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

Games Lift: tool1 build on their community

Meet tool1: Three guys with big plans and a clear strategy. Their project “The Invitation” already found some success. But it’s still early days; tool1 are planning big things for their audience next year. More in this issue of our Games Lift Log.

When Martin, Timo and Stephen get together, there is always laughter. The chemistry between the three of them is remarkable, even before they tell you anything about their projects. “Martin and I started working on projects 13 years ago during university”, Timo Becker explains. He is tool1’s creative director and project manager.

Co-founder Martin Kleingräber brought the vision for “The Invitation”. And while pursuing a master’s degree in Games at HAW Hamburg, he connected with Stephen Sommerfeld, now the team’s technical director. “It was evident from the get-go that Martin and I just were a good fit”, Stephen explains. “With Timo, it was similar.” The trio was assembled.

There’s lively discussion and planning between the three of them, but they swear they haven’t had a fight once. “The Invitation” is not their first or only idea, but it is close to their heart. Martin is adept at explaining exactly how and why it is ideal for “modular development” as well as a backbone for a new company. The game “The Invitation” and the studio tool1 are meant to grow alongside each other.

Martin, Timo and Stephen discussing the next steps in a conference room at the Code Working Space | Photo: Selim Sudheimer

The idea has flowered into a well-developed concept. “The Invitation” will be a looter-shooter with realistic 3D graphics and a bevy of innovations. A special emphasis lies on the interaction between players; they will be able to assign missions themselves. A Player Quest could be many things – a call for help, a bounty on a griefer or an invitation to participate in a raid.

Fans of the genre are listening already. Last year, different gaming magazines picked up the project – among them German heavyweight Gamestar, but also outlets from Poland  and India. A Kickstarter campaign drew even more attention, but failed to reach its funding goal. Money isn’t everything, though. With Kickstarter came new contacts, more eyes on the progression and, above all, a strong community. “We promised keys to all our backers”, Timo explains. Hundreds of people are eager to try out test builds.

Winning over and keeping an audience is essential for online games like “The Invitation”. Tool1 are focused on the task. They want to use the Games Lift Incubator “to think, to clear up and to consult”, Timo explains. The goal is to draw more people in, to gather them onto their Discord server. And for even closer contact, a Patreon is planned, too.

Game-Visual from "The Invitation" | Image: tool1

Tool1 are all about making connections. It’s in their DNA, since they are a small team. So far, they have worked with freelancers in order to get 3D assets or animations into “The Invitation”. It is no surprise that they do plan on growing and adding new members to the studio eventually. But they are taking one step at a time.

The Incubator is a prime opportunity for networking, and tool1 know how important that is in the games industry. They have found help and advice in Hamburg’s flourishing indie studio scene, at Kickstarter and elsewhere. The input from many different people is really valuable, explains Stephen, and that is a good motivation to keep asking.

Showing how they work and making it transparent is important to tool1. “It’s one way of standing out against established AAA studios”, Martin believes. The team wants to personally answer requests from players and to make visible what goes into major decisions. It’s going well, so far. “Our community is awesome”, Timo beams. He especially enjoys reaching out, and he was the man behind developer streams in the past. He is eager to start streaming again next year on a regular basis.

“The Invitation” still has a ways to go before hitting Early Access. Tool1 plan their steps well. But the project is on the right path. Everyone’s invited to follow on Twitter, or to visit them on Discord.

tool1 together in Hamburg's HafenCity | Photo: Selim Sudheimer

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Games Lift: Team Marty aim outside the box

The heroine may seem young and hot-headed, but there is an experienced team standing behind her: Babsi Bullet is an action-packed puzzle platformer for touchscreens. Team Marty are pouring their hearts into the game – and real craftsmanship.

Games Lift: Team ACAS get along with nuts and sledgehammers

Few games look as disarming from a distance: About Cannons & Sparrows is a metroidvania that starts with a small cannon hatching from an inconspicuous egg. The seasoned animation pros of Team ACAS may not have a finished game yet, but they do have a strong vision.

Games Lift: Elin Meinecke on sowing diversity

One person is behind farming sim RPG Evergreen Garden: Elin Meinecke is solely responsible for the art and game design of her project. She brings a degree in illustration to her work in the incubator – and inspiration from her garden.

Games Lift: Team Metacore is up for a challenge

Their hands are full. Their goals are big. But that is no reason to fret for Team Metacore. During our conversation, finding good answers comes to them as easily as sharing a laugh. The mood might make it into their project.

Games Lift: People make the Incubator

The Games Lift Incubator can only exist because many experts support it, teach and coach in it, and keep networking in it. Over 35 veterans from all areas of the games industry are with us. We have asked them why they are doing it and what keeps them coming back.

Games Lift: Team Godcomplex have thought this through

Would you have guessed that Team Godcomplex are already working on their third game? The four young professionals found each other at the university and have worked together ever since. With their party action game Stack’em up, they want to show what they have learned.

Games Lift: Quick Start in Year 3

Wait – the third iteration of the Games Lift Incubator is already well underway. How is it going? Like clockwork. Bolstered by two years of experience, the program has had an intensive start. Fortunately, this time there also is a break coming up.

Games Lift 2022: These are the five teams

​​​​​​​Five teams have convinced the Games Lift awarding committee of the promising potential of their games projects with their pitch. They will start on September 12 with a three-month workshop and mentoring program with international industry experts, 15,000 euros in financial support and places in a Hamburg co-working space. Congratulation to all teams, and we are very much looking forward to seeing your projects evolve!

Games Lift: Good for you?

If things go well here, we like to keep them going. That is certainly the plan with our Games Lift Incubator. After two successful runs, preparations for the third are well underway. We are still open for teams with a strong vision and ambitious goals. But there’s only a few days left.

Games Lift Incubator - The Alumni's Experiences

The Games Lift Incubator is going into the third edition in 2022 already, so we took the opportunity to ask three alumni of the past two years about their experience with the program. These are three very different projects so we were especially curious about their impressions. You can currently apply to the 2022 edition of the Games Lift Incubator until June 14. We hope these reports on the Incubator will help you with your decision to apply.   

Games Lift Insights with Cassia Curran on May 24

Join our Games Lift Team and Cassia Curran, Founder and Strategic Advisor at Curran Games Agency, for insights into our Games Lift Incubator program and a workshop about games market analysis for indies on May 24 at 4:30 pm. The event will be held online and in English.

Apply now for Games Lift 2022

From May 9 to June 14, you can apply for our Games Lift Incubator 2022! Take the chance to bring your game ideas and concepts for digital games to the next level!

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