Robot Circus is an independent games development studio based in Carlton. Small but prolific, the studio was founded in 2012 with a goal to make quality, innovative experiences. Since opening their doors they've developed over 16 titles including a mix of entertaining and serious, casual and core games.

Robot Circus group shot
Small but prolific, the studio was founded in 2012 with a goal to make quality, innovative gaming experiences. Since opening their doors, they have developed over 16 titles, including a mix of entertaining and serious, casual and core games. Robot Circus' most recent title is the Puzzle-RPG, Ticket To Earth, which has received critical acclaim and won a number of awards including an Australian Game Developer Award, and first place at the Game Development World Championship 2017.

Robot Circus' project

Robot Circus will work over six months to develop a new video game, The Last Bastion. The game, which will be developed for phones and tablets, will tell the story of a world that is on the brink of being taken over by a tyrannical force. During the project, the team will develop the design for the game, create an art bible that sets out the world and the characters and create a playable preproduction prototype that can be presented to potential investors or partners.

What does being awarded a Creators Fund grant mean to you?
Melbourne is home to so many talented games developers, so it was a genuinely humbling realisation that we were the only games team to be selected for the Creators Fund. Like most gamers, we believe that games are art, and we appreciate that maybe that's not how the bulk of the population view our craft. So, to be recognised alongside a diverse range of cutting edge creative practitioners is motivating and inspiring.

How important is 'time' to you, as an artist/creative professional?
Time is our most precious, non-renewable commodity. As a team, we're constantly busy; our heads are usually buried in our day-to-day, 'work to survive' projects. Finding time for new creative development is our biggest challenge. Discussions over lunch, a spare afternoon once in a blue moon, late at night when we've gone home - this is normally when we find the time to come up with cool ideas. The Creators Fund makes finding the time create a new game a reality of us.

What's the first thing you did when you found out you were awarded a Creator's Fund grant?
Good question! We were wrapping up a milestone on a hot afternoon when the news came through. We sat around and discussed how awesome this opportunity was and started reviewing our pitch and making plans over a couple of cold beers.

What are you most looking forward to over the months ahead?
Our first step has been to flesh out a pre-production timeline. This involves apportioning time and people over the months ahead to a staggered series of activity sprints. Each of these bursts of activity further develops "The Last Bastion" concept. Over the months ahead we'll work on visual concept development, where our artists can take time out to create amazing images of the characters and the world in which the game is set; game design - putting together the rules and actions which define how the game plays; prototype construction - constructing a playable prototype which allows us to start messing around with gameplay and experience; and UX refinement - polishing the way the user engages with the game and looking for ways to make every act intuitive and fun, looking for ways to drive player agency and making our users feel like they always want to keep playing and keep returning this game. Our goal is to create an awesome slice of gameplay, as well as clear vision for the rest of the development. It’s an exciting process to be part of, and each step of the way inspires new thinking and new visions for what our game can be.

Where would like to see yourself at the end of this process? How do you anticipate your career will develop as a result?
At the end of this process, we want to end up with an amazing game proof-of-concept which we can develop further either by ourselves or in partnership.

Watch the trailer for Robot Circus' Ticket to Earth