Meet Angélique and Tinlun, a unique duo of independent game developers!
Angélique is from France. She came to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa and she was recently granted permanent residence status. Tinlun, her life and work partner, is originally from Hong Kong and came to Canada as a kid. Together, they settled in Ottawa in 2010 and started their own company: Big Round Eyes.
Angélique and Tinlun are a skilled couple, but they are quick to point out that their two cats are doing most of the coding work. Yet, on top of keeping busy with freelancing assignments and contract work, they found the time to develop their own videogame—Pop’n’Spawn was recently released, and it’s addictive!
Angélique, what brought you to Ottawa?
Until 2010, my partner Tinlun and I were living in Paris. We wanted to try something else and since Tinlun is a Canadian citizen, Canada was a natural choice. After a bit of brainstorming, we picked Ottawa for several reasons: first, Ontario was a good choice since Tinlun’s family would be around. Second, the city is bilingual, which is convenient since we are a bilingual couple. Third, Ottawa is a medium-size city with everything you need and still quite a lot of nature around you. And finally, we just fell in love with it when we visited it in 2009, during the Tulip Festival. That day, it was super cold and rainy, but that doesn’t matter, does it?
Videogame development and programming is Greek to me! What’s your background Angélique?
In 2007, I was hired in a company that sells and rents video games online. There I had the opportunity to learn more about programming, which was only a hobby till then. This is also where I met Tinlun: I “borrowed” half his desk when I finally got promoted to the web design department!
Later I decided to specialise in Flash web games, and I got a job as a Flash developer in a company that makes casual games. After a year and a half, I wanted to go further. I decided to quit and started working as a freelancer. This experience came in handy when we moved to Ottawa and decided to start Big Round Eyes, since I already had a few clients.
Can you tell me more about your company, Big Round Eyes?
Creating Big Round Eyes was pretty much the first thing we did when we arrived in Ottawa, in April 2010. Tinlun and I wanted to keep working together—and honestly, setting up a company is much easier and cheaper in Canada than in France.
Since we were developing video games, we decided on a funny name that reminds us of our two secret assistants: our cats.
We worked on various games for clients, like versudoku, and we also created websites for businesses around Ottawa, like www.staticsalon.ca, a hair salon in Carleton Place. Working for local businesses was good because it gave us the opportunity to meet people from our community.
You’ve just released Pop’n’Spawn, an online strategy board game. How did you make your game idea a reality?
With a good deal of crazy faith, I think! We love games and programming—creating our own videogame seemed natural.
One day, Tinlun came up with an odd idea about board games and mushrooms. We created a very ugly prototype that we still managed to find fun. After a few tweaks, we started to see a real potential. The hardest part was to find time to work on this game while making a living at the same time. We worked more, we earned less, and one year later, we managed to release Pop’n’Spawn. Hurray!
What’s next for Big Round Eyes?
At the moment we are working on promoting Pop’n’Spawn to get more players and to get the word out about our work. We are also planning to add new features to the game: we have a ton of ideas that we had to skip for the initial release. Players also gave us interesting feedback, so we are going to take them into account. This is a game that we want to keep improving.
We hope that people will enjoy Pop’n’Spawn and support the project. Our dream is to keep creating games; games that are easy to learn but hard to master.
To play Pop’n’Spawn (it’s completely free!), head to www.popnspawn.com.