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

Three Questions to: rose-engine - Makers of the Sci-Fi Horror Hit SIGNALIS

Yuri Stern and Barbara Wittmann have been creating games together for 8 years now, on October 27 their Hamburg-based studio rose-engine is releasing their latest game SIGNALIS. Published by Humble Games, this dark Sci-Fi horror game with its retro optic has already stirred up quite a buzz in the international gaming press. We took this opportunity to ask them about collaborating for so many years and how the match with their publisher came to be.

You have been developing games together since 2014, how and where did you start out collaborating and how's your journey been in the past 8 years?

We are originally from Bavaria and moved to Hamburg to study Illustration at HAW Hamburg. Here we attended a games class initiated by Michael Benrad (Beardshaker Games) and later led by Mareike Ottrand (Studio Fizbin). At that time we developed our first prototype of what would turn into SIGNALIS.
Back then there was no game development funding in Hamburg yet, so we worked part-time while studying and working on the game. Once we had signed with a publisher in early 2020 we went into game development full time. SIGNALIS was developed entirely from within our bedrooms and production took place during the COVID pandemic, pretty much in isolation aside from contact with our friends online. Shout-out to fellow Hamburg developers Steven Kaule, Pia Heugel, and Studio Monstrum, who we all met in the HAW games classes, for keeping us sane and helping us with playtesting! Another small game called “Insect Builder” we did on the side was part of the exhibition “Facettenreiche Insekten” this summer at the Zoological Museum in Hamburg.

Your upcoming game SIGNALIS will be published by Humble Games, how was this partnership formed? Do you have any tips for other indie devs on how to approach an international publisher?

In 2019 we had a vertical slice and trailer we felt confident in, and a rough idea of the game’s scope and costs, and finally felt ready to approach publishers. We were granted travel funding from Kreativ-Transfer, which allowed us to go to gamescom to talk to publishers. Humble Games was one of them and they later followed up with a very good offer.

For us, what worked was to create a game which has a lot of visual appeal and is a modern reinterpretation of an established but underserved genre, in our case, this is classic survival horror. We also combined it with dark sci-fi anime and retro pixel art, both of which have a sizable fanbase. We are also quite passionate about all of these things ourselves. Our vertical slice showed off how the visual style, its core mechanics, a few examples of puzzles and combat, and how we use perspective shifts and cutscenes to evoke a mysterious feeling. Knowing your niche probably helps with identifying a publisher who is serving this kind of game. Once you are in talks with a publisher, don’t be afraid to negotiate, ask other devs who are signed with them about their experience, and listen to your gut feelings. Don’t sign a contract you will be unhappy with. And if it doesn’t work out, have a backup plan like an indie fund, crowdfunding, or working part-time. Don’t quit your job before the contract is signed, some publishers just vanish.

Now that SIGNALIS is in the hands of the players, what are your plans for the future of rose-engine? Can you give us a teaser of something that might have sparked your interest already?

Right now, we’re still processing the reception of SIGNALIS with players.


SIGNALIS is available now for Steam, Xbox, Game Pass, PS4 and Switch! Check it out here 

rose-engine managed to secure their deal with Humble Games by meeting them at gamescom, where they travelled to with the help of the Kreativ-Transfer. Since then, Gamecity Hamburg has established a similiar program for the industry, the Games Transfer funding program

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Pitch Level Up 2023: Boost your pitch with expert feedback!

After the successful premiere last year, the Pitch Level Up is back on April 13, 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.

Road to gamescom 2023

For this year's gamescom Gamecity Hamburg again runs the Road to gamescom program: We offer 5 places at our joint Gamecity Hamburg booth at the Indie Arena Booth for Hamburg-based studios, teams and devs. Apply now until April 25!

(c) Melina Hehemeyer

Three Questions to: Sandra Friedrichs, Streamer and Mental Health Advocate

Sandra Friedrichs had been working in the games industry for years, before starting a new career as a streamer and using her platform to raise awareness for mental health topics. This year she won the title as Vice Miss Germany, which we took as an opportunity to talk about her mission and goals.

Stellenausschreibung: Wir suchen eine*n PR-/Kommunikationsmanager*in

Wir suchen ab sofort eine*n PR-Kommunikationsmitarbeiter*in für unser Team. Bewirb dich jetzt bis zum 02.04.!

Recap: Hamburg Games Conference 2023

What a ride! The Hamburg Games Conference brought us two days filled with inspiring talks, panels, discussions and workshops with 50 speakers and 500 guests from around the world!

Applications for prototype funding 2023 open March 3

From today, March 3 to April 5, founders, start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for the prototype funding. Applicants can apply for up to 120,000 euros for the development of prototypes for digital games. Through the funding program, Gamecity Hamburg will provide a total of 400,000 euros for game developers on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 2023.

Recap: Gamecity Forecast: AI in game production

On Feb. 21, we invited people from Hamburg’s games industry and beyond to our online event “Gamecity Forecast: AI in game production”. Our Forecast sessions aim to spark discussion on trends and developments affecting the games industry, identify challenges and opportunities and exchange experiences. Here's what we took away as our key learnings from the evening!

Senator's Roundtable 2023

The games industry is a driving and innovative factor in Hamburg’s economy – this is why Hamburg’s Minister for Culture and Media, Dr. Carsten Brosda, together with Gamecity Hamburg regularly invites representatives from the industry for the Senator’s Roundtable.

Meet the Road to Hamburg Games Conference Indie Teams

With our "Road to program", we will bring five Hamburg-based indie developers and teams to the Hamburg Games Conference 2023 to showcase their games to the participants and meet new people from the industry. You can play their games at the Hamburg Games Conference expo from March 1 to 2 at the Altonaer Museum.

Hamburg Games Conference 2023: 30+ speakers, panels, networking and more

The Hamburg Games Conference is drawing near, with just three weeks to go until March 1 & 2! Right on schedule, the conference line-up is now complete, so let's take a look at the newcomers who bring several fascinating talks and panels for both the main track on "Invest in Games" and the complimentary second track on dev, funding and marketing topics to the table.

Photo Credit: InnoGames

School Internship Games January 2023: It's a wrap!

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Three Questions to: Dom Schott, Creator of the Podcast OK COOL

Dom Schott has been a part of the German games journalism scene for some time already, but the last few years brought big changes for him: he joined the team of The Pod on a regular basis, moved to Hamburg and started his own podcast: OK COOL. We took this opportunity to reverse the roles and ask him about his work for a change.

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