Game Dev Startup – Óskar & Halla of King Coyote Studios

How many really great turn-based computer strategy games can you name? Two? Three? How long ago were they made… 10 years ago? 20? Our office agreed that two stand above the rest in addictiveness and brilliance: X-COM and Civilization, both many years old.

Passionate gamer Óskar Ögri Birgisson is fed up with the lack of options for his favorite style of game. We sat down with him and Halla Kolbeinsdóttir, founders of startup game developer King Coyote Studios, at Startup Iceland to find out how they’re fixing it.

“There’s a bunch of games from yesteryear that have great gameplay,” Óskar explains, “but maybe not the best graphics, maybe not the best balancing. We want to take those, dust them off, and connect them with online gaming, and create a new experience out of it.”

“We’re focusing on role playing, strategy gaming, and resource management play.”

It hasn’t been a fast road to riches. “We’ve been trying to get this company off the ground for several years now,” Halla tells us.

They point to a number of hiccups and false starts. Óskar says, “For the last six or seven years we’ve been trying and trying. Thinking that you’ve found the team. Then realizing it wasn’t the team. Thinking you’ve found the money, but it wasn’t the money.”

Halla adds, “The economic crash, that was a really big one. That was a real low that we’ve been slowly starting to build back up.”

Despite the setbacks, progress is being made. If you take a look at their website, you’ll see that the alpha demo of their game architecture is advancing. “This is the big push,” Halla says. They have a new tactic: rather than try to roll out a “big game” with all the bells and whistles, they’re taking it in smaller bites. “A little game that is gonna get us going,” Óskar explains. “Something to prove that the team can do it.” They intend to make each game modular so that it can be pieced together “like Legos.” Eventually, they’ll have achieved their grand vision, while generating revenue for the short term.

Like many Icelandic entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed, Óskar and Halla have found support in the developing Iceland startup scene. Reykjavic University has been particularly helpful, providing both knowledge and office space.

Even with such great support, a lot of startup founders might have given up after so many years without a product launch. When we asked Óskar why he keeps on keepin’ on, he put it brilliantly: “Unfit for regular duty.” That’s truly how it is for many entrepreneurs… we simply don’t fit in with any other lifestyle. What other choice do we have than to pursue our passion?

You can find King Coyote Studios on Facebook here, and on Twitter @KingCoyoteGames.

Underwriter: Promogogo
Interviewer: Thubten Comerford
Producer: Hrefna Helgadottir
Video Editor: Jacob Curtis
Transcription: Eric Inman

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