Rami Ismail @tha_rami
Rami Ismail @tha_rami
Hilversum, Netherlands
Chief Executive Business & Development Guy at indie game studio Vlambeer. Creator of presskit(). Drinks only real cane sugar coke.
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Feel free to ask me any question!
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Hey, I just wanted to apologize about my "do you even pray bro" comment. I am Muslim but I've had bad experiences with other Muslim gamers on the same subject. Prayer is absolutely personal and there is truly no room for hate in the community. You don't need to respond, I know you read these.
قُلۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ
لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ
وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُۚ
وَ لَاۤ اَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدۡتُّمۡ
وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُؕ
لَکُمۡ دِیۡنُکُمۡ وَلِیَ دِیۡنِ
I believe Islam teaches understanding, forgiveness and openness for those who believe otherwise. We might not always agree, but in the end - to you your beliefs and to me my own.
As such, no harm done, my friend.
Ever thought about playing a game of blindfolded J.S.Joust?
I actually did that against a group of six non-blindfolded players and won purely even though someone else had to turn me towards my opponents. I was wearing the Destructoid mask at the time.
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Can you chug a bottle of syrup in one go?
i've never tried, but chances are that I can't. I can chug a bottle of Coca Cola, but I'd rather not. I drink fast enough that I don't see the added value in drinking even faster, and as a challenge I think of more interesting thing to do!
What's the worst FLIGHT you've ever been on?
I've been lucky with flights. Beyond a mid-take off cancellation, a cancelled approach, a guy trying to break my knees by reclining his seat further than my knees could bend and a tiny lightning strike, I've never really had any major trouble. In terms of ground personnel, though...
Do you want to have children some day? Do you even like children?
I love children, and I'd love to have children. The wonder on their faces, the question they ask, the sheer imaginative force - I think I have more to learn from kids than they can learn from me. No kids for me anytime soon though - I'll get married first before that becomes a subject of discussion - and I think I need a few more years of unmarried life before I'm ready to commit to something like that.
What's the worst flight you've ever been on?
Ugh, I really don't like fights, but for someone that didn't like them I certainly spent more time in my life than I wanted in them. Between being mixed-race, slightly intellectually older than my peers, an oldest brother looking out for my brother and sister and stubborn enough to try and talk to situations getting out of hands, I've found myself in fights more often than I'd like to. I've got the advantage of being a big guy nowadays, so I can usually de-escalate situations by just stepping forward.
I'll take discussion and argument over violence any day, but I really don't feel any hesitation when it comes to physically protecting people I love (or people I suspect are being wronged) if it is necessary. I usually call the cops first, just to make sure there's help on the way.
Toast or cake?
Toast really isn't part of how I grew up. People always forget that a large part of my youth was Arabic in a Dutch environment. I'd eat sandwiches with cheese for breakfast and drink 'شاي باللبن' - traditional Arabic tea with milk - before sleeping. We'd often eat a stroopwafel or a slice of cake to the side of the tea.
What's your shoe size? (in US sizes, if you know)
Between 11 and 12 (45-46 in EU).
What is the weirdest thing you have done in life?
I once asked my high school teacher if I could jump out of the 2nd story window and then proceeded to do exactly that when they said yes. Mind that I did a lot of jumping and running back then, and had often landed from higher than that, so I knew I'd probably be fine.
I got in trouble for that one.
What are you spontani-casting again?? Wait that's not my real question hang on. Um...I...uh...if you were an element on the periodic table which one would you be and why?  Lisa Brown
Hopefully tomorrow!
Mercury would be my element, I guess. I'm a bit old-fashioned, would be used as something that people refer to if they want to know about certain things, am mostly harmless but can cause quite some trouble if someone is irresponsible with it.
Also never get through airport security without extra checks.
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What are the chances of you coming to PAX Australia? I'd really love the chance to meet you! :)
What do you think of the current, gruesome development and expansion of the IS in Iraq? Do you think that their crimes against humanity are validated by their belief?
No crime against humanity can be justified or validated by belief - religious, ideological or political. The IS is a worrisome development in a terrifying power vacuum, and I would not be surprised to see it have long-lasting effects on the stability in the region. If a single person dies because of the beliefs of another, that's a tragedy that deserves nothing but the appropriate legal sentence.
There are so many shifts happening on the geopolitical stage that I'm honestly not quite sure what to expect of the next decade. The Islamic State is one of the forces that's defining the foundations for the next major conflicts, and they terrify me.
I'm excited to see nuclear throne coming to PS4! Been having a blast playing on PC (#teamcrystal) Do you know/think/willing to answer if it will hit other consoles? (XB1, WiiU, 360)
SONY has been exceptionally good to us, so we wanted to thank them with timed exclusivity on PS4, PS Vita and probably PS3. Microsoft might get Nuclear Throne for Xbox One at a later date, but Xbox 360 seems very unlikely. Nintendo is still skipping on sending us a dev-kit, so that seems unlikely. In the meanwhile, a bunch of smaller consoles and platforms have been reaching out to us, so we might hit some more platforms too.
do you drink wine?
I don't drink alcohol at all, both for ideological, personal and practical reasons. Never had a sip of alcohol in my life.
some game devs hate GameMaker , why ?
People hate certain tools for a variety of reasons. Some people find that GameMaker doesn't give them enough control, some have problems with the workflow, some don't like the UI, some don't like the 3D handling, some have prejudices against it.
Now, while it's anyone's right to not like something, I think hating any development tool is ridiculous and ultimately hurtful. Any tool is good - whether its Twine, GameMaker, Unity, UDK or your own engine. It's what people can make with it that's important, and so far pretty much every tool I know has led to success-stories or education.
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are you jewish ?
I was born and raised Muslim, and in many ways identify as Muslim.
Do you consider yourself a full stack developer, and have you ever considered making the development of tools / services your main source of income so you can make your games free?
I need the tools I create to be free, so that as many developers can use them. It's the only way I can somewhat flatten the playing field when it comes to marketing and focus things back on the games themselves a bit more.
I just hope that people that like my work buy a Vlambeer game or two - that'll fund me and my ability to create tools like this. distribute(), for example, is funded by Vlambeer because we believe it's the right thing to do. It would've been too expensive to create on my own, but Jan Willem basically said 'of course!' when I asked him if I could send company money towards distribute().
Don't forget, Vlambeer is a game company because the two of us enjoy nothing more than working on a game - I'd rather people pay for the games and developers use our tools for free than the other way around.
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Is traditional marketing such as buying ads, having people stream games, banners on websites etc. worth it for indie games?
Opinions vary, but generally it's consider that banners/ads are rarely worth it, although a number of full website takeovers sometimes work out pretty OK for some.
As for streaming games, it seems to me that having that grow because of your game is a super-effective marketing strategy. Paying for it is something I personally don't like, but I currently can't imagine the results for something like that to be negative if your game is any good.
I'd spend the money on making your game better and sending it to enough press that YouTube/streamers notice ;)
A game came out very recently that mirrors a lot of the gameplay in my own and was mercilessly thrashed by critics and fans. My confidence is shattered. Should I take the opportunity to revamp things to avoid the same fate? Trust my design?
Oh wow, that's a rough one. It's definitely worth playing the other game and seeing what critics and fans disliked about it. In the end though, I think that it's important to consider that the response isn't to your game, but to another game. I don't think worrying about the reviews of another game will make your game better, but if you genuinely feel some of the response is a valid criticism of your game, it might be worth checking that out.
Sometimes it's a good idea to just take a week off, gain some distance and look at what happened from a bit further away. Might be a good idea to do that now?
Does JW have an Ask account? Not that you are the best Ask account of all time or anything. I just have questions for him, too.
Nah, it's not really his style. Hit him up on Twitter!
Status on Nuclear Throne seeding?
We'll keep you updated through stream, Steam and Twitter.
Hey Rami, what do you think about this article? http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/31/5949433/the-cost-of-a-game-studio -- I think it makes good points about setting up a game studio, but do you personally think this is necessary to have a succesful career on independent game development?
While I agree with the sentiment that running a studio is expensive, I feel a lot of the costs made reflect an attitude of 'wanting to be a big studio'. Being an independent studio requires adaptation to specific situations, and some of the costs are on the high end or unnecessary for most purposes.
To give you an overview, for the first year or so, Vlambeer operated on about $1,800 a month - I had a side job at that time to pay for my rent. In recent times, as our workload has gone up and our lives have become more expensive (students do grow up, it turns out) - our total burn rate is approaching an average of about $7,000 per month. If we'd had paid industry-standard salaries and all that, our total costs for four years of Vlambeer in terms of burn rate only would've been $350,000.
Regardless, the larger point absolutely stands: the investment you make in a sustainable indie studio can be enormous, and not just in a monetary way. It's an emotional and financial rollercoaster without too much support.
When will Nuclear Throne be completed (FIX SUPER CRATE BOX PLZZZZZZZZZZ)
A matter of months, we think. Don't worry, the fix is at the top of our lists - we might be able to sneak some work on that in sometime soon, but we still don't want to promise anything before Nuclear Throne is done.
Hi! I'm making a game for iOS. I'm unsure to make it premium or F2P with onetime IAP unlocking full game. I feel like the latter would get played more... I don't know if this is an appropriate question, but; Do you think Ridiculous Fishing would have sold more had it been F2P with onetime IAP?
That's a hard question to answer, because it would've changed the game and the perception of the game. I think that if the game had received exactly the same attention as a F2P game with one-time IAP, it would've made more money - I just don't think it would've communicated the quality of game we were aiming for as well.
In the end, we made a call between potentially maximizing profit and being as genuine as we could. Our goal was to make the best game we possibly could, and adding in a paywall or in-app purchases felt antithetical to what we were doing.
You seem very outgoing. A real "people person". Any advice for very shy devs who might want to try a game jam or dev conference? Just get over it?
If you've never been to an event and your shyness isn't crippling, I'd absolutely recommend 'just' going there. This industry is full of people that are or were shy or are at least somewhat introverted (including myself!) - so we all understand these kind of problems. Trying an event of a smaller scale helps for some, while for others just diving into something like GDC helps more. I honestly don't have answers for you here, but the one thing I know is that you should definitely give it a try to see what you feel about it.
I grew up as a super shy kid that was continuously bullied. I honestly only grew a voice that I dared to use in the last 6-8 years. I wrote a bit about that as part of Beyond The Final Boss. http://www.beyondthefinalboss.org/rami-ismail/
I think it's important that people realize that behind most seemingly certain and confident people in this industry there is a story in which they most certainly weren't any of those things. Chances are at one point they connected with other developers and realized that there are many more people like themselves, and that got them to start meeting and socialising.
It's also why diversity of community is so important. Meeting people like yourself in our industry is of such overwhelming importance to a feeling of safety to speak out and create. Luckily, for most people there is at least somewhat of a community now, so find them and say 'hi'!
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