I guess I should start with an apology as I mentioned in part 1 that I would have part 2 up within the next week... However, I personally hit a spout of depression and frankly didn't want to leave the darkest corner of my shadowy room.
And on that note, I Kieran Kehoe of PolyInteractive Games would like to say, sorry.
OUR NEW HOME FOR THE HOMLESS
Alex had managed to find a place for our new found homelessness, it was rent-free, not that secure... and also not in a secure neighbourhood in a small flat block with drug addicts in every room... No seriously, all of our closest neighbours were drug addicts, but this would become our home for the next 4 months to come.
It wasn't the biggest of living spaces, especially for 2 grown adults with all their possessions in one space, but we managed to turn this tiny room into our very own nerd den/ office, chucking out the bed, and living in sleeping bags and on futons.
To give you guys n gals an idea of the living space of which we inhabited, I took it upon myself to design you a not so accurate blueprint...
As I was designing this blueprint I realised it looks bigger than it was, but in this design, it doesn't account for all of our baggage, coats, shoes, figures... All of our personal items.
But our biggest issue wasn't the living space, nor was it Karen banging on Johns door at 3 - 4 am demanding drugs because she can't quite sleep... or Karen ringing every intercom in the building at 5 am because she'd locked herself out of the main building.
It was the hunger, as our product had failed to impact the market as much as we'd have liked, we were left with £0 and still having to make minimum debt payments with what NEA fund we were given to survive.
So we hit food banks, and I'm not going to lie... Those things are lifesavers and I encourage people to donate food they're not going to eat to these things, it's because of food banks myself and Alex survived as long as we did back then.
THE IDEA PERIOD
For the next 2 months I and Alex worked on 6 new game design documentation, for games that were in the "now" and games that were unique in their own way but would have worked well on the market... However these ideas/ projects needed funding or a dedicated team willing to work for royalties, as we have no cash to spare.
So we hit the Polycount forums searching from programmers and artists of all kinds, from the environment to prop, but we were capable of starting our project with a small team.
Whilst searching for a team to help any one of our new 6 game designs, we also took to sending emails to "Publishers" I know I know... Never send your ideas to publishers as they will steal it... However at this point we needed help, and no Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign has done well with just pictures and words... They want substance.
So we reached out to publishers who claim to consider ideas that are in the written format with a few images, so we did just that, although the controversial thing I noted was in their emails in return "We like/ love the idea, however we'd like to see a vertical slice/ gameplay/ video of the game in action before we can make a decision on this" despite our emails stating that there is no such thing due to funding issues, we need pre-funding for vertical slices/ demos, this is why we're reaching out to you in the first place.
And this is my current gripe with Publishers, I know it's a lot to ask for your time, but if you took a day of emails and responses to a single gaming studio about a product you "Like" you could learn about the capabilities of the studio offering said product.
With funding, we can make an amazing studio, with the funding we can kick-start our games and start making an honest business.
However, after my above rant... If you're a publisher and you're reading this because we sent you a link to our website, then you're excluded from the hatred as you've clearly taken your time to seek out more information and we thank you.
THE POPLOON PROBLEM
Things were going great despite our situation, we were working on a new game "Poploons" with the help of our friend Kevin, a programmer who previously worked at Google, and with his amazing coding ability and knowledge, we were able to smash out Poploons very quickly.
However due to him starting school again things soon went dark, so with Poploons being completed (minus the implementation of adverts) we decided to release it as a paid game, as reading reviews on other similar games we noted that over half of the complaints were about advertisements tricking kids into clicking and following said advertisements.
But it seems to make Poploons a paid game was also another issue, as it failed to attract attention despite its child-friendly art, however, we do in future have plans to make Poploons free once our programmer once again becomes available.
It's not as scary as it sounds, the studio didn't actually split up... And by the studio I mean myself and Alex as business partners.
But due to the strain of debts, lack of responses from publishers and no sign of funding in our near future, it took a severe toll on Alex's mental health, as well as mine. And due to this strain, Alex moved back down to his hometown Somerset, pretty much shutting down and abandoning responsibility (which I don't blame him for).
took it upon myself to gather all the company information, contacts, debts and place them all on my head, only asking Alex to do one thing... "Get a small job" so he can help pay off these debts while I work on the company, taking at least 30% of the stress and strain from his shoulders and placing them on mine.
And I'm not going to lie, this has been a long uphill battle, a very stressful, anxiety-filled hill... And I we're still not at the top, but we're also not giving up.
After Alex moved down south, I moved in with my girlfriend, who has been amazing enough to take my stress and help keep me clothed, fed with a roof over my head while I try and get this company onto its feet, and I am aware that it's because she has two mouths to feed, that she can't treat herself, but one day I would love to return the favour.
Once again I would like to thank whoever took the time to read these blogs, as its something we hold close to our hearts, and we hope that one day you will see our studio, and you'll know our story.
And I'd like to thank the people who have actually helped us in our times of need.
Once again, if you're a publisher reading this, please consider our game idea and help us make a future out of whatever idea it is we have sent you.
Don't forget to donate to food banks.
And if you'd like to back us as a company you can find a donation button on our homepage, and we will appreciate anything you send us and hopefully, in future, we can send you something nice in return.
And last of all, if you want to invest in our company please please please reach out to us, because we have a lot to give to the gaming industry.
Just follow the link to our web page https://tinyurl.com/Polyinteractive and hit us up in the "Contact us" section of the page.
Before "Starting Fresh" I'd like to take a moment and look back on the 1.6 years PolyInteractive has had in the gaming industry, looking back to when we first bashed our heads together and conjured up the amazing idea to put our gaming degrees to good use and start our own gaming studio... Oh how I envy our old bright eyed and bushy tailed selves, we were so optimistic.
We started off by registering our company on "Companies house" and this was it, this is what made us official and if you searched for PolyInteractive Games on the Companies House website you'd find us, it was great.
Later in that day we looked into getting a loan, those big bad scary things that you should probably avoid especially if it's coming from the Government/ loan shark, or get a loan from a wealthy relative/ bunch of relatives, I'd have taken the latter if it was an option, however, it was not, so I went with the loan shark... I jest, Government, I went with a Government loan. How much did I get? I managed to get a £15,000 loan because my credit was amazing *Insert amazing gif*
The application and gaining the £15,000 was a month-long process that involved business plans, future projections, proof of identity etc... etc...
We then over the course of 7 months spent the £15,000... We bought new equipment, a bunch of licenses like Photoshop, Illustrator, Substance painter and 3DS Max, computer desks, an accountant and a space to rent... Everything was looking great, we even found a 2D artist, a 3D artist and a programmer all willing to work for free and reap the rewards of a finished game (they'd get a % of what the released game would make)
The downfall all started when our programmer handed in his resignation to his day to day workplace as he wanted work full time on the game, him not being big on his IT job in the first place really helped him in his decision to move to us, however, he was that good at his job he was given a higher wage to stay at his IT company, and who'd blame him, with the raise he got we couldn't argue, and with that swift blow our programmer was gone.
After our programmer left our 2D artist went a.w.o.l and vanished and we still to this day haven't heard from him, not long after our 3D programmer became so busy with the day job that he too slowly vanished into the black.
We started looking online for people to fill these empty seats & holes in our hearts but no one was willing to work for cash that a game may or may not make, thus leaving us with a game that was close to being half complete.
A month went by after we lost our team to their day to day lives and temptations of better wages that we started to spiral out of control in our personal lives, Alex and myself found our selves technically homeless, living out of our office space which was 7 foot wide by 20 foot long, and the only thing separating all the companies in this office space was a very thin wall, thin enough you could hear could hear the next business, it was usually best working with headphones in to avoid distractions. We used to cover the doors glass panel and sleep in hidden placed (under desks, behind shelves) so that other business didn't know we were sleeping in an office space that didn't even have a shower (we cleaned in the toilet sinks) but we still worked on the game, Alex being the 3D artist and myself being the 2D artist and together being game designers, waiting for a programmer to answer our Polycount advert.
Homeless or not, we still worked our asses off.
A few weeks went by of radio silence until we finally got an email, a British student studying in Sweden answered our prayers and this person was a programmer, we rejoiced and got the game to a half-completed state within a few weeks, just in time for EGX.
To go to EGX we needed £700 but we only had £350 in our bank left over from the £15,000 we had originally loaned, so we called up the EGX representatives and asked if an exception could be made to which they agreed, we would pay half now and half later, things were finally looking up for us.
THE ROAD TO EGX
Now you might think that things were easy from here on out, but we had to figure out a way to get to London, and stay in a hotel room for 4 days during the event, so our producer who's good at this sort of thing finds us the best-staying deals and he himself is willing to drive us down there to show off our game, however, we just spent the last of our money on getting the ticket... Needing the money Alex throws his car on Facebook for £300 ono and within a day Alex gets a reply to meet up with the guy willing to buy the car, Alex sells the car for £200 and an ice cream. (He never did get that ice cream)
We spent 4 glorious days at EGX, we met some new faces and some old, I met old tutors who had gone on to creating their own games company and making it successful & met new games companies also trying to make their way in life just like ourselves, we ate homemade meals as our B&B apartment thing had a small kitchen and our producer was very nice to us and took money from his own pocket to feed us.
While at EGX we had the opportunity to meet with publishers, publishers like Sindiecate, Play Stack & Rebellion, all amazed at how quickly we put together our game and how we went about making it but none of them took the bait, no one wanted to publish our game, so we left EGX, we were still happy because we got to meet so many people but slightly disheartened that publishers didn't want to help us in making our dream.
When we got back to the studio we poked around for more publishers sending emails to at least 30+ publishes in and out of the UK, about 80% didn't reply and the 20% that did wasn't interested or didn't work in the mobile games market.
Later that evening we released out game Rise of Factions: Sparta, only half finished with a promise to complete it when we can for free.
After releasing Rise of Factions: Sparta we sat and waited and watched the installs of the game, for days no installs were added to the Google Development Console, we pushed it as hard as we could on social media sites, we didn't have any cash to pay for advertising, so all we could do was watch as no one installed the game, and we're certain it's because of the £0.99 price tag we attached the unfinished game, but a lesson was learnt, the industry is harder than it looks.
Myself and Alex were given a week to move out of the office as we had overstayed our welcome for 2 months owing our landlord £1200+ and our accountant services we discontinued and a payment of £700+ was also due to be paid back, making a nightmarish sum of £1900 to be paid back, to which our loan also wanted us to start paying back at a £350 a month sum... We managed to hold things off as we'd just become more homeless & because we were too broke to start paying any of it back.
Myself and Alex found a very very small place to live, we chucked out the bed so we could move our office into the only living space there was and we both slept on the floor, myself on a futon I managed to save from my last relationship and Alex in his old trusty sleeping bag, and we slept like this for 4 more months, we were beaten down, but we weren't out for the count.