Herculean Undertakings: Pat Naoum

2023-09-09 by Callum Andrews

The first brushstroke

So a couple of weeks back we got to talk to Pat Naoum, the solo developer behind the title The Master's Pupil which we reviewed a while ago. If you're looking for something different to play or something unique then The Master's Pupil might just be the thing because not only is the game fully hand-painted. But it also takes place inside a person's EYE! More specifically the famous French painter Claude Monet. For those of you who aren't that art-interested, all I can say is that he was a big deal. Pat shares with us his incredible journey and the things he learned along the way.

Not your average MS-paint paintings

Hi, and thanks for participating in our Indiedev series. Could you please give a short presentation of yourself and tell us about how you got started with game development?
Hi, I'm Pat Naoum, a solo developer for The Master's Pupil. I did a Bachelor of Creative Arts, then went through Film School at AFTRS, all looking for bigger and more complex art forms. Game Development has a bit of everything: art, design, film, animation, music, sound, and in the end you can play it! Plus it's something I could work on every day, by myself, just chipping away at a large project.

How many games have you published so far and what was your first game that you developed? The Master's Pupil is my first and only game (so far!) it's a hand-painted puzzle game set inside Claude Monet's eyeball. But it took about 7 years to make, so I've been game designing for a long time.

So after coming up with the concept for your game what were the first steps you took into making it?
I had to learn to code! When I realised this was a project I wanted to follow, I knew I had to get my head around coding. Something that I had failed previously in Uni. So I deep-dived into the Yellow C# Book and started on a bunch of Unity tutorials. It took a long while, but it was the first big hurdle.

What has been the hardest part of your game development journey, and why?
I think that marketing has to be the hardest part. Although it's not direct development, it's an essential part of making an indie game, you have to wear many hats! Marketing comes right at the end and doesn't involve any of the skills I learned beforehand, so I found it to be quite the challenge.

It's always about the journey

Did you possess any skills before you started developing games that were applicable to your game development journey?
Well I knew how to paint, and I've come from graphic design. So it did help me have some fundamentals of visual design under my belt.

When did you decide to publish your game and how long did it take to reach that point from the development phase?
I'm not sure I had a certain point when I set the date. It was always dependent on the project, and how it was going. So I really locked down a time when I knew the game could be completed and ready.

How much of it went according to plan?
About zero! No not really, my plan was definitely pushed back, but I was always developing with the project in focus. So my plans for the game design were fully achieved, but the timeline was always a little flexible from the beginning. One of the few upsides of working solo.

Has this journey had any influence on you as an individual and has it led to any personal growth or lessons learned?
Well, it's been 7 years in the making, so I've definitely grown in a lot of ways. Specifically, though the game has confirmed something in me, is that I love to create, and I've found I love to create games!

So what's next for you and can we expect any new game(s) soon?
Straight into the next one! I'll be travelling with my partner, working freelance on the road, for about a year. But I'll be building up the prototype for my next game, it's already planned out, and I'm excited to be jumping into it soon.

Would you like to tell us anything else, that we haven't asked but that could be relevant to future game developers?
Something I keep coming back to for future game developers is the advice to enjoy the work. You should always make games that you like to play, but don't make a game because you want to play the end product! Unfortunately, as the designer, playing your game will never be the same as other players. The game dev journey is long and frustrating, so if you're doing it just for the end product it's a long way to go. But, if you enjoy the day-to-day work, you'll have a much more enjoyable time.