World Cup Rugby Rampage

World Cup Rugby Rampage is a new mobile and Web game currently under development by Fierce Fun. Being rugby fans and know that the team needs all the support it can get, we decided to develop a game in honour of the Irish team. Ok, so you can pick other teams as well as the Irish team but it really is a tribute to them. In the game, you play as a rampaging No. 7 and your job is to constantly break the gain line.... just keep going forward. The odds will be against you with crazy numbers of opposing players. How do you beat them? Rampage Mode. When you are rampaging, you are invincible and unstoppable. However it only lasts a short while.

One single solitary Irish player versus 500 English defenders. Who will win????

You decide. World Cup Rugby Rampage will be released in 2 weeks.......or we are in trouble

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Social Media Internship (part time)

This Social Media internship role is an opportunity for hands-on experience in social media and digital marketing. Fierce Fun is a mobile app startup company, focusing on games and entertainment apps. The company publishes its games on the Google Play and Apple App Stores. This role is suited to someone who loves mobile apps and is a social media monster 😊

This internship role has the ability to learn mobile marketing and app store optimisation from the development and marketing team. Some the duties will include:

Content Sourcing & Creation:

  • Working with the Project Manager to produce effective content for the company’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and others).
  • Writing blog posts, social media posts and other communication materials for social media;
  • Researching mobile app and game market trends

Ideal Qualifications:   

  • Strong interest in communications, social media marketing and/or creative writing
  • 3rd level qualification (or studying for one)
  • Good skills in Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint
  • Strong skills in Facebook, Twitter and/or blog software
  • Very comfortable using Android or Apple phones and tablets
  • Good attention to detail and an ability to produce quality written content each week

Terms:

Duration          3 months
Hours              10 to 18 hours per week
Times              Flexible and based on a candidate's schedule
Location          Remote work (mainly) - Trinity College Dublin  (team meeting and reviews)

Expenses will be paid to cover travel and lunch allowances

Game Development Funding in Ireland

Like many countries, funding your computer game development project is not an easy task in Ireland. Though there is now a very vibrant indie game development scene in Ireland as well as a few larger established companies, the industry is comparatively small compared to other Irish media sectors such as film, tv and animation. This is partly due to the taxation policy in Ireland (Section 481) which provides significant tax relief for investment in film and animation productions. There is a campaign underway to extend Section 481 tax relief to games development; however currently it is not available. Unlike other European countries, Ireland does not have any national organisation or body providing specific supports for the games sector. A recent government report highlighted this deficit and recommended the establishment of a game prototyping fund. The current lack of national supports has not stopped the sector growing and each year, the list of new Irish gaming startups is increasing.

POTENTIAL GAME FUNDING PROVIDERS

Enterprise Ireland
Enterprise Ireland (EI), through its Competitive Start Fund and HPSU (High Potential Startups), has been an active investor in a number of gaming startups. EI primarily invests in technology companies and mainly invests in games technology companies as opposed to content only companies.
https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/

Local Enterprise Office
LEOs are the starting point for anyone seeking information and support on starting or growing a business in Ireland. They provide advice, information and support budding entrepreneurs. Grant support includes feasibility study and priming grants. Though aimed more at local and national businesses, they are very useful for all entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses looking to expand.
https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Financial-Supports/

NDRC – National Digital Research Center.
Founded after the demise of Media Lab Dublin and based in the Digital Hub, the NDRC is a digital startup investor focusing on early stage tech companies. Mixing public and private funding, they invest primarily using an accelerator model through its Launchpad, Catalyser and VentureLab investment programmes which provide seed capital and hands on support to early stage companies. Since it was founded in 2007, NDRC has invested in over 200 digital companies and was ranked the No. 1 university business accelerator in Europe. Like EI, they focus more on techology applicable to the gaming sector, than gaming content.
https://www.ndrc.ie/looking-for-investment

Creative Europe MEDIA  - Games Fund
The European Union provide game funding through the Creative Europe Media programme. Most years, they will have “calls” whereby EU game developers can apply for matching funding for a new project. To qualify, the developer must be EU based, be established with a track record and their game must be narrative led – think adventure games. The application process is very detailed and requires a decent amount of work to complete one. However, a number of Irish game companies have been successful in getting MEDIA game funding so it is definitely worth investigating it – particularity if your game has a strong story element to it.
https://www.creativeeuropeireland.eu/media/funding/production/development-of-video-games

 New Frontiers
New Frontiers is a National Entrepreneur Development Programme aimed at supporting the establishment and growth of technology companies with potential to trade internationally and create employment in Ireland. Though primarily a training programme, there is some funding available on the programme – depending which phase you are on. One example of  New Frontiers is TU (Technological University) Dublin's Hothouse programme. It is delivered as a 3-phased programme in partnership with IADT. Other IT colleges deliver similar programmes throughout the country. Quite a few games companies started on New Frontiers so worth checking it out.
https://www.newfrontiers.ie/locations/dublin

Venture Capitalists
Ireland has a modest but active venture capital community with a number of new and maturing funds. Most VCs here have a preference for B2B businesses but at times, they have invested in games companies – both tech and content. If you have early customers or recurring revenue streams, most good VCs will want to meet you at some stage. Remember venture capital is not for everyone. Most VC investors gets their money back by trade sales e.g. selling your business. They don’t invest in family businesses or companies not looking to scale rapidly and be acquired. The Irish Venture Capital Association is a good starting point to see if venture capital is right for your gaming startup.
https://www.ivca.ie/

Angel Investors
Angel investors or business angels are high-net worth individuals who provide seed capital for a business start-up. Their investment normally takes the form of a convertible debt or ownership equity. In addition, they also can contribute their general business know-how and can offer valuable expertise and guidance.  Angels tend to be hands-on and can be of great assistance to inexperienced company founders. Their average investment is between €50K and €250k. Many also form syndicates ( to invest larger amounts). In general, they are a quicker funding route than other professional investors. HBAN is a good source of information for angel investment in Ireland.
https://www.hban.org/

Startup Incubators/University Incubators/ Accelerator Programmes
Most of the main universities and colleges in Ireland now offer incubation facilities.  An incubator typically offers shared office spaces, networking and mentoring opportunities and in rare cases some early funding. Some incubators charge (very low) fees while others charge none and will look for a small equity investment.  Co-working is very common in incubators and some offer private office spaces.
https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Researchers/Spin-Outs/Incubation-Centers-Maps-and-Contacts.html

Accelerator programmes are aimed at established start-ups that have the potential to grow quickly. These programmes offer a mixture of office space, mentorship and some limited expenses or early stage investment. Dublin BIC provides a number of these programmes:
https://www.dublinbic.ie/our-programmes/investor-ready-preparation/smart-start

Banks
Loan or debt finance is not usually an option for games start-ups unless they are reasonably well established and have recurring annual revenue. The main part of a bank loan analysis is focused on cash flow and repayment capacity. Early stage game companies are unlikely to have a sufficient trading record to secure a bank loan.

Crowd funding
Indiegogo and Kickstarter are two of the best-known international crowdfunding sites for games and other digital media. By their nature, crowdfunders tend to have a international focus rather than a local one. There are one or two equity crowdfunders based in Ireland so they might be worth checking out if you are based here.

Game Publishers
Even though self-publishing is now a completely viable option for new game developers, a good publisher can significantly increase the sales potential of your game. With millions of game apps in the mobile and PC stores, it is hard to stand out and a publisher’s marketing muscle can make all the difference. Like crowd funding, game publishers have an international focus and don’t tend to be regional specific. Ireland has very few, if any, indigenous games publishers. There are app and media publishers here but none really specialise in traditional game publishing.

 

SUMMARY
Even though Ireland does not have a national games development fund (yet…watch this space), there are a good variety of potential game funding options. Though there are no local publishers, there are a number of Irish developers who have successful launched games with international publishers. Whatever funding or publishing route you take, almost all with require a comprehensive business plan and player acquisition strategy. Armed with both, you will increase your chances of getting your next games project funded and published.

Mindframe Arena – Game Launch Event

At last we are soft launching the Android version of Mindframe Arena next month

It will in the Bank of Ireland Workbench located in Trinity College. Date and time :  7th November @ 6pm

Living up to our name Fierce Fun, we will be having a fun filled launch do with the Irish gaming community (journalists, bloggers, streamers, YouTubers, developers and more). Besides getting to know and play Mindframe Arena before anyone else, we will have some guest speakers, giveaways and grub!...  not bad for a Wednesday evening

So if you are a game streamer, writer or blogger, drop us a line and we will send you an invite (numbers are limited !)

Tips for Starting a Games Development Company in Ireland

I originally had created a blog post on tips for tech start-ups. I have updated it for games companies and games start-ups. Also most of these don’t specifically apply to Irish games companies – hopefully you find them useful. They are based on my experience with a number of games and mobile start-ups.

Your majority spend should be on marketing
As you have probably heard, cash is king for all businesses, more so for start-ups. You won’t have much cash starting out so it is vital to spend wisely in those early stages. So, the simple rule is – any spare cash - only spend on marketing and sales. Game markets (indie, mobile or AAA) are all ultra-competitive and social media will only get you so far!

 Don’t rent an office
Office space in Dublin (and most European/US cities) is expensive and a real waste of cash when starting out. Offices are needed for full teams, meeting clients and storing hardware. You probably don’t have much (or any) of all three so you don’t need an office. If you are meeting potential clients, rent a ‘hot desk’ office or meet at their place. Use Skype and Dropbox to create a virtual office. When you have regular paying contracts or revenue streams, then rent

Try to have an alternative income source during development
Work part time, contract – do whatever you need to do to avoid paying (much) salaries when you are in startup mode. With your team, agree a profit share or equity share (for committed team members).

 Game Team makeup: Development, Design and Biz!
A lot of game start-ups tend to comprise mainly of developers and artists. Not a bad thing but it means the focus of team will be on game development, not the business. You need someone onboard with marketing, publishing or general digital business experience.

Forget funding… for now
Securing funding takes time…. a lot of time. If you are in the indie or mobile market for example, you should not need much funding to get your business started. Publishers and investors will only really consider you if you have a (sales) track record in a certain game genre.

 Network wisely
There are a huge number of games, tech and start-up networking events held in Ireland each year. Like all events, some are more useful than others.

 Sales, not Traction
With free to play, it is tempting to say you have 100,000 game players so, hey, we are a games business. Nope! Users or players don’t equal customers.

Social media should be part of your marketing plan, not a replacement for it.
This is related to the first point about marketing and having a Biz head onboard. Many new start-ups talk about social media as if it is their only marketing activity. The basics of a marketing plan are still as valid as ever (remember the 4 Ps). Your social media strategy should be part of your overall marketing strategy; not the other way around.

Try to avoid advertising only game revenues
A few (very few!) game companies survive on advertising revenue only. You need massive (tens of millions) numbers of players to generate decent revenues if you are relying on in-game ads only. Put simply, it is extremely difficult to make a profit on online ads only.

Keep your professional fees low
Running a business costs money. For example, every business will need an accountant and solicitor during your startup phase. Inexperienced company founders tend to have phrases like “our solicitor looks after our IP”. Professional services firms charge on an hourly/daily basis – in the beginning, only use them for your statutory returns. If your turnover is low, you will only need to file abridged accounts each year, a considerable cost saving. Good firms will give you some basic free advice, knowing that as your business grows, you will come back to them for further paid consultations.

The Cloud is your technical friend
The hype is true, the cloud really does work – especially for game start-ups. Services like Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services allow you to pay only for the computing power you use. In addition, most have free starting tiers of usage. You do need someone cloud savy to use them but they do save you on hosting and database costs (ouch!) when you scale.

Government Supports & Entrepreneurship programmes
Besides Enterprise Ireland (EI), there are a ton of other government support agencies. Most are listed on this very useful site ThinkBusiness

Get on a Entrepreneurship programme if possible
There are a number of good government supported start-up programs such as DIT Hothouse. Besides good advice and training, the best thing about these programmes is the networking with other start-ups.

12-month revenue target
If you are not making real sales within 12 months of starting your games business, maybe call it a day. A tough one this one but you will always find excuses for not making sales. Learn from your mistakes and start again!

Make it look good
People are visual creatures, we judge everything first by our eyes – including games. You can release your game if some features are not fully finished or included; however never ever release something that does not look good. That does not mean that you needed AAA 3D graphics. If you are going for simple stylised graphics, they still have to look good!

That’s it. Now go forth and develop………….

Mobile App Tester/QA internship

Our development team is seeking a self-motivated individual with a strong work ethic and a significant attention to detail. This role involves coordinating and testing our mobile game apps on a variety of phone/tablet devices and operating systems.

What You Will Be Doing
– Test each new game build thoroughly and comprehensively
– Report and detail bugs in the tracking database
– Organise Android and IOS testing with other team members
– Ensure our testing device database is up-to-date
– Managing build uploads to Goolge Play and the Apps Store

Fierce Fun is an app development studio specialising in mobile apps & online games, for Apple, Android and HTML5 platforms. We provide a supportive environment for a QA/tester to gain experience in a games app development company.

Ideal requirements:
– 3rd level qualification (preferably technical)
– Patience and focus required for mobile app testing
– Significant attention to detail and problem-solving skills.
– Excellent communication & documentation skills.
– Experience with Android and iPhone/iPad phones and tablets

Terms:
Duration      3 months
Days              1 to 1.5 days per week
Hours           Flexible
Location      Remote work

Fierce Fun at UCC Digitopia

Digitopia is the annual digital humanities institute held by Digital Humanities department in University College Cork. The conference was organised by the MA class in Digital Arts and Humanities and took place in April 2017. The conference themes included a variety of topics such as digital history, archiving and gaming.

Fierce Fun’s Peter Lynch was invited as a guest speaker to discuss digital gaming. His talk focused on independent (indie) games development and rise of self-publishing. A link to his talk is available here:
https://www.slideshare.net/plynchire/indie-games-and-the-role-of-self-publishing

University College Cork Digitopia
http://www.digitopia-institute.com/

Virtual Reality Gaming. Has it Arrived?

Virtual Reality was new to the market in 2016. But now has it come of age in 2017?

Virtual Reality, VR, AR, Headset, Tech, Games, Gaming,

At GDC in 2016, one, Patrick Walker peeped into the future to predict what is now occurring, see link below. He indicated the huge investment in VR of over a billion dollars in 2015/16 and this got a lot of game developers interested. But is it possible to prise the market away from the big boys? Probably not? Just look at the 2017 best selling VR games with games from Rockstar, Epic, Impulse Gear and Capcom all with big titles and new iterations of popular franchises in VR.

2016 VR hype shifts to reality thanks in no small measure to PSVR. It’s got good immersion and is now accessible widely and buy to entry is cheaper than rivals. PSVR has at the moment first to market advantage and will be an entry point for early adopters of VR.
All the big players want in and interesting to see the situation today as a gold rush. Suffice to say you need deep pockets to enter this market. Walker provides insightful market analysis on the non-VR gamers and their expectancy on the price of entry with just about 50% unwilling to pay over $350 for the kit. So unit price must drop to attract a critical mass.

Price is everything

He points to the price problem of upgrading your hardware to handle the VR. Understandably if PSVR can do this without it using a unique console it makes sense. So it transpires the players need deep pockets as well. What’s new?
He outlines the product providers with marketing stats research reviewing their ability to compete and how they are seen. These stats are from the time of his talk but are still very pertinent today.

Let’s look at a few VR providers.  HTC Vive (Steam VR) – Thought of as expensive with average content availability. Oculus Rift Considered expensive with not too many games. PSVR is cheaper with a good bank of content. Viewing the VR game charts of today ( Feb 2017) the game content for all platforms has increased considerably as developers are trying for first to market advantage, with whichever system prevails. So there is more choice on all systems.

In Nov 2016 the Walker said the market was saturated but predicted more of the same with new entrants waiting for VR to become financially viable for their brand. Again it’s a balancing act between console or PC with consoles being preferable. A disadvantage for non-console VR is that the system requirements for VR are expensive because VR requires high refresh rates pushed to two displays, it’s going to be fairly demanding.

Below are the recommended system requirements for the Oculus Rift, which are likely fairly similar to what you’ll need to support Steam VR. — NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater— Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater— 8GB+ RAM— Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output— 2x USB 3.0 ports— Windows 7 SP1 or newer.

What the players think

Reviewing VR games by existing or potential customers seem to highlight that gamers value user review as opposed to price, unlike mobile games. Logical really as the entry point into VR is so high that gamers expect to pay a premium price for a premium experience.
Other stats that were interesting is the correlation between VR user score and minutes playing which is not indicative of popularity, unlike other platforms, maybe because of the sea sick syndrome? However, retention is a good indicator and it is marked by players returning again and again. So varied metrics for VR games should be used to assess their popularity.

Walker gave some predictions regarding new entrants to the race, some of which has come to pass. He is also predicting Facebook and Apple entering the market and the technology advancing rapidly. He also sees Microsoft having an interest specifically in Augmented Reality or AR, seeing it as the preferable experience in the future.       But judging by todays parameters, he thinks mobile and social VR seem to provide the biggest potential for future growth. Walker provided a good overview of the market which is still in flux as we speak but consolidating by the day. As a marketer of games, I found it very informative and advise you to watch the virtual space.

VR talk VR focus Nov 2016 Watch it here
Patrick Walker EEDARTrack / Format Games & Entertainment Overview
http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1023900/Data-and-Insights-in-the

Responsive Games – Digital Marketing Opportunities

Most progressive marketers are aware of the value of gaming content as part of their digital marketing portfolio. With games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds, game playing is now a mass market entertainment activity, enjoyed equally by both male and female players. Generation Y and millennials have all grown up with games – they love them, especially the free ones!

However, with a proliferation of digital devices available to consumers, it can require considerable effort and cost to get your game and brand out to the mass market. Responsive games offer a solution to this problem. Using a HTML5 platform, Fierce Fun have developed a responsive gaming system that ensures your game can be played on almost any device.

We developed the game I C Words as a demonstration of the cross-platform capabilities of our system. Play it on your PC, Mac, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet…anything with a Web browser.

Fierce Fun responsive games

Play I C Words here

For more information on the digital marketing potential of responsive games, please drop us a line …. we love to talk!

Fierce Fun at Dublin Comic Con 2016

Dublin Comic Con

What an event!

Colour, costumes, characters……..great fun all-round. Thanks to Pulse College for inviting us to participate in the GameDev Zone in Comic Con. It was my first time at a Comic Con and all I can say is ….wow! It is a real day out for scifi/fantasy fans and everyone else – highly recommended.

We got great feedback on our upcoming games – always good to get feedback when a game is in development. Vanessa took some amazing pictures on the day – enjoy! We did…

Full Comic Con photo album here

 

 

Dublin Comic Con