Dan Adelman
Latest answers

What was your game of the year?

I assume you mean besides Axiom Verge (which I worked on)? Here are some of my favorites in no particular order. They are all fantastic, though none is quite as good as Axiom Verge. :)

1. N++ - This game is amazing for both single- and multiplayer with thousands of well-designed levels, and multiple game modes. I think some people may have overlooked this game, since the name and look were so similar to the previous games in the series, N and N+. But there's so much new under the hood and so much new content that people should seriously check it out. (PS4 only right now, I believe)

2. Mushroom 11 - With so many new games coming out each year, it's hard to invent a truly new game mechanic. In Mushroom 11, there is a blob that has the property of always trying to maintain a fixed mass. Your goal is to guide the blob through a post-apocalyptic environment by shaving parts off of the blob. If you shave parts off of the back, more mass grows on the front. If you do it quickly enough, it's sort of like pushing the amorphous blob through the world. Because of its amorphous nature, there are a lot of physics puzzle challenges that emerge. (PC only)

3. Human Resource Machine - HRM basically models how a CPU works, but it's all set up in a very Kyle Gabler (World of Goo/Little Inferno) style. The beginning puzzles are relatively easy - even to achieve the bonus goals, but by the end, it gets pretty complicated.

4. Subterfuge - RTSs like Starcraft tend to be about managing lots of resources and responding to events efficiently and quickly. In many ways, they're more akin to a frantic race than planned out strategy. Subterfuge, by contrast, is very slow by design. It's multiplayer-only, and each playthrough can last a couple weeks. You manage a few different cities which produce subs, and you can send those subs to other cities to take them over. However, they take hours to get there, so there is plenty of time for opponents to respond. As a result, the real gameplay takes place off-screen, with people conspiring to gang up on other players.

5. Beginner's Guide - A very introspective and thought provoking game. It's hard to talk too much about it without spoiling it, but I will say that it's probably best to play through the entire thing in one sitting (which will take you about 2 hours). The issues the game raises are relevant to many other walks of life. It's not a "fun" game in the sense that most others on this list are. Instead, it's more of an experience to contemplate later.

6. Her Story - Fascinating way to tell a story in a non-linear way. You use a '90s style computer interface to access police videos of a woman being questioned. By typing in different search terms, you can find more videos. The more you search and pick up new names and places to hear about, the more of the story you uncover.

I love reading your advice/points of view, but all of this great knowledge, wisdom and experience mustn't come cheap — and nor should it. What kind of business/monetary propositions do you come to (in a broad sense of course)? It seems tough, because you're offering a quality service to a poor crowd


For most indies, the model is % of revenue. There are 2 main benefits to this model: first, as you point out, most indies are worried about cash flow. Taking a % on the back end gives them fewer expenses to worry about. Second, it aligns incentives. If I can't help them be successful, I don't get much money. I do have an hourly rate that I use with larger companies, but I usually don't even mention that number to indies. :)

Will you be helping all indies or will you only be working on Axiom Verge?

All of the above. I am planning on working directly with a small number of indie teams (I'm currently thinking 3-5) in a very hands on way. Axiom Verge is one of those and the first I've announced. I also will be advising several (maybe 10?) teams but not working on their projects hands on. More having frequent phone calls and going over their business questions and advising on what they should be thinking of for next steps and how to handle certain business problems they have. In addition to this, I plan on writing up some general business advice and Q&A on my blog at dan-adelman.com. I've been busy getting the company set up and traveling, so I haven't really done that yet but hope to start doing that soon.

If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all.

Not sure I agree with that sentiment. I love a good, heated debate! Problems don't solve themselves. (That said, being rude for the sake of being rude accomplishes nothing.)

What makes you happy?

Sounds cheesy, but my family's health. We had multiple serious health issues this last year, and now everyone's pretty much better. It's easy to take your health for granted, but you notice it when it's not there.

Have you ever gotten a traffic ticket?

Yes, but I think the last one was around 10 years ago.

Have you ever imported a video game?

Yes, in both directions. When I lived in Japan, I would import US games. From the US side, I've imported games from Japan, but not as often. And not recently.

Do you PC game with a keyboard or a controller?

For most games, I use a controller.

What do you think about Super Mario Galaxy? ^^

I absolutely loved it. Each little planet had its own weird gravity and theme. There was enough content in that game to make 10 platformers. Just goes to show how, in the right hands, a genre as well-explored as platformers can be reinvented and still surprise players.

I can't decide. Should I buy a Wii U???

Depends. Do you like joy, fun, puppies, and rainbows? Seriously you should get one. I do most of my gaming on Steam and Wii U. Even if nothing else were ever to be released for Wii U, there are enough great games to justify owning it.

Which were some games that you work really hard to get them on Nintendo's platforms, but for some reason at the end you couldn't?

Grim Fandango. I mentioned the idea of an HD remake to Tim Schafer about 7-8 years ago. I was so jealous that PlayStation got that. Curse you, Adam Boyes!

Since your leaving the company (Nintendo) you've been very vocal about your opinion on what should've been done/should be done differently. Fair enough complaints IMO, but is there anything you think you should've done/should do differently in your position/job?

I've actually tried to be mostly positive. Unfortunately, the 2-3 negative things I've said were the ones to make headlines... What I should have done differently... I had a tendency to focus on devs whose games I personally liked more than what the average Wii customer may have liked/bought. I just couldn't get myself excited about the Angry Birds of the world. Not a diss on Wii owners or ppl who like Angry Birds. Just that my personal taste were different.

Would you work with Suda 51 if given the opportunity?

Lemmee think... Of course!

How was it like working at Xbox/Microsoft, how would you compare your job there to your former job at Nintendo?

The early days of Xbox felt a lot like a startup, whereas Nintendo is a more traditional company. I've heard from some Microsoft friends that Xbox feels more like a large company these days.

Now that you've left nintendo, you'll jump to the competition? With which company would you like to work?

You can either go breadth (working with a few games across all platforms) or depth (working with a lot of games all on one platform). I've done the depth approach for a long time. I'm interested in trying breadth now.

I'm curious what happened to Telltale's support for Nintendo consoles? I'm not sure if they qualify exactly as an indie developer, but I figured you'd be the guy to ask.

Telltale's the guys to ask! :) Can't wait for Game of Thrones done up Telltale-style.

Do you think indie developers coming from emerging countries has some chance the actual gaming market? Something like, launching a successful game on any platform as PS4, Wii U or Xbox One, is it possible?

Absolutely. The biggest disadvantage ppl in emerging countries face is access to media outlets and shows like PAX. It's tough to do interviews about your game if English isn't your primary language.

Since we're talking about dead systems here, what do you think of the PS VITA? + Do you own one? + Would it be better if it was named PSP2? + Anything you wanna say to Sony regarding the VITA? + Do you expect a new handheld system produced by Sony? I know, a lot of questions.. Sorry. :)

I don't own one yet but I've been meaning to pick one up.

What did you get your Masters in at Nagoya? Did you have to learn the whole language before you went?

I spent a year in Japan in high school as an exchange student, so I could have a decent conversation by the end of that year. I took a little more in college, so I was pretty good before I went to Nagoya. I started off in the Econ department but had more friends in Psych, so I switched. Goal wasn't to learn Econ or Psych per se. It was to take classes and write a Masters thesis in Japanese.

Does it disappoint you to see developers not taking advantage of Wii and now wiiU controls and making a really good RTS game? Of all the home consoles Wii/wiiU would lend itself the best but no one has really bothered to try.

One word: Hex Heroes. No wait, two words: Hex Heroes.

Can you answer my question?

Sorry, no. Too busy.

You have a Ps4, Xbox One or Wii U ??

Yes, yes, and yes. And a Steam Machine. No Ouya or Oculus yet.

Do you see yourself working at a big company again?

Depends on how this new venture goes! Nothing wrong with big companies. Just excited to be working on helping indies.

In terms of marketing, what's a todo list to have completed before a game should launch? How would you effectively track results on these items?

Establish relationship with press/YouTubers, etc. Show game at conferences. Put together plan to release new info steadily. People should know your game is coming and eagerly anticipating it by the time you launch. Virtually impossible to succeed by building awareness after game launch.

Do you know of any new game that still has not been announced?

Many. But not Nintendo ones.