The other day I talked a little about Developers and Publishers, and about how there are many great publishers out there… but also many bad-faith actors in the industry that get away with all sorts of things.
One of the main issues with this subject is that small developers often don’t have the funds or even the know-how to take matters to court, which is why a lot of publishers get away with their misdeeds and the horrible treatment they put small developers through.
But while it’s important to point out these instances of bad treatment and developer abuse in the industry, I also wanted to highlight what publishers are actually responsible for or what a lot of “good” publishers actually do. For this purpose, I did conduct a bunch of interviews at 2022’s Gamescom… which I’m releasing now, maybe a bit late. Sorry about the delay.
Today’s interview has been conducted with Daniel Fahrtmann, the Community Strategist Lead of Daedelic Games. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to him back then, especially as I’m a big fan of Daedelic Games.
As this interview has been recorded at a busy venue, some parts of the interview were inaudible or could barely be understood. I decided to put “[…]” in places where I left out words that weren’t audible or that were being repeated, etc. If I add a word, I’ll use round brackets “(…)” to signify that.
I know that the usage of brackets varies from place to place, so I figured I should clarify that.
Apart from that, I decided to make a change here and try out the quote feature. The Headings (bold) are my questions. The Text (italic) is what Daniel Fahrtmann answered.
“I’m Daniel Fahrtmann, I’m the Community Strategist at Daedelic, and I’m basically handling the Social Media services, the Customer Support, and the Community Management – basically, all the information that goes out to the public.”
What are the core responsibilities of a Publisher in your opinion?
“The core responsibilities of a publisher are basically everything that is not development.
The development team can concentrate on creating and making the game, and everything else that goes further – may it be social media, may it be marketing, and even the scope, as in what could be done better to have a better effect on the community – all of that basically comes from the publishing side.
The publishing side has the know-how, has the financial means to actually support stuff like that, and we can tell developers stuff like “hey, maybe we should add a multiplayer mode as well because that’s basically what the community is searching for” – and we as the publisher have kind of “the thumb on the pulse” of the community, so we can make suggestions to the developers to shape the game into something that has the best effect possible.”
What are some success stories or even flops that you could share?
“There are definitely two really big success stories, the first being Unrailed.
Unrailed is about a train that never stops and you have to work as a group in co-op to place the tracks in front of it to make sure it doesn’t crash.
Just from that, it should be clear that it’s about a lot of hectic screaming at each other, getting excited at a success, and getting angry at each other when you stand in someone’s way. So, this was definitely a big part of our Community Service. We wanted to make this game playable for the biggest audience possible!
So, when it started, it was planned for PC – but then we said that it’d be better if we add consoles to it and the Switch to it, and if we made it cross-platform so that all the players can play and work together.
This was definitely the biggest success on a Community Level.
And then the other success story is Barotrauma – which shines because it’s a game that doesn’t need to leave Early Access. […]
When games are in Early Access, many gamers are […] hesitant because of bad experiences they had in the past. When we are talking about Early Access, we always say we do “True Early Access”. This means we add content, we add functions, we are working on the bugs and everything.
Barotrauma has been in Early Access for [four years now] and there is no need for it to leave Early Access because the developers and the community work together to add the exact missions, content, updates, and patches that they want and that they need. They have Steam Workshop integration which means that players can build their own submarines and have tournaments with them.
So those are our two big success stories when it comes to the publishing side and being there to propel the game to a higher level and build something around it. Like a group of people that actually [fights?] together and who do want to do more than just play the game. They want to talk about the game, create fanart, and work on content – and it’s not something that you can plan.
It’s very hard to achieve that. You need a bit of luck as well as you need to hit the nail on the head with the game and what you’re doing with the community. With this, it was tricky but it worked even better than we imagined.
What are some of your core values as a publisher or things you look for when developers apply to you?
We (look for) passion, (and) authenticity. We prefer people that are persons, actual characters, who actually show themselves as humans and who can show the development side from an adventurer (perspective) kind. People that can tell their own stories and who have passion for what they’re doing.
There are some developers who do a lot of Project Work for example and who kind of have [fifteen] projects going on at the same time and who kind of do it all at the same time – and you can sometimes feel that in the project they’re doing.
They might be good from a technical perspective but, for example, in Unrailed, the first thing I saw was the main menu which is playable. You have characters who walk around […] and you have to manoeuvre them to the buttons of the menu that you actually want to press.
This, to me, showed passion. They want to do something special. They have individual thoughts, they are not copying other things that have shown to be already effective, and they are doing what they like, what they love, and just following their passion. And that’s a big, big plus point.”
So, again, I’m a huge fan of Daedalic Entertainment as they made some great games and they publish lots of great titles. I really enjoyed talking to Daniel Fahrtmann for this interview – and I actually also asked him for advice for Indie Developers – which is advice I’ll feature in a different post that should release soon™.
If you wanna check out Daedalic Entertainment, you can do so on…