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Incubating at Failbetter: Pixel Trickery

A guest post from our first incubee, after his game was 300% funded on Kickstarter

Greetings, scrumptious acquaintances. Did I get that right? I'm Harry Tuffs, an indie dev making a game called A House of Many Doors, and over the last few months I've been incubating at Failbetter Games.

It's been a fantastic experience, and I'd recommend it to any other small first-time indie in the London area – especially one making a narrative-based game. But what exactly is 'incubation'? And when will I hatch? Will it be a horrific body-horror sort of thing, or more of a spiritual awakening?

Well, that final question is still open-ended – all I know is that I woke up this morning with a perfect crack running down from the corner of my eye – but I can answer the first.

Incubation means sitting in the corner of the Failbetter offices and basking in their friendly, warm atmosphere while I quietly get on with development. It's not exactly an internship – I'm not helping Failbetter with Failbetter-related things. Failbetter are instead giving me a lovely environment to work in which comes with free fruit, coffee, and wisdom.

The wisdom has changed my life more than the coffee or fruit. A House of Many Doors was recently fully-funded on Kickstarter, and on the long path to getting to that point, Failbetter helped guide me around innumerable pitfalls, sometimes so tactfully that I barely noticed. Thanks to Failbetter, I was warned about the intensity of the pre-Kickstarter period, and the amount of preparation that I'd need to do. They helped me make practical changes to my development schedule, reminding me that things like adding audio assets would take time that needed to be accounted for. And they helped me think strategically about how I present my game to the world – providing helpful advice on both the language I use and the game's trailer, which thanks to their help I was able to make faster, punchier, more interesting.

They've also given me insight into the Failbetter process – I've been able to sit in on meetings and writers' workshops, and listened to them discuss and debate everything from narrative direction to business strategy. This has been hugely helpful – just seeing how they approach problems has helped me change the way I do the same, on a smaller scale.

There's one last thing, too. I can't emphasize enough just how useful it is to be able to get out of my bedroom and surround myself with people. Making an indie game is a lonely process sometimes, and the office culture at Failbetter is friendly and funny and kind.

I would encourage anyone else in my position to apply for the incubation scheme. The culture, the environment, and the advice – these are the things that Failbetter can offer a small indie dev, and they are invaluable.