Three UEL alumni who started a games design company will soon bring their first video game to market thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign.
DinoByte Labs reached its target of £3,500 on website Kickstarter eight days before a self-imposed deadline. The plan is now to make their Midli game available before the end of the year.
Formed in 2015, DinoByte Labs is the brainchild of Interactive Media graduate Louise Leolin and Games Design graduate Christian Lovdal. The duo has recently been joined by Fine Art graduate James Pendry.
Louise explained why they chose to set up their own company after graduation.
She said, “Getting a job in the games industry is tough, and sometimes the entry requirements are almost impossible to fulfil. It seems you need at least three games on the market, and that is for a junior position!
“Christian and I figured, if there wasn’t a space for us in the industry yet, we needed to make that space ourselves.”
Creating games requires money, and the UEL alums spent much of their first year or two after graduation doing freelance work on other people’s projects. The company’s fortunes changed when, with the help of the UEL Enterprise team, DinoByte Labs won a Haberdasher’s Award earlier this year.
Louise said, “We finally got to focus on developing something entirely self-created. This year we rebranded to hard focus on only gaming work.”
The trio are currently working around the clock to bring Midli, to the market. The main character of the game is Heli, a mysterious girl who guides the fates of lost spirits stuck in the land of Midli. The game deals with some difficult themes, including mental health issues, and has a dark art style.
Louise said, “The core of the game is based on retro mechanics, but we have given them a much-needed modern twist by letting gamers play with elements like rainfall, darkness and time. The player’s choices even guide how the story is told, and there are multiple game endings!”
Why did DinoByte Labs go the crowdfunding approach instead of attempting to gain funding from an established games manufacturer?
“Getting investors is tough,” explains Louise. “Pitching to sell your game, then ultimately having to compromise on what you are making, or needing to give away a percentage of your intellectual property, it’s a little scary. We have heard too many stories about people getting the bad end of a deal to want to go that route for now.
“Crowdfunding is a great way to get the investment you need, while still giving your supporters something unique in exchange for their pledges.
“We offered a variety of things from early access and a peak behind the scenes, to some really amazing collectable merchandise and art prints. Offering high-tier backers the chance to actually get to help create a level for your game, or have a cameo as a non-playable character is the type of thing you can hardly put a price on.”
Louise said she was excited the company reached its target well before the deadline.
She said, “We were super thrilled. We weren't expecting to reach it so early on, and now we are working towards achieving our stretch goals. The more additional funds we make, the more we can improve Midli by expanding on things like our art and soundtrack, even adding additional game content before its Autumn release.
“It's a really exciting time for us, especially now that we know for certain that Midli will become a reality with the help of our Kickstarter supporters!”
DinoByte Lab's crowdfunding campaign is open until Friday 15 September. If you would like to donate, go to their page on Kickstarter.