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Australian Interactive Games Fund to Inject $20M into Local Game Dev...
Dan
Special Text
Brisbane, Queensland
13827 posts
At the Screen Producers Association of Australia National Conference in Melbourne today, Australian Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean has announced that the federal government will invest AU$20 Million into a new Australian Interactive Games Fund over the next three years to foster local game development.
"This $20 million fund will help build a sustainable base for the Australian interactive entertainment industry to respond and grow in a global market expected to reach $90.1 billion by 2015," Mr Crean said.

"Australian games studios are recognised internationally for their skill and originality in developing interactive games played all over the world but the local industry is coming under increased pressure in the midst of a major market shift.

"This fund will assist the sector to reclaim their competitive advantage and support the development of games in Australia, investing in the intellectual property of our creative businesses to give them a stronger position internationally.

"This is a substantial investment to foster this growing sector where artists, musicians, writers, performers and software developers collaborate to meet the local and global demand for interactive entertainment and education.

"'The gaming sector is in many ways the natural extension of film. On Tuesday I visited the Fox Studios set of The Wolverine in Sydney which as a franchise has been adapted on almost every gaming platform.

"The sector is a major employer and local start-up companies like Melbourne-based Voxel Agents have seen their Train Conductor series downloaded more than five mllion times. More established companies like Brisbane's Halfbrick Studios had their game Fruit Ninja downloaded 300 million times.
Funding guidelines will be developed by Screen Australia, with $5M to be delivered for the first, and second fiscal years, and $10M in the third.
12:21pm 15/11/12 Permalink
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12:21pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Pinky
Melbourne, Victoria
13820 posts
Obviously any money is good - but this just seems like chump change :-/
12:24pm 15/11/12 Permalink
shade
Brisbane, Queensland
101 posts
no surprise our govt. is out of touch, 5 million a year is not a "substantial investment" when games like the old republic took $200 million to develop. That's why all the big game developers are based overseas, it's more profitable than hollywood but still not taken seriously here.
08:07pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6827 posts
Not all games need to be the old republic, which afaik was the most expensive ever produced, and not looking good for returns.

Realistically, most any game short of those with voice acting, orchestra music, or special textures, can be produced for under $15k per year per dev, if they're committed, and not expecting to live luxuriously while getting tax payer investment.
08:08pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Strik3r
Brisbane, Queensland
2123 posts
15k per year ??????? who the fuck is going to work full time for $15k per year. You make more than that on wellfare.
08:59pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6829 posts
15k per year ??????? who the fuck is going to work full time for $15k per year. You make more than that on wellfare.

No you don't, I've been on welfare, it's about $12k a year. I've also been doing some fantastic development while burning my savings and some contracting for about $10 to $15k a year for a while now, it's not an expensive activity, and used to live on that when working salary too (saved the rest), and half that when I was a student/part time worker, also programming (cheap shared housing situations - accommodation is always the main cost, but $15k a year is very doable, I'm realistically probably doing 9 atm, before a few unnecessary things like fancy phone/camping/truckloads of milk for coffee/endless steam sales...).
09:04pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20205 posts
Haha, you're not going to get quality developers for $15k a year, you're going to get starry eyed uni student bums who don't know any better.
09:27pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6830 posts
Well microsoft/facebook/etc were launched out of college, but I get what you're getting at. I'm just saying that devs can, if they want, work very cheaply, if they think that there's some pay off in the end that makes them worth investing in.
09:34pm 15/11/12 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
3583 posts
I don't think this is meant to support a whole game development from go to release.

Like all funding it's designed to provide assistance not the total funding.
09:56pm 15/11/12 Permalink
Dazhel
Gold Coast, Queensland
5437 posts
lol I was hired green out of uni at a startup for 30k per year and that was more than a dozen years ago.
Anyone accepting a game dev employment offer of 15k per year in 2012 either has a large quantity of equity options or a large quantity of stupid. (maybe both)
12:21am 16/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6831 posts
I wasn't suggesting hiring somebody on that, I was talking about small independent development teams who need funding, who supposedly have such a worthwhile idea that they're willing to put themselves on the line. They may not be making triple A titles, but there's other successes out there.

In actual costs, you can fund development for under $15k a year, if you're actually trying to start something up and not just expecting a cushy job from the government. If somebody is supposedly worth more than that, then they should already have working capital from when they proved that claim.
12:58am 16/11/12 Permalink
Ozzy
Gold Coast, Queensland
234 posts
How do you apply for it?
08:10am 16/11/12 Permalink
3x0dus
Townsville, Queensland
1669 posts
s $20 million fund will help build a sustainable base


er.. how is it sustainable if they throw money at it, its like car manufacturing in Australia.
09:50am 16/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20209 posts
I think you live in some kind of fantasy world Nerf where people don't have to pay rent, or bills, or don't have any debt or don't have to buy food.
10:36am 16/11/12 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Brisbane, Queensland
36573 posts
Nerf is correct; that is what these funds will probably go to. This is not money intended to go into creating the next WoW competitor.

Will have some more information available about what is happening in Brisbane specifically along these lines as well. Exciting times if you are, or want to be, an indie game developer.
12:12pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Midda
Brisbane, Queensland
8060 posts
Damn near useless. Why even bother?
12:22pm 16/11/12 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Brisbane, Queensland
36574 posts
Damn near useless. Why even bother?
Why do you think it's useless?

I can't speak for the federal government scheme (I haven't read the proposal/plan in any great detail) but if the goal is to encourage independent game developers to try to do awesome stuff in the mobile/casual space, I think it's a great idea. It's a shitload easier to make the next Angry Birds than it is to try to make the next WoW.

The game development graveyard is full of dead WoW clones and dead Angry Birds clones alike, but the latter cost a fuckload less to fail. Those are the ones I would rather see the government investing in, rather than (for example) giving $2m to already-existing companies (cough, Auran, cough).

I look forward to seeing how the Screen Australia writes the funding guidelines; I hope they focus on small scale startup style stuff.
12:52pm 16/11/12 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
3587 posts
I think most of you have missed the point of funding. Most govt funding provides for a total amount that is then distributed to applicants based on their application and guidelines.

A good example is funding for training/further education. I got 5 staff through a Cert IV in Training and Assessing with govt funding. Total cost was probably about $25K but the govt coughed up most of it and we paid $1K per person as our contribution. *(not exact numbers but you get the point)

So in this case I would assume the same criteria. EG. a small indie might need $100K to get some hardware/software or perhaps a years rent or an employee with a specific skill set, like graphic design for backgrounds etc. So they apply and hopefully get approved and can move ahead. So if you extrapolate this with the numbers mentioned you could fund 50 developers that just need that little bit of extra capital to allow them to get the game out.

It is not designed to pay out a lump sum for a full production of a game from inception to store.
01:23pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20213 posts
Theres a lot of room between Angry Birds and WoW though. I agree this funding is mostly going to help small indie developers, but thats not what I would consider investing in the game development industry in Australia, at least not in the way they spin it in their press. The impression I got from reading the press releases is that they wanted to fund real development studios and try and maybe foster some decent sized studios in an attempt to promote Australia up the ladder.

All this really sounds like is an extension of the program that Victoria has already had in place for the past 8 years or so, just with some more funds behind it. They've already had a program in place to fund smaller indie projects, but I think it only had about 1.5 million a year behind it, so its just been increased. Can't see it really making much of a change to the status quo.
01:32pm 16/11/12 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Brisbane, Queensland
36575 posts
yep, what crazymorton said
All this really sounds like is an extension of the program that Victoria has already had in place for the past 8 years or so, just with some more funds behind it.
Yeh - I think that is the case. I don't know too many big projects that got any of that Vic funding though - but lots of small ones. Were there any big studios that got a piece of that funding?
02:19pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13129 posts
thats not what I would consider investing in the game development industry in Australia, at least not in the way they spin it in their press

Dunno, seems like exactly the right place to spend the money to me. Government funding is like a sprinkle to spark growth and maybe create a few viable, independent companies, a bit like the MS bizspark program.

Investing in larger companies just creates dependence on subsidies and grants.
02:42pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6833 posts
I think you live in some kind of fantasy world Nerf where people don't have to pay rent, or bills, or don't have any debt or don't have to buy food.

Meh, I was just basing it off of the numbers that I've survived on for my entire life. Most of what's involved in game dev isn't expensive, unless you're hiring somebody else to do it for you.
02:59pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13130 posts
Meh, I was just basing it off of the numbers that I've survived on for my entire life. Most of what's involved in game dev isn't expensive, unless you're hiring somebody else to do it for you.

The major input is labour, which is expensive. It's illegal to hire a full-time employee for 15k per year.
04:11pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6836 posts
But as I said, I wasn't suggesting hiring anybody, but was talking about people who need funding to be able to do it themselves. It may also help close the gap for those that need to hire, rather than pay for a full salary.
04:37pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13132 posts
Government grants don't tend to work like that though. You don't often get cash to fund an idea or pay your bills while you work on it.

More typically they focus on barriers to entry, like legal advice and costs, costs associated with exporting, insurance or the like, but the core costs (ie, risk) to develop a new thing is primarily borne by the equity owner. The idea is to avert potential abuse.

Its possible that subsidies for salaries could be included but it seems unlikely as these are input costs. Maybe premises and the like?

I could be wrong but that's been my experience anyway.
05:54pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6839 posts
Well somebody recently pointed me towards this, which I'm hopefully starting soon (going through the judging stages now).

Apparently a few published game devs have launched from that - http://indiebits.com/neis-australias-secret-weapon-for-indie-startup-funding/
06:14pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20215 posts
Yeah, I dunno what the requirements for the new schema are, but the old one, you had to submit breakdown of costs and stuff and details of investment you already have and money you're putting in yourself, etc. Think from memory you had to have something to show as well, like a prototype or at the very least a fully designed and planned out project with a bit of pre-production done. You couldn't just ask them for money because you have a cool idea for a game.

The company I worked for in melbourne, Red Tribe, applied for the old grant and I think we got a few hundred thousand (might have been less) from it towards an original IP that we were working on. We had to prepare an assload of documentation for it, and we built a protoype especially for the Film Victoria guys and they came to the office multiple times and even then we only *just* got it. But I think its like Hoggy said, I think part of the problem was they didn't want to give money to a company to pay wages or whatever, I'm pretty sure in the end we got it to help with trying to push the game overseas and market it to publishers, etc, rather than just a chunk of cash to subsidise day-to-day costs.

Not that it helped cos the company still went broke =\
06:15pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13133 posts
Yeh Nerf - that's basically business advice + newstart without needing to be a jobseeker. Its a good idea!

A grant is a little more involved normally.
06:21pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6840 posts
Yep it's the same rate as newstart, hence why I was able to define what the welfare rate in Australia is earlier in the thread. ;)
06:23pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Pinky
Melbourne, Victoria
13822 posts
I think the recent $24.25mil grant to research "examining how people's behaviour in Europe between 1100-1800 reflected on modern Australia" is much better value.

:-/

(Ok, they do other things - source: The Australian - but still, I think this $20mil is token funding)
11:27pm 16/11/12 Permalink
Linker
Brisbane, Queensland
1694 posts
I think people have to be realistic with this funding too in that the landscape of game development has changed dramatically in the past few years. It is ridiculously risky to make big games unless you have the best talent in the world. The most successful games are most likely smartphone/casual games and I think it makes sense for Australia, studios have definitely found success in that model with the likes of Halfbrick, Voxel Agents, and even Krome making a comeback with an IOS title now.. I doubt they'll be focussing on highly risky next gen consoles and PC projects, that was the reason all these big companies couldn't continue in the first place in addition to terrible management, it's just too costly.
01:10am 17/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20219 posts
I still think theres a lot of room between casual phone games and multi-million dollar blockbusters, especially with engines like Unity out there now. Still plenty of room for small indie studios to make real games on real platforms instead of just going with mobile.
01:57am 17/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6842 posts
I haven't looked at Unity (plugins ftl), but doesn't working with it still essentially put the burden of cost faced by the developer at around the same cost as just regular flash development? I know that there's a pro fee, which is a little extra.

With a feature complete renderer and animation system, I could pump out junk like no tomorrow. I've recently built from the ground up a browser based renderer which writes every pixel, renders models, perspective correct textures, directional lights, shadowmaps, texture blending, scene graphing, etc. Still needs AA, and my head was thrown a little by the best way to apply forward kinematics for the unique scenario that I'm building it for, but jesus if I had a renderer to start with, the rest would have been gravy. And the rest is pretty damn complex by itself even by regular desktop gaming standards, let alone a browser based server run mmo-thing situation. Other devs need to get better and program stuff on the cheap before setting up luxerious office structures and the like, is basically what I'm saying. :P
02:37am 17/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20220 posts
Unity is a proper DX11 capable game engine, you can make everything from fully fledged PC games with it, to flash powered Facebook games, to mobile games. Newest version even lets you target linux with it.

It also has quite a nice editor and content creation pipeline, and since roughly on average when you're making a game you'll spend about five times as many man hours building content than you do coding stuff, the importantance of having a powerful and easy to use content creation pipeline can't be underestimated. Anything I do in the future I'll be using Unity for, its just pure awesome.
03:05am 17/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6843 posts
I think that it is pretty awesome for desktop games that can install the plugin as part of their install process, like Castle Story presumably will.

For browser games (and by extension, browser on mobile), I think that plugins beyond flash are suicide for now.

you'll spend about five times as many man hours building content than you do coding stuff

In my case, content and code are so intertwined that they're basically the same thing. Doing a ton of cool procedural & simulation stuff which wouldn't be doable without some crazy ass backend code, on both client and server, and when I started out HTML5 was basically just a dream which IE was seemingly never going to implement, so I had to build a whole browser embedded javascript platform without any libraries.
03:29am 17/11/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13135 posts
In my case, content and code are so intertwined that they're basically the same thing

no idea what you're doing dude but that line freaks me the fuck out
12:24pm 17/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6844 posts
Well, think how the minecraft situation doesn't require assets so much as unique engine code, for procedural/block modification stuff.
04:40pm 17/11/12 Permalink
Khel
Brisbane, Queensland
20222 posts
I think that it is pretty awesome for desktop games that can install the plugin as part of their install process, like Castle Story presumably will


What plugin? Its a game engine, it makes games, you install game, you play game. Do you install a plugin before you play Borderlands 2 or Call of Duty or Braid or Bastion? If you target it at web it probably needs a plugin, but I'm talking about making a PC executable (or Mac executable, or Android executable, or IOS executable, or PS3, or XBox 360, or any of the other platforms Unity can target). I believe Unity 4.0 can natively target flash anyway though.

I'm extremely wary of anyone claiming to not need content for their game because its all generated procedurally. The last person I know who claimed that was a guy I used to work with who was batshit crazy. Heres the website for his game, he entered it in an Intel independant games competition under a fake name because he is afraid the computer mafia is after him. And I'm not even joking.
06:15pm 17/11/12 Permalink
Nerf Lord
Brisbane, Queensland
6846 posts
Sorry, I meant that the desktop install context takes the equivalent browser 'plugin' problem away, and so it's fine there, but not for browsers (it's popped up on a fair few browser based things that I've tried, and before knowing what it was I always rejected it, and then it seemed to break and never work again).

I know how difficult procedural content is and I don't mean to suggest that everything is procedural (there's a lot of 3d modelling and animation work yet to be done, really the last big component after I finish some current things), but my overall point was just that sometimes the unique game mechanics are a large part of the content, in that they enable a different sort of game. In say the minecraft context, programming the features is the main concern, content is pretty simple and not the majority of the work.

Although, on a related note, I'd be doubtful that unity could compile a portable codebase to efficient native flash, if that's how it works. I know that any overhead due to cross compilation to JavaScript absolutely destroys it (Google Dart as an example).
06:21pm 17/11/12 Permalink
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