Cloudfire Studios

NZGDC 2018, results, feedback and progress for Starport Delta

Wow it’s been a busy month for the Cloudfire team, with application results coming in, the New Zealand Game Developers Conference and of course, more progress on Starport Delta!

This year we applied to the NZGDA‘s Kiwi Game Starter competition, a programme for New Zealand start-up companies or people wanting to start up a company around an interactive game product they’re building that hasn’t been released yet. We had previously submitted Rampage Arena and while we didn’t make the finalists it was still good to get feedback on the game. The application process this year had a heavy business component that we spent a lot of time on, and it was an interesting exercise for us doing some additional research that focused more on the business and less on the creative or technical elements of building a game. This year we were unfortunately unsuccessful at getting to the finalists, however the feedback was generally positive. Our development timeline was noted as solid but ambitious, and that we may need some assistance in our marketing and social media efforts. Marketing and social media are definitely an area that we are currently looking to upskill in.

Congratulations to all of the games and developers who were this year’s KGS finalists! Atone by Wildboy Studios, Before by Balancing Monkey Games, Seedlings by Peter Bardsley and a massive congratulations to this year’s winner, Ten Thousand Coins by Tough Love Productions! Everyone should definitely go and check them out. The Cloudfire team was rooting for Cynthia at Tough Love Productions in particular as we have enjoyed watching her development journey and have been seriously impressed at the appearance of Ten Thousand Coins as a KGS finalist for the last three years running. As NZGDA chairperson Michael Vermeulen announced each of the finalists, a common theme that he was impressed with from all them was was how far along in the development effort all the games were – Starport was perhaps just a bit too early in the development process for this year’s judges.

We also applied to the inaugural Creative Business Cup New Zealand, a national event focused on supporting creative industries start-ups. This was a different kind of submission as the application questions focused far more on the business both practically and philosophically, and less on the product (although still an important part). While the judges were impressed with our team and our persistence to our vision, unfortunately we didn’t make it to the finals as the judges felt that the business concept was too early to judge. A big congratulations to all the finalists, Kete, Excio, The Zingoshi Chronicles, Co Kaha and Dcodeda. We were very happy to see games represented in the inaugural year in different ways by both Kete and The Zingoshi Chronicles – this sets a great precedent for acknowledging the place that games have as a creative industry. Good luck to the winner Excio as they head to the world Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen to represent New Zealand in November, we will be watching and rooting for you!

The Cloudfire team also headed up to Auckland for this year’s NZGDC, taking in some great talks and connecting with the great crowd that is the game development community in New Zealand. We also participated in this year’s Indie Biz Showcase, getting a chance to show off the latest build of Starport Delta, get some more feedback and talk games! It was a great evening and we hope that the NZGDA can grow the event to encompass more of the public in the future. As a representative of an up-and-coming indie studio, Cloudfire’s Leith Caldwell also got an invite to the Studio Managers Meeting to learn about and discuss issues affecting our industry. Governmental support and a broader support for initiatives to grow the industry through investment were some key themes, alongside developing closer relationships with our tertiary institutions to help develop their game development curricula. We’ve seen a lot of talent coming out of the new Bachelors in Applied Immersive Game Design available at the University of Cantebury’s School of Product Design; other universities around New Zealand in some cases only have a single game development paper. If we as a country are going to seriously develop local talent to recruit for studios here and export talent around the world, this is an area where tertiary education can certainly lift their game and have good model programs to look at both here and abroad.

The games industry has been in the news recently, as New Zealand game development continues to grow to a record high with no signs of slowing down as kiwis top the charts. The NZGDA compiles a report on the state of the industry each year, and this year’s games industry report makes for an impressive read. Last year saw promises from Labour to support massive growth in the local games industry, and with numbers like that, we will hopefully see a New Zealand Interactive Commission on the horizon. Also of interest in game development news right now are the elections for the NZGDA board! Our very own Ian Shephard is running and has a lot of talent and experience to bring to the table, so for those of you who want to see him represent your interests, vote for Ian! Also running from Christchurch is Tim Bourne from local studio CerebralFix – it’s great to see representation from Christchurch in the candidates.

Since our last update there’s been a lot happening with Starport Delta, including: a new UI that has a locking progression to help teach the basic game mechanics; animations; mining depots & asteroids; mining and supply ships; a new orbiting support satellite; some bug-fixes/speed boosts; defense shields & meteor showers; area of influence visuals; and a start has been made on the music! For more information follow Starport Delta on Facebook, Cloudfire on Twitter and check the Starport Delta page here on the Cloudfire Studios website. We’ve also starting to cross-post on the new Starport Delta Instagram, so come check us out!