Film Victoria has been investing in digital games development in Victoria for over 25 years and through this support, the sector has grown significantly. Between 2014 and 2019, the Victorian digital games workforce grew by 45% and the state’s strong games ecosystem has seen the development of globally successful games such as Crossy Road, Florence and Film Victoria-supported titles Untitled Goose Game, The Gardens Between and Flight Control.
Globally the games industry is widely predicted to be worth almost $250 billion in 2020, or nearly ten times the size of the global music industry, according to the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA).
Through this recent round of support, Film Victoria is delivering a boost to new and emerging creators, some exploring new endeavours in their games careers and others making the switch to games development from other industries.
Kristian Kebbe received support for his first game Lucen, an atmospheric action-adventure game for PC. Kristian, who has a background in VFX and animation, will use the funding to bring on additional animation artists and sound designers.
“As well as there being a lot of crossover in software and techniques between games and VFX, my background has shaped my cinematic approach to creating Lucen,” said Kristian. My understanding of visual principles and elements has also helped how I’m forming the storytelling and gameplay.”
For the team of Melbourne indie developers behind Miska, led by Victoria Gyors and Alan Robinson at Umbrella Party Studios, Film Victoria’s investment will be truly transformative for their future, enabling them to make the transition into full-time games development. “We decided to take a leap of faith because we’re both passionate about the games we grew up with and how they shaped us as people,” said Alan.
Miska is a narrative-driven, problem-solving game for PC, where the player visits a Victorian National Park from their childhood, only to find it abandoned and overgrown. To climb to the mountain’s peak, they need to clean up the environment around them, learning about the flora and fauna as they go including their Indigenous names.
“The current situation, and even the bush fires that occurred earlier this year, has really highlighted the importance of the connections we have with family, friends and the environment around us,” said Victoria.
“We had a solid idea of what we were making before the pandemic hit, wanting to create an experience that would help players relax from the stress of their daily lives and to bring awareness of people’s impact on the world around them, but now the themes of helping the environment and caring for each other through hard times ring true more than ever,” she said.
“Working on this project during this time has also brought our team a lot of emotional comfort as we are frequently talking to each other and channeling what we are feeling into our work,” added Alan.
2019/20 was a significant year for the Victorian digital games industry with the global success of Victorian-made Untitled Goose Game, and recently released local games Moving Out and Necrobarista both making waves in Australia and internationally.
Digital games have experienced an increase in popularity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with more than 1.2 million Australians turning to games for entertainment and social connection.
“Victoria’s digital games sector, along with our local animation and VFX sectors, have demonstrated their resilience during the pandemic, with this highly skilled workforce continuing to deliver outstanding content from their remote workplaces,” said Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley.
“The Victorian Government is proud to continue to invest in local screen content and careers and we look forward to these latest projects hitting the market for players across the globe,” he said.
“Melbourne’s games industry has really stepped up in a big way and players around the world are already waiting to see what our studios create next. This new investment will lead to confident and engaging projects that are poised for commercial, cultural and critical success,” said Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher.
“Our support is also increasingly being viewed as a stamp of quality, helping Victorian developers gain greater visibility for their projects and access investment from international publishers,” she said.
Film Victoria’s production funding assists Victorian games developers to move their projects into all stages of production, from concepting to release. The six other projects supported through this round are:
- Logical Lawns (working title) – by Ian MacLarty, a meditative, multi-layer logic-jigsaw puzzle game for mobile, Mac and PC about landscaping the gardens of a lavish estate whose owner has very particular tastes.
- Sounds & Secrets (working title) – by sound engineer Allison Walker, who was inspired by the changes in the soundscape as she walked home from work to create a game for Mac and PC about finding surreal sonic landscapes. Allison will explore her idea of the game being played entirely through sound, which would make it accessible for visually impaired players.
- Spiritwell – by David Chen, a role-playing adventure game for PC with hand-drawn pixel art and a storyline about a lost child who falls down a well into a world of spirits and must find their way home.
- A yet-to-be-named project by Olivia Haines for Mac and PC, with a strong feminine aesthetic and a beautiful, wistful story about a woman who returns to her hometown to examine an old relationship.
- The Stranger Next Door – by games researcher Fae Daunt, a horror narrative game for mobile that plays out in real-time through a fake social media interface.
- A yet-to-be-named sequel to Roombo: First Blood – by Samurai Punk, an action/comedy game for PC and consoles about a robot vacuum cleaner, set on a cruise ship.
Applications for Film Victoria’s next round of production funding for digital games is now open and closes at 11.00pm on Monday 28 September 2020. For more information, visit: www.film.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: Lucen by Kristian Kebbe