In their years of working with small developers through the cooperative-owned game brand Glitch, CEO Evva Karr noticed a serious problem.
While Karr had met many small, diverse game development teams with talented creators and ingenious ideas that they thought could be incredibly successful, these teams struggled. Some did not have the initial funding needed to get their projects started, while others simply lacked the practical knowledge to publish a game at all. Can you handle it, but how about pitching it to publishers, marketing it, publishing it on consoles, or running a studio as a business? It turns out that none of this information is readily available to a lot of future developers.
What’s more, Karr felt the gaming audience was sadly understaffed. Different individuals: women, colored people, LGBTQ + individuals, all play games, but often do not get the same opportunities to make games that have been made by the historically white and male industry for decades. Fortunately, Karr through Glitch was able to do something.
Karr started the Moonrise Fund, an early game investment fund that focused on supporting what they describe as “new types of gameplay not seen before.” Moonrise backs a constant stream of upcoming studies in their early stages of development on new projects, while also offering advice and mentorship as they go. All the while, it builds a network of successful developers who can share knowledge with each other and gradually build on the support it can offer its developers over time.
Knowing that it sounds like a dream, Karr tells IGN that Moonrise is their attempt to show the entire gaming industry that the ways in which games are made – and how the people who make them are treated – can be much better.
“I believe there is a bigger, better, more inclusive and just completely revitalized gaming industry that is possible,” Karr says. “I think it’s someone who is sustainable, possibly co – creative and also shaped by new players and new experiences.”
To that end, Moonrise has announced the first three studies it supports and offered some goodies about their upcoming projects. The first is Club of the Future, a co-op game studio formed by the developers of Skull Girls and Indivisible. They are working on a secret project at the moment, although CEO Francesca Esquenazi was able to tease it a bit: an original IP that is narrative-focused. Future Club does it both with the mind to showcase its critically acclaimed animation and character design, as well as centering stories from women’s perspective.
Next is Virtuoso Neomedia, which right now has three projects underway, all in different genres. There’s Raddminton, a fighting game and racket sports mash-up. Then there’s Killer Auto, a futuristic racer. And finally, Zodiac XX is a narrative underwater dogfighting game. Virtuoso places special emphasis on music in its games and works with artists such as 2Mello and DV-i on its upcoming projects.
Finally, Moonrise backs up Perfect Garbage, the studio behind Love Shore, which also works on an unannounced genre mash that mixes classic gameplay loops with new storytelling ideas and centers the perspectives of colored people and LGBTQ + individuals. Oh, and they love horror.
One thing all three studies have in common is that while they were all up and running before Moonrise’s support, their ambitions were much less before their help. Son M., project director at Perfect Garbage, says their ultimate goal is to become self-sustaining. “We’ve lived that Kickstarter life and decided we’m tired of it already.”
Instead of waiting until they sent two or three more games to attract funding, Perfect Garbage was able to conceptualize its next game as the game they really, really wanted to make. Narrative designer Emmett Nahil adds that Moonrise’s direction, advice and availability also changed the game, calling it “honest-to-god mentorship.”
Ethan Redd, head of Virtuoso, notes that Moonrise also supported his studio’s “furious independence,” saying the studio wants to do “weird things” with games and how it releases them. And then there is the Future Club, which as a working co-op – where all employees have an equal influence on decision-making and profits – has a structure that can potentially make traditional game financing models challenging to work with. But because of Moonrise, they were able to make a key new hiring and find time and space to work on something new, instead of putting their main project aside from performing Skullgirl’s contract work to keep the lights on.
“There are games we’ve wanted to make for a really long time,” said Future Club creative director Mariel Kinuko Cartwright. “And it’s hard to find people who’s on board and in the same way are completely open-minded about exploring these possibilities. Moonrise … says, we believe in you, we want it to happen, we can help you. to get there because the things you want to do should exist. “
Then there is the handy help where Moonrise offers access to documents as simple as budget templates. Redd notes that so much of the decision-making and data is kept behind closed doors in the gaming industry, so developers of their size do not often get to work with actual numbers when doing things like setting goals and making sales and marketing plans. Nahil adds that this is especially true for marginalized developers.
“As a self-owned and run indie studio, we always do learning in the workplace. It’s all good, but it helps if someone gives you a textbook. You learn by doing, but you also learn by having access to the things that people have [already] learned so you do not just operate in the vacuum. “
Moonrise’s goal is to support and lift “new forms of play”, and the management of its first three studios are eager to contribute to this vision. As Redd notes, Moonrise’s openness about what games can be will not only benefit members; anyone who likes games will eventually benefit from several new, interesting ideas.
“The fact that games [traditionally] being made by people with similar backgrounds, similar education, all that, it homogenizes, “he says.” When you bring in new people with fresh ideas, you get fresh games … you get to see people you do not would have seen before they did things you probably have not seen before. “
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.