December 5, 2022
Games Lift Incubator: Grown together
The graduation pitch has marked the finale of Games Lift Incubator 2022. All five teams got to present what they achieved in the last three months. Not an easy task – but everyone came well-prepared. The setting was relaxed, the presentations strong.
On a cold and dark evening, the rooms of VRHQ – Virtual Reality Headquartes in Hamburg's Speicherstadt felt all the more cozy and warm. But the teams of the Games Lift Incubator still had a big task ahead of them. Nevertheless, the mood ahead of the final event was almost festive; everyone stood together chatting and laughing. An important, live-streamed presentation was about to begin, but everything was ready: Speakers were already miked up, the setup tested, the time ample.
The first presentation by Daniel Balzer from Team About Cannons & Sparrows (ACAS) hid a hint for the reason behind the mood. "Team synergy" is a strength of the incubator program, Daniel explained. As media production professionals, Team ACAS have found concrete help and guidance from coders in other teams. Most importantly, they've found people who share their passion for video games.
Teams experience the Games Lift Incubator together. They work through three months of workshops and events. That they come out of this experience offering each other help and support is heartening. And it doesn't seem to be a coincidence. Head of Gamecity Dennis Schoubye had some words for the teams at the beginning of the show: They should stay in touch and get in touch whenever they have questions or problems. After the main program, teams get 12 months of coaching and PR support. And a readiness to help is evident from the leadership all the way to the teams.
All five teams won over the audience with crisp presentations. Faces were visibly tense, but also self-confident. And for good reason; the progress has been remarkable after only three months of workshops and additional commitments. Team ACAS entered the program with videos, assets and ideas, but without anything playable. Now, they had a demo of their plucky little cannon jumping and fighting its way through a level (read more about their game About Cannons & Sparrows here).
Impressive progress was evident in the incubator’s largest crews as well: Team Metacore are developing a co-op shooter of the same name and came into the program looking for ways to communicate the uniqueness of their idea. In precisely cut gameplay moments, they demonstrated a smart shooter that took new inspiration from Metroid – it was not about opening up new areas, but about opening new tactical possibilities by transforming into a small, round core.
Team Godcomplex had one of the funniest scenes of the evening with a high-noon encounter between a cat and a fish in protective suits. And then they floored the audience with a demo of their game Stack'em up, showing off their characters in a colorful, dynamic level. That was a real surprise – at the beginning of the program, the game existed only as a concept.
Presentations need to be creative in order to break through. Noone internalized this better than Team Marty. They are developing Babsi Bullet, a game offering a fresh mix of hardcore and casual sensibilities. A lot of time onstage was given to Babsi herself. In a lively dialogue, developer René Zimmermann held his own against his professionally pre-recorded character. Babsi Bullet is reminiscent of Megaman and Cuphead, but it's also easy to control and a perfect fit for touchscreens. Think of it as a "Candy Crush of Death", Babsi explained. Then she gave an outlook on the intense, multi-stage boss fights featured in the game.
Elin Meinecke had a very different conflict in mind when she presented the state of her game Evergreen Garden. She introduced lovely looking hand-painted insects, and then put them on a helpless plant. What we perceive as animal or pest is dependent on context – in Evergreen Garden, players will have to understand and work with nature instead of conquering it. Elin’s pastoral farm sim RPG still has many steps ahead of it; she illustrated the next ones along a self-drawn chicken trail.
The future remains uncertain. In a creative industry, every project has a chance of failure. This evening, however, something more important was visible: In just three months, these groups of talented developers have found a new understanding of their work, have shown new self-confidence, and have learned to appreciate each other. And that’s a good trail to keep walking on.
This article is part of our Games Lift Log series, in which we share peeks behind the scenes of our Games Lift Incubator program and portrait the teams that joined the incubator program this year. Find more articles below the video.