From his Gamasutra blogs, his time as editor in chief of IndieGames.com and his stints as PR manager at both Ripstone and tinyBuild, Mike Rose has worked at some of the most exciting places in the games industry. After his announcement of his own publisher, No More Robots, and their first game, Descenders, I reached out to him for some quick questions.
What made you decide to create your own publishing label?
I’ve been wanting to start my own publishing label for a while now, and to be honest, quite a lot of industry people have been egging me on to do so as well. I’ve shown numerous times now that I know how to make games sell, so it was about time that I did it under my own label.
And why did you decide on Descenders as your first title?
Descenders was an obvious first choice for me — it sets the bar (excuse the pun) and shows people that I mean business. It looks gorgeous, plays like a dream, and has huge potential to build a community around (which after the announcement, we’re already seeing with the 3000+ member Discord we’ve built). On top of that, I’ve been great friends with RageSquid for years, ever since I sat in a field for 2 hours at GDC and played the first version of Action Henk to death. Working every day with friends on a fantastic game is… well, it ain’t exactly a hard life.
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Speaking of Descenders, how would you pitch it?
Descenders is essentially extreme downhill freeriding through procedurally generated worlds. Think the subtle, tactile controls of Skate, but in a world where you never play the same course twice. There are also large-scale social elements to the game that we haven’t discussed yet.
What do you think the founding of labels like No More Robots means for the state of British games publishing/development, with the loss of so many big studios in recent years?
I can’t imagine me or anyone else founding a game publisher in the North is going to RE-ENERGIZE the game industry in the UK, but it would be lovely to work with a few British studios with my new venture.
How do you feel about the label of indie publisher? Would you describe No More Robots as one?
I tend to shy away from the word indie these days — the word tends to make players think of pixel-art platformers and cute puzzle games. Which is super fine, I love those kind of games! But they aren’t really what No More Robots is about.
Is Descenders the kind of title No More Robots will continue to publish or do you intend to be quite a disparate label?
Descenders is the kind of title I plan on publishing, in that it is A) something a bit different to what you normally see in games, and B) it looks gorgeous. I have no rush to find more games to sign, so my plan is to simply keep my eyes peeled for something that fits the No More Robots label.
You’ve offered an open invite to the Descenders beta through Discord – do you see active participation from gamers as the way forwards for games development, and how do you make sure the voices of the developer/publisher aren’t drowned out by the public?
Discord and Twitch are massive parts of my plan with No More Robots. Descenders will have Discord and Twitch integration build into it, and tons of community features will be blended directly into the game’s core loop, for those people who want to take part. Building communities around games is one of the best ways to ensure people care about your game right now.
Lastly, how did you find the reaction to the announcements?
The announcement just blew us away. I knew what I was doing, and I knew it would go well, but I had no idea it would go THIS well. 60k trailer views in 2 days, 500k views on the Imgur post, the front page of Imgur and 9gag, thousands of tweets and retweets, 3000 people in the Discord channel over the weekend… yeah, it’s been pretty crazy!
I’d like to thank Mike again for taking the time to talk to me – anyone who wants to sign up to the Descenders Discord and gain beta access can do so here.
Mike’s Twitter handle is @RaveofRavendale