By Hannah Flynn, February 22, 2016 · Failbetter Fundbetter Incubations
Today we’re launching Fundbetter, a fund for independent narrative games and interactive fiction.
We want to pay our luck forward, and support game designers and writers from all kinds of backgrounds: first-timers, veteran game makers, LGBT+ and black and minority ethnic creators, people whose backgrounds are in linear fiction, theatre, radio, TV and film.
We’re open-minded on the meaning of ‘narrative’ and ‘game,’ though we’re most excited by text-centric projects. Your idea could be a game with a strong linear storyline; a choice-based narrative using Twine or a similar technology; a piece of parser-based interactive fiction; a card game where story emerges from the mechanics; or a dozen other things we haven’t thought of.
Fundbetter is a rolling fund for projects in the £2,000-£20,000 range, though larger amounts are available for projects with matched or Kickstarter funding. It’s project-based investment, so if the initial investment is never recouped, the creator is free to move on.
Harry Tuffs was the first developer to be funded by Failbetter, for his game A House of Many Doors, which will be released this summer. He says: “Failbetter are the industry’s most passionate and formidable supporter of narrative in games. Their funding elevated A House of Many Doors to a level I never thought possible.”
Interested parties can find out more and apply at www.failbettergames.com/fundbetter!
INDG Note: We’ve put the full info under a cut for reader convenience.
We’re open-minded on the meaning of ‘narrative’ and ‘game’. So this might include: games with a strong linear storyline; choice-based narratives using Twine or a similar technology; parser-based interactive fiction; strategy games where the choices have a storyful feel; card games where story emerges from the mechanics; or a dozen other things we haven’t thought of.
We particularly like text-centric games. These are often a low-cost, high-leverage way to do something interesting and intelligent with an idea. Text-centric doesn’t mean text-only; but games which involve reading are more our bag.
Why are we doing this? We want to pay our luck forward; we also want to do well by doing good. There’s no one best way to make a narrative game, and we expect to learn from our fundees. We have a distinct house style, but the more insights and perspectives we have access to, the better. We’ve already benefited from – and helped – our incubees and interns by sharing expertise and experience. And, of course, money’s nice.
We’re generally looking to fund projects in the £2K-£20K range. We’ll go higher for a promising project, especially if you can get match funding or Kickstarter funding.
This is commercial funding, not a grant, so we’re looking to fund projects which will make the funding back (although see below).
The usual deal is
- we take 50% of the revenue from the project until we get back our initial investment
- we take 20% of the revenue from then on
- we get suitable credit/branding in the game
It’s project-based investment, so if we never make back our initial investment, you’re free to get on with your life.
We will consider funding exceptionally interesting low-budget projects with no obvious revenue potential. We’re a business, but we’re serious about the importance of shared perspectives, and we want to help advance the craft. The bar for non-commercial projects is necessarily higher, but if you think you’ve got something extraordinary, give it a shot.
Interested? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with this information:
- A one-paragraph description of the project.
- What have you done so far? If you have notes, a playable build, a prototype, send us links.
- Vaguely what the game’s going to look like. This doesn’t have to be a screenshot. It can be a photo of the UI sketched on A4 paper. But we want to know you have a rough idea of the shape of the thing.
- How long will the player take to complete one run-through? roughly.
- How’s it going to end? It’s OK not to have nailed down the ending; but we need to see you have a good idea of where you’re going.
- A minimal business plan, including a plausible guess about how much revenue you’ll earn on which platform. ‘Plausible’ means ‘based on at least two sets of figures for similar games which weren’t wildly successful.’
- What needs to be done to make the game ready for release? Think in terms of ‘n weeks of work’, not in terms of release date. Think about software licenses, any images or music assets you might need. Don’t forget QA.
- What is your greatest fear about the project?
- How are you going to promote the game? We may be able to help with this, but you must show us you have thought more about this than ‘I have a Twitter feed’.
- What are you planning to do after launch? How will you support and/or extend the game, what’s your backup plan if it doesn’t work well, and what will be your next project?
- You and/or your colleagues. Have you made games before? Have you made games together before? What’s your relationship if you’re working with anyone else? (paid freelancers, revenue share, etc.)
- The name of your preferred coffee format; the cocktail you like most; your favourite word. If you don’t have dealings with coffee or alcohol, provide only your favourite word. You won’t be penalised.
- What are the emotions that people will experience playing this game?
- Why do you want to make this game? What is there in it that speaks to you?
We’ll usually give you a ‘no’ or a ‘let’s talk more’ inside a month. We’d prefer to talk to you face to face, but we will consider non-UK projects, so we’ll go with Skype if need be.
Q. How much help can I get with making the game?
We can’t offer training or tuition – we’re looking for people who have a project and the skills and just need a little bit of cash and advice. It would make sense to apply to our internship scheme, though.
Q. Do I keep control of my own IP?
Emphatically yes. We’d consider different arrangements, but that’s how we’d normally work.
Q. Can we talk to someone who’s been through the process?