I’ve known the guys behind Demium Games – namely Alejandro Miralles and Carlos Garcia – since when they summoned me to their office for a mysterious interview at the end of 2014. They were asking a few game developers about their view of the market, about their expectations of a game incubator, and in general for advice.
A few months later, they setup Demium Games, a game incubator that had to be for game developers what Demium Startups was, in a more general way, for start-ups in Valencia. They wanted to foster the creation of small teams of aspiring and promising game developers, and help them to develop and market their first game.
It sounds crazy and in many ways it is, since the developers have little development experience (and also because today’s market is harsh!) but I really like the job that these guys are doing and the contribution to the local development scene. Thanks to the office space, coordination, advice and network of contacts, the teams hosted inside Demium Games have much better chances than just a team of students who just came out of school.
Alejandro and Carlos organized, together with the Demium Startups team, the first game jam in fall 2015. The event, named AllStartup Games (the name coming from the similar “All Startup” event, already tested 8 times inside Demium Startups) is a game jam that aims at selecting a batch of game developers to enter the Demium Games incubator.
The AllStartup Games starts with a call for participation, and the prospective jammers are interviewed to check that they really have what it takes to join Demium. In the first two editions around 25 jammers made it through this first screening.
Once the event starts, the jammers initially play meet and greet activities such as the typical ball-passing exercise and later a round of speed networking. They get to know each other a little bit, and then they voice their preferences on who they’d like to be their team-mate during the jam via a custom-built mobile app.
The Demium guys then organise the jammers into teams of 3-4, typically while the mentors (me, Luis “Ludipe” Diaz Peralta and Juanma Moreno) give a brief speech on game jams and what to expect from this one in particular.
At this point, the theme is revealed and the boys start working. They would do so for the next 40-42 hours more or less, only briefly interrupted by a couple of interesting speeches (this year one by José Arcas, and others).
The “Destroyer Feedback”
Starting from Saturday afternoon, there are two sessions of what the Demium guys call the Destroyer Feedback.
First, the mentors go around the tables to see how the teams are progressing and what’s the state of the game. Then, the teams take turns and come into another room where, in front of all the mentors and the Demium people, they explain again their game and receive feedback.
This feedback is quite hard (read, candid/honest) and usually the jammers are taken aback by it. After that, mentors discuss briefly in private and note what they did/didn’t like about individual members of the team.
What the jammers usually don’t see until the end (even if I did mention it during the pre-jam speech!) is that this whole process is not intended to have them make the next hit during the jam, but it’s more about the process, the teamwork, the ability to receive feedback and improve on it.
This feedback is a very important part of the jam, something which can be important experience hopefully even for the ones who eventually are not selected.
Thankfully, the Demium guys are usually good (I’m not!) in seeing through the confusing layer of performance anxiety that the jammer display, to assess who is a good developer and a good team-player, worthy of going to the next step and join the Demium Games incubator. This year, out of the 20 people who participated they selected more than half of the jammers to form teams aimed at creating mobile games.
At the end of the day
— Demium Startups (@DemiumStartups) April 25, 2016
As I write this, a new batch of developers is entering Demium Games and is getting ready to create their first commercial game, with the guidance, marketing, and advice on metrics by the Demium team. They’ll be working alongside the teams who are already in:
- A team of two, Enzo and Borja, who are outputting a small free game every two weeks as Mr. Melon Games
- Miguel as designer of the team Iter Games, who all come from the previous AllStartup Games, working on an unannounced game
- The programmer Cristina, who lost her graphic artist but will be joined by a couple of the “new recruits”
In 3 days I’ll be giving a talk to the newbies to get them up to speed with Unity and Git, so even graphic artists and designers can collaborate and share assets with no friction. Every Friday, they hold playtesting sessions open for everybody to join – as a player or as a developer who wants to show their game.
The game industry and developer community in Spain is still lagging behind (just like in Italy), and it can really benefit from initiatives like Demium Games and the AllStartup Games. I’ve been following these guys very closely and I hope they will succeed in launching a successful game in the near future.
If you’re in Madrid, get in touch with them, go visit their incubator and check the game that they are developing!