More than anything else, we’re most proud of the developers we have worked with. One of our first partnerships at WINGS was with Bloom Digital Media, an indie studio based in Canada.
We think developers can learn a lot through shared experience. Though there is so much we can offer once you have applied, the best people to introduce you to when you’re considering how to finance your game are other developers.
To answer the most burning questions we get from applicants, we sat down with Miriam Verburg — CEO of Bloom Digital Media. WINGS met Miriam at Pax West at a crucial time where a partnership was needed to ensure their latest game, Later Daters, would be completed.
Bloom Digital Media had already received prior funding from Ontario Creates, and we felt that highlighting their experience — why they needed extra funding, what they felt partnering with WINGS could do for their game — could help you decide if you wanted to apply, too.
Hi, Miriam! Can you tell me a little bit about your game?
So our game is called Later Daters is a visual novel dating sim set in a retirement community. Who said octogenarians can’t have a little fun, eh? Thanks to our partnership with WINGS, it’s out now for PC, macOS and Nintendo Switch!
That’s great! So, how many people are in your team and what are your backgrounds?
We have a core team of 6 with additional people involved as freelancers or student interns over the year. We’re definitely an indie developer and many of our core team worked on our previous title, LongStory.
I have a background in fine arts, youth media literacy, web development and made it to games through a job at a company that produced children’s apps.
Heather Jackson, our narrative director, has a background in television. Since joining our team she has also completed projects for a Canadian game called Last Taxi and Glu Mobile. Our PM Chris has worked in marketing, journalism and helping interactive companies in Ontario parse the complex but lucrative world of tax credits.
Our art director Yi Pan has worked on Bloom games as well as creating assets for work for hire game art studios in China. Two of our team members, Jesse and Keana came to Bloom directly from school and Later Daters is their first published credit but they were star students at Sheridan College in Ontario and came out swinging on graduation contributing enormously to Later Daters from pretty much their first week out of school.
Robby Duguay our sound director is part of the Level Curve collective and has worked on many notable indie games coming out of Canada and the US, while Veda Hille our composer is one of the best contemporary composers working in Canada today.
Our writers are similarly accomplished, Michael Lyons recently published his first novel Murder at the World’s Fair while Ashley Cooper is a celebrated writer and stand-up comedian.
Great! That’s a pretty diverse bunch you’ve got there, which is exactly the type of folk we like to work with here at WINGS. Funding is often one of the major roadblocks faced by indie developers, can you tell me a bit more about any previous funding you’ve had before you decided to apply to WINGS?
While producing Later Daters I had to learn that it’s not really about how much money we get, it’s about how carefully we spend it. Later Daters was initially financed by Ontario Creates and the Business Development Bank of Canada, the extra funding provided by the BDC made me a bit too free with the dollars and we ended up going over budget early in the production cycle.
That led to the shitty experience of laying off team members and losing team members who needed more security, as well as putting contracts on hold. It was the worst summer since Bloom incorporated and since then I have been trying really hard to get us back above water. Getting Later Daters out the door is a major step for the company in that regard.
The very slow process of recovering from that has taught me some valuable lessons like paying attention to cash flow, budgeting effectively and realizing that as much fun as it is to chase money, managing what we have is how Bloom stays in business.
Do you think some developers might underestimate the costs involved when creating a game?
Absolutely, though creating a game has never been cheaper than it is today, the sophistication of tools we have access to and the cheapness of technology and labour is mind-boggling. We can make a lot more in a lot less time than before.
In my opinion: The issues indies face now are not only issues of funding, but there are also issues of access, discovery, quality and curation. In the end, this is why we chose to partner with WINGS, as they want to highlight and promote high-quality, unique games from diverse developers.
We’re happy to be partnered with you, too! Do you have any insight for those out there who are unsure about whether or not to apply?
In addition to funding, indies benefit from WINGS ability to quickly elevate companies that struggle to be considered legitimate because the forms/ content/ audiences we explore and relate to are treated in a pejorative manner. WINGS has helped Bloom enormously with expertise and access to networks, knowledge and capacity to command more attention in the marketplace.
I also think it’s why I wanted to work with WINGS as compared to other funds where it felt like the profit motive was the driver instead of the desire to broaden the scope and value of games as a medium.
WINGS have been very transparent and helpful, and are trying to do something important for a healthy game ecosystem. I hope it works and I hope our game is part of it working!
Do you have any top tips for budding applications, whether they be industry veterans or new to the scene?
Don’t look for funding, look for partners. Rather than looking for an investor relationship to create your passion project, speak to WINGS. Alongside much-needed funding and support, we made a bunch of decisions based on conversations with WINGS including bringing on somebody to wrangle influencers and getting our PR support planned early, which made a big difference. Also, we had the launch build ready to go in good time which meant Nintendo could offer us additional visibility.
Later Daters Season 1 is out now on Steam and Switch: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1040390/Later_Daters/
Applying to WINGS couldn’t be easier. We would love to hear from you. www.wingsfund.me