Ben Cooper and Paul Rayment share the team's experiences during the final week of the Microsoft Ventures UK accelerator
Hello ladies and gents. We would like to track back a little to the last few weeks of the Microsoft Ventures UK accelerator.
Unfortunately we were unable to keep up the weekly blog, as we would have liked, but it had come to crunch time for the game that we had designed (with a working title of "Ether") and decided to take it into full development. We had an idea. We had a vision and it was now down to hard work and a well structured production timeline to achieve what we knew we wanted, and needed to, before Demo day (AKA D-day) on December 6th.
The final weeks flew by (we apologise for any info that we may have missed) and we were seeing incredible improvement daily on the look, feel and gameplay of the game. Unfortunately, however, the limited time that we had meant that we simply couldn't explore some of the avenues we thought would be incredibly cool at that stage and we had to stick to the design that had been set out. We were managing to push through and form a great looking prototype and just hoped we got it there on time and in shape!
We thought the weeks before had been busy but the final week of working from the official Microsoft Ventures UK space at Central Working blew all prior weeks out of the water. With mentors, pitch doctors, pitch practices and... oh yeah... the development of our game... the team was in overdrive. A couple of pitfalls on the way had left some of the members feeling battered and bruised and something was definitely needed to bring them up.
Roll on the last week. GallantCloud moved into Lionhead Studios. The final week of the Accelerator was a great one and just what we needed! Just being in such an awesome environment inspired everyone and with less than five days left to complete the final changes to the game demo, get ourselves prepared for what we would be saying to everyone at demo day and to perfect wording of the pitch, the team was in the best place.
What topped this off was the fact that the majority of the team were able to be in the office, working side by side. This was brilliant and just unfortunate that we had been unable to do this before. Getting tasks accomplished flowed easily and quickly, showing just how far we had come as a team in the short space of 12 weeks.
Working closely with key mentors, who provided advice and opinions, and working to the structure that we had set out, the finishing touches were made and we were now in a position to get everything ready for making our deadline date.
Four days shot past, with team members having to split time between pitch practice and game development. Demo day was upon us and GallantCloud was ready! We had a working prototype looking and functioning brilliantly across a few tablet devices.
Our business document was completed, with the incredible help from the amazing David Halpern, and ready for final print. The pitch was practiced, practiced and practiced some more, fresh in our minds and ready to be rehearsed on the stage of Level 39. So after a pizza and mini chill out the team finished up the last of their assignments, tidied the office space and went home for a good nights sleep.
Demo day arrived and what a day it was. Microsoft Ventures UK hosted a fantastic event at level 39 of One Canada Square. The room had a great view of the London city-scape and as the awe of it all sank in, GallantCloud formed together again, at our table positioned in the centre at the back of the room, to prepare for demonstrating the game and making a massive impact.
After a few dry runs of the pitch we managed to iron out the hiccups and boost the confidence of the GallantCloud team (as well as the mentors and advisors!).
The team composed itself, taking part in a few pre-pitch interviews, and welcoming the guests of the evening who we had worked very closely with over the past weeks with a glass of bubbly (which most of the team refused due to wanting to keep a clear head in front of the audience).
Then came our pre-pitch encouragement speech from Microsoft, delivered incredibly well by Diane Perlman, giving all who were part of the accelerator a brief chance to look back on all achieved and think about where they were.
GallantCloud were third in line to give our pitch. Before our team speaker Ben was up on stage, our mentor Gary Carr of Lionhead Studios, stepped into the limelight.
What he said in the next few minutes meant an incredible amount to the whole team. Throughout the accelerator Gary had never stopped believing in what we could do and the praise and admiration he showed in his short speech gave the team an incredible amount of confidence and a want to prove our worth to him, all before us in the room and the game industry.
GallantCloud couldn't of asked any more from Ben Cooper. CEO, co-founder and lead artist for GallantCloud Games. He pitched perfectly. What he said in those five minutes was tuned, grasping the attention of all, explaining our game and showing just some of the possibilities of what we can do with the unique concept we have with Ether. The crowd responded amazingly well to the whole pitch but in particular to the successful completion of the demo of the game where an applause, that the team hadn't foreseen, erupted.
After the accelerator teams had pitched and with a huge weight lifted from the shoulders of all but Microsoft had one more surprise for us. Not only had they facilitated such a great Accelerator, a fantastic opportunity that comes only to the lucky few, support in the form of mentors, hardware, software and access to a community of experienced persons in wide variety of fields, but they announced that they would be continuing to support us after the 12 weeks was up.
As well as this, they offered us continued office space which was welcomed with open arms and mouths. Of course, in true Andy McCartney style, we had to work for this amazing present. We had a few questions to answer which would lead to the combination of a safe which would hold specific details inside.
With some bribery and sweet talking we (and the other accelerator teams) cracked the code and were rewarded with the office space and continued support of the incredible team that has brought us from students to professionals and chocolate!
It was time to mingle and really show our enthusiasm and enjoyment in the game we had worked so hard to achieve over the intense past 12 weeks of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Program. We had sparked the interest of people in the room and many wanted to hear more about our product and ideas. There was an amazing sense of achievement for the whole team, seeing people around our demo area, playing our game and most of all. Enjoying it!
So what's next?
A well deserved few weeks off for the GallantCloud team to spend as they see fit. A time for reflection and relaxation (with a few parties thrown in the mix!). After that, the future is incredibly big and increasingly bright for the team. No matter what comes our way we will make the most of it.
GallantCloud will continue to work on our game ideas using all the knowledge and information obtained from the accelerator to create the best team and game that we possibly can with plans for future games in the pipeline and a determined schedule set for Ether.
The most important thing is that GallantCloud Games is still doing what it loves... creating games!
From Ben Cooper, Paul Rayment, Richard "The Hoff" Hoffmann, Richard Clark, Mantas Versulis and Wayne Campbell. Thank you. We really hope that you have enjoyed following us through our journey thus far and would like to invite you to continue to follow us and see just where the future takes us.