ambition and down-to-earth business philosophies (that essentially means I want to do awesome things but greediness can go to hell). Incredibly, this was more than enough for JJ (experienced composer) and Syed (0 experience in the field, but a very bright and talented man), and we began working full 40-hour weeks, cramming our little heads full of game dev knowledge and skills. At one of my wife’s family get-togethers, I brought the company up to her cousin, Ben Benton, a computer science student with no game dev experience. I was nervous, just like I was before, because I didn’t want to seem ridiculous and selfish. He came the next day and hasn’t parted ways since. The next week, he brought his friend Zach Nickell, another computer science student with no game dev experience beyond making personal, goofy, 5 second little games for personal fun. Zach has worked hard from day 1 and has no intentions of leaving.
I still find myself questioning how all of this happened and what we’ve accomplished with what little resources we had. Are they all idiots? They must be, for following such a comical dreamer like myself. But when you look at how far we’ve gotten with this innovative, full-3D mobile game, and how much our small but growing fanbase seems to genuinely enjoy what we do, it’s obvious that these guys are all extremely smart and talented. We’re all about team work, constructive criticism, and moving forward with new, innovative directions. We balance out each other’s weaknesses and enhance each other’s strengths. It’s the most incredible team dynamic I’ve ever been a part of. None of this would be possible without them, and I’ll never be able to express my thanks to an appropriate extent.
VG Tribune: Thank you very much for the interview opportunity. Is there anything else you’d like to mention to our audience before we wrap up?
GR: No problem! VG Tribune is awesome, so the thanks go to you for allowing the dev team and I to be a part of it.
Want to make games? Do it. You can. That’s what we’re doing here, with this game and with the company’s all-in-one concept; trying to demonstrate that the industry is open to passionate gamers like us who just want to be a part of it. Chances are, you have some cool ideas that have never been seen before. It comes naturally with being an opinionated gamer (don’t act like you aren’t).
You can keep up with our game’s progress at facebook.com/deviousgamersofficial or deviousgamers.com . We love getting feedback, so hearing about what features you’d like to see would be amazing. Our end goal is fun. I know that’s super lame to say, but it’s true; we simply want to make a fun game, and a fun company. We want to make you laugh and keep you from being bored. Our connection to fellow gamers has always been and will always be the most important facet of our company.
After all, we’re just a group of gamer friends who said “why not?”