Alexis Kennedy is a video-game developer, and he is the
co-founder of boutique gaming company Weather Factory. Previously, he ran
Failbetter Games. The games he produces are generally narrative based and
highly innovative. He is involved personally in all aspects of development and
is skilled at writing, coding and business. In short, he’s a creative and
He was born in West Germany, but he now lives in England. Before
becoming a game developer, he worked as an English teacher and also as a
software developer. He is a well-rounded person with the unique skill set it
takes to develop innovative and visually appealing video games entirely from
When it comes to writing, Alexis Kennedy switches back and forth between crafting a narrative and putting down lines of code. He usually starts his workday at a whiteboard and sketches out the broad outlines of the work for the day, and then he physically moves to a chair and desk where he gets down to the business of writing narrative and code. He finds that the physical movement of moving from one work area to another keeps him focused.
When he encounters a development problem that he can’t immediately
solve, he steps away from the work instead of banging his head trying to find a
solution. He believes that it sometimes takes some time away from the computer
to figure out what the best path forward is. Having said that, he works
consistently and daily to develop his ideas. He isn’t afraid to ask others for
help when he is stuck.
Although the games that Alexis Kennedy develops are narrative based, much of his inspiration comes from visual images. He’ll see an image that catches his imagination and interest, and then he’ll start to develop a story line around it. Often, he will take the narratives that have been generated in multiple, unconnected threads and weave them all together into a story that is greater than the sum of its parts.
A trend in the gaming industry that he is very enthusiastic
about is the advent of “idle” games where players can pause the
action and step away from the screen for as long as they like and not lose
anything when they return to the game. For a gamer such as himself who doesn’t
have hours to play, these kinds of games are very refreshing. In general, he
likes indie games that are developed at a low cost and focus on a single theme.
His philosophy is that it’s better to develop a game that is
perfect for a small group of players rather than developing a game that
partially pleases a large group of people, and this is what he sees the big
studios do. As far as business goes, he is all about focusing on long-term
success rather than getting rich fast, and he cautions new developers that they
aren’t likely to make a profit until their third game because it takes a while
to build a reputation and develop a base.
“Cultist Simulator” is the signature game from
Weather Factory, and it was developed by Kennedy and his partner in a single
year. He explains that a big challenge was making the game difficult but not
too difficult. Early versions of the game were simply too difficult, and
players walked away from it. Therefore, Kennedy worked to leave more hints,
especially through the user interface, and players were able to find their way
through the game’s challenges surrounded in an atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft-era