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Meet the indie studios coming to Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019

Meet the indie studios coming to Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019

Much like all of our Connects events, indie developers are an integral part of the forthcoming Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019. 

From The Big Indie PItch and PC Indie Pitch - where developers have just a few minutes to pitch their project to a series of industry judges - to the Indie Showcase, we have some astoundingly talented smaller studios at the conference, which is taking place on January 21st and 22nd. 

Ahead of the show, we caught up with some of the indie developers who are going to be at PC and Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 to hear their stories, see what they're working on and get their take on the indie games market. 

And you could be joining them. Indie developer tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 - which also grants access to PC Connects London and BlockchainGamer Connects London can be bought here, while tickets to just PC Connects London 2019 are available here

The Big Indie Awards are also taking place on January 22nd, with just a few more days for you to pick up your ticket to this night celebrating the mobile indie games scene


Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Jorge Castaño, CEO, Amazing Soul Games

    Jorge Castaño, CEO, Amazing Soul Games logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I’m Jorge Castaño, I’m CEO of Amazing Soul Games Studio based in Medellín, Colombia. My history with video games started when I was 6 years old and I got an NES for Christmas. That changed my life, and for 25 years more I’ve had my mom worried about my eyes turning ‘rectangular’ instead of circular for staring at a screen (I know, that’s what having a Latina mom feels like). I went into electronics engineering school dreaming that it would take me to make games, three years later I found out I was not closer to it and I almost quitted. Luckily, by that time, I was playing a lot of tabletop games with my friend and partner Daniel (Lead animator at Amazing Soul Games). I remember we were designing some mechanics for a game and while I was writing on a whiteboard, there was 1 question that started it all: “Can you imagine if we could do this for a living…?”.

    That’s the day Amazing Soul Games was born, later Juan and Diego joined our ranks and we’ve been making games since then. We all specialized in something different but the first years was all about study and more study. Then we started taking contracts for other companies, especially small educational games
    .
    In 2016, when we felt we had the expertise to take on a bigger project we developed and released Warrior Rush, our first mobile game which was featured in the AppStore in 48 countries. That same year we were invested by and chosen to be part of Game Founders, one of the biggest video games development incubators of the world. It’s been a roller coaster since then and right now we’re working on our most ambitious game Yardin: Rise of the Scavengers.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    At Amazing Soul Games, we believe in video games as a way to tell good stories, to talk about unknown worlds and take players into them, to make them feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves. We really miss the old games where you would sit on a couch with your friends and spend hours playing against each other, just having plain fun making you forget about the world.

    Yardin: Rise of the Scavengers does just that. It drops you on a futuristic world where the strong war between the 2 most powerful factions of the galaxy, led to the activation of a singularity phenomenon causing all the planets in the vicinity to be wiped of their technology, means of transportation and later, most of their population.

    Now, 38 years later every faction on the galaxy is fighting for natural resources. Scavengers are common to find in almost every planet, from the hero wannabe looking for treasures to the official government envoy. Everyone is trying to get his faction up ahead in the fight.

    Yardin is a nostalgic retro-styled beautifully made pixel art platformer where you play against other 3 players in a frenetic action level to survive and beat them before they beat you. It’s the perfect game for couch parties and of course, you can also play it online if you want.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    Right now, I’m at Norwich doing a Masters course in business at the University of East Anglia. I’ve been following Pocket Gamer events and articles for some years. And it seemed like the perfect time to attend the event. I applied to be a speaker and was accepted. Back in Colombia I’m also a university teacher and I love to share knowledge to others and to feel that the things I’ve learned and lived can be useful to others as well. I’m very excited to meet new people around the game development industry and hopefully find great partnerships for our game.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    It’s true that the indie market is challenging but it’s also true that there’s a huge potential in it. I think smaller developers have an advantage against bigger ones, we can take risks, we can make new and crazy IP’s while bigger companies are stuck with the formula that had worked for them but not so much anymore. The indie market has been gaining size and it will continue to get bigger as new digital stores and distribution channels open. With the right marketing I think some of the smaller studio can sell millions and with better profit margin than any other company.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    As an indie, being successful for me is to get our games known around the world and see millions of people having fun playing them. But that’s the idealistic success, on a more down to earth approach success comes from selling each game to fund a better team and have a bigger budget for the next one and keep the loop going and going.


  • 2 Tero Paavolainen, co-founder, Stolen Shoes Entertainment

    	Tero Paavolainen, co-founder, Stolen Shoes Entertainment logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I am quite much a newcomer as it comes. I graduated a year ago from University of Jyväskylä from IT where I specialized in game development.

    I've been working with Unity for roughly 4 years on different kinds of projects and JavaScript based game engines and I enjoy building systems into games. We decided to found a company 1 year ago and have been on that route since.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    RoboVirus is a robot mayhem title where players fight against each other in a heated Arena! You can play with 2 to 4 players and enjoy some party game time with your friends or relatives or whomever you wish!

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    We were pitching at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki on our mobile game title that we shot down and now we want to pitch a PC title that we had in prototype phase prior to that. We got lots of good feedback about the game but were puzzled on what direction we shall take it but now that we had 1 failure out of our system, we are more likely to succeed on the RoboVirus.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    We decided to take advantage of our expertise in different niche fields like machine learning and image recognition and do work for hire for both IT and game companies alike to fund out game making processes. This has been a time consuming yet fairly working solution for us but we would also like to concentrate on our work in the future. The biggest problem with this model is that most of the time we are a bit scarce on time and persons to develop our own products.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    For me the ideology behind founding the company was that I want to build a company where I want to work in and where others would also like to work. Facilitating this dream is part of the success as an indie. I also think that making our own games available for large audiences is crucial part in both funding and succeeding in Indie. Last but not least I want to develope games brands and series that people look forward to playing like in The Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy Series!"


  • 3 Jani Gröhn

    Jani Gröhn logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Greetings to all the readers! I’m Jani Gröhn, 24, a student developer from Finland. I’m currently studying IT at JAMK University of Applied Sciences, aiming to make a career in games.

    Most of my history in game development comes from various Game Jams and pet projects over the years. I enjoy learning more about all aspects of game development, but my strengths are in design, music and programming. My studies have been valuable in approaching games from a software development angle, and utilizing those methods in practice during game projects.

    It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a breakthrough opportunity for us to shine internationally, and we plan to bring our A-game to the conference.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Our game is Chain Lightning, a fast-paced active clicker game, where you try to contain the rapidly escalating chaos by tapping the volatile lightning bolts on your screen.

    It’s a hypercasual game at its core, but its long-term progression system, leaderboards and unlockables keep it interesting, even for an extended period of time. Competing with your friends also brings extra flavour to the mix. The gameplay loop is simply addicting.

    Intensity is one big part of the game. To reach high scores, the player must tap into their inner zen mode and give it their full concentration. It’s easy to lose yourself while breaking new records and gaining precious level ups. This intensity resonates well with our players, inciting friendly competition, even with people who normally do not care for games at all.

    Everything is topped off with the visuals. Futuristic sci-fi neon colours and electric themes come together seamlessly in the game’s art style, courtesy of our talented artist, Ivan Rubin.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    This is actually a nice story! Chain Lightning started its journey at the Pocket Jam #3, which was held in conjunction with the PGC Helsinki 2018 conference. Chain Lightning won Honorable Mention at the awards and we were really happy about that, especially since the other teams set the standards so high.

    Fast forward a couple months, we receive an email which says we have also won tickets to PGC London, and we should enter this pitch contest as well. Naturally, we are beyond excited about this opportunity and we’re eager to show what we've got!

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    I believe the advantage for smaller developers is in creative design and the power to make unorthodox decisions. They have more freedom and less pressure to conform. They have a chance to stand out and create something new, unique.

    Indies are often avid gamers themselves, so they have a close feel to the needs and wants of their customers. Therein lies their biggest strength, which only needs to be utilized to create new opportunities.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Great question! Of course, financial success is the lifeblood of any company, and I understand that professional games are products that are meant to be created to raise profit.

    However, I think there’s more to success than just that. I care very much about games in general, and consider them to be art. Certain games even have the powerful potential to affect popular culture. To ever reach that point would be more fulfilling than monetary gain.

    Success, to me, is to be widely accepted and respected by the gaming community. I’d like to eventually build a reputation as a solid developer, doing my part in creating quality games that people appreciate.


  • 4 Jonathan Stanton-Humpreys. VP business development, HitGrab Inc

    Jonathan Stanton-Humpreys. VP business development, HitGrab Inc logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    HitGrab Inc. has been around for just over 10 years now. We launched our first game, MouseHunt, on the newly minted Facebook gaming platform way back in 2008. MouseHunt still has an ardent following of fans spanning the globe who continue to contribute to its success. Over the years we have branched out into iOS and Android games, we are about to launch our first Steam game and have plans to expand into the console market in 2020.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    MouseHunt World is a brand new interpretation of our fan favourite title - MouseHunt.We have taken the fun and intrigue of MouseHunt and reimagined it into a mobile geo-location game with a strong focus on storyline and real-world touchpoints. Imagine being able to play a game with a fun storyline that leads you on a journey that weaves the whimsical into the fabric of your life, and leads you on quests that you can complete all over the world. A game that can be as passive or active as you wish it to be, but that will still enthral no matter your level of time commitment.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    We love attending gaming expos/connects because they inspire and expand our horizons. PG Connects London does an extremely good job of creating an event that provides the right mix of industry insight, networking, curated learning, and inspiration.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    The best advice I could give would be don’t fall into the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ trap. The gaming - and tech - world gives too much credence to crazy success stories which can create this false perception of ‘I’m going to build the next cult classic and make tons of money’. That’s a destructive illusion. The gaming market has matured into a deep and wide playground, for the first time game developers have this incredibly massive market that they can access fairly easily via various cloud platforms, across a board spectrum of demographics - any country, any culture, any gender, and ages three upwards. This gives small developers an incredible opportunity to build niche games for a select audience and leverage success in that arena to expand into new markets. The gaming market is so large that a small developer can build a solid future by targeting a segment as small as 0,001 per cent of the gaming market, which if monetized correctly can net well over $1million p/a.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    1: Our company ethos sums it up neatly: Together we have, and make, fun. 2: To ensure we monetise effectively so that we can continue to do 1.


  • 5 Beyondthosehills

    Beyondthosehills logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    beyondthosehills is the owner, the creator and the publisher of the products entitled The Minims and Reky. The Minims is an adventure game that has been published on iTunes and Steam, a premium game with a traction of around 70,000 downloads. Reky is a new puzzle game which will be released in January 2019. The studio has also developed a number of games for clients (B2B) on multiple genres such as adventure, simulation, puzzle, RTS, social games, interactive educational applications, AR and VR projects.

    beyondthosehills is a games development studio located in Athens, Greece. Co-founded by Maria Aloupi and Andreas Diktyopoulos and having 4 members, the studio is the outcome of the collaboration of members having a strong scientific and artistic background.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    A logic puzzle game, Reky marries an elegance of design with an architectural minimalist aesthetic to create an experience that is fresh, stylish and satisfyingly challenging. Using the one finger touch controls, the player interacts with the different puzzle elements of each level, shifting and moving them in order to create a path to the goal. Everything in the game is simple and functional, with only cubes, lines, exits, portals and a dash of colour used to create a large variety of brain-teasing challenges.

    Targeting the mobile market, Reky addresses to mid-core puzzle gamers that are looking for challenging puzzles, or, players that enjoying a minimalist look, or, players that are looking for logic challenges and new mechanics.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    To explore publishing and PR - marketing opportunities regarding our new puzzle game reky and our next project.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    We believe that a collaboration with the right publisher is a good opportunity for an indie studio. We have seen that there are opportunities in the mobile market for good/decent indie productions that having a good idea.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Success means for us at this stage, to have a mid+ success with our puzzle game, to create a community that follows our studio and go on with our next production. An important milestone for us is to be profitable enough in order to have the capability to afford a studio with full-time employees - around eight people.


  • 6 Patrik Hansson, CEO and founder, Konunger Games

    Patrik Hansson, CEO and founder, Konunger Games logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I have been around since the early Commodore 64 home computers and learned to make games on those. Have managed to start up the first school of higher education in game development, with a three-year long programming education in 1999-2000. Was among the first in the world to build free2play MMO system back in 1999, when I started my first company, and have always been as indie as you can be. In the current company I have gathered two other people that I have worked with for years and we are building modern versions of the games that affected me when I was young, which was mostly turn-based tactical or strategical games with roleplaying elements.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Our first game in Konunger Games is called The Old Gods: Rise of Darkness and is a tribute to the work of H. P. Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a tactical roleplaying games that digs deep into the history before World War I and telling stories that has not previously been told about the hidden powers of secret societies and famous people that belonged to them, and how they come to affect Europe and initialise the first World War. Of course there will be madness and unspeakable cosmic horrors, combined with real historical people and events.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    It will the first time we actually show the game to the public. Previously just a handful of people and companies has seen or knows about the game. We are attending with a playable first Episode and are ready to spread the horrors all over the world! (we are there to meet possible publishers, investors and press)

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    We have been indie since 1999 and the market has not changed much anyway, even though the gold digging days of indie might be over, which never affected us anyway. There has never been more opportunities for indies than there is right now, with digital distribution and even indie publishers, and as long as you deliver high quality games there is a demand from the players. There is always room for an alternative market alongside the triple-A market, you just need to find a way to stay alive and create what you are good at and love.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Success is to be able to continue to work with the next title and have players loving what you develop. Being able to stay alive and to not compromise when it comes to concept and ideas, have enough time to complete the game the way you want it to be, and to have fun when you work with the other developers, that is success to us. That and tons of heavy gold chains and gold rings, of course


  • 7 Hans von Knut Skovfoged, creative director, PortaPlay

    Hans von Knut Skovfoged, creative director, PortaPlay logo

    ell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I am Hans von Knut Skovfoged, the creative director of PortaPlay

    I was a pen-and-paper and board gamer back in the mid-90s, slowly starting to design my own RPGs, tabletops and digital games. As I was midway through university the first game engines started appearing, making me realize, that game development could be a possible job and not just a hobby. After some dabbling with Virtools - ohh, the agony - Game Maker and Flash, we started a game company doing asynchronous multiplayer games for Java phones.

    Then switching to PC and mobile as the big smartphone switch came along with Unity3D (being developed by some friends at the university, who we had to buy beer for, in the university canteen, as they were pretty broke).

    The last several years we have switched between working with serious games for learning, to making our own games grounded in reality or factual settings. Well, semi-factual, if you take our game Tales from the Void, about a submarine crew from WW1, who ends up in space due to a secret weapons project misfire (don't you just hate when that happens?).
    But our present and upcoming projects focus on combining challenging gameplay and serious storytelling, about serious topics grounded in history or reality.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Broken Lines - Turn-based tactics game with real-time execution, for PC, consoles, Switch and tablets.

    A game with ultra-accessible but demanding tactical gameplay, wrapped in a great story and intense atmosphere.

    Broken Lines is a war-game with a serious story, told from the perspective of the individual soldiers. A game for people who likes real-time tactics and strategy games, but are too slow to play them. Give orders to you men, while in pause - and total control. Then see the execution in real time - sometimes resulting in catastrophic failure.

    You control a squad of mismatched soldiers, fighting for survival in Eastern Europe, during WW2. A squad with both disillusioned and brutal veterans and civilized, but mostly ineffective recruits. Who can work together, who will you sacrifice and who will survive to the end?

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    To be able to tell about our game and the experience we are trying to create with it. -to press and publishers. Present the story of ordinary men and women, who experience hardship that slowly withers away their integrity, making them end up doing unethical acts, to save themselves - to survive in war-time.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    That is a long story. As a company surviving for 10-plus years, by combining contract work, partnerships and developing our own games - while never crunching nor going starving to bed, we are proof of there being opportunities for smaller developers.

    Contract work does indeed not scale well - which is also why so many chase the hit...

    But as we see it - being able to work on project for a living, while getting better at making games, eventually enabling you to make your own games (and being better at it), without living on noodles, is an opportunity - not a derailing.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    If we were in it for the money, we would be doing something else. So our goal with doing games is a combination of: 

     

    Egocentric masturbation - like many other self-absorbed artists
    And
    Trying to tell the stories which are often not told

    So success for us means getting as many people as possible, to play and be entertained by our games.
    But also to tell them stories which are usually not told in games - the dark side of the war, which so many games paint in a heroic light.
    To make games about violent conflicts and killing, experienced from the perspective of the common people, instead of from the perspective of the hero or the general (even though we also like the game Heroes and Generals).

     


  • 8 Molly Heady-Carroll and Erik van Wace, founders, Arcane Circus

    Molly Heady-Carroll and Erik van Wace, founders, Arcane Circus logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Arcane Circus is a two-person team based in the Netherlands. We see ourselves as artists who like to play around with the medium in order to create unique gaming experiences. We can’t help ourselves but wanting to experiment and innovate.

    We met while we were studying at the Utrecht School of Arts in the Netherlands, quickly finding common ground in a shared fascination for art, intrigue and games. We started out making Flash games between school projects, and eventually released our first commercial project, Crap! I’m Broke: Out of Pocket, a premium game based on our personal experiences with part-time work and paying bills. It released for iOS and Android in 2016 and received several honours, including features on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store and being exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery during the Google IndieContest 2017.

    Arcane Circus is currently working on Kaijack Card Attack, a kaiju-themed digital card game for Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. Outsmart your opponents in card battles and experience satisfying destruction in a 90’s Saturday-morning cartoon world.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    In Kaijack Card Attack, players choose one of three kaiju teams (Hagura, Ojira and Mashibuni, pictured below in that order) and attempt to conquer the districts of a city by eliminating their opponents from the district map. While most kaiju would use ol’ fashioned violence to solve their disputes, these kaiju have a problem: they’re indestructible! So when they fight, nobody wins. In order to determine the winner of their turf wars, they play a card game (Kaijack), the prize being a new area claimed for their team.

    As these matches are going on, the local news is reporting on the carnage and the army general is hatching a plan to spoil the kaiju’s fun and games.

    Kaijack is a fully hand-drawn animated experience on your portable device, inspired by 90’s American TV cartoons. Arcane Circus is honoured to work on Kaijack together with our Creative Consultant, Charles Zembillas. He is a character designer who has lent his talents to legendary properties such as He-Man, She-Ra, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PG Connects London 2019?

    We are showcasing Kaijack in the Indie Zone, pitching the game in the Very Big Indie Pitch and doing a talk about our experiences trying to break into the Japanese mobile market. Pocket Gamer Connects is also a great opportunity to keep in touch with our friends in mobile and make new friends too. We have met some of our most valuable contacts at Pocket Gamer’s events. Molly is also visiting her granny, who lives in London - Hi Molly’s Granny! We know you’re reading this!

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    For us, the opportunity lies in tapping into a niche audience instead of needing to break into an oversaturated one. This gives one the freedom to come up with new and fresh game ideas that will help shape a unique brand identity for one’s company. This is necessary in order to stand out. Small companies can afford to take risks and make little mistakes, creating wiggle room for stabilizing brand integrity.

    Our experience at events like Pocket Gamer Connects demonstrates that the industry nowadays is more willing to reach out to “the little guy”. There seems to be more interest in supporting smaller, creative developers which has created a lot of financial and marketing opportunities. For instance, Apple and Google make an effort to SEEK OUT creative talent by small developers to feature them on their platform.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    We set ourselves goals in advance at the beginning of a project. These can be financial, critical, personal, artistic or a mixture of these. These goals can evolve slightly over time, but in general our success is measured by how close we come to these initial goals.

    Once a game is released, it is very tempting to want to move the goalposts of that you wanted out of a project initially. (Especially when it comes to finances!) Achieving something you set out to do should be celebrated and it is too easy to turn that into disappointment by retroactively altering your expectations.


  • 9 Benoît Ducrest, CEO, Million Victories

    Benoît Ducrest, CEO, Million Victories logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Million Lords is Million Victories’ first game. The founding team comes from a startup and Gaming industry background.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Million Lords is a new genre of strategy MMO with no management: We removed all the boring parts of classical 4X to focus only on the fun part: battle, conquest and player progression.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    We have great results with our Beta and we are looking for a publisher or an investor to share the profits with him.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    Only smaller developers are crazy enough to bring real innovations to the gaming industry. And we are really crazy.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Inviting the team and top players to Disneyland for Christmas


  • 10 Hansjoerg Mikesch, Mental Home

    Hansjoerg Mikesch, Mental Home logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Mental Home e.U. is a 2018 founded indie game company by two people. Iris Meyer is the coding part and Hansjörg Mikesch is the creative part. With the award-winning game Feer, we entered the field as complete newbies and still are new in many aspects. Before both have worked in different and separate spaces, Iris Meyer came from coding for the web and standalone applications, Hansjörg Mikesch came from exhibition and production design for movies, TV, museums and science centers.

    What's the pitch behind your game? Feer is the first mobile game for sighted and visual impaired gamers. Both meet in a space, where gameplay is guided through the ears. In audio driven gaming one of the biggest advantages is, people can project their own minds and images into the game, so we make them co-authors of the game. Visual information is subsidiary and for entertaining. -

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    For a new company, like us, it is an honour to be invited to pitch and promote their game and besides that we are just curious.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    We believe that money-driven markets quickly exhaust and must be reanimated with even more money in marketing and ads. Indies have the big pleasure and advantage to concentrate on games itself. We want to take our chance and focus on games, that are mind openers with all assets.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Being a small company offers a variety of work in different fields. Being in a big company often means you do the same job every day. So this aspect does not mean success for us. And in small companies you like to work that much, that you have no time to spend your earning


  • 11 Nihal Tharoor, writer and narrative designer, Electric Noir Studios

    Nihal Tharoor, writer and narrative designer, Electric Noir Studios  logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development?

    My founding partner and I worked in advertising before joining the games industry. I was the copywriter, he was the art director. We founded our studio in November 2017, totally naive about the process of game development, but propelled by our vision for a mobile-first crime drama.

    This past year (and a bit) has been a marvellous learning experience. From finding our talented CTO, to closing our first round of investment, and to getting down in the trenches of game design.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    A live-action murder mystery app where you, the detective, investigate and solve murders through the smartphone of victims.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    To impress the judges at the Big Indie Pitch. To gain feedback to improve our build. To see other cool stuff being produced. And to forge a relationship with the App Store & Google Play.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    I believe - hope - there is still opportunity out there for smaller developers if they bring something truly original, engaging and accessible to the table.

    Creative visions are often best realised in small, nimble teams. And with the technology and platforms we have today, such teams have never been so empowered.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Nudging interactive fiction into the cultural mainstream. Blurring the lines between mobile gaming, film & television. Creating a sustainable and scalable business. Getting paid at the end of this month.


  • 12 Rob Hewson, CEO and creative director, Huey Games

    Rob Hewson, CEO and creative director, Huey Games  logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I've been in games development since 2005, mostly as a lead designer and game director on console and PC games. I worked on several World Snooker Championship games with Sega and Koch Media, Hydrophobia with Microsoft and Pool Nation before joining TT Games where I worked on six different LEGO titles. It was a real privilege to work with massive franchises like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Batman, Jurassic Park and Star Wars during my time there, and making LEGO games was a wonderful experience, but my ambition since I was about nine years old was to run a games company of my own. In early 2016 the opportunity came in the form of a grant from the UK Game Fund and Huey Games was born. We've done a fair bit of work-for-hire, and have ran two successful Kickstarter campaigns before self-publishing our first title, Hyper Sentinel, on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac and mobile this year.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Wreckout is multiplayer, vehicular mayhem inspired by Arkanoid, Speedball and Rocket League. You might think of it as Breakout with cars, or Car-Arkanoid if you prefer. Just like our first title, Wreckout is pure pick-up-and-play arcade action, but this time its a full-throttle party game for up to four players.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    PGC London has developed into one of the leading industry events in Europe, with all the major companies from around the world attending, so it's a great place to do business. If you are based in the UK then its the perfect event because everybody you need to meet is there, and it's a very accessible format for booking meetings and getting deals done.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?
    There are opportunities, but you need to work really hard to carve out a position for yourself. Funding is always the first and the biggest hurdle, and the competition is fierce, so you need to find an angle for your company. We've been very fortunate that we have been able to make a success of crowdfunding, and we worked flat out to get a game out the door, across all formats and to self-publish it because we knew we had the experience to be able to do that. It wasn't easy, but we understood that it was crucial to get a product on the market in order to break down some of the business barriers and to prove ourselves. I think that is absolutely crucial - how do you ship a game, quickly? Pick something simple, get it out the door, and build from there.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    As a team who have been in the industry for a long time, success means building a long-term sustainable business. We've proved we can do crowdfunding, that we can develop a great game, that we can self-publish and that we can deliver across multiple platforms. Now we need to build on that foundation and continue to refine our business model to establish ourselves for the long term. In 2019 we are taking things to a new level by launching Wreckout, porting and publishing games for other indies, and locking in even bigger projects for 2020 and beyond.


  • 13 James Morgan, co-director, Small Island Games

    James Morgan, co-director, Small Island Games logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Small Island Games is our newly formed studio and as such Haiku Adventure will be our debut title. But before we formed Small Island Games Ceri and I have both been involved in game development from different perspectives. Ceri, already an accomplished architect, co-created the Indie title Morphopolis which won acclaim with the Association of Illustrators Awards among other accolades. And as for myself coming from a humanitarian / disaster response background I built several educational games for the International Red Cross Movement including designing a VR exhibit for the World Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22).

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Lose yourself inside serene Japanese Ukiyo-e prints come to life. Experience a captivating journey across exotic landscapes, a cast of characterful spirits and philosophical exploration as you embody ‘The Old One’ - an unconventional protagonist on an unlikely quest to stop a volcano. Wield the power of poetry to untangle curious conundrums and restore the natural order.

    Haiku Adventure is an original and distinct point and click adventure that not only weaves a captivating story across a beautifully illustrated world but, uniquely for the genre, allows players to unpack puzzles with poetry.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    Pocket Gamer/PC Connects is a great space to connect with other developers and publishers and as a new indie game on the block these kind of connections are really important to us. We’re also really excited to be competing in the Big Indie Pitch which we’ve been a part of in the past and has been a really fun and energetic way to put our game out there and hone our pitch!

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    The indie market can be a daunting place but we also believe that due to the accessibility of various digital distribution platforms as well as the fantastic indie games press, good games will always be recognised in one form or another and given the right promotional push, rise to surface. It’s a market and a community that rewards creativity, artistry, craft and embraces games of all shapes and sizes. For that, we are super happy to be a part of it.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    As a two man band (+ talented friends) our ambitions are humble. At a basic level just realising our vision and putting our game out there is success for us. Knowing we made something that is our own and speaks uniquely to our ideas and worldview means so much to us. Beyond that we hope our game finds enough of an audience, not to make us rich (Though that would be nice!) but enough to allow us to keep making games. That to us would be living the dream.


  • 14 Niklas Holm Emriksson, CEO/Designer, Lamp Ant Games

    Niklas Holm Emriksson, CEO/Designer, Lamp Ant Games logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    Well, whats to tell? I used to work in a completely different area when I realised that I didn´t want to continue down that career path. I started studying game design at the University of Skövde here in Sweden. On my second year I was lucky enough to be teamed with some very talented fellow students from different disciplines in game development. We kicked off right from the start and there and then began the work on what became our current game.

    But why did I start in game development? Well, you could say that I have been doing game dev for almost 30 years, without actually creating any games. When I started playing games I could easily pinpoint WHY I like a certain game, identify what made it appeal to me. Where a lot of people say "I like this game", I say "This is why I like this game". Needless to say, I spent more time in my first years in school designing Mega Man levels instead of listening to my teacher.

    As I grown older I have also found an interest in applying game theory and mechanics into real life, and how games can be used in educational use. I have a few ideas about this but thats for another time.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    A satirical work simulator that uses comedy to handle dark subjects. With its one-button controls and extensive use of sound and voice acting its designed to be accessible to both blind and people with reduced motor skills.

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    We attended a local games conference back in October and participated in the Big Indie Pitch held there. The pitch went ok, even though we were very ill-prepared, so we got the suggestion to come to London and try again. After talking it through we thought it was a great opportunity to make a better pitch and a greater impact. This time we come (better) prepared and are looking forward to everything that the event has to offer.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    I would say that for me, and the reason I opted going indie instead of applying for a position at a triple-A company, is the possibility to try new things. I believe that doing what's being done is dull and limits your creativity. As an indie I get to experiment with mechanics and themes in a way I don´t think are possible at a big company. We have the freedom to do whatever we want instead of walking down the safe path of proven concepts that alot of the bigger names are more or less forced to do due to economical reasons.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    First of all: "success", in my opinion, has a very individual definition.

    Sure, I would love to be able to make a living creating games, but more important is that my games creates emotions. If my games could make people laugh, cry or in any other way move them, that would to me be considered a success. In the best of worlds I would be able to make those kinds of games for a living.


  • 15 Adetona Ajao, Fraxel Games

    Adetona Ajao, Fraxel Games logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development.

    I got recruited into the industry by Sony Online Entertainment (Now Daybreak) back in 2012 because I was listening to the right twitch Stream at just the right time, as John Smedley, my old boss, jumped into the stream to talk to the hosts about the coolest sounding project that year, EverQuest Next and EverQuest Landmark. The moment they opened the chat for questions and I found out they where looking for a Spanish CM I sent my CV instantly and that's how I got my first break, as the Spanish CM for all of SOE's online IP's at the time (Everquest I & II, Planetside 2, DC Universe, Landmark & H1Z1). That lasted until Sony sold SOE and it became Daybreak, booting a whole bunch of us in the acquisition as these things tend to go. After tha,t I kept on working community, first for Gazillion and their Marvel Heroes AMMO and then I did a year for Riot Games. After that, I left the industry for a couple of years, building CRM systems for a company called CABIFY before being roped back into the games industry by a couple of friends. Those are the people I started Fraxel Games with, and I've never been happier than working in our little indie studio.

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Follow Angus and his friends in this 90s inspired action adventure game, where you shoot cats at monsters as you travel through the surreal worlds created by the imagination of Angus and his gang, for they must learn to work together if they're to face their biggest challenge yet: Stopping the Catpocalypse!

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    To take part in the Big Indie Pitch, of course! We first did it in last year's GIC and it was a whole lot of fun (and very useful to boot)! So there was no way I was passing up the opportunity of doing it again. And if you, reader, happen to be the person in your company that needs to talk to publishers/investors about your game, you should ABSOLUTELY come too! There's nothing quite like having to distill the essence of your project into a marketable product in 4 minutes or less. Really helps to cut on the fluff and really dig into what makes your game special.

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    Our industry is in a rather curious phase right now. There are more than 1.8 billion gamers worldwide, and considering wherewe were a mere decade ago, it has become the single fastest growing entertainment industry in the history of our species considering it all started only 30 years and change ago. Whenever such movement and migrations between forms of media happens, big changes are bound to happen with them, and with games such as Fortnite breaking through every single genre and shaking things up by it's sheer numbers of players, a new paradigm will emerge once the dust settles. Paradigm that will last until the next great thing changes the landscape once more. Such are times of wonders and portents for everyone in the industry, from the smallest of devs to the biggest of the triple-A crowd. And it is in those moments when we indies should be there to fill the gaps. To have something to say and to find an audience to say it to, such is our battle. But what an incredible position we're in with so many of us. Tough? Incredibly so, but also wonderful in that I've never dreamed of having such an incredible array of different games, unique stories and experimental awesomeness as we do right now. We wish to add our voices to that wonderful cacophony of experiences, because in the end it's all we can do. After all, it's the players the ones that will tell us if our stories/experiences connect with them or not. And our audiences have never been as diverse and as intelligently informed as they are now. It's a very exiting time to be telling stories in this format!

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Success for us means being big enough to sell enough games to keep us fed and with a little something in the bank, but staying small enough to pursue whatever we find more creatively challenging without having to make too many compromises. That's the sweetspot we'd wish to exist in. Getting there is a whole other matter, though :P


  • 16 Charlotte Sutherland, Cave Monsters

    Charlotte Sutherland, Cave Monsters logo

    Tell us a bit about you and your history in games development?

    I started off as an animator back in 2007 and moved around the country as a contractor, I worked at Tt Games, EA, Rare and Sumo Digital. After deciding to settle down in Sheffield I finally had the opportunity to get back into the art side of things and start developing my own ideas to create a game I'd really want to play. I've always loved point & click adventures (I grew up with Monkey Island and Grim Fandango) so decided that I'd finally take a bit of me time and go indie!

    What's the pitch behind your game?

    Lord Winklebottom Investigates: The Case of the Expired Axolotl is a 2D point and click narrative adventure game for PC, console and tablets, set in an alternative 1920s populated entirely by animals.

    You play as Lord Winklebottom, the gentleman giraffe, aided by his hippo companion Dr Reginald Frumple. Invited to an isolated island, only to find your host, Admiral Gilfrey is dead! Suspecting foul play, you will search for clues, solve puzzles and interrogate suspects in order to solve the crime!

    Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?

    I am attending for my first time taking part in the PC Indie Pitch, and to potentially make new contacts for upcoming marketing and media coverage. Really looking forward to it!

    Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?

    I feel that there's a lot of opportunities for showcasing your game on little to no budget, so make the most of them to help establish your audience early on.

    There's also Kickstarter, once you've established there is an audience it's worth getting them involved early in the development process. I'm launching a Kickstarter for Lord Winklebottom Investigates in February 2019 as a lot of people at various shows have asked if I'm planning on crowdfunding as they were very keen to back it.

    As an indie, what does success mean to you?

    Success to me is realising that there is an audience for your game and that there's other people out there who are as excited about it as you are during development.


Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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