Indie Developer Studio
Android, iOS, PC
Website & Social Media
How did your team come together and who does what for the company?
Our team consists of just the two of us, David and Russell Dorn. Being twin brothers, we’ve always been together growing up. It wasn’t until we were apart—when David left to teach English in South Korea after college—that we decided to come together another way, by means of shared projects. Together we created ZebraFox Games and from that sprang the children’s character, game series, and website, Felipe Femur (www.felipefemur.com).
David, as the artistic director, does the majority of the graphics and coding for the games and the websites. Russell, serving as the creative director, comes up with the stories, descriptions, press releases, creates the majority of the character concepts, and does the coding for the ChoiceScript games (No Proper Thief, Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures).
How many games have you worked on so far? Who is your target audience?
We have developed eleven games in total, all for Android, and one for iOS. The majority of our games feature characters from of Felipe Femur series—a cast of friendly, ironic monsters—and are thus designed for children. Several of these are more interactive fiction than classic games, but they have interactive elements mixed in with the stories. Though Dr. Sweet Tooth; Rock, Paper, Wizards!; Gummy’s Thanksgiving Feast; Present Danger; and Digital Dreidel share visual similarities to the children’s apps, they will also appeal to adults as there is a good amount of strategy or reaction speed involved in each of these games. No Proper Thief, currently our only game available on iOS, is an interactive fiction game. Reading base, the game allows players to choose the path of the protagonist.
Tell us a little about the projects you are most proud of.
David is most proud of Present Danger. A lot of effort went into designing the unique Christmas foods, armor, and weapons, as well as the big boss, Krampus. The end result, he feels, is that the game is the most fun of all our games. It has a bit of strategy involved, but also a bit of chance to keep things interesting. As for Russell, he is most proud of Felipe Femur & Friends, because he loves that the game brought his undead monster characters to life. A lot went into the point-and-click game which has mini games included, including dialogue scripts, voice actors, sound effects, and home creation. He is also proud of the interactive fiction game he is currently working on, called Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures, which has a demo available of play. It will be more than 100,000 words by the time he is done with it and it is far more complex than his first ChoiceScript game, No Proper Thief. Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures required players to read and make choices in an attempt to discover three clues in order to solve a mystery.
What inspired the art and story direction for your current project and/or previous projects? What indie games are you playing now, have you found inspiration from, or do you simply admire?
We have several games in development at the moment, each with their own inspirations. Subway Ajumma was inspired by the culture of South Korea and lack of courtesy on the subway trains between various generations of people. Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures is what No Proper Thief should have been—complex, word based game, inspired by Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang, choose your own adventure Goosebump books, and the Toonstone universe. Dr. Sweet Tooth 2 is inspired by challenging, classic, and strategic tower defense games, but offers it’s theme of candy and dentistry to set it apart. Overall, Russell has been inspired more by traditional fiction than games, including Goosebumps, Stephan King, Shirley Jackson, and Haruki Murakami. David draws inspiration from Ahhh! Real Monsters, Beetlejuice, Scooby-doo, and Tim Burton’s early work. For each of our games, we like to add something unique. For example, for Dr. Sweet Tooth it’s the theme, story, and ability to squish tiles in addition to developing towers. For Digital Dreidel, we created a whole new character, Gilli Fishel, the lagoon creature who’s afraid of water.
What inspired you to become indie game developers?
We both took 3D design & imaging courses in high school through a technical institute and the subject matter in those courses had many applications to the gaming industry. We like to use new technologies, so when Russell wrote the original Felipe Femur story, David suggested it not be a traditional book, but an interactive story with a jumping game built in. The rest just built off of that. Games were just a good way for us to combine our talents.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an indie developer? What challenges do you have to face? Do you have any tips for new indie developers?
Being that most of our games are designed for kids, we’d say the most rewarding part of the job is seeing kid’s faces light up when we show them our games and have them play. Beyond that, seeing the final product after months of hard work is quite satisfying… for a little while then it’s onto the next project.
Every project has challenges—in the code, the stories needing revision, editing, etc. Perhaps hardest of all, though, is promoting the games. It’s hard to find an audience sometimes. With No Proper Thief we went through the publisher, Hosted Games, and found that much more lucrative even making only a small percentage of the profits as they have an audience. As for tips, the biggest would be to not give up. It can be hard at times, but the payoff is worth it. Bad reviews can hurt, but don’t let them get you down.
Which game development tools are you using?
What’s next for your company? What’s the name of your current game project and what is it about?
As we mentioned briefly, we have several projects in the works: Subway Ajumma, Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures, Dr. Sweet Tooth 2. Beyond that, we have our ongoing development, BLAME, which is more ambitious than our other games and features a murder in a small town. Everyone of the citizens in town are suspects and the culprit changes on each play through. Gone Pockets is another interactive fiction game that can be played one of two ways, 1.) as a horror survival if the protagonist rejects his true self, or 2.) as a sci-fi adventure if the protagonist accepts his new knowledge and powers. This has been put on hold until Felipe Femur: Choice Adventures is released. Beyond this we have several e-books in the work, including a spooky recipe book.
Prototype Gameplay Video of Dr. Sweet Tooth 2
Check out some of ZebraFox Games work
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