Devolver has been shepherding indies for several years now, partly through its publishing platform, Gambitious. Now, that mission is becoming more formal with a rebrand of Gambitious to Good Shepherd Entertainment (Disclosure: Take This board member Kate Edwards is also Good Shepherd’s developer advocacy advisor.)
Good Shepherd will work with investors and developers on scalable, sustainable publishing, and has a great strategy prepared, which you can read about over at GamesIndustry.biz. But for our proverbial money, the most interesting part of that strategy is the human angle. Devolver co-founder and Good Shepherd chief creative officer Mike Wilson explains:
“Honestly my biggest concern with indies is that they learn how to take care of themselves,” he says. “Even with some of the most successful teams we’ve worked with, isolation and depression are running rampant among indie creators, with ever-increasing competition for attention and the unprecedented access to the artists that their critics (who is now everyone with an internet connection) now have. Gamers can be a notoriously rough bunch to deal with online, but with these small teams and the consistent demand that they interact directly with their ‘community,’ things have become much harder to manage, and very very personal.
“This is something Good Shepherd is committed to working to figure out how to best address, as we’ve seen the problem up close and personal with both Gambitious and Devolver in recent years, and it matters deeply to us. These people are our friends, and we want them to be able to live healthy, happy lives doing what they love to do. We’re not sure that this is a problem we can solve, but we are very eager to start the larger conversation.”
Wilson makes a great point. One of the major problems we look at in game development is crunch, which is more often an issue in large studios (though it certainly happens with indies as well). But indies also struggle with situations that aren’t great for their mental health, and having a publisher ready to help out can only be a good thing. We’d love to see this become a bigger trend among publishers — after all, when developers burn out, it’s a loss for the whole industry.
Good Shepherd Entertainment is currently publishing Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, which we’ve covered here briefly, as well as MachiaVillain, Milanoir, Phantom Doctrine and Outreach.