Why Indie Developers Should Start With an Original IP

There are two Drillers on screen! On the right was the inspiration, the left shows what actually came out.
Not an actual game, just a mock-up.

When Drillimation restructured as a game development studio following GoAnimate’s transition to HTML5, which removed the site’s most popular themes, Chuhou Joutai saw its roots from there. I decided to turn whatever we created into profit. This is a tip for those who want to become indie developers wanting to foray into the gaming industry.

One of Drillimation’s first assignments was to create a fully playable game for Steam. After months of brainstorming, we decided to do something different than what we created with GoAnimate. In fact, some of our old fans left after the original videos were thrown under the bus. Everyone was saying we needed to create an original IP. So, how did Susumu Takajima transition from being a GoAnimate figure to a real video game character?

One of our first assignments when Drillimation became a game company was we had to create a replacement for what we have done in the past. Chuhou Joutai was the end result. The game was originally meant to parody a traditional screwball comedy film with Mr. Driller‘s Susumu Hori being the hero and Lucky Star‘s Konata Izumi trying to win the hero’s heart. However, since Drillimation couldn’t secure the rights from Bandai Namco and Kadokawa to use those characters, two original characters were developed instead.

The story was eventually developed into a narrative following a headphone-wearing spiky-haired boy named Susumu Takajima, a magical girl and pop idol named Kagami Ochiai being his mentor, and a princess named Konata that Driller would consider his fairy godmother. Konata was of course, a caricature of one of the original intended characters.

Chuhou Joutai is full of caricatures, which often parody existing anime and game characters. Taking a page from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, they have a name – echo characters. Have you gone onto Chuhou Joutai/Characters and saw the epsilon symbol next to some of their names? That means that character is based on another character from an outside franchise. This is also a notable instance where the game’s plot changed drastically during development.

Designing an original IP is way cheaper than relying on a licensed IP, because first of all, licensing is expensive and copyright holders have different licensing policies on how their IP can be used by others. Firstmost, we have cheaper licensing policies listed under our Game Content and Brand Usage Rules. Indie developers basing their games on existing IP have to take Fair Use into full consideration, or otherwise face the legal challenges.

By creating an original IP, you become the owner of your own copyright and you have the right to reproduce and distribute it. So, start making your own original game and who knows? It might explode in the market, which is what we’re trying to get Chuhou Joutai to. Helping Chuhou Joutai spread can make it closer to that.


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