Sunday, 20 December 2015

Our First Week down at The Arcade

It's been a week now, and we've started working down at the Arcade to see what it's like.

So far, it's been pretty amazing.  We had a good couple of days where we were all there and already some fantastic discussions have come out of it!

Just having other people to work next to made a huge difference to me personally as well.  I felt like I got a ton of work done even in that short time.

We had some concerns about the fact that the area is open to the public, but so far there have been no issues with regards to noise or disruptions.





Spirits are generally high, I think everyone is really excited about the potential of the area.

Aside from the shared area, the museum is also keen to figure out how they can interface with us.  I spoke to a few of the key staff, and we'll be looking at doing demo days and mini events to fit in with their tours and programmes.  It's a win-win situation really - their visitors get to see fresh, unique games and we get first hand reactions to our work!



Although it's early days, we've already had some great chats to some of the game dev schools.  This will be a great chance to engage with students for some collaborative opportunities.

Facility-wise, the indie area is mostly sorted.  Currently we have:
  • Toilets
  • A kitchen area
  • Wifi (Limited at this stage, but being sorted out)
  • Power
Access cards will be sorted in the coming weeks for the core members of The Arcade.


We will be ready to start straight away in the new year.  A few of us will be in there on Jan 4th, so if you're keen to join or visit us, get in touch!

We currently have The Arcade Facebook Group - feel free to drop by.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Arcade Auckland - a shared space for indies and much, much more!

One of the objectives of the NZGDA this year has been to look for a shared work space where we indies can work together.  Shared work spaces have always been proven to be largely helpful for growth especially in smaller companies.

During our search, we happened to come across MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) who were coincidentally setting up an innovation hub called the Idea Collective.

What amazed me, was that the area that they had planned went beyond a simple shared work space.  MOTAT intended to really reinvent themselves, and were pulling out all the stops to create an exciting new part of the museum.  As such, they were open to collaborating together to run events, have ongoing exhibitions, and much more.

I was there in the early days while they were refurbishing one of their warehouse areas, and even then the potential of the space absolutely blew my mind.



Over the next few weeks however, the place went through an astounding rate of change.

The next time I went in, they had already put together the shared work space, an exhibition area, presentation room and a geodesic dome for the Pop-Up Arcade.







One week later, they had an opening night and the placed had transformed again into something even more remarkable!


















The Pop Up Arcade was mostly done, and kids and adults were already loving it!


















The shared work space had been fleshed out a lot further too, with proper desks and other facilities:


We still have a few more formalities to sort out, but we are so close. MOTAT are so keen to have us there that they have also printed up that the NZGDA is in residence already on the outside of the work space!

We're super excited about the place. I personally think that this could be an amazing milestone for the indie movement in New Zealand. It has the potential to be an amazing focal point for all of our efforts and could indeed raise the bar collectively for the community.

Over and above a shared working area, the events and exhibition area is something beyond our wildest dreams, especially since we will be leveraging MOTAT's existing brand. It will be a shared benefit however, as we will help them to reinvent their image as a cutting edge and exciting museum!

I can't wait to get started - we're very close now!

Stay tuned - I'll be sharing more info as we progress, and if you're interested in participating in the shared space, let me know!



video


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Saturday, 12 September 2015

NZ Indies: Getting Government Funding for your Project and General Assistance

Hi Guys,
As you may have known I was appointed recently as a board member for the NZGDA.  As an indie dev myself, I'm passionate about helping others like me and creating a vibrant culture.

We recently did a quick snap-shot survey for a NZGDA business catch up with NZTE and Callaghan innovation to help address the challenges that indies have.

Massive thanks to Andrew Lamb from Camshaft for putting together the bulk of the survey and getting us the results!

According to the trends from the results, the main challenges were as follows:

  • Funding
    • Many people wanted grants similar to what the State of Vic are offering
    • Some wanted help with travelling to overseas events like PAX
  • Marketing
  • Mentoring/Guidance from experienced devs for 
    • Design
    • Production
    • Project Management
  • Almost everyone wanted a shared working space (like the Arcade in Melb)
1 Funding
The good news is that there are grants that we can apply for.  It's not totally straight forward, but many of the larger studios have successfully applied for some of them in the past.

They are as follows:
  • Callaghan Innovation R&D Grants - these are the ones most applicable to us:
    • Getting Started Grant
    • R&D Project Grant
  • NZTE Coalition Grant (not sure if this is the official name for it as it is new)
    • NZTE usually helps out larger organizations, but they will be willing to help smaller studios who band together as a group for a specific purpose, e.g. if many smaller studios want assistance with marketing to China. 
I reiterated with the Callagahan representative on the day that money was probably our biggest pain point, and she said that the good thing about Callaghan's Project Grant is that we can include our own labour as part of the project costs in the application.  She did say that they normally recommend at least a small component of the grant would need to be allocated to an external resource.

The application process is not a walk in the park, but at least it is an avenue to government grants.

The other important thing is the grant is administered in a "dollar for dollar" fashion.

For example: if you are approved for 50% of your project costs, you will need to show that you have 50% of your own capital to fund the project.  Funding proportions can be between 30-50%.

Some of the guys in the larger studios have also been quite forthcoming about their experiences in this area.  They are willing to share with the wider community about the application process.

2 Mentoring
This was outside of the scope of the official discussions, but the general sentiment among the medium/large companies is that they are definitely willing to help in some way.

We can explore this further and find out how much time they have - perhaps we can set up either educational talks or perhaps even mentoring programmes.  I think the key thing will be efficient use of their limited time.

3 Shared Working Space
One of my responsibilities this year is in fact to put together a business case for a shared working area for local devs for ATEED.   I believe this will be for Auckland mainly, but we can explore other options for other large city centres if they are not catered for by this initiative.

Conclusion
It's not totally straight forward, but it is encouraging to know the government does want to help.  On top of this, the established companies do want to help the little guys like us, but I think we will need to articulate exactly how and negotiate this according to how much time they have.

I had an awesome talk with Dean Hall (Day Z) about it at NZGDC, and he has absolute faith that we can turn the NZ game industry from a $100M per year industry into a $1B one.  It's great to have massively successful guys in the country who are willing to help!





Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hello All,
I'm proud to announce that our official forum is now open:
http://phantasmal.azurewebsites.net/

From now on, our blog posts will be done there!
Joe

Monday, 2 February 2015

A new boss room by Lena - it's coming along well!





Monday, 19 January 2015

Highlighter!

We've implemented a new highlighter script to outline all the interactive objects!  Good job Dave for getting this to work!












Thursday, 8 January 2015

New End Room Prototypes


Some fantastic end rooms from the very-talented BB!





Arachnaphobia: Spiders' Nest

Check out our gross new spiders' nest from Lena - it's beautiful and gross at the same time.  I actually hate long-legged spiders personally, so this makes my skin crawl. Absolutely loving it! :)