In last few years, the name Rami Ismail has been a familiar name around different indie games. The Vlambeer studio which is established by Rami Ismail has gained lots of experience in making different games and eventually made Nuclear Throne and Luftrausers which were some successful games. Rami Ismail himself has had a lot of speeches since last few years and he is trying to help indie game developers all around the world. We had a small conversation on the occasion of “Gimistan 2018” which Rami was one of the jury members.
Samira Dolatabadi: The Vlambeer Studio is known by a few names like Nuclear Throne and Lufrausers, but the members of this studio actually made a lot of small games. Tell us about it. Why would you make a lot of small games instead of a more like AAA game?
Rami Ismail: We like to prototype and game jam a lot, and those small 2-day projects often end up being interesting to play, but not interesting enough to make into a year-long commitment. Sometimes, we decide to release those small, interesting games – as a way of showing people something cool, or as a way to hopefully inspire someone else to make the game properly. We’re not really interested in making AAA games – I think we’d rather make smaller games rather than bigger games.
Samira Dolatabadi: There are a lot of games made by the members of your studio, like Minit, but they will not publish under the name of this studio. We are wondering why this happens?
Rami Ismail: Vlambeer is any project that Jan Willem Nijman and Rami Ismail make together under the banner of Vlambeer. Some projects are made by teams that just contain one of us (Minit was made by Jan Willem, Kitty Calis, Jukio Kallio, and Dominik Johann) – and some projects just don’t fit what we believe Vlambeer is (like GlitchHiker).
Samira Dolatabadi: How is like making a game from the very first step like pitching the idea to develop and publishing it at the end in your team? Could you please explain the whole process and approach of an independent team like yours?
Rami Ismail: We sit down with an interesting prototype, work on it for a week or two, and if we’re still interested in making it, and having fun making it, we decide whether we want to actually make it. If we do, we go into production, find a team, decide on a marketing approach, and get to work.
Samira Dolatabadi: The Nuclear Throne and LUFTRAUSERS are the best examples of making a game with Game Maker Engine. Why would you prefer an engine like this to something like Unity?
Rami Ismail: I think there are many great Game Maker games – Hotline Miami, Spelunky, NIDHOGG, Hyper Light Drifter, Downwell, there’s too many to mention. Game Maker is mostly incredible effective at prototyping, and since that’s what our studio focuses on, it’s a good fit.
Samira Dolatabadi: You are one of a few African people who make video games or at least we think like that! Did the game industry changed in the Africa compared to previous years? How much? Did you make an effort to develop the industry in your country?
Rami Ismail: There are many Arab and African game developers in the industry, they just often don’t get the chance to show their work because the industry, the media, and the audience is so English- and Western-focused. I think there’s been a huge growth in Arab and African visibility in the games industry, and I’m excited to see more games from the region tackle the rich cultures, histories, and stories from the continent.
Samira Dolatabadi: Did any of big studios and companies ask for your cooperation? Why you like to work independently? What are the advantages?
Rami Ismail: Yes, big studios occasionally reach out for consultancy or other help with their projects. I like working independently because it allows me to do thing that would not be possible in a more structured environment.
Samira Dolatabadi: You worked on making the Nuclear Throne about 2 years and half and continued to support it for another 2 years. This was your last project, are you working on a new project right now? If the answer is yes could you please give us information about that?
Rami Ismail: We’ve got some potential new projects, but we have no news to report on them. As soon as we have a better idea on what’s next, we’ll let you know via our Twitter.
Samira Dolatabadi: For the last question what is your advice to people who are into video game development?
Rami Ismail: If you’re new to the medium, take small steps, make small games. You can always grow later, but this medium is complex enough that you don’t want to overreach as your first action.