AgriKids Virtual Reality App

Fierce Fun was contracted by AgriKids to create a virtual reality app as part of their digital product range. AgriKids was founded with the vision to create a concept that would engage, educate and empower children to become farm safety ambassadors. Through this ethos, the company has developed a collection of innovative products for children to create dialogue and positive awareness in homes and classrooms on farm safety awareness and practice.

As a highly innovative farm safety promoter, AgriKids were looking to explore the potential of virtual reality apps to educate children about real farm safety issues. The design brief was that the app should allow users to freely move around a virtual farm. The app would teach users what the different safety signs mean and where they belong. The virtual farm would need the follow areas:

  • Chemical store
  • Slurry pit
  • Bull Pen
  • Electrical point
  • Farm entrance
  • River / Water area

The VR app was developed for the Oculus Right was tested at several agricultural events. It proved very popular with young children and their parents!

App Screenshots here:

Game Rating for Parents

As the graphic quality and production values used in console games are on a par with movies, it is important for parents to consider which games are suitable for their children. Children can play games on a variety of devices from consoles to mobiles. Regardless of the device, the game’s rating should be checked to see if it suitable for young player.

There are various game rating systems used around the world. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is the system used in Europe and Ireland. Essentially PEGI is an age rating system used to classify games. It is similar to the film rating system where you are tags such as PG (parental guidance) and R (restricted). Age ratings are a simple way to help parents decide if the content is appropriate for their children.

PEGI does not take into account the difficulty of the game – it only considers the age suitability of a game. So, if you buy a PEGI7, there is no guarantee that your 7-year-old will like it.

Game Rating

Here are the PEGI Ratings:

PEGI 3
FOR THE YOUNGEST – VERY MILD
The content of apps with this rating is considered suitable for all age groups. Some violence in a comical cartoon context is acceptable. A child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real-life characters; they should be distinctly fantasy. The app should not contain anything that are likely to scare young children, including bad language.

PEGI 7
FOR DEVELOPING CHILDREN
This is similar to PEGI3 but may contain some content that could possibly be frightening for children. There can only be very mild violence in a PEGI 7 e.g. think falling into water, getting hit of the head – again, more cartoon like, nothing realistic

PEGI 12
MORE REALISTIC
With this rating, the games are becoming a bit more realistic. They may show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters, or non-graphic violence towards human-looking characters or animals. The game character will look more lifelike. Their clothes and attire will be more typical of male and female game characters. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.

PEGI 16
REAL LIFE CONTENT
Once the depiction of violence or sexual activity reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life, this rating is applied. Stronger inappropriate language, encouraging the use of tobacco or drugs, and depicting criminal activities can be content of apps that are rated 16.

PEGI 18
ADULT ONLY
The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence (motiveless killing, violence towards defenseless characters or sexual violence). It may also include graphic sexual content, discrimination or the glamorisation of illegal drug use.

Hopefully you find this these rating useful when considering game content for your children. Another tip would be look at the game trailer and screenshots before purchasing a game. The game trailer will give a quick overview of the gameplay and is useful in assessing its suitability.

Playing Online or Mobile Games – Protecting your Children’s Privacy

The traditional view of safe gaming content for children is having non-violent content without any adult themes. Much like movies, parents should follow the rating guidelines attached to the game. The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating system is widely used in Europe and Ireland. As a parent, you should not let your child play a game that is not PEGI rated.

However, PEGI only considers appropriate gaming content. What about your child’s online information? Even without registering an account, most games track your gameplay data. Free-to-play games rely heavily on advertising, so they track as much player data as possible. So how do you protect your child’s online data?

Well to start, you need to make sure that the publisher/developer of the game has an available privacy statement, regarding their content. They need to acknowledge and comply with GDPR and have a nominated Data Protection Official. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) are the regulations in EU law on data protection and privacy. Essentially GDPR  aims primarily to give control to individuals over their personal data .

Also, parents need to be aware of games that need registered accounts. Children (under 13) should not set up game accounts. They should be setup by the parents. For older children and teenagers, parents should still be aware of any game accounts registered. Even though they may not be commercial accounts, younger players could still be supplying personal information via the account. For many game companies, information in the new currency and players of all ages need to be aware of this.

 The best advice for parents is to stay involved when your child is gaming. Like all online content, it is very important to maintain an open dialogue with your children on their online activities.

Fierce Fun plans to make Irish kids smarter!

Press Release for Mindframe Arena: 16 January 2020

Fierce Fun plans to make Irish kids smarter

It’s time to wean the kids off Fortnite and try a new game developed in Ireland

Who would have thought that video games can help in your child’s development? Well, they can as part of a ‘balanced diet’ of educational content. Irish game developer Fierce Fun has just released their digital board game Mindframe Arena - a ‘Smart and Safe’ game designed for a family-friendly environment.

As games like chess can be off-putting for some children, Mindframe Arena is a great way to introduce children to intellectually stimulating activities such as board and strategy games. Based on classic board games like chess, Mindframe Arena requires skill and strategy to play – yet it is easy and fun to learn. Research has shown that playing board games can help in the development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Peter Lynch from Fierce Fun states “From showing the game at events and conventions in Ireland, we found that 7 to 10-year olds really enjoyed it as did their parents.”

Irish parents can rest assured with the following Smart and Safe game features:

  • No in-game chat or messaging
  • No graphic violence
  • No analytics or tracking
  • Parental purchase & social media locks

Mindframe Arena is available  as a free download on Google Play and the Apple Apps Store.

Apple App Store Page
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mindframe-arena/id1490433142#?platform=iphone

Google Play Page
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FF.MindframeArena&hl=en_IE

YouTube Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzC3_gNplPM&t=21s

Media Kit URL:
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AvOVpBTawgOGgq1D5tAa1oJpBE7kIQ?e=DL1OfL

 

 

Major Shootout

Fierce Fun recently developed a game for the online sports portal Pundit Arena. Pundit Arena has created one of Europe's fastest growing sports publishing platforms that allows the mass creation of quality content across all sports throughout the world.

They required an Irish sports themed game that would primarily work on mobile Web browsers. They also needed the ability for users to share the game via social networks such as Facebook. The game was launched on time for a promotional campaign undertaken by Pundit Arena and one of their clients.

Game Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game screenshots

 

 

 

 

 

World Cup Rugby Rampage

PLAY IT NOW!

 

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

Spread the word

 

 

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………….