In the virtual halls of IndieCade 2020, I had a chance to chat with Antonio Miceli, founder of the Toronto-based one-man independent game studio MegaPowerGames. I had the opportunity to ask some questions about life as an independent game developer, the challenge of self-funding, and the studio's upcoming title, the multiplayer dragon feeding simulator DepowerBall.
MegaPowerGames was founded in late 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The studio's flagship title, DepowerBall was first conceived during a Game Jam event in 2018 (For those unfamiliar with the term, a game jam is a usually time-limited event in which players are challenged to make a video game from scratch, often with the aid of a prompt such as a word, theme or character which must be included). An early version of DepowerBall was first presented for public playtesting at an Ottawa-based expo, where the reactions of fans inspired Miceli (whose online handle is also the name of his studio, MegaPowerGames) to move forward with the game.
Describing the experience of seeing playtesters respond positively to DepowerBall, MegaPower explained "I knew there was something special we had." Following the expo, MegaPower stepped into the role of the game's lead producer. Since then, MegaPower has worked on the game part-time while also saving up funds to purchase assets from freelance artists and composers.
Although he has applied for and received grants, for the most part, MegaPowerGames describes DepowerBall as a self-funded project. When I asked him what it was like bearing the primary responsibility for funding his own project, his reply got straight to the point "Unpredictable yet stress-free." MegaPower clarified that not being beholden to external investors or the unpredictable results of fundraisers meant that the game could be developed on his own timeline, without needing to conform to the schedule of anyone other than himself. While he acknowledges that due to this "things don't necessarily get finished as quickly as a normal game development cycle," MegaPower feels that the benefits of self-funding and independent work outweigh any negative aspects.
Throughout our conversation, I was constantly impressed by MegaPower's unfailingly positive attitude and optimistic outlook. He took time to praise the artists and composers he had worked with throughout the journey, as well as the support team which promoted the game both online and at conventions and events such as IndieCade. He concluded by celebrating the success DepowerBall has attained so far and looking eagerly forward to the game's future. "This past year I've experienced the most success so far," MegaPower excitedly told me. "It has validated both the idea and the prospect that this game could in fact be a success."
His enthusiasm for the project is definitely noticeable within DepowerBall itself. The game is fast-paced and tense at times, with clever and surprisingly tricky gameplay wrapped up in an adorable art style. In this local multiplayer title, 2-4 players compete in a variety of levels to be the first to satisfy the Dragon Queen with delicious treats. The player who wins is awarded with favor from the Queen... but is also subjected to the potentially revenge-minded whims of their competitors, as they must then lose access to one of their powers (such as the ability to double jump or create a shield) during the next round.
MegaPower shared some gameplay footage with me, and I can definitely say that I can't wait to play DepowerBall. The eight animal characters (my favorite is the shark, who sports a surprisingly cute smile) and the colorful, futuristic backgrounds make each chaotic round quite fun to watch, but what really makes the game shine is the strategy element of removing powers from the winner. It's a game which requires both quick reflexes and quick thinking, and where winning isn't necessarily everything - I could easily see DepowerBall joining the ranks of Monopoly and Mario Party in the category of "games where friendship and alliances don't matter while you're playing."
You can wishlist DepowerBall on Steam. The game is currently planned to enter Early Access in the near future. For more information and updates, you can follow MegaPowerGames on Twitter or at the studio's official website.
GameLuster thanks MegaPowerGames for this opportunity to chat, as well as IndieCade 2020 for inviting our press team to attend.