Brisbane Indie Program Seeks 'New Halfbrick'

Brisbane-based studio River City Labs is offering support and mentorship for small, 2-5 person indie teams that want to take their development skills to the next level. With up to $50k invested, they’re hoping to discover, fund, and mentor, the next Australian indie success story.

With triple-A not doing do well locally, indie is a very popular option down under. Especially in Sydney, where we no longer have our one big studio. It’s less beneficial for large publishers to pay Australian wages, but luckily, indie development is proving very fruitful for us - and initiatives like this, started by River City Labs’ Stephen Baxter, aim to keep the Cinderella stories coming.

If accepted, you’ll have access to a slew of mentoring talent:

Mentors include Morgan Jaffit, co-founder of Defiant Development (publishers of Ski Safari), Dan Vogt (co-founder of Halfbrick), Matt Hall, founder of KlickTock and developer of Little Things Forever, David Zwierzchaczewski, Application Engineer for Media and Entertainment at Autodesk, Gordon Moyes, convenor of Griffith University’s game program and producer of the Destroy All Humans! series, Pras Moorthy, product manager of Kixeye and co-owner of the Mana Bar, and Steve Baxter and John Passfield.

The only catch is you’ll have to go into the River City Labs office every day - but many would consider that a plus.

The benefits of coming into an office with experienced developers is more than just scheduled mentoring. In addition to the facilities, hardware, and licenses, the ability to walk across the studio and get advice on something like Unity, even if they’re not working on your game, is invaluable. As is additional testing.

We spoke to John Passfield, formerly of Krome, Pandemic, and 3 Blokes Studios, who’s involved in the project.

“It’s also about giving them access to people like lawyers,” says Passfield. “We want them to come in and really just focus on making a game. So often they have to worry about other stuff, like doing contract work.”

So what happens when the job is done? Who owns the game?

“We want teams to feel like they have ownership of the title they’re making. We’ll provide advice, but we aren’t going to tell them what to do. Once completed, the team will own 75% of the IP, giving them majority ownership.

“We know the success rate with any startup - few will succeed - but we’ve got some really cool mentors, we know the local talent, there are a lot of great people. We’re hoping to raise the odds for these games. It’d be fantastic if we were able to have the next Halfbrick come out of it, and then hopefully, they’ll turn around and do something similar for the Brisbane dev community.”

Depending on the lengths of projects and sizes of teams, River City Labs would ideally rotate teams to get about 20 in. They're expecting applicants to have more than a concept, though - at the very least, have a playable game with a good idea behind it.

If you’re interested, you can apply via the Right Pedal Studios website. I know a similar initiative exists in Sydney in the AIE Incubator Program - do you know of any other programs for indies? If so, drop them in the comments below for your fellow developers!


    Can't find anything about it on the website...

    Yeah although River City Labs is where the teams will be working for 6 months and engaging with mentors, the actual studio is called Right Pedal Studios.

    This is really good news, and it's good to see people recognising that game development isn't dead in Australia. Now if only I had a team and more spare time...

    This sounds an awful lot like signing up with a publisher rather than independent development. Partial ownership of your IP? Working in their offices rather than your own? While I like the idea of offering help with legal/business/marketing issues, it seems like this could very easily end up as a sweatshop of naive eager game design students run by a few senior guys left over from the old industry in Brisbane, pumping out mobile games that just add to the noise.

    But on the other hand, I'd love to see it succeed. I guess time will tell.

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