Game Development

Here’s How Indie Developer StudioMDHR Started From No Budget To Success

By Muhammad Bilal Syahrir

Cuphead sold 2 million copies in just 3 months. So, what’s their story on how they got this far?


Being successful is something that every gaming developer wants. But being successful with no experience, minimum budget, and low effort is not something any developer can do. But it is what happened with StudioMDHR, developers of Cuphead. So, what’s their story on how they got this far?

Maja Moldenhauer, the executive producer of a run-and-gun shooter game, Cuphead shared her experience about the journey her team, StudioMDHR went through. Before Cuphead was even released, not many have known nor heard about a team of developers by the name StudioMDHR.

Before we go further, if you do not know, Cuphead is a classic run-and-gun action game that heavily focuses on boss battles. Inspired by cartoons of the 1930s, the visuals and audio were painstakingly created with the same techniques of the era, i.e. traditional hand-drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz recordings.

StudioMDHR

Maja Moldenhauer (middle). Source: Twitter

As per December 20, the game had sold over 2 million copies since its release in September last year. But of course, the Canadian developers had their own issues in developing.

“We had very little money,” she said. StudioMDHR didn’t have a physical workspace and all worked remotely across different time zones, which was one way to save money. “Our team is most creative working at different times of the day,” Moldenhauer said

The team was as cheap as it can get in terms of money spent. In developing Cuphead, they used free and cheap tools such as Basecamp, Trello, Skype, email, and Slack. The one item they invested the most was a $300 scanner which they used for transferring the hand-drawn animation of the game.

Moldenhauer also explained that the co-founders Chad and Jared Moldenhauer did not have any professional experience in making games. She herself, on the other hand, already had a well-paid job but was not passionate about it. So she chose to develop Cuphead.

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The success of Cuphead started with the partnership they conducted with Microsoft. This led Cuphead to be Microsoft’s exclusive game and also considered to be one of the best decision the Microsoft gaming team had made.

Source: Gamasutra, pcgamesn. Edited by Devi

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