Why (and how!) I’m backing No More Robots

By now, you may have noticed that Mike Rose – former IndieGames & Gamasutra editor, more recently at indie publisher Tinybuild where he worked with rather good games like Punch Club, Party Hard and Clustertruck – has announced a brand new independent video game publisher, No More Robots.

I’m delighted to say that I’m an initial investor in No More Robots, and also am advising Mike & team (which also includes supersmart UK lawyer/biz guy Jas Purewal as another advisor/investor) on strategy/A&R.

The label – for which the logo/visual design is done by the amazing Arkotype, incidentally – is being announced alongside the first game being published by No More Robots, Ragesquid’s PC/console procedural downhill mountain biking game (!) Descenders.

The trailer is embedded above – and wow, I’ve been following the development of this game (it’s the second title from the super talented Action Henk developers!), and it’s gone from looking & playing great to looking & playing amazing over the last couple of months.

Quite apart from the fact that the ‘action sports’ genre has kinda been neglected since the days of Activision O2 (heh!), the procedural elements of this ‘Skate vs. Trials’ title – a bit more difficult to envisage in this first announce trailer – are off-the-charts neat.

In addition to the tricking & pure speed inherent in the game, every time you try a new level, it’s been carefully and seamlessly stitched together from many constituent path/obstacle parts onto a constantly shifting terrain engine – leading to near-infinite variety & Spelunky-style replayability.

And there’s some really clever team elements (online leaderboards, team rewards, etc) in the mix too, which will become way more apparent if you play the darn thing. Go sign up at the Descenders Discord for more – also a great way to be included in upcoming Beta tests.

There’s also a meta-question here – why _do_ you need a publisher again? As I’ve discovered when researching contracts & terms with Mike, there are all kinds of deals out there for indie game devs if they want a ‘publisher’ – anything from 10% to 70% of the gross of your game, in fact, for which the level of service & terms vary gigantically.

Some are decent. Some are… decidedly less decent. Heck, in many cases, you can absolutely self-publish nowadays. But if you have a clued-up liaison which can get you time with important platforms (Sony, Microsoft, Twitch, Humble) & streamers/media outlets, and also handles community management, while also helpfully advising on the design of the game to make it good _and_ marketable, I think they’re 100% worth it.

Needless to say, I think Mike – who is incredibly dedicated & smart about games – & his team tick all those boxes, which is why I’m backing them. The memorable indie publishers out there (Devolver, Tinybuild, Adult Swim) have a history and reputation that precedes them, and I’m pretty sure No More Robots can be one of those ‘oh, I need to check out their games’ additions to the above list.

Finally, this blog post also exists to note the IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS around my relationship with No More Robots, since I am obviously continuing my regular dayjob working on GDC, Gamasutra, Black Hat and all that goodness.

Basically, it goes like this: I actually don’t have much direct control over things that are showcased at GDC (that’s the Advisory Boards!) and Gamasutra (that’s the publisher & editors). But I will obviously abstain from any conversation that involves No More Robots or any of its games, & the association is going in my Twitter bio as well, so nobody gets confused – even though I’m not working day to day on NMR.

Thanks for reading – and obviously, No More Robots is looking for more games to publish, so hit up Mike if you’re making something you think could fit.

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