“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
From Italy to Estonia, then America and finally back again. The strange journey of developers in search of a place to call home.
1. Not all those who wander are lost.
Every journey begins somewhere. Most stories like to start in a messy van or in a cheap motel room and ours in no exception. It was 2012, one of the first days of Italy’s long summer, and we where travelling across the country while pondering about our future in the middle of nowhere. There, thanks to the seed of a dream lingering in our minds, or to an heat stroke blinding our reason, we took the reckless decision to quit our jobs at Ubisoft in order to create our own game company. Back then, we had very few things with us: a buggy mock-up on a laptop, a bit of careless hope and an healthy dose of insanity. But we did have a clear vision, we wanted to develop games with original and never seen before design, unique graphics and a very distinctive feel. That day Bad Seed was born. However, our journey was just beginning and we had no idea how long and strange it would have proven to be.
2. If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.
For unknown reasons, the unpredictable powers in charge of game developers took interest in our quest and Bad Seed was selected to attend the GameFounders accelerator program in Tallinn. Not willing to upset the gods, nor to lose such an opportunity, we moved to Estonia where we had the privilege to meet experienced mentors and true masters of the craft. For three months we spent each day attending lectures and workshops, while during the spare hours, mostly at nights, we worked at our own game. We won’t easily forget those evenings spent coding in crowded hostel lodges and the taste of Milli Mallika will forever haunt of memories.
The result of our hard work, and maybe of some extra shots, was Sheep Up!, a game with an unorthodox approach to vertical platforming. Through tilt controls, the player guides an always bouncing toy sheep to freedom from cardboard captivity, while collecting keys, defeating enemies, overcoming obstacles. Sheep Up! caught the interest of Pocket Gems and was released on mobile platforms.
3. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
Thanks to Sheep Up! we were selected by Mind The Bridge as one of the most innovative Italian startup of that year. As a result, Mind The Seed invested in the company and Bad Seed had the opportunity to incorporate in the US. Before we could fully realize what was happening, the plane was already landing on the next step of our journey: San Francisco. In the city of the bay we plunged into the dark side of the gaming industry: business. We learnt how to introduce ourselves to publishers and better ways to organize our daily jobs. We were also lucky enough to meet senior producers willing to share some tricks of the trade. Careless as ever, we also dared to take an absurdly long train trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was one of the most strange days in our life and one that we shouldn’t really talk about. Some stories must stay buried.
As our days in America were running out, we knew that we had to choose: where to go next?
4. The road less travelled
After a long consideration, and perhaps a couple of coin toss, we decided to go back to Italy. It might not have been the wisest choice, since our country is not really merciful towards growing start-ups. Nonetheless, we wanted to give it a try. As you may have guessed, we have a complex relationship with wisdom and caution.
Once in Milan, it was time to make the most of the seed investments gathered while in San Francisco. We found a temporary home at Talent Garden, an international co-working space, where we developed our second game: Sleep Attack.
Sleep Attack is perhaps the perfect example of our philosophy: turn classic game genres into something unique and never-seen-before. In this case, we tried to give a twist to the pretty outdated Tower Defense concept. In Sleep Attack, the player has the control of the battlefield, where paths are laid out in concentric circles which can be rotated to force foes down the preferred fortified path.
Sleep Attack received widespread critical acclaim and drew the attention of United Ventures, one of the most prominent venture capital fund in Italy. Our journey was about to take a sudden turn.
5. A long way home
We signed the deal with a mixed feeling of fear and excitement. We were now part of an established investment portfolio. We became, suddenly, a real company. Our future was ahead of us, scary and beautiful.
But, before we could daydream about new projects, we had to find a proper office, a place where take some rest after a long journey.
Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered we were able to ready our new studio. The experience left us with a new awareness: developers are terrible at DIY.
With a place to call home, we could finally start a new game: The Beggar’s Ride.
The Beggar’s Ride is a story-driven puzzle\platformer game about a beggar lost in a mysterious world. With the aid of an eerie mask granting godlike powers, the old man will be able to summon divine powers and unleash the very forces of nature to solve riddle, find new paths and unveil ancient secrets.
Three years have passed since we began our journey. We’ve travelled half the globe to return where everything started. We set foot on foreign lands to be able to see our own country as a foreign land. We’ve lost some friends and met many new ones. We’ve changed. We’ve grown. And still we have longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.