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Young Entrepreneurs

[12/06/08]

How did it all begin?

The idea for Evolution Dreams Studio was born in May of last year: the brainchild of its now two founding members. We're both passionate about the world of video games and it's something that to a certain extent has marked the professional path we have continued to follow.

Before the idea came about, we had dabbled in several amateur projects and we had some good ideas. But the spark which started everything off is very much connected to that moment. In May, 2008 there was a series of circumstances which encouraged us to think about setting up a studio. One of the members was finishing the master's in video games and knew the right people to get involved in the project. The other member had trained in business startups and project management, and it was just a question of time before we got to thinking seriously about the project and to making a real go of it.

Why the decision to set up a studio rather than the possibility of joining an already established studio?

That's easy. The truth is that we'd had the idea of setting up a company in our heads for a long time, hence the training.

We wanted to have the freedom to work on our own projects, to choose our own colleagues and experiment with technology and ideas? In other words, we didn't want to depend on third parties and were looking to enjoy the adventure of starting out on such an amazing journey as this.

We knew that things would be difficult but that if we put all our enthusiasm into it that we would be able to overcome the obstacles.

So what did you do once you had decided?

We took things very easy and then the final decision came a few months later, after studying everything carefully. This first phase consisted of the always heavy job of studying the market, possibilities, doing numbers? in short, coming up with a business plan which would demonstrate that the business was viable. We were obsessed with this first phase and we put 5 months into it, heart and soul, right up to the present time. The idea was to go out and look for financial backing, investors and/or loans, so that was a really fundamental phase.

We worked on the business plan ourselves, given the training and practice we had, but it's a good idea to go to centres like Barcelona Activa, an entity which certified the viability of the project and assessed all the details, to get support and help in developing the plan.

Parallel to the business side of the project, we worked on the development of a design document for the first game. Just as it's essential to draw up a business plan, the design document is fundamental to the creation of a video game. Luckily the project was something we'd had in mind for a long time and we had pretty clear ideas about it.

Then came the search for collaborators, who are now members of the team, to consolidate the project and take it from paper to reality.

Another of the factors which we gave great importance to was the detection of weak points in the team so as to overcome them by doing training courses and take on the projects with greater guarantees. Strangely, this coincided with the beginning of BCNPLAY, which offered highly specialised and varied courses which adapted perfectly to our needs. So various members of the team went for it and improved in some of the proposed areas. This year we'll be repeating the experience with new courses and colleagues.

How did you get financial backing?

That's an extremely complex and exhausting thing. It's difficult to get money to start up companies in Spain , and if you add to that the country's financial situation ? well, you can imagine.

We opened up various parallel lines. The best way to get money without all the problems associated to the typical channels is to go for the 3 Fs: ?family, fools and friends?. In other words, asking for money from family, friends and any other hapless fool who wants to lend it to us. This is the cheapest and in theory most flexible way of getting financial backing.

On a more complex level, we also touted our business plan around competitions for entrepreneurs, and were runners up in one and winners of the Bancaja Prize for Young Entrepreneurs. Another way was to go banks offering deals adapted to the needs of entrepreneurs. The last option was to find investors, and this was the least fruitful of all of them.

It was a slow process but finally we were rewarded and we are about to close a very interesting loan which will give us the stability needed to be able to work without the pressure we've had on us up to now.

There are other ways of getting money, such as subsidies, but we haven't been able to apply for any as yet, although we've found a couple for when the time is right.

All in all, it is difficult to get the money together, but with a lot of effort and a lot of knocking on doors, you can do it.

How's it been for you in terms of paperwork and red tape? Right from the start we were clear that the creation of the company and subsequent accounting, tax and employment work would be subcontracted. The cost is manageable and it frees you from so much work, which means you have more time to dedicate to what is really important to the company: creating the games.

What happened is that as a result of certain circumstances, we had some bad luck and a bureaucratic mistake has ostensibly put back the constitution of the company. But at least we've made the most of the time to put the finishing touches to our first game and so improve our production level.

Once everything is sorted out, how do things stand with you?

Apart from the big management headache and such, there's the nice side of things which is the development of Planet Delta: A Journey to the Core , our first game. Little by little we've got together a really good team, graphic artists, programmers, designers and a musician, all top class. Right now Evolution Dreams Studio is made up of 6 people plus an external collaborator, although three other people have collaborated during the process.

Now we're getting everything ready for the launch of Planet Delta, which will be some time in June, and we're also at the pre-production stage with several other games.

We're also studying ways to improve both our website, with a programme of affiliate members to help with sales of the games to third parties, and also our blog, where we tell all about our adventures and misadventures since the start of the project.

What did the BCNPLAY courses and the Master's in video games creation mean to you?

Of the 6 members in the team, 3 have studied the Master's in video games creation, including one of the partners, and this has given us a global vision of the creation process as well as sound knowledge of different areas. We believe that studying a master's of these characteristics is a good starting point for anyone who wants to get into this sector and also get to know a few professionals who, thanks to doing the master's, were able to start up the odd important company.

As for the BCNPLAY courses, as we said before they are a perfect resource for starting and getting to know specific topics. In its first edition 3 of our team members did the XNA and Shader courses. The first was a must because we had and still have a lot of faith in this platform. In the next edition we'll be doing the courses in Creativity and Design, Advanced XNA and Advanced Character Creation. With the last two the whole team will be able to get in-depth knowledge of the area and we'll be able to face new projects with greater agility.

¿Any advice for future adventurers in the video games industry?

The first thing I'd say is that if you can combine your enthusiasm with a lot of effort, then you can get into this little world. It's really important to hold on to your dreams at all times and not become disheartened by the problems which may arise, to have clear ideas and know where you want to go.

Another piece of advice would be to draw up a business plan so as to do things properly, and there are two ways to do this: get some training and go head to head with the peculiarities of setting up a company, or get yourself a partner with complementary skills, less technical and more business-minded, who can cover your possible blind spots and offer a more pragmatic point of view.

Finally, and this is directly linked to the first point: be consistent, work hard and enjoy the ride as much as you can until you achieve all your initial goals, and always bear in mind that you need to be flexible because things are never straightforward.

And as we've already been through all that, we'd be only too pleased to advise and help as far as we can with anything you need.

Thanks a lot for everything and go for it you guys!

Xavi Sánchez
CEO
Evolution Dreams Studio S.L.

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