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Indie : Startup Workshop

August 24, 2010

When I was made redundant back in April, It was a bit of a shock. My face looked a bit like this…


But life goes on, and one of the options I explored was setting up an indie studio. Partly because I had a shit-load of half finished prototypes gathering dust, and because at that point I didn’t really have a hell of a lot to lose. If it didn’t work, fuck it, at least I’d have given it a shot. So I blew my entire redundancy on a Macbook and an iPod, spent 2 weeks getting to grips with the platform, and started making games.

As it turned out, I was picked up by a lovely creative agency interested in getting into the ‘games thing’ themselves, but for a while there, I was on the verge of selling my house and registering a company.

I had absolutely no concerns about my ability to make good games, but the thing that I was really apprehensive about was the whole ‘Setting up a business’ thing. As I’ve already said in this develop piece, although I typically make my own games for pleasure, and the money side isn’t really my bag, if I was going to do it as my livelihood, I needed to make sure I could survive, and I’d need to learn lots of scary new stuff.

Here are the key questions I wanted the answer to…

  • What are the legalities?
    What exactly are the legalities of setting up a company in terms of my personal finances? Obviously, I need to pay tax on everything I earn… start filling in tax returns, keep accont books and all that… But how do you actually do that?
  • What are the costs?
    Obviously, that legal shit will probably be of no interest to your average game developer. So can I pay someone to do it? If so, who are they, and what do they cost? Ball park figures please!
  • Marketing
    What can I do to maximise my chances of my game selling? It’s not something I’m really enamoured with, I hate the fact that good marketing can make a shit game into a success. But even though I didn’t plan to make shit games, I couldn’t just neglect to research it. The whole point of marketing is that you put money into it, you expect to get more money out. Otherwise why the hell would anyone bother? So what areas could I put money into, and how much, in order to guarantee it’ll pay for itself?
  • Platforms
    What platforms are the best ones to hit? Honestly, this one wasn’t a huge question, since I already had a good idea on what ones I was going to aim for, but it’s good to know all the options, and what they cost to get started on.
  • Opportunities
    There are LOADS of opportunities for investment from universities, other developers and business gateways and funding partners. Where are they, and who are they? What do they need from me? A prototype? a business plan?

I attended a few seminars and a number of one-to-ones, but kept finding that the people I was speaking to never had all the answers, either because they only dealt with one area, or they weren’t used to operating in the creative industries.

If only there was a place where experts from all these areas gathered together to share their knowledge, specifically in a games context, and meet prospective startups in person. Some perhaps seeking to invest!

Something like the ‘Indie Games Workshop’, organized by Revolver PR…

From the desk of Brian ‘Winston’ Baglow…

A free workshop aimed at anyone interested in starting up their own independent game development studio. Participants include Scottish Enterprise, IP lawyers, marketing companies, distribution specialists, publishing partners, funding partners and previous start-ups.

It takes place at Scottish Enterprise (Greenmarket, Dundee)

So far confirmed…

Scottish Enterprise – How to start up your own interactive business.

Abertay University – Funding for games, the IP fund
Murray Buchanan Associates
– Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Ludometrics – Digital distribution options
Revolver PR – Telling the world, make sure your game SELLS
Dundee College – Making sure you have the skills you need
Blitz 1Up – Support & advice for indie start-ups

If you want to start your own studio, if you’ve even the faintest interest in doing your own games, please come along.

Here’s a link to the Facebook page

Get your arse along!

Stu xxx

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2010 9:12 pm

    Looks really useful, I’m going to try and get back to Scotland so I can attend.

  2. Lol permalink
    August 25, 2010 12:53 pm

    Great article there. When you were asking those questions initially, did you approach any of the start-ups in Dundee to ask their advice? I am sure that near everyone would have been happy to give ball-parks especially as you had identified what you wanted to know. I constantly hear from people who are thinking about starting up but totally mis-understand the amount of work and money involved – and completely miss the point about markets, ROI projections and the fact that unless you have a very rich uncle, you NEED to make money.

    Then there is all the other stuff – the VAT, the legals, the shareholders agreements, the accountants, insurances, offices, kit; the list goes on and on and people just don’t consider it at all.

    I am hopeful the workshop will cover all those things and from people who have actually done it and been through the process, rather than people who have read the start-up manual. It’s all well and good giving people the theory, but the practice tends to be completely different!!!

  3. August 25, 2010 1:16 pm

    Well, there was someone who I spoke to from DoubleSix, who came up to speak at a similar event. Lovely guy, but his advice was;

    “To start up as an Indie, simply phone up your contacts at Sony, which you acquired through being in a senior position at Kuju, and ask them for £120,000 of investment, then hire 10 guys and spend 12 months making a game, then invest a further £50,000 in marketing”…

    Which obviously, is not really relevant to most people! Kinda reminded me of that Monty Python Sketch about defending yourself against people armed with a piece of fruit;

    “Simply pull the lever and release the tiger!”

  4. Lol permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:11 pm

    He does have a point to a certain extent 🙂

    However the other ways that most people go down do involve some cash. ‘Indie’ doesn’t mean unprofessional and I despair at the amount of ‘indies’ that don’t consider all the corporate, operational and logistical side of running a company. As soon as you start to employ people (and a company needs to employ to get some semblance of assignment in place for the work done) then the fun really starts and you really need to follow the rulebook!

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