More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Games Lift: Bagpack Games keep moving

They've been around for a few years now: Bagpack Games have successfully established themselves in the Hamburg scene. Now they are bringing a real eye-catcher of an idea to the Games Lift Incubator.

Thomas Hedden and Markus Albert are the type of colleagues who finish each other’s anecdotes. Even when their project “We the Valarii” keeps evolving, they remain in harmony. Their project in the Games Lift Incubator revolves around one simple idea: spinning. "We the Valarii” is an unusual coop-adventure. Bagpack Games combine original game mechanics with fascinating but mysterious characters. The titular Valarii are brightly coloured, yet they resemble natural creatures, their limbs reminiscent of roots. Together, they fight a mysterious corruption that chokes their world. Moving around, gathering resources and healing the environment are all triggered by the same kind of interaction. 

Thomas Hedden, who does 3D, Tech Art and Animation, explains the origins of their current project. Bagpack cooked up a silly game idea that boiled all tasks down to a simple interaction: rotating a thumbstick. The input method proved surprisingly fun. So, they came up with a new project, but “kept the spin,” programmer and level designer Markus Albert sums up. 

On the road together


Bagpack Games tinker with their creative ideas.

“We the Valarii” is testament to Albert’s and Hedden’s creativity. The game's visuals may still be “in flux,” as Hedden puts it. But even in its current form, they are striking: The Valarii are unusual characters, but they catch the eye with their expressive and colorful looks. According to Albert, many design aspects still must “find their form.” But so far, “capturing the audience visually” has worked well. 

The Valarii were always meant to star in a cooperative adventure game, but the focus has changed. The game concept keeps evolving through discussions in the Incubator’s workshops and in the studio. Now, the game is less about speedy movement and more about entering a mysterious world with interesting problems to solve together. But it all keeps revolving around simple game mechanics that are entertaining in their execution: By rotating the thumbstick or mouse, the Valarii can move and interact with the world.  

While this works well in principle already, Bagpack is still working out the details. When they talk about their game, they tend to talk themes and goals rather than losing themselves in the small stuff. Playing it shouldn't be too easy or too difficult, neither trivial nor frustrating. To allow play between different skill levels, everything is tuned to make for a beginner-friendly experience. Playables will demonstrate exactly how spinning works as a game mechanism. 

In the right place


There are many ideas to turn to

The project is in an early phase right now, and many kinks are being worked out. But Bagpack have proven already that they can thrive in make-or-break situations. And they are not just two people. The Co-founders keep collaborating with freelancers and have built a network in Hamburg’s vibrant scene, with plans to grow. Their debut project “Out of Place” was a real eye-catcher, winning both an Epic Mega Grant and a German Developer Award. The project also led Bagpack to build up their own motion capture studio. They took their first steps into the discipline while in the HAW Hamburg’s Games Master course. The university has its own mocap studio. 

After graduating, they set up their own. They purchased their own motion-capturing hardware and have continued to build up expertise in the field ever since. By now, Bagpack Games are sought-after professionals in Hamburg. They help indie game studios and cultural projects in the region – one example is Games Lift alum Denise Koch with her project “Monstersongs VR.” 

Turning raw motion capture data into character animations is a discipline in its own right, with a workflow completely different to classic animation. It has specific benefits, but it isn’t a shortcut. It still is “a lot of work,” explains Hedden. Then he goes into detail about how he can make characters fly or slide down mountains. The team has also mastered facial mocap. Implementing visually stunning projects is part of Bagpack Games’ ID. 

The technology will also be employed in the new project when the time is right. But next for “We the Valarii” is the development of a first playable version, Albert explains. He wants to have it done by the end of the Incubator’s main phase. That leaves Bagpack Games with a lot to do. But they know how to turn things around quickly. 


Games Lift: More Successful Than Ever

It’s high time to apply for this year’s Games Lift Incubator. The next round is already gearing up. Meanwhile, the program has proven its worth: It is developing success.

Games Lift 2024: Apply now from May 2 until June 10

Applications for Gamecity Hamburg's 2024 Games Lift are open from May 2 to June 10. Five teams will receive financial support in the form of 15,000 euros, a comprehensive workshop program and access to the Games Lift Network of international industry experts. In addition, the teams can benefit from 1,000 euros in coaching budget. After a three-month workshop phase, the teams will be further supported with individual mentoring and will travel together to an international industry event until August 2025.

Games Lift Alumni: Why you should go for the Incubator

The Games Lift Incubator is a unique program offering 15,000 euros of funding, 3 months of workshops to get your game concept market-ready and a year of mentoring. Five teams per year get the chance to bring their game concept to the next level with this suppport. But if you're still not convinced that applying would be a great idea, we think it's best to see what other indie devs have to say about their time in the program: 

(C) Photo by Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for Marchsreiter Communications )

Hamburg studios score big at the German Computer Game Award 2024

Four Hamburg studios have brought home awards at the German Computer Game Award 2024. Congratulations!

Road to Nordic - Four Hamburg indies present their games

The Nordic Game Conference is one of the most important games conferences in Europe, with an expo area, developer showcase, and plenty of opportunities for meetings. Gamecity Hamburg brings four indie games from Hamburg to Malmö with the "Road to Nordic" program.

InnoHub: Hamburg-based developer InnoGames offers work spaces for rent

Game developer InnoGames offers work spaces for rent at their headquarter in Hamburg-Hammerbrook.

HAW Hamburg - A Place Where Indie Game Careers Are Born

Hamburg is home to a great number of vocational schools, private and public universities where people can learn all about games jobs and how to kickstart their career in the industry.

Tips and Resources for your Funding Applications

Are you planning to apply for our funding programs and need some information and tips? Here's a short guide for you.

Road to gamescom 2024 - Apply until April 28!

For this year's gamescom Gamecity Hamburg again runs the Road to gamescom program: We offer spots at our joint Gamecity Hamburg booth at the Indie Arena Booth for Hamburg-based studios, teams and devs. Apply now until April 28

Road to Nordic Game 2024

Gamecity Hamburg offers a Road to Nordic Game Conference program: We offer spots at our Gamecity Hamburg booth for Hamburg-based studios, teams and devs. Apply now until April 10!

Apply now for Games Germany Steam Sale for games "Made in Germany" 2024

German Developers, studios and publishers with their headquarter in Germany can now apply for the Games Germany Steam Sale for "Games Made in Germany" 2024 until April 18, 2024.

Hamburg Games Conference Lecture Hall in the Altonaer Museum

Recap: Hamburg Games Conference 2024

It’s a wrap! The 15th Hamburg Games Conference (HGC) 2024 brought us two days filled with inspiring talks, panels, discussions and workshops with 42 speakers and 365 guests representing 255 companies from all over the world!

More News
Cookies are used to make this website work and to enhance your experience.

To learn more about the types of cookies this website uses, see our Cookie Policy. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available.

Cookies are used to make this website work and to enhance your experience.

To learn more about the types of cookies this website uses, see our Cookie Policy. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available.

Your cookie preferences have been saved.