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


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