OutOfTheBit Devs Discuss the Freedoms and Challenges Behind Indie Development, Unconventional Ideas, And Their Latest Game (EXCLUSIVE)

An inside look at the indie studio with a retro style.

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When it comes to indie development, studios like OutOfTheBit have to ensure they go above and beyond the gaming norms. The industry is constantly changing, and the best way to stand out when competing against AAA titles with multi-million dollar budgets is to think outside the box. In order to better understand how these smaller developers find success, it is also important to hear what they have to say and consider the bigger picture.

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We had the pleasure of speaking with the developers at OutOfTheBit, an indie studio based in London, England, to talk about what the world looks like on their side of the business. Please enjoy as these devs discuss their signature pixel art style, Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon, and the freedoms that come with being indie creators.

OutOfTheBit Devs Detail the Delight and Demands of Indie Development

Left to right: Tom Cullen, Pixel Artist and Animator, Rosalia Trupiano, PR and Marketing, Ali Motisi, Director and Lead Developer, and Leo Halwart, Pixel Artist and Animator
Left to right: Tom Cullen, Pixel Artist and Animator, Rosalia Trupiano, PR and Marketing, Ali Motisi, Director and Lead Developer, and Leo Halwart, Pixel Artist and Animator

Hi everyone at OutOfTheBit, thank you for taking the time to speak with FandomWire. Can you tell our readers a little about your studio and how it was created? 

Hi and thank you for this space! OutOfTheBit is an independent developer studio based in the UK that was founded in 2008 by Ali Motisi, a software engineer with an endless passion for retro gaming. 

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The vision for OutOfTheBit is to be a hub for talented artists to create handcrafted, hand-animated games in pixel art to provide a unique gaming experience that combines a retro feeling with modern and innovative mechanics.

How many developers are on your team and generally what are their backgrounds? 

The team that currently works on Nanuka is composed of Ali Motisi, Lead Developer and Director of OutOfTheBit, Leo Halwart and Tom Cullen, Pixel Artists and Animators, and Rosalia Trupiano, who handles PR and Marketing. The team working in our office in Wimbledon (London, UK) is completed by the talented music composer Robyn Powell who collaborates remotely to the soundtrack and SFX as she already did for Full Void.

It is undeniable that the more unconventional ideas often come from indie studios. The same applies to the film industry for similar reasons.

It seems the work that goes into indie development can be both challenging and rewarding. What drives you to be a part of this area of the gaming industry? 

Being an indie developer gives us total creative freedom. Whatever we imagine, we can decide to implement. It is exclusively down to us. Plus, the indie community is incredibly supportive, as are our players, those who have appreciated our previous titles and keep following us with interest for our next project.

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Another perk is flexibility. Especially in keeping deadlines. Although we always try to meet our schedule, we prioritise the quality of the game we are making and we have never been afraid to push a deadline if there is a good enough reason and if that means delivering a better game to our players.

On the other hand, being financially independent doesn’t come without challenges. Relying on our own resources means that we have to be smart with our choices in terms of budgeting and marketing strategy.

Of course, we also have to face the hurdle of standing out from the crowd. With so many excellent games out there, our mission is to create something truly unique and memorable.

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Do you believe the indie side of gaming is more suitable for artistic expression?

It is undeniable that the more unconventional ideas often come from indie studios. The same applies to the film industry for similar reasons. Independent developers often have the freedom to take creative risks that larger studios might avoid. On the flip side, indie developers need to experiment with new and unseen concepts to stand out and compete with the big names in the industry. 

If someone told you they were interested in getting involved with indie game development, what advice would you give to them?

We love this question! The first thing we would say to anyone willing to get involved with indie game development is get involved with the community. Take part in game jams, go to events, meet the people in the industry and learn from them. 

If you already have an idea for a game, just start developing it! With lots of free tools available, the initial investment can be minimal. In this case, networking is also extremely important as it can allow you to find investors or fellow devs (i.e. artists, coders, musicians, writers and so on)  to complete your team, in case you do not wish to go “solo”. 

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Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon is the next game OutOfTheBit will release.
Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon is the next game OutOfTheBit will release.

Congratulations on your upcoming title, Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon. Can you tell us a little about the game and how the idea came to life? 

Thank you! Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon follows Nanuka, a teenage girl with a purple belt in karate, who finds herself in the middle of a giant impending disaster. Despite being unprepared for the adventure, Nanuka rises to the challenge and travels through wondrous lands to uncover the secret of the shattering moon, all while battling numerous enemies trying to block her path.

After releasing Full Void, we immediately started brainstorming our next project, aiming to further develop cinematic 2D puzzle platformers. We wanted to take everything we’d learned from Full Void and apply it to a new game. While Full Void is set in a hostile, dystopian future with a young, scared protagonist, we wanted a different vibe for Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon.

Moving on from Full Void’s eerie and haunting setting, we decided to explore brighter colour palettes and experiment with a more playful gaming experience. In Full Void, you could only run from peril, without actively defending yourself. This time, we wanted to include combat to add a new layer of excitement and possibilities. This brought new challenges, from animating sprites to coding complex gameplay mechanics. The initial focus, however, was to refine the platforming elements.

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We also wanted to give Nanuka a bit more personality. Nanuka is clumsy and often finds herself in humorous situations. This added a fun, light-hearted element to the game that pairs up nicely with the cartoony style we chose and that in turn will give us great creative freedom!

The graphic style usually serves the purpose, although we are clearly partial to pixel art and frame-by-frame animation. We find that it allows us to really show the hand of the artists and their creativity, providing a freedom of expression that we might not have with 3D.

Where will Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon be available for players to buy when it releases?

Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon will initially be available on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux, followed by launches across all major consoles shortly after its release, planned for April 2025.

How far along is Nanuka in the development process?

We are very happy with how smoothly the development process is moving along, and we hope to have a playable demo by October, in time for the Steam Next Fest. We’ve already implemented several levels and we’re now designing the rest.

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OutOfTheBit games have a very unique pixel art style to them and I noticed Nanuka is hand-animated. What does the full design process look like when building one of your titles?

In terms of the design process for our games, we generally start from a high-level idea of the type of game we want to make (for example a puzzle platformer) and focus on the gameplay. We can spend months perfecting the core mechanics and only once we are completely happy do we move forward. The graphic style usually serves the purpose, although we are clearly partial to pixel art and frame-by-frame animation. We find that it allows us to really show the hand of the artists and their creativity, providing a freedom of expression that we might not have with 3D. Besides, pixel art carries that retro feeling we love so much, and we built our team around the idea of producing retro-inspired games in pixel art.

Some of the unused concepts from Full Void would eventually make their way to Nanuka.
Some of the unused concepts from Full Void would eventually make their way to Nanuka.

Aside from Nanuka, what has been your favorite game to work on so far? 

Answering this question requires some explanation. While projects like Super Arcade Football and Super Arcade Racing are cherished as the games that really introduced us to the indie scene, the current team only came together to work on Full Void. Ali, founder and director of OutOfTheBit and lead programmer, brought Leo (pixel artist) on board while the studio was undergoing a bit of a restructure after the pandemic of 2020-2021, and Full Void was still just an idea on the drawing board. Tom joined on a fixed-term contract to polish the animations once Full Void was in its final stages of development. Long story short, we had a great time working together, so Tom’s contract was converted to a permanent one—and the rest is history! So, to answer the question, our favourite game so far is definitely Full Void. 🙂

Having said that, we also have a soft spot for Super Arcade Racing and Planet Quest, a rhythm game we developed for mobile devices and that has been greatly appreciated worldwide and is still going strong, especially in Asia.

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If you could make any game with no question of time, resources, or cost, what would it be about? 

In truth, if we had unlimited resources, our dream would be to establish OutOfTheBit as a hub for creative minds—artists, musicians, and developers—coming together to craft high-quality, hand-made games. Imagine a company like Disney during its pioneering days or Studio Ghibli; how cool would it be to create a similar legacy but in the realm of video games!

Indie studios usually benefit more from building anticipation—and wishlists!—for their upcoming games. So being transparent about release dates is usually a must for indies, all the while keeping our fingers crossed for any issues that might lead to delays.

Do you already have plans for the next game you would like to make?

At the moment we’re deeply focused on developing Nanuka’s adventure! Although, our approach is to always keep a fuzzy idea of what to do next. During the development of our current projects, we often come up with ideas that might not fit the current game but could be considered for future ones. Instead of discarding these ideas, we keep them on the back burner for later.

For instance, when Full Void was close to being released, we were already discussing concepts that eventually led to Nanuka: Secret of the Shattering Moon. This method allows us to learn and evolve from each project. We wouldn’t have come up with Nanuka if it wasn’t for Full Void. In general, we can say that we enjoy creating short, single-player adventures with puzzle platforming with the distinguishing element of handcrafted graphics. Ideally, we’d love to see us become a bit like the Studio Ghibli of games—focused on hand-drawn, handmade projects. In an age where many are turning to 3D, Studio Ghibli stands out by continuing to create beautiful, handcrafted animations that still innovate while maintaining a traditional touch. That’s the kind of legacy we aspire to build: creating unique, handcrafted experiences that stand the test of time.

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What is the trajectory for OutOfTheBit and where do you see the studio ten years from now?

We believe that in order to look forward, we must reflect on what came before. We’ve learned a lot from developing our previous games and aim to build upon those lessons. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a studio known for creating hand-crafted, hand-animated games that provide a unique experience for players.

We want to produce games that are remembered as gems of the indie scene and to gather a community of players who appreciate our work and eagerly anticipate our future projects. If, in ten years, we can look back and see a lineup of releases that our community has enjoyed, we will consider ourselves happy.

There has been a lot of discussion in the gaming community lately about the problems indie studios face when release dates aren’t shared among developers. Do you feel that you have been impacted by not knowing when other studios are planning to release? And do you believe there should be a more open line of communication on release dates?

This is a tricky one. We understand the need for strategic planning and maintaining competitive advantages. Indie studios usually benefit more from building anticipation—and wishlists!—for their upcoming games. So being transparent about release dates is usually a must for indies, all the while keeping our fingers crossed for any issues that might lead to delays.

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That said, we’ve seen highly anticipated indie games get overshadowed by surprise AAA title drops, which can really impact visibility and sales. We can only imagine how it might feel to have your launch affected after spending years on a project.

Better communication on launch dates would certainly help, but for it to be truly effective, we would need the AAA studios on board as well.

OutOfTheBit is known for its signature pixel art style.
OutOfTheBit is known for its signature pixel art style.

What is your favorite part of working at OutOfTheBit? 

Monday meetings at the local cafe. Planning the week ahead with a good coffee and croissant is invaluable! Jokes aside, being a small team allows each of us to pitch in ideas when it comes to designing the game. Whether it’s a new mechanic, an idea for a level, or a special ability for an enemy, everyone can contribute. This collaborative approach means “wearing many hats” isn’t just a challenge, it’s a perk. It allows us to be versatile, creative, and involved in every aspect of game development.

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Is there anything else you would like to say about working as an indie developer that I have not asked? 

Thank you for the interview and the opportunity to share our story. Working as indie developers can be extremely rewarding. It often involves a lot of trial and error, and it can take time for a game to succeed. What makes it worthwhile for us is enjoying the process and the day-to-day creativity and collaboration. We hope that sharing our experience in the industry might be beneficial for anyone considering a career in indie game development.

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Written by Ezekiel Hall

Articles Published: 171

Ezekiel is an avid gamer, film enthusiast, and has a love for technology. When he has free time you are most likely to find him playing something on PlayStation or binge watching a new show. He is a fan of all things DC, Marvel, and Star Wars.