Underwater puzzle game on hold as Andy and the team gather momentum on their Sudoku game

Building a studio from scratch: Week 13

[Go here to find all entries in Gahan’s diary]

Week 13

Now that things are starting to really move, it’s about time we started to get contracts sorted out for the way that we’re working. Although we’ve not finished anything yet, it’ll ensure we don’t hit any problems later on if we all know who’s going to be doing what, and what the rewards will be.

We contacted a great guy called Alex Chapman through our North West Indies group, and his company Sheridans Solicitors (www.sheridans.co.uk).

Sheridans have one of Europe’s leading teams of lawyers specialising in games and helping developers in particular. Their clients include lots of indie developers like Mojang, Playdead, Hello, Introversion and Hog Rocket – and bigger studios like Splash Damage, Slightly Mad Studios, Double 11 and Sumo.

They have an initiative of helping people that have come from larger games developers to start up their own ventures. They are friendly, approachable, very experienced and understand the needs of developers.

In terms of specifics they help businesses from 1 man indies through to AAAs, deal with issues from setting up, how best the deal with IP and doing deals with publishers and platforms to growing, taking on staff and investment and ultimately selling out – so they seem like a good match for us.

So far we’ve kept spending to an absolute minimum, but incoming cash is non-existent – we do have work in progress though so we should probably see some cash coming in, in the next few months, and we prepared well setting up, so we’re not worried about cash at all in the short term.

On Sudoku Logic we’ve started to get the game boards together and we have a playable board using placeholder art. I’ve gone for 2 styles of board to give the player a bit of choice. I mocked them both up as tests and decided to keep them.

The tough part of this game will be setting the difficulty so that it is easily accessible (how many times have you heard that?) for the mainstream and the beginners and making sure that the harder levels present a good challenge to the hardcore.

To help with this we’ll be having 4 levels of difficulty Easy, medium, Hard and Expert. We’ll need to get the game tested too, so we’ll start to recruit for our testing department (only joking). Wow, the things you miss when you’re not in a massive team, concept art, user interface design, QA, etc.

We’ll recruit some Sudoku fans remotely and we’ll rely on friends and family to be the mainstream for this task.

One great trick for finding people that I use is a mixture of Twitter and Twellow – for those of you that don’t use Twitter, think about it – it can be very useful for connecting with people all over the world that have the same interests as you.

To find them use Twellow. Just log into Twellow with your twitter account and search for what you’re looking for – in our case Sudoku fans. If they have ‘Sudoku’ in their Twitter description, then they will come up in the search, then just follow them. When they follow you back, which they often do, strike up a conversation and you’re away. Are there any Sudoku fans reading this? If there are, I’d sure like to talk to you.

Finally, I’ve just had an idea for an app that I was going to look into. It’s a very simple idea and it might be worth trying to get that done very quickly to get something out on the app store and hopefully get some cash coming in. I’m not sure; I might spend a day on it and see how it looks.

Total money spent so far

Our underwater game is temporarily on hold whist Paul is away.

* The artwork for Sudoku Logic is coming together nicely.
* The outsourcing is cooking along, but we could still use a couple more environment artists.
* Spending is still at a minimum.

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