Henry Hoffman always wanted to make games.
Since he was nine he's been making little games, but his first real title was Mush, a BAFTA-winning project that him and four other developers made in the 12-week Dare To Be Digital competition while he was at university in Newport.
Dare To Be Digital is the single most important factor in me being a developer,” Hoffman tells MCV.
We built a game called Mush, which won. We landed a publishing deal with Microsoft. So while I was at university we were building this game, which we published before graduating. That was great but we were quite a big team. There were five of us and it would be difficult to fund that outside of university.
So when I left, I teamed up with Daniel Da Rocha who worked on QUBE, which I did a few bits for at university, and we formed a new team. He used his profits from QUBE to bootstrap a new studio, which was called Mudvark [now it's called Fiddlesticks]. We made a mobile puzzle game called Mortar Melon in about three months as that's all we really had the budget for. It was really successful. It got nearly 1m downloads and we were able to use that to secure investment for our dream game.”
That game is colour-focused platformer Hue, which is set for launch at the start of 2016. The title centres around players being able to change the background colour of stages in order to hide or reveal objects in the foreground.
My favourite part of games development is trying to device new mechanics,” Hoffman says.
I love that every game mechanic has not been discovered – there's this uncharted territory that you can go and explore.”
To make Hue – on top of its profits from Mortar Melon – Fiddlesticks turned to [investment fund] Kuju Startups for further cash.
It's very important for these funds to be available,” Hoffman explains. We wouldn't have been able to make Hue without them. On Mush, it got to the point where I had a full-time job and I was working on the game in my spare time. That was sustainable for maybe three months at the tail-end of development, but there's no way that it could support a game of this scope for one or two years.”
Kuju is also helping the team claim back tax using the recently-introduced UK tax breaks.
This is what Kuju is very good with,” Hoffman says. [Back tax] will be contributing to our finishing fund. We wouldn't have enough money to complete the game if it weren't for these tax breaks.”
But in addition to this, Fiddlesticks has also secured the services of publisher Curve.
One of the big things for us is getting the game onto multiple platforms,” Hoffman explains.
I'm the only developer here, so just getting Steam integration working is really hard. And we don't have the resource for extra developers you'd need to target all platforms. I've been through the console submission process and it was painful. Any help we can get to streamline that is good.”
Interface takes place on November 12th at St Mary's Church. Indie devs can bring their projects along to pitch to the likes of Execution Labs, Channel 4's All 4 Games and 505 Games.
You can book tickets to the event here, and find out more viawww.interface.events.