Abby & Tony from Black Tabby Games

by Brandon Pham
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Black Tabby Games is an indie studio founded by Abby Howard and Tony Howard-Arias. Their games tell the kinds of stories than only games can tell, and fall at the intersection of horror and humor

Scarlet Hollow is a hand-drawn, choice-driven horror adventure game from award winning graphic novelist Abby Howard. It was recently funded in 2020 marking it the seventh successful Kickstarter campaign for Abby. It is no surprise, that I spent a good portion of this interview focusing on how Tony and her have nailed a formula to remain completely self-funded.

Crowdfunding emerged into the game development scene in a big way this past decade, showing great promises for creatives to skip the middle-man and find finances for their ideas. However, like many, I believed it became more difficult over recent years in result of the distrust and many failed deliveries to original backers. But, it was great to sit down and learn from both Abby & Tony that this isn’t the case and the reasons for successful kickstarter campaigns back in its hey-day remains true today. As long as your work creates a resonance with a core following, that base will continue to support you and your products simply because they like it. This, of course, was reassuring to hear and it was great to learn their story on how they built up their core audience and how they chose to remain independent despite third-party interests over the years.

Topics discussed in this episode:
0:00 About Abby & Tony
2:50 Abby and her independent comic career
4:35 The Marvel boom and its effect on the comic industry
6:57 Tony’s history with tabletop games
10:10 Doing startups with a business development background
12:15 Tips on how Abby had 7 successful kickstarter campaigns
19:57 The power of digital content
21:47 The Scarlet Hollow and its development in 2020
22:52 Physical Conventions coming back after the Pandemic?
25:05 What has been the substitute for indie dev with everything closed?
26:38 Scarlet Hollow pre-production
29:06 How to get things done and stay motivated
36:54 The state of crowdfunding, kickstarter or something else?
42:46 How to budget for crowdfunding
48:00 The third party route for publishing
52:30 Thoughts of following trends or ignoring them
56:37 Shoutout


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