Differences between Indie studios & Big Studios – guest lecture with Adrian Cruceanu, Art director of KillHouse Romania

The special guest lecture with Adrian Cruceanu, the Art Director of the Romanian indie game dev studio KillHouse, was held recently on Zoom. He outlined the key differences between working in an indie game dev studio and working for a publisher. During the lecture, he answered students’ questions and revealed details about their newest project.

The current game they are working on is called Door Kickers 2. It is a sequel to the top-down intelligence game Door Kickers. They are trying to improve the game from its previous version. For that reason, they have decided to collaborate more with outsourced artists, said Adrian. He defines Door Kickers as the most ambitious project they have done so far. There is not a clear date for the launch of the game, however, Adrian hopes it is going to be this year.

The students were intrigued by the fact that KillHouse uses its own engine, and they were asking questions about it. They were curious whether it is harder to work with your own engine and if it is more challenging for the artists.   

Adrian talked about the development of the video game industry in Romania, as it is very similar to Bulgaria. He defined it as one of the biggest incomes in the country. 

He gave a few important pieces of advice to the students who want to enter the game industry:

  1. Get learned! Make sure you know what you are doing!
  2. Shoot your shots! Go on every social media platform and try to get to know people! Let them know you exist!
  3. Get your foot in the door! Find an internship!
  4. Finally, get the call!

There is a difference between indie games and AAA games, he said. According to him, Indie studios allow you to be more involved in the project. Working in an Indie studio may be more challenging as you need to learn a lot of things, not only to specialize in one, he shared.

At the end of the lecture, there was a Q&A session and students were able to ask questions about the animations and the effects, where do they get financing and whether they use outside financing for their projects, do they have time to play games considering the amount of work they have.

One of the students asked Adrian a very interesting question: “When working on an Indie project, at best you are going to work on at least three roles, is it hard to specialize in only one role if you want to work in a studio?” 

“Honestly I do find it hard and especially for the kind of games we are doing. I sometimes struggle to think if you ask me to put together in a portfolio what I have done so far, it will take me a while to figure out what I can show. So, I would say that if you want to keep that option open, do stuff on your own time.”


After the lecture we asked Adrian a few questions: 

The lecture on Friday was your first ever online lecture. How did you feel about it? Were you nervous, excited, did you have any expectations?

Indeed, it was my first online lecture, and I was nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect in terms of engagement, but I was excited to meet some of the students of ARC Academy and see how they feel about the industry and what interests them. I definitely didn’t expect so many people to attend and engage with what I had to say.

Our ARC students asked you a lot of different questions – what were they and what is your impression of them?

I was surprised by the amount of questions the students had for me. It struck me that they’re all very much aware of the goings-on in the gaming industry. All of their questions were very relevant to the worldwide discussions that we’ve been seeing online, but moreover, their interest in the particulars of working within larger gaming companies as well as indie studios was very obviously researched. They had many very good questions about working conditions, job satisfaction, different avenues of approach for getting hired, and accessing various options for their desired career paths. There were some personal questions in regards to my own thoughts and preferences on game genres and favorite companies, that I was happy to answer. All in all, it was a very pleasant and engaging conversation!


You can watch the full lecture in the video below!