There we were in the Robocat office Michael Flarup and I talking about Freedom Earth. Michael started telling me his background and how he had developed games since childhood. He said that he agreed to the meeting because he found Freedom Earth to be different compared to other ideas he received – it had that “something” that made it distinctive from the masses but it was also lacking stuff and the concept was still a bit unclear. Most ideas strand in the first phase but he really hoped I could bring it further than that – he wanted to see it succeed.
He didn’t want to develop the game nor did he want to take partial ownership of the game but in the two hours the meeting lasted, he gave me some great advices on how he thought I should proceed with Freedom Earth – advices that literally changed the game.
1. Make a full written game concept.
The very first thing I should do was to write a full game concept that describes all the aspect of the game, to make it clear what the game was all about, going into as many details as possible. What happens when you first fire up the game? How are players rewarded? When and how is the winner found? What about the economy behind and where is the fun? In particular the ‘fun factor’ was an issue he got back to several times “define the fun…” he said, people seek rewards and fun is the key. A finished game concept was a must…
2. A prototype?
He asked if I had considered a prototype of the game? Having a finished game concept and a prototype will also show investors the sincerity of the project and make it more interesting to invest in – I recall he said:
“There are millions of great ideas out there, but they have no real value as simple ideas alone. It is transforming the idea into a full written game concept, describing all the aspects of the game, perhaps even with a prototype at hand that turns the idea from a raw uncut stone to something with a true value… and something worth investing in.”
Not that a prototype was the only path to follow but it was definitely an option I should consider.
3. Speak open about the game.
Michael told me to speak open about the game. He spent 10 minutes explaining the process of designing a game from the ground to release; the massive amount of planning, time consuming, programming, designing, testing, re-programming, re-testing, all the money spent and all the serious hard work – so chances that someone would copy the exact same concept to do all that was very small, so no need to keep it tight.
if I spoke openly about it then I might stumble upon someone who found the game worth investing in or gave me feedback to improve the game or people who shared my vision and were willing to be part of it. The benefits of being open minded were many. I later discovered another reason why I shouldn’t keep the idea secret.
4. Startup Weekends and game jams…
Michael introduced me to Startup Weekends founded by Google and running all over the world every weekend. The idea was simple: You meet up Friday morning and have 60 seconds to pitch your idea in front of many other like minded people from developers to coders, finance people, graphic designers etc. You then gather a team composed of those who find your idea appealing and then you have the weekend to get something cooking! Beside Startup Weekends there were Game Jams which was somewhat similar – just with a clear focus on games instead.
5. Meeting conclusion
We talked about crowdfunding, the pros and cons of getting charities to invest in the game, we talked about free-to-play and advertising in-game. He said Robocat could be hired for a day or two where they would do a brainstorming to come up with ideas to implement in the game. He explained that if I ever got the game in development, to test the game on a very early stage – that was his experience. He also said they could make the prototype, but it would cost and he acknowledged they were expensive.
The last words we exchanged before we shook hands was me thanking him for his time and he wished me good luck and hoped that I could use some of the things we talked about. He said that I was welcome to write any time if I had any questions. I told him that he had opened my eyes for the time consuming domain I was about to enter and exactly that was my biggest issue: Available free time with full time shift work (wife too), two small kids and a side business as a sound designer, to which he replied:
“Quit your full time job and pursue this…” and we shook hands.