Paul Norris in About

15/01/2016

'My Catalyst Moment' - Mad Fellows Games

It’s going to sound contrived in the context of a Creative England article but, genuinely, the catalyst moment for Mad Fellows was meeting Creative England at the Game Horizon investment summit. 

The format of the event had independent developers turn up to hear talks from various industry experts on the subject of funding and investment. On purchasing a ticket for the event, developers had the chance to put forward a single page pitch for their game. These pitches would be reviewed by a panel of investors who could then invite the teams to a private meeting to discuss the project on the day.

We’d only formed Mad Fellows a couple of months before and didn’t really know what to expect.

It got to about 2 or 3 days before the event and we hadn’t heard if we had secured any of these private meetings. Then, our disappointment turned into panic as we heard that we had back to back meetings all day with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Miniclip and others.

The event came round quickly. We had a prototype of our game on an iPad, had thoroughly researched our market, written a 50+ page business plan and were prepared to take on what we assumed would be a Dragon’s Den style interrogation. We were whatever the professional term is for ‘bricking it’… really nervous, and then some.

The first meeting of the day, actually, the first meeting for Mad Fellows ever was with Creative England who had just announced their partnership with Microsoft and the Greenshoots programme. Their excitement and enthusiasm for our game was incredible! We went in terrified and came out bouncing around the place. It set us up for the rest of the day and we stormed through the rest of the pitch meetings.

We had worked on games as part of big teams for many years. We had long suspected that we had a model for development that meant we could deliver way more than expected from a small, 2 man team. This is fine when casually chatting about it from the relative security of a job in a big team, but it’s a big step from there to handing in your notice and making the jump. This first meeting had confirmed that, in theory at least, we were onto something. It was the first indication that we may not have been completely crazy in leaving our previous jobs. In fact, questioning how crazy it was is the origin of the company name. ‘Mad Fellows’.

I can’t say where we’d be if we hadn’t had that meeting. The very optimistic could say that we’d be having parties on our yachts by now… but the sane, and much more realistic would likely put us somewhere that is much less agreeable than working on our first console project based on our own original IP.

The biggest take-away from this experience was that our plan was actually possible. It’d take a ridiculous amount of work, we would be living on coffee and very little sleep, but people that had important jobs for companies like Microsoft believed in us. It’s certainly not ever easy to be an indie developer but with the help of Creative England and Microsoft, it’s been made possible and we couldn’t be happier.


Head here to find out more about 'Creative England Live 2016: Catalyse' 

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  • My Catalyst Moment
  • CE Live 2016