This is the story of how KnapNok Games got some help with getting their game out to the press, get started on a HR strategy, and take a trip to Japan to meet Nintendo
Interactive Denmark’s series of Growing Games workshops have for some years now been acting as the first base for budding game developers in Denmark. Here, the studios can come and meet the other startups in the business, get their first taste of pitching their projects, and get valuable insights from some of the veterans in the business.
But until last year, there was no natural place to move to from here. Once you got yourself established and got your first couple of games on the market, there was no obvious place to go if you were looking for sparring on the next level.
But that has changed now. Last year, Interactive Denmark established a completely new program called SOLID, which is intended especially for established developers who are out of their childhood and ready to move on into adulthood – figuratively speaking.
Created in partnership with Denmark’s Market Maturation Fund, the SOLID program seeks to identify growth inhibitors standing in the way of the developers success, and then enable the participant to eliminate these barriers with the help of both specialist, consultants, and financial resources.
One of the participants in the first rounds of SOLID was Indie darling KnapNok Games from Copenhagen. And according to CEO Dajana Dimovska, the program allowed them to take some chances that they might not have had the resources for otherwise. One of those chances was to be a part of the Indie Megabooth at the Gamescom conference in Germany. A PR and marketing push, which would probably not have been possible if it was to be funded by KnapNok’s own tight marketing budget for Affordable Space Adventures.
“We probably couldn’t have done it without SOLID,” Dajana says. “It was just too much of a risk at the time. But I love the fact that we got the opportunity to get the necessary funding for that.” Dajana explains that while it can be hard to judge the exact results of the initiative, the visit to Germany did generate a considerable amount of stories, allow them to build an early buzz around the game among the potential buyers, and get a lot of people to playtest the game. “So there was definitely a lot of positive PR and other effects for Affordable Space Adventures in general,” says Dajana, summing up the results of the participation in Gamescom.
“Oh, and then there was the whole Japan trip!”. Having published their last two games on Nintendo’s Wii U-console, KnapNok had been wanting to go to Japan for a while. There was only one problem. “You can’t really schedule a meeting in Japan,” Dajana says. ”You can’t just get an appointment in their calendar. It more like ‘Oh, let us know if you are in the country, and we’ll see if we can set something up.”
KnapNok had taken the decision that they needed to go to Japan at some point. But when it became possible to fund the expedition through SOLID, it could be done right away, even coinciding with the Tokyo Game Show – the biggest games conference in Japan. And luckily, everything turned out perfect. With Dajana in the country, it suddenly became possible to meet some of the higher-ups in Nintendo, as well as other relevant contacts in Japan.
In addition to the trips to Gamescom and Japan, the program also got KnapNok started in the process of defining their first structured, written HR strategy. An initiative, that had some unforeseen benefits, according to Dajana. “It has made us much more clear about, what our culture is internally.”’
“Doing this as a part of the program allowed us to sit down and actually think about these things,” Dajana tells. “Because even if you think about these things, being in the program allowed us to get them on paper and really think through, who we really are.” And Dajana is completely unambiguously positive about having done it. “It might not have changed our culture as such, but it has definitely changed how we feel about it!”
The next round of the SOLID program is set to take place in the fall of 2015. Deadline for applications is June 8th. More information about the application process and criteria can be found here (in Danish)
SOLID is scheduled to run spring and fall during 2014, 2015, and 2016. The initiative is organized by Interactive Denmark together with Shareplay. SOLID is supported by the Market Maturation Fund.