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How Bear and Breakfast started business with multiple challenges

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of many independence Developer Over the years I have spoken, I have described the various diverse and unusual paths that led them to game development in the first place. But the creator of Bear and Breakfast, Rareş Cinteză, was the first developer I talked to, not only did I never imagine he would become a game developer, but he is actively involved in game development. I never thought I would become one. can become for a long time.

Shortly before Bear and Breakfast’s recent PC launch, he told me:

Cinteză didn’t think he was cut out for the job, but he still loved the idea of ​​making games. So he started volunteering at conferences like GDC, designing his graphics such as posters, and talking to developers. Ultimately, this brought him to developer and publisher These Awesome Guys, who brought him in to do the marketing… which gradually turned into game development. Synteza has done it.

But once Cinteză stepped into development, he wanted to go one step further and create his own game, and Bear and Breakfast was born. This is his Cinteză’s first “real game development project” from start to finish, and also the first major project for most of his other team members at Gummy Cat Studios. Cinteză says he learned Unity while working on B&B.

Bear and Breakfast came from a pun on the name, and the whole concept came out of a love of management sims like Cinteză’s Theme Hospital. According to Cinteză, the initial plan was to feed the guests to the bears – to make them “breakfast” for breakfast with the bears. , they chose to create something a little more cozy.

It follows a bear named Hank and his fellow woodland creature friends. They all have the vibe and maturity level of a goofy college student coming home for summer vacation. A place for people who want to escape into nature. It all starts with Hank fixing up a wooden shack with a rickety old bed and some cheap ornaments (purchased from an aptly named entrepreneur raccoon in exchange for literal trash). It begins, but escalates as he acquires more property and repairs other dilapidated human structures in the woods, drawing more and more people to the area.

As far as pivoting to coziness, Cinteză and the team nailed the vibe. Protagonist Hank looks like he came out of We Bare Bears (and in fact, Cinteză has a Grizz stuffed animal behind him when we chat), and he and his friends The slick, cute animations make it look more like a comfort weekend cartoon special than a game. Decorating a restored hut with tattered furniture and an apparent portrait of a bear.

Pretty early on, Bear and Breakfast opened, allowing guests to circulate calmly and allow those wanting to build a property to focus on it, but my interest in the larger mysteries surrounding the forest and the past disasters that have banished so much of it. For some, residents can chase the bigger story. It’s hard to say which one I prefer, especially given Bear and Breakfast’s excellent hilarious writing across both animal dialogue and item descriptions.

workload burden

Bear and Breakfast is quite a triumph for a debut game, especially considering its development wasn’t quite as pleasant as the final result. Gummy Cat is his team of five (and a handful of international contractors) primarily based in Romania. Romania has a fairly small indie game development scene. Cinteză says the team’s relatively green focus initially made it difficult to find publication and financial support.

But once the team had the necessary funding, multiple disasters struck.

First, the group had to find a programmer. They wanted a Romanian local and finally found someone they wanted to work with. Over the course of two weeks, they met in person, signed contracts, emailed him, set up his account, made plans, discussed the game with this person, and did everything necessary to set the new person up as a studio employee. I did everything was great. But then, out of nowhere, their new programmer completely ghosted the rest of the team. They didn’t respond to messages or when I tried to contact them.

A week later, through the company’s G Suite, Gummy Cat set up a cryptocurrency mining rig using servers that their new programmers put together through Google to work on the game, costing hundreds of dollars in service fees. I found it hanging. Gummy Cat was lucky that he was able to get the fee waived by explaining the scam to Google and found a new programmer who wasn’t a scammer, but it was a rocky start.

Then there was a much more obvious global problem: the COVID-19 pandemic. Gummy Cat began work on Bear and Breakfast in February 2020 in a new studio. Just when they had settled into this space and enjoyed working together in person, they had to switch to remote work. First 6-8 months of production.

And even without a global pandemic, Bear and Breakfast would have been extremely difficult to create. Especially for a new studio like Gummy Cat.

“It was a silly idea to make a deep, systematic management game as our first game,” he says. “A very system-heavy game [that was] It looks pretty good, but I think it’s hard to pull off.Since the pixel art is so beautiful, this has more of an impact on performance than you might think, but it’s also usually less taxing on your system. If you want crisp, cartoon-like art with frame-by-frame animation like we do, on a systematic level, you can walk around or do something with a large level full of 50 guests at a time. It has to be… it grows fast. So we definitely made a lot of mistakes.

We need to be able to detach and see where we are as people at the end of all this.

“And I’m sure that’s the usual pitfall of indie studios these days, but the only way to make up for it was crunch. And I feel like a lot of that rests on my shoulders.” We’ve all made mistakes, but knowing those mistakes and how to deal with them and how to move forward from them is something I personally think I could have done a better job with experience. It’s a feeling, I didn’t. Especially if you want to build something for the future, and you want to make your debut game, put it out there, and then keep making games.”

Cinteză is outspoken about his struggle with crunch. He never intended it to happen to himself and his team, but the reality of trying to create a project as complex as this means that at some point something has to give. There is a limit to how long the money can sustain them, and various sources of funding are unlikely to take risks with such a new team, he says. The money just runs out and that’s it.

That crisis, combined with the weight of working during a pandemic, took a toll on Gummy Cat as a person, Cinteză says. That’s part of the reason why Gummy Cat recently delayed its version for Nintendo Switch.

“It’s been almost three years of a really, really long slogan,” he says. “And three years is nothing compared to other indie developers. And we need to be able to detach and see where we are as people after this game is over, at the end of all this.”

Screenshots from the Bears and Breakfast release

Now that all the fighting is over, Bear and Breakfast has been released to PC via Steam. Cinteză is proud of the work he and his Gummy Cat have done on Bear and Breakfast. And he told me that they were especially proud to represent Romania in the production.

“I believe we are the first Romanian indie developer to appear in Nintendo Indie World,” he says. “I think it was about eight or nine months into the work, and that was the first point where I felt like, ‘Okay, we’re actually going somewhere. And it was very confirming.It filled us with immense joy, like maybe the first happy point since the pandemic started.”

Cinteză says Gummy Cat wants to continue making games as a team after Bear and Breakfast is finished. But like many indie projects, it’s entirely dependent on Bear and Breakfast being successful enough. If resources are not available to start new projects, the team may split up and join other projects separately.

Still, Cinteză hopes that won’t happen. Even if that happens, he’s going to keep making games. That’s part of who he is now. Despite working four years at These Awesome Guys, three years at Bear and Breakfast, one game he made that shipped, and numerous war articles on game development, Cinteză laughs, “I I don’t feel like a real game developer yet.”

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. you can find her on her twitter @duck valentine.