More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Games Lift: Symmetry Break on finding words and time

Making games is a team effort. Symmetry Break are our biggest team this year; they have thought a lot about what their game is, and how they want to make it as a group. “Prospector” seems to reflect that. Communication is a crucial part of the game. Talking, it turns out, is harder than picking the right option. Read more about them and their game project in this issue of our Games Lift Incubator Log!

One thing we at the Games Lift Incubator have learned is that help takes time. Workshops and advice are essential, but they have to fit into a schedule. Symmetry Break had a challenge on top of that: They are still a small group, but they grew their team size recently. Three people in the core team and two newly added contractors are working on “Prospector” right now.

„We’re getting into a good groove,” Jan smiles. Getting there took work, of course. Anca-Stefania Tutescu and Jan Barow met at HAW Hamburg university’s Games Master program, where they bonded over their shared passion. “We love games with stories, with relatable characters,” Jan explains. “And a beautiful art style,” Anca adds. She is responsible for Project Management and Sound Design; he is writing, directing, and designing the game.

Julian Heinken is part of the core team as a programmer and tech artist. “I sold him on the game idea,” Anca smiles. “It also helped that we are flatmates,” Julian laughs. Franziska Blinde and Cecilia Theophil join the team as contractors. Both are artists educated at HAW Hamburg; Franziska paints characters and environments, while Cecilia animates everything and creates visual effects. The freshly assembled team went on to produce the pitch deck for their game that got them on the Games Lift Incubator. But at first, they had to find a common language. “Everyone brings their own vision to the game,” Julian observes. It took some time getting to know each other before they could effectively work towards their common goal.

Symmetry Break Games having a team meeting in the Code Working Space | Photo: Selim Sudheimer

Right now, Symmetry Break are in full swing. Work keeps accelerating on their next big goal: “A demo to show people what the game is about,” Anca says. Understanding “Prospector” can be tricky at first, because it is not just another point & click adventure. Anca sees “Prospector” as part of a “wave of much more story driven games;” the team is inspired by “Night in the Woods,” “Oxenfree” and “Disco Elysium” among others.

In “Prospector,” talking to people is not just the usual multiple-choice affair. An indicator will always show how open the character is to someone else. Saying something difficult may mean that players literally have to squeeze the dialogue option in. “When you choose an option, it can come out differently,” Anca warns. This way, Jan adds, characterization happens “not just in the options, but also in the behavior of the options.”

What Symmetry Break are not keen on are typical adventure puzzles. In Jan’s experience, they can be “pretty arbitrary” and end up hindering what he really wants to do: “going on a journey with a character.” Anca agrees: “We don’t want to encumber the gameplay with puzzles.” Self-expression, communication and the discovery of the world and its story stand at the center of “Prospector.”

Symmetry Break have a clear idea of the story they want to tell. The setting sounds enticing: A city on the brim of a crater filled with poisonous fog. Players arrive as an outsider and engage with a world in which everyone wears a mask – and is defined by it. Off the record, he is eager to explain more. But we won’t spoil anything here. “The basic arcs are clear,” Jan says.

Anca, Cecilia, Franzsika, Jan and Julian of Symmetry Break Games together in the Code Working Space | Photo: Selim Sudheimer

Producing a demo for the Graduation Pitch is a big task. The team have found motivation in the workshops. Steffen Rühl’s advice on pitching game ideas has led to “massive improvements” in their presentation, Anca finds. She is determined not to take any shortcuts – especially when it comes to a running issue in the games industry: “We really want to avoid crunch in general as a team.” On that note, Julian is keen to highlight a „super helpful” contribution from a senior producer in the incubator: “Heather Chandler basically gave us the blueprint on how to manage our project.” Guidance and practical examples from her workshop have already found their way into Symmetry Break’s workflow.

After their time in the Games Lift Incubator, Symmetry Break hope to have a convincing demo to show around. Of course, they want to use it to attract funding for development. But they are looking further ahead. “We are not just building a game, but a studio.” Anca explains. She is not losing sight of her bigger goals – even when time is tight.

Symmetry Break Games will present their project publicly at the Games Lift Graduation on December 2 - register now to join us live via stream or on-site at Factory Hammerbrooklyn in Hamburg for the final presentations of all five teams of the Games Lift Incubator 2021!


3 years of Games Lift: Getting better with age

Three successful years lie behind the Games Lift Incubator. Before we start the fourth one, we take a look back. Our alumni have a lot to show.

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.

Games Lift: Team Marty aim outside the box

The heroine may seem young and hot-headed, but there is an experienced team standing behind her: Babsi Bullet is an action-packed puzzle platformer for touchscreens. Team Marty are pouring their hearts into the game – and real craftsmanship.

Games Lift: Team ACAS get along with nuts and sledgehammers

Few games look as disarming from a distance: About Cannons & Sparrows is a metroidvania that starts with a small cannon hatching from an inconspicuous egg. The seasoned animation pros of Team ACAS may not have a finished game yet, but they do have a strong vision.

Games Lift: Elin Meinecke on sowing diversity

One person is behind farming sim RPG Evergreen Garden: Elin Meinecke is solely responsible for the art and game design of her project. She brings a degree in illustration to her work in the incubator – and inspiration from her garden.

Games Lift: Team Metacore is up for a challenge

Their hands are full. Their goals are big. But that is no reason to fret for Team Metacore. During our conversation, finding good answers comes to them as easily as sharing a laugh. The mood might make it into their project.

Games Lift: People make the Incubator

The Games Lift Incubator can only exist because many experts support it, teach and coach in it, and keep networking in it. Over 35 veterans from all areas of the games industry are with us. We have asked them why they are doing it and what keeps them coming back.

Games Lift: Team Godcomplex have thought this through

Would you have guessed that Team Godcomplex are already working on their third game? The four young professionals found each other at the university and have worked together ever since. With their party action game Stack’em up, they want to show what they have learned.

Games Lift: Quick Start in Year 3

Wait – the third iteration of the Games Lift Incubator is already well underway. How is it going? Like clockwork. Bolstered by two years of experience, the program has had an intensive start. Fortunately, this time there also is a break coming up.

Games Lift 2022: These are the five teams

​​​​​​​Five teams have convinced the Games Lift awarding committee of the promising potential of their games projects with their pitch. They will start on September 12 with a three-month workshop and mentoring program with international industry experts, 15,000 euros in financial support and places in a Hamburg co-working space. Congratulation to all teams, and we are very much looking forward to seeing your projects evolve!

Games Lift: Good for you?

If things go well here, we like to keep them going. That is certainly the plan with our Games Lift Incubator. After two successful runs, preparations for the third are well underway. We are still open for teams with a strong vision and ambitious goals. But there’s only a few days left.

Games Lift Incubator - The Alumni's Experiences

The Games Lift Incubator is going into the third edition in 2022 already, so we took the opportunity to ask three alumni of the past two years about their experience with the program. These are three very different projects so we were especially curious about their impressions. You can currently apply to the 2022 edition of the Games Lift Incubator until June 14. We hope these reports on the Incubator will help you with your decision to apply.   

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