2022 In Review
By Spike Foster
2022 was a very busy year for the studio. We did a lot of growing, learning and socialising and came out the other side much stronger as a company. We began the year with a lot of events planned, adding even more as we went along, and when February rolled around we went to the first on our list, Pocket Gamer Connects. Here we met some wonderful teams that we still keep in contact with today. We also had the opportunity to pitch some of our mobile titles that we had from University Projects. Unfortunately we didn’t win the competition segment but they did provide us with some excellent feedback and we really learned a lot to take forward from here.
The next event we attended was WASD which we were really excited for as we were part of Transfuzer and showing off Shikari X to the public. This was such an amazing experience as it allowed us to truly see if our game was actually as good as we thought it was. Over the three days we had a lot of people come by and try it out and collected feedback through Google Forms. The overall reaction was very positive, and on the whole it seemed people really enjoyed the game. We really hit the mark as a 2000’s-esque throwback and were excited to see that this is something people wanted. However, as a team we realised for this game to be as good as we want, it would take a lot of money and resources which made it a near impossible ask for publishers. So we took a step back from Shikari to see if there were any other projects that may be a bit more viable and publisher friendly. As luck would have it, Jake created a game at Brunel called Fool’s Gold; a fast paced, treasure hunting game and as a studio we fell in love immediately and knew that if any game was going to be our break-through, it would be this one.
Fortunately, the week after WASD we were attending Insomnia i68 where we can get the public to play Fools Gold and affirm our faith in this game. Following the same formula we used at WASD, we spent all three days collecting data and feedback and were stoked to find out that the public had a blast playing it. We also used this time to discover and fix bugs as no one breaks your game quite like the public do. Unfortunately this led to Jake being up until the early hours of the morning fixing some game breaking elements.
April was a very busy month for us as not too long after i68 we were invited to the Science Museum in London to once again show Fool’s Gold and Shikari as part of an exhibition on Gaming and Game Development. I don’t know too much about this one as I was very unwell and couldn’t attend but from what I heard it was a very different experience as most of the people attending the event weren’t those who interacted much with games if at all. As you can imagine they had a lot of questions and Max was talking for so long he lost his voice!
At this time we had a little break from attending conventions and events but this didn’t mean we weren’t busy. Earlier on in the year we applied for the Tentacle Zone incubator and were accepted! This began in June and was a turning point for us when it came to biz dev and overall smoothing out the running of the business, it also massively helped us to expand our network beyond just other indie developers.
The break from events did not last long though as Develop Brighton came around in July. This is another event I couldn’t make for god knows why, I was probably ill, I have the immune system of a mouldy cabbage so I asked Max to give me the brief on what happened. This event was a great opportunity to reconnect and catch up with studios and people we met at previous events as well as grow our network further. The weather while they were there was swelteringly hot so spending time at the beach was pretty much mandatory even though it made the actual event extremely hot and sweaty. One evening they went out to dinner with some of our friends over at Edgegap and the next day they met legendary designer John Romero!
During the down time of all these events we continued the development of Fool’s Gold and in August we took it back to Insomnia for i69 (#nice). This new build was to test out some features we wanted to put in to optimise and build off the first experience. This version of the game was received better than the first and gave us a much clearer direction and idea of what people liked.
The next major event in our calendar was EGX 2022 and luckily this time I wasn’t ill! But I still couldn’t go as I had just moved house and couldn’t afford the ticket. So Max and Jake went to take part in Games Industry Live where they gained invaluable experience in pitching and networking.
Once the Tentacle Zone Incubator ended we followed it up by taking part in Games London which had a very similar premise to learn more about Biz Dev and grow our network.
Nearing the end of the year we rebranded Solar Flare ever so slightly to open ourselves up for Work for Hire. This proved to be a positive move as fairly quickly we had our first contract. This has been a completely new learning process for all of us and one that has certainly had its ups and downs but we hope that moving forward these lessons through experience will help us out.
To sign this off I’ll give you a little tease of our plans for 2023. As I write this I am sitting in an office in Dundee, Scotland as Solar Flare was accepted onto DunDev (a hot housing event set up by the UK Games Fund). We’re working on Fool’s Gold and hopefully this year we can show a little of what we have done to it. As well as develop this project, we plan to return to previous titles and give them some much needed TLC and, hopefully, the release they deserve, so stay tuned for those exciting announcements to keep in the loop.