More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
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


Games Lift 2024: These are the five teams

For 2024, five great teams of Hamburg game developers impressed the awarding committee of the Games Lift Incubator with their exciting projects.

Gamecity Hamburg & four Hamburg indie game studios and developers at Nordic Game 2024

Recap: Road to Nordic - Gamecity Hamburg at the Nordic Games Conference 2024

Let's look back at our Road to Nordic program: We attended the Nordic Game Conference 2024 in Malmö, with four Hamburg indie game developers and their game projects.

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: 

Games Lift: Playtests & Pizza

The Games Lift Incubator has evolved. We have plans for an entire year. That's why we've met with teams, mentors, and alumni months after the end of the workshop schedule.

Pitch Level Up 2024: Boost your pitch with expert feedback!

The Pitch Level Up is back! Join in on February 16, 11 am - 6 pm: Get individual feedback on your pitch deck from seasoned games industry professionals with different perspectives - to optimize your pitch for publishers, media, investors or funding institutions.

Games Lift: We’ll keep in touch

Is the Games Lift Incubator 2023 already over? Not exactly. But the first phase is, and on the occasion all teams presented their projects and progress: It’s the graduation pitch on December 5 at Design Zentrum Hamburg! 

Games Lift: Team Dottobeau have an eye for emotions

The game feels particularly warm and empathetic – and its team is a reflection of those values. “Dottobeau” is a game about searching and finding one’s own place in the universe. And it demands emotional intelligence.

Games Lift: Nenad Slavujevic on calculating chaos

His game idea looks like a well-tuned formula. And he can explain it like a pro. Nenad Slavujevic impresses us in the incubator with strong credentials and a clear plan.

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.

Games Lift: Markus Koepke stays the course

Years of experience have led him here: Alone, on an abandoned ship in the middle of the ocean. Markus Koepke's project "Journey Beyond the Edge of the World" in the Games Lift Incubator lures us in with its melancholic vibes.

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