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Revita Is More 'Interesting and Diverse' Thanks to Co-Workers and Fan, Developer Community

Revita Is More 'Interesting and Diverse' Thanks to Co-Workers and Fan, Developer Community Image
  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 15:25 PM

Benjamin 'BenStar' Kiefer speaks to Game Rant about Revita, how its team has grown, and the value of community with fans and other developers.

p>While every video game thrives on the strength of its fans, it has also become common for independent developers to hold one another up. The number of games being created by individuals or small teams has grown immensely with the democratization of online tools and forums; plenty of examples get shared around on social media sites like Twitter every day using hashtags such as #indiedev. Revita developer Benjamin "BenStar" Kiefer has spent the last few years increasing the game's reach on all counts.

A roguelite centering health management to emphasize the genre's risk-reward elements, Revita has been available in Early Access since March 2021, and will officially drop version 1.0 for PC and Switch later this month. The game began development when Kiefer was in high school, originally a completely different experience called Arrow Dynamic. Game Rant spoke with Kiefer about the ways this ongoing work has let him expand his reach and take an interest in other developers' works.

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Growing Revita's Development Team

Kiefer is the lead director, programmer, artist, and designer on Revita. It was their "first proper, big-scale project," a foray into game design after being interested in the idea for a long time; growing up a fan of Nintendo and indie devs like Edmund McMillen. It was "quite surprising" to go from solo work to a title published by Dear Villagers with a team including composer Christoph Jakob, writer Peter Drummond, community manager Capucine, and two artists: Tim Schipper and Tom Gourami. Having that extra help had made for an "interesting and diverse" project thanks to a mix of insights and opinions.

"I went into this with the mindset that I need to have control over every aspect of development, this is my child. But then getting people on board to help is incredibly helpful, because no; I can't do everything. The scope of the project is way too big to do everything on my own."

The larger team has facilitated Kiefer's propensity to overscope, which "I'm getting better at ... to some degree at least," but is still "probably not-so funny to other people on the project." Beyond porting the game to Switch, Revita version 1.0 will have quality-of-life adjustments and the scale of all previous updates combined, bringing it to over 320 items total despite originally being meant to just polish the final experience. Revita's Early Access has resulted in each update needing to one-up the last due to fans asking what other cool things could be added. With regard to the 1.0 update scaling out of scope, Kiefer said, "Whoopsie."

Growing Revita's Fanbase

Kiefer said he's excited to end Revita's Early Access due to the pressure of putting out consistent updates to justify fans' investment. Though this constant feedback has been stressful to an extent, hearing from fans on social media, Steam forums, and other venues has helped to facilitate their goal of making the game as good as possible. "While I am the designer, I don't know how everyone will experience the game," Kiefer said, and major changes like enemies dealing less damage have been the result of feedback regarding the game's "punishing and frustrating" economy.

As a small developer based out of Deutschland, Germany, Kiefer began their journey sharing GIFs for Revita and other prototypes on Twitter. Once they had enough of a following, more updates were shared with community members on Discord. "To me, community building is more and more important nowadays," Kiefer said. Much of the feedback generated by that following has been "incredibly positive," especially as Revita enters its final stages (with mostly bug fixes planned after the 1.0 launch unless continuing the project is financially viable).

This positive feedback has been a blessing for Kiefer due to his imposter syndrome as a largely self-taught developer out of high school. "When you see people talk negatively about a thing you worked on, it makes you think you're a bad developer, you know?" Luckily that isn't often the case with Revita, and while Kiefer wants to keep the specific contents under wraps, they're excited to see people play 1.0 and beyond.

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Growing Revita's Developer Community

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While fostering a community of fans, Kiefer also feels it's important to build up a community with fellow game developers. "I'm a person who is very interested in other people and what they're working on, I'm magically drawn to that." That includes his friend and co-worker Schipper, who is working on their own indie title Oath as a graduation project. Though the two talk often and Kiefer said he offers up opinions, ultimately he's more interested in seeing it from the outside.

"For me, it's just exciting to see people on their game development journey, figuring out their own project. It makes me giddy to see that kind of stuff, I want to know more."

Becoming friends with developers has opened up unique opportunities to advertise Revita and learn more about a wider circle of games despite COVID-19. The global pandemic essentially shut down live venues for the entirety of Revita's public development cycle. Yet, Kiefer has been an eager participant in Jirard "The Completionist" Khalil's yearly IndieLand event, which raises money for dementia research. They learned about the opportunity through other developer friends with whom they'd bonded talking about cool aspects of one another's games.

Kiefer and Schipper will also be attending the WASD expo in London, England from April 7 to 9; Revita's first live event. Kiefer hopes the world will open up enough to provide more opportunities, if for no other reason than to alleviate the mental health impact of reading about the pandemic's ever-present impact while being active on social media. Kiefer said they would like as many people to play the game as possible, though could not comment on the possibility of console releases beyond the Switch.

Having game dev friends also comes with has additional benefits. Revita's pool of relic items and costumes are full of references to game like Hollow Knight, with version 1.0 set to add a reference to Mario - one of the few pieces of new content Kiefer was willing to disclose. Yet other games have also returned the favor by including references to the upcoming BenStar release: Thomas Moon Kang's One Step From Eden features the "Soul Gun," and Veyeral Games' The Void Rains Upon Her Heart features the "Revita Heart."

"That stuff is always heartwarming ... Like heck yeah, that's referencing something I made. It's really cool."

Revita is available now in Early Access, and releases April 21 for PC and Switch.

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