Isometric platformer SCHiM’s creator, Ewoud van der Werf, talks to Game Rant about the growth of the game’s popularity and the challenges of marketing indie games.
Indie game development is difficult because there are so many projects vying for attention on platforms like Steam. Even games with unique mechanics or art can benefit from a good run of luck. Breaks like this one have helped SCHiM, a minimalist game about jumping between shadows developed by one man primarily from the Netherlands, grow beyond its inspiration of capturing childhood play: jumping between cracks or shadows on the sidewalk.
SCHiM was originally intended to be a final exam, but it attracted enough attention online to attract the attention of publishers. In spite of the fact that no one has signed on to the isometric platformer just yet, it now has a richer backstory and gameplay mechanics thanks to the work of Dutch indie studio Extra Nice. We spoke to SCHiM lead developer Ewoud van der Werf for GameRant about how he’s using Steam Playtest and other marketing methods to get his game noticed.
From the Ground Up, SCHiM
SCHiM draws inspiration from a wide range of games, including classic 3D platformers like Super Mario Bros. and Splatoon, as well as “good-looking” indies like Gris and Journey. George Remi and Joost Swarte, who illustrated The Adventures of Tintin, influenced its minimalist style with their use of ligne claire (clear line) art. Though at first, it was just a few months’ works, van der Werf described it as “short, small levels” developed largely by himself in a short time frame.
Extra Nice co-founder Nils Slijkerman began to see the project’s potential as it gained traction on social media, and van der Werf’s relationship with the studio grew as a result. SCHiM started out as a mechanic and an art style, but van der Werf described himself as the type of creative who develops a game’s entire concept at the same time. With their full commitment to the project, its silhouettes became more detailed, its underlying folklore became more established, and more puzzles came to be via “plays” that allowed the player to use the properties of objects when hopping into their shadow.
An Independent Game like SCHiM’s Promotion
SCHiM’s popularity skyrocketed as soon as the concept was popularised. On January 31st, 2022, van der Werf posted an introductory Devlog to YouTube in which he discusses the game’s appearance in media like Edge Magazine and its 2021 INDIGO Award victory. Van der Werf, who is in charge of marketing the game at this point, said the Devlog was a “very different format than I’m used to for Twitter, TikTok, Instagram” as a way to connect with gamers.
SCHiM is now in the production phase, having completed the majority of its foundational work. In fact, visitors to the WASD expo in London, England, from April 7 to 9, 2022, can expect to see a demo of its Dutch-inspired urban environments filled with canals, dikes, and beaches. However, this does not imply, as some might assume, that the game will release a beta version.
Van der Werf decided to open SCHiM sign-ups in advance of the November 2020 launch of the Steam Playtest feature so that playtesting access could be distributed later. “Things got kinda out of hand” after media outlets reported on it as if it were a beta announcement.
While he isn’t ready to commit to a release date just yet, the developer is eager to hear what people think. “Nauseating” speed of a feature that allows players to see the level’s objective has been improved by prior feedback, he said. He can also get past his own doubts about his own work because “very rarely I get to see the game truly for what it is,” as he puts it.
SCHiM is currently being developed for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PlayStation Switch, and Xbox One platforms.