Last week on Twitter, I was contacted by another up-and-coming developer looking to bring to my attention a video game they have been working on for some time and is starting to come to fruition. Hamsterdamm is a 2D perspective infinite runner title created by Nerdy Bear studio originating from Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. In development since 2018, the studio has recently been releasing concept art for the game as well as screenshots of its progress. Although there is scarce information about the game as it stands now, what information can be found about it is on the development studio’s website; indeed if you subscribe to the site via email, you can pick up a small ebook of concept art of where the developers are at with it:
But regardless, I was intrigued by what this game had to offer, and reached out to the founders of Nerdy Bear Studio, Lionel and Chanell, to ask a few questions about it, and to hopefully learn more of what players can come to expect from the final product. So here’s what Nerdy Bear Studio had to say about Hamsterdamm:
What has the developmental process been like?
As with anything you do for the first time, it’s been touch-and-go. We are definitely learning as we go along, but this aspect of it has made it fun (and ensured that we are picking up skills that we can use even beyond Hamsterdamm). First, when we started in 2018, I made it a point to learn as much as I could. First, I started learning about game development timelines. I began looking at how other developers ran their game dev workflows. I watched a ton of documentaries and testimonials about game developers, so I knew what to expect going in. One of the most impactful people I learned from—and still look at—is Thomas Brush.
His YouTube videos provided a wealth of knowledge of what I should know and what I should expect going on. Between 2018 and 2020, we went through some life changes that delayed development. Finally, last year, we made the decision that we wanted to start out with Hamsterdamm. In October of 2020, we began to put together a more solid marketing strategy and put together game documents. Fast forward to now, and we now have a Discord chat running were we working with a programmer and composer to establish the structure of Hamsterdamm. There’s been a lot of Google Docs and spreadsheets to outline milestones for moving forward.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
Right now, we are developing a prototype. Our programmer is now building out the structure (game mechanics, physics, and reward systems). Once that is complete, a pixel artist and I will step in to add the “visual flavor.” We also now have a composer working on the music side of Hamsterdamm (which is integral to the gameplay). At our current rate, we are expecting to have a demo ready by early to mid-June and a fully playable game by the end of this year.
While there have been a few hiccups in the process (and we know there will likely be more in the near future), things are finally moving smoothly as we now have game documents and a timeline to move forward with. Again, we are still learning as we go. We are currently making sure we are matching up all the critical pieces of development, so everyone has what they need to do their part (whether it be mechanics, art, music, and even marketing). So, fitting all the workflows together so that they work in parallel is the current point of where we are.
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
Not to sound cheesy, but it’s honestly been the process of watching a vision you had come to life. The contractors we are working with are incredibly innovative and creative, and they have been vocal about believing in what we are trying to do with Hamsterdamm. Additionally, we (myself and my wife) are always excited about learning new things, whether it be creating sprites or graphic design concepts (for those swanky Instagram posts lol). It’s been fun to combine our love of learning with something we are passionate about.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
That answer kind of changes depending on where we are in the process. However, I can definitely say that managing all the workflows has been a challenging part of development currently. While the game itself is a project, each contractor is working on separate parts of the game. Additionally, there are times where they will have to collaborate on various components of their own workflow.
Part of the challenge is thinking about where these intersections will happen and helping contractors to allow for them in their milestone timeline. There are also the parts of game development that people don’t think about. Much of the day isn’t dedicated to actual coding and development. There are tasks related to accounting, PR, HR, general admin, and legal areas that also need to get done. So, there are numerous workflows running at once, and it’s critical to take these into account when planning. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. 😀
How well has the game been received so far?
We were excited about the concept of Hamsterdamm (a 2D pixelated and perspective-shifting infinite runner), but we weren’t sure how people would feel about it. However, we’ve been surprised at how exciting people seem to be when they hear what we are doing. From family and friends to people who reach out to us on Twitter, there are people who have expressed that they are excited to play the game. We even connected with our composer after he reached out to us after hearing about our game and feeling drawn to it. We hope the excitement and momentum continue!
How instrumental has community feedback been in shaping the course of development at this early stage?
Right now, because we are still pretty unknown, we haven’t had much community feedback and involvement up to this point. However, community input is definitely something we will be seeking once we release the demo. We will include surveys that ask players about their experience and any suggestions they have.
As you guys asked me over Discord, I wish to ask you guys the same thing. What are your favorite indie games and have they had any impact on development as well?
Excellent question! One of our favorites is Speed Limit, which has directly impacted the infinite runner and perspective-shifting aspects of Hamsterdamm. We are also really loving Songbird Symphony and Sayanora Wild Hearts. Both have some elements that could influence what we do with Hamsterdamm.
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
It will likely be released on PC first, and then we are eyeing a release on mobile, Nintendo Switch, PS5, and the Xbox Series X.
I also found on your site several other games listed there; In the 90s, Animal Planet, Games for Black Girls, and Connectivity. What more can you tell us about them?
Yes! Those are our other planned releases. Right now, the focus is on Hamsterdamm, but we are constantly thinking of story and game mechanic ideas for the other upcoming titles. We actually have a spreadsheet for each game, and as we think of ideas (that we know we can’t pursue right now because of Hamsterdamm), we will dump them in there to address later. Each one will share a connection to the others, and after Hamsterdamm, In the 90s, will likely be on deck for development next.
Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?
Great question! Yes, there was an aspect of gameplay that we tweaked. The original idea was to make Hamsterdamm into a pixelated platformer that had infinite runner elements. We want to keep what it was changed to as a bit of a surprise, but the change definitely resulted in a shift in development. Fortunately, we were not far in development before we decided to make this shift. The programmer’s insights gave us a pretty good look at how things would change, and we were able to move from there.
If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?
Oh man, Excellent question. If I could develop with anyone, I would have to say either Nintendo or Square-Enix. The first reason being that their games have had the most impact on my life. Both Mario games and Final Fantasy games have been a long-running staple in my world. The second is that being part of either family means that the NBS universe could potentially end up in a Smash Bros. game or even better! When we branch into animation and a shared universe, it could lead to an amazing story. Konami would be an extremely close 3rd.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Yes! Learn as much as you can! While this applies to general dev skills, we would advise you to make sure you take some time to learn about the ins and outs of game project management. You cannot do it all (and believe us, you won’t want to). If you are a developer who wants to own your own studio, you will likely be a business owner. This means you will have to manage contractors, handle finances, figure out marketing, and deal with any other general admin tasks that come out.
You need to have a plan for how you will manage all these different aspects and workflows (whether it be outsourcing or hiring part or full-time help). We’ve seen a lot of other indie devs try to do it all, and this mostly leads to burnout. So, pace yourself. Really check out indie dev studios you are inspired by and see how they did it. Search out indie dev processes on YouTube. You will get a realistic view of what to expect so you can plan for it.
Where on the Internet can people find you?
You can check us out at www.nerdybearstudio.com, and also follow us on
Instagram: @nerdybearstudiosYou can also sign up for our email list here if you want to stay up-to-date on the progress of Hamsterdamm and our future projects.
I’d like to thank both Lionel and Chanell for taking the time out to talk to me about Hamsterdamm, and to wish them the best of luck with the development of the game. Via the website, you can also find links to Nerdy Bear’s social media pages, where you won’t miss a single developmental update. Hamsterdamm sounds like it may possibly make waves upon release, and it will be very interesting to see how the game turns out when development is completed. But in the meantime, I hope you guys keep up with Nerdy Bear and I hope you enjoyed learning about this ambitious title.
Scouse Gamer 88