10mg

10mg is a recently-founded indie game developer collective of (at present) 10 game developers. The group released their collection of 10 titles, each roughly 10 minutes in length, to the itch.io and Steam storefronts on Oct. 15. 

10mg, a recently-founded indie game developer collective of (at present) 10 game developers, was fascinating to me from the moment I learned about it. The group released their collection of 10 titles, each roughly 10 minutes in length, to the itch.io and Steam storefronts on Oct. 15; it is a self-titled debut album of sorts, a compilation and experiment in game development and publishing available for $10.

The following interview was conducted in a launch-day question-and-answer event, and is compiled from responses from 10mg members Torcado, Freya C., and BluishGreenProductions. Answers have been slightly edited for formatting purposes, but not linguistically altered. None of the answers given have been omitted.

How were the developers involved in 10mg recruited?

A few of us were in the initial plans, and those people just asked their friends who asked their friends etc. until 10 of us were set! - Torcado

Droqen invited me! - BluishGreenProductions

What was the process getting 10mg to where it is today? What issues arose along the way?

10mg as a collective took a ton of effort to pull together, maybe even more than any individual game (at least for me). Most of the issues revolved around wrangling steam’s entire mess of a process, and in getting deadlines met for various things. – Torcado

Coordinating developers around the world, in different time zones was challenging. At least we were all working on our own thing, I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to work on a single project. - BluishGreenProductions

I’m aware that one of the games in the compilation, “Stroke,” was released on itch.io prior to the 10mg bundle, and that Sylvie’s game “You are Such a Soft and Round Kitten” was completed back in July. You also mentioned in a tweet that “Slasher” was developed within the last month of release day. What dynamic and coordination was there in development, if any - did the developers often influence each other? Was there much overlap in the development periods of the 10mg games?

Yes, “Stroke” was originally a game-jam entry to the GMTK 2020 Jam. I should make a dev-log outlining the numerous changes I made. - BluishGreenProductions

Personally, I had about a month and a half to finish my game, then dug a hole in the ground and didn’t come back until it was done. Some people had much less time to finish theirs, so a lot of the development time cascaded towards the end. - Torcado

There was some overlap in development times, but it is as you point out — some games were revised and reworked for 10mg, others made from scratch. I’d estimate that 50% of the games have been worked on concurrently in the last month, with encouragement and support from the other devs. I doubt we would have got “Slasher” off the ground without their motivational and logistical support. -Freya

What made you dissatisfied with the current state of the indie games industry?

This question could be an entire article in itself, but most of our gripes are not with the indie games industry but with AAA and large-level storefronts. I love itch.io and my indie dev friends. Love for us to earn some money though. – Freya

Actually, I don’t know if I’m dissatisfied with the current state of the indie games industry. By which I mean the collective of solo/small developers making interesting stuff for themselves, the name of which has changed meaning over time. So I might be dissatisfied with the capital-I “Indie” games industry, being the facade placed on ““small”” game development teams, that bigger games industry names use for one reason or another. In any case, I think this whole movement has placed more pressure on indie developers to create huge full-fledged titles, because now Indie games are up in the big leagues with the 100 person AAA titles that are already expected to provide dozens or hundreds of hours of content for the price they are. – Torcado

There are a lot of “arms races” in the gaming industry like “best graphics” “most gameplay” et cetera, and in the end, I think it gets a lot of people to think of shorter games as worthless, which is a shame. Personally, I think that it’s entirely possible to have a game that gives as much (if not more) joy in a short package as a long one. My favourite game, “Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door” has a lot of back-tracking and could stand to be about 4-5 hours shorter. “Paper Mario” on N64 is actually much better about this. I think that just because something is short doesn’t mean you should discount its quality. - BluishGreenProductions

Would you like to comment on the length, premise, and pricing norms for video games?

My comment is “be nice if they were shorter.” I think games pricing is pretty OK given the actual human cost of creating them — if anything, they’re underpriced across the board. 10mg itself is a big collective comment on the game length vs perceived value argument. – Freya

I think devs / designers should set the length of their game, not publishers (for above reasons). - BluishGreenProductions

As an extension of the last question, do you know of any non-10mg commercial games that are interesting exceptions to the rule in these regards?

None jump to mind, but I don’t actually play many games, just spend a lot of time making them. - BluishGreenProductions

I would like to shine a spotlight on the mobile interactive fiction scene; episodic, short narrative games that can be played without an abundance of spare time. They’re very much commercial enterprises, but they work. - Freya

If the experimental dose proves effective, is 10mg expected to become a recurring prescription?

As we’ve mentioned, we’d love to do future projects — what form and timescale they would take remains to be seen. – Freya

Absolutely! Thanks to generous purchases on Itch, we’ve at least made back the fee we paid to Steam to post our games, but on the other hand, the project needs to justify over 150 hours of development and coordination time in my case, so we’re a LONG way away from that becoming a reality. But hey, it’s only been a couple hours, so who knows? - BluishGreenProductions

Gaget is a student in Fairbanks public schools, and has developed a number of free games. He is a neutral game reviewer.