We made more money from our game than if we had real jobs in South Africa – Runestorm

Puppy rolling in money

KwaZulu-Natal-based game developer RuneStorm has made a decent chunk of change from its games, Viscera Cleanup Detail and Rook’s Keep.

Enough to not need to worry about getting a real job, they say. Which is secret journalist-interviewee code for “we could tell you how much, but we’d have to kill you”.

Like its contemporary of BroForce fame, Free Lives, RuneStorm landed a sweet, sweet deal to do a tie-in game.

They were asked to do a version of Viscera Cleanup Detail for the 2013 release of Shadow Warrior.

You would go around brutalising everyone as Lo Wang in Shadow Warrior, and then you can come back as a janitor in Viscera to clean up the carnage you caused.

We caught up with RuneStorm co-founder Nolan Richert a while ago to ask the tough questions, and this is what he had to say.

You can buy Viscera Cleanup Detail, Rook’s Keep, and Shadow Warrior on Steam.


What are you working on right now?

It’s a secret. We’ll let it out of prison if it turns out to not be crap.


Do you make enough money to keep making games for the foreseeable future?

We do.


How much have you made from your games to-date?

More than if we had real jobs. Less than Fork Parker makes.

(Ed: for those who might not know, Fork Parker is the mostly made-up CFO of Devolver Digital who loves fine wine wine and turning a huge profit.)


Are you hiring?

Not at the moment. Still trying to figure out how to run the team we have before making it more complicated.


What skills are you looking for in a new employee?

A love for crappy work so we can focus on the fun stuff. Maybe an extra programmer. Admin and community staff are also high up on the list.
For content creation, we’d be more likely to go for contract workers because that work is not constant.


Outside of the technical and creative skills needed to do the job, which skills should someone aiming to be a game developer master?

They should master putting out projects without having mastered any skills and persisting. In my opinion, one does not learn to make games without making them first.

Most importantly they should be very good at taking criticism of their work. Easier said than done, but I can’t overemphasize that one.

If there is a silver bullet for game dev, that’s probably it.


How do you feel about DLC, in-app purchases, and in-game currency you can buy with real money?

I don’t think those things are necessarily evil or good. Depends on the specific implementation; is it being done with honest intentions or is it just a sleazy attempt to manipulate people out of money.

DLC, can be fine if it’s an honest addition to the game. If it’s something that should be in the base game, then not so fine.

IAPs and IGC are potentially a lot more sneaky, but they could be a genuine way for players to pay for what they want as they go instead of having to fork out the full amount before knowing if it’ll be worth it.

Personally, I’m not usually fond of these two models.

Why? As a player, I usually dislike real cash relating to in-game currency or whatever because I dislike the idea of out-of-game things limiting you in the game.

As a developer I hate the idea of having to build a design around the immutable nuisance of trying to nickel ’n dime the player at every turn.

Viscera Cleanup Detail early access gameplay

Viscera Cleanup Detail


How has gaming changed between when you first started playing games, and when you started making games?

We started tinkering when we were kids back in the 90s, so if I answered your question exactly, I’d say, “It hasn’t”.

However, to compare the games we started playing back then to how things are more recently during our professional endeavours, I’ll say this. Gaming has changed hugely in some ways, while in other ways it has stayed pretty much the same.

The tech really seems like it has reached a level where anything is possible (and has been that way for a while now). I don’t think the game designs have actually caught up with the tech.

Games can be far more complicated to make these days than they were, but there are a lot more tools and resources available to help.

The blockbusters are still chasing the realism rabbit around, so not much has changed there, mainly just the budgets.

There are a lot more people playing games which is great. It would be greater if more people saw more of the variety of games out there.

Digital distribution has been a real revolution. This has made games more accessible to more players, while making it possible for smaller developers to reach players and really opened up the possibilities of what can be done with a game.

The traditional cycle of make, release and forget is gone. Since the idea of a game being ‘finished’ is basically alien to the nature of software, it is great that we now have the tools to continue developing a project beyond the release.

Also, the evolution and spread of the Internet itself has also completely changed the context of gaming.

Something like Viscera Cleanup Detail would not really have worked in a world without so many people talking to each other.

Rooks Keep

Rooks Keep


Have the changes in the medium and industry been for the better?

Overall… Hell yes!

There are definitely some not-so-good things, stagnating genres, budgets stampeding towards the cliff, threatening garden walls, and obviously some really nasty things like GamerGate and that kind of ultra-shitty harassment.

While there is a lot that needs to be improved, I think there have been many changes for the better:

  • Digital distribution and games being easier to get is a big improvement.
  • The diversity of games available. I think that more players being able to find something for them is great.
  • Having an Internet full of resources and communities around the games is great.

Even so, it would be great if the wider field of games was more obvious to potential players — there’s more to games than pseudo-military shooters and clickers.


Click these links for more sweet SA game developer articles

Win R15,000 worth of prizes at the Free Lives Game Jam

Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse from SA game dev coming to Windows and Xbox

This is how much money successful games from South Africa have made

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We made more money from our game than if we had real jobs in South Africa – Runestorm

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