October 21, 2020
Time for the Milestone Pitch: What have the teams achieved in 6 weeks of Games Lift?
This year’s Incubator has reached half-time. For our busy dev teams, this meant the arrival of a critical event: Presenting the project to Games Lift’s assembly of industry veterans. The audience would have filled a big room – given the circumstances, their video portraits filled roughly two screens.
Our teams wasted no time in running through the considerable progress made in the weeks prior. Curvature Games started with a bombshell: Their project is shedding its working title „Luna Park“ and adopting a new one evocative of the game’s topic and mood: „The Amusement“.
Curvature Games presented their new game title, "The Amusement", for the first time
Other highlights included Project Crumbling’s plan, inspired by mentor Jan Theysen of KING Art, to actually let players unwrap their action-figure-inspired characters, or Roman Fuhrer's ambitious plan to pack his full presentation into a demo of his game, „Leif’s Adventure“.
„I’ve never seen anything like that before“
Roman is developing a side-scrolling action-adventure. Since a lot of his progress centered on visual improvements, new gameplay mechanics, and content, it made sense for him to show his progress in-game. But when he managed to talk himself through bullet points by actually hitting them in-game while the game character floated by, gasps were audible in the video call. Unreal Technical Evangelist and streamer Andreas „AndiDev“ Suika marveled that he had never seen a pitch like that. The fact that Roman was able to prepare his demo in just a work day’s time earned him extra credit.
OneManOnMars presented a very unique in-game pitch: the game character receives special weapons through Games Lift that helps him tackle his project's "end boss" challenges
After each presentation, mentors had the opportunity to follow up with questions and feedback. Aside from congratulating the up and coming dev teams, some centered on practical advice: Suika had questions and pointers for Curvature Games regarding their search for a visual style that evokes the look of old photographs. Super Crowd CEO Wolf Lang marveled at the way team Ninja Brigade used Miro boards for kanban-style project management. Johan Toresson, scout and „Chief Say That Again Officer“ of Raw Fury had suggestions on what has to be in place before project Crumbling can try crowdfunding their game.
Team Impawsible Games presented huge progress they made in regards to visuals and gameplay mechanics for their project "Ninja Brigade"
And Anne Beuttenmüller, marketing director at Niantic, was especially impressed by Alchemya’s progress. „You continue to amaze me,“ she cheered, as solo developer Julia Reberg had finished demonstrating how much her concept was evolving into a real game with an approachable interface and functional drag-and-drop mechanics.
Julia Reberg presenting the goals for her project "Alchymia" during the Games Lift Incubator
The second half
Beuttenmüller, who is also part of the awarding committee for Games Lift, saw „highly motivated“ teams delivering „remarkable progress. I’m really looking forward to the final pitch come December,“ she chimed in afterwards. One commonality apparent throughout all five presentations was the degree to which indie developers face similar challenges. All of them impressed with a strong creative vision, practical ingenuity, and professional presentations. But there are essential qualities for a successful studio that are not necessarily in their setup from the beginning.
The teams behind Ninja Brigade, Leif’s Adventure and Crumbling all explained how they are now trying to tackle community building and PR more aggressively. When to talk about your project, how to invest in marketing, how to prepare pitches for specific investors or gatekeepers, how to incorporate – those are areas that do not come easily to smaller studios. They have been a focus of the Incubator’s workshops, and they will remain a fixture on the agenda: one of the perks of Games Lift is that the five teams receive individual coaching by an experienced indie game PR agency throughout the Incubator duration and beyond.
Team Crumbling smartly used their mentors' input to refine their concept for "Crumbling"
Our teams still have big plans for the second half of the incubator. Most of them hope to leave with a demo, a vertical slice, or a strong pitch to fund further development. Their projects are at wildly different stages. Julia Reberg is finding and tuning gameplay loops for Alchymia, while Ninja Brigade and Leif’s Adventure could both be ready for release sometime next year. Game development can feel painfully slow; these projects are moving at breathtaking speed.