First up in a series of articles catching up with Formation Zone clients we have So Good Studios, a team of Plymouth University graduates running an independent games studio.
Welcome to the first in a series of articles where we will catch up with Formation Zone clients past and present, finding out what it is like to start-up in Formation Zone and how it has helped their businesses thrive and grow.
First up we have So Good Studios, a team of Plymouth University graduates running an independent games studio.
What did you study and how did you find out about Formation Zone?
“We all studied computing and games development at Plymouth University, which is a relatively new course here that focuses on a blend of creativity and employment skills.”
“In the second year we worked with Mutant Labs who did the same course as us and were successful after starting out in the Formation Zone. That and Dan Livingstone, the course leader, pushed us towards the Formation Zone in our third year.”
What stage were you at before joining Formation Zone?
“The So Good name comes from first year and we find it just works. It seems to fit well with everything.”
“By our second year we wanted to be indie devs rather than work for someone else and we have always worked well together. We had to take personality tests as part of our course and were lucky that it turned out we weren’t all the same, otherwise we would have had to join different groups! There is good chemistry.”
“We all took the big decision not to take a year in industry so we could focus on developing our own company and our own ideas. So Good allowed us to be creative. Between second and third year we worked on Bath Tub Pirates, which we carried on as a project in third year.”
“Because we had devised roles for ourselves, and developed our branding and website, we started out ahead of the rest of the course. It put us under pressure to achieve and by the time we sat our exams we were already in discussions with Formation Zone. Even our solo projects were So Good branded and our games were really popular with other students.”
What made you choose Formation Zone?
“For us, Formation Zone was the obvious choice. The One Stop Ideas Shop had already helped point us in the right direction so we knew that the clinics would help us develop. We didn’t know anything about business before, so the £60 pre-start package was brilliant. It gave us access to the support and advice that we needed.”
“We didn’t want to have our entire lives taken over by work. Although we still put in extra hours when they’re needed, having a professional environment where we could work nine to five and keep our free time free was beneficial. Working remotely isn’t natural and working from home is hell, we wanted proper downtime.”
What difference has being in Formation Zone made to you?
“Eleanor, the Formation Zone manager, had more faith in us than we did and has helped us take the steps we needed to take to setup as a proper company. The advice from Chris from Business Edge has been invaluable as well. He has helped us to develop our approach to business and to relationship building.”
“It’s much easier to get things done when we’re all together in the Formation Zone compared to working at home. You really notice how valuable the space is when you try working remotely again. For what you pay, the space is fantastic. You definitely make your money back!”
What progress have you made since joining Formation Zone?
“The Formation Zone gave us the space to develop a sense of being a company and helped us build our own setup. We were independent and driven as students but now we are an actual company.”
“We received help with our first contract from the Formation Zone manager and the other businesses here were happy to help us too. We even had to set up a company bank account so the client could pay us! We now fund our own projects by doing work for other people.”
“Having this set up is what let us finish and release our first game, Tap Tournament, for mobile. The feeling of legitimacy that working at the Formation Zone gave us is what kept us going all the way to release, which is something a lot of game dev start-ups never manage, and something we’re really proud of.”
“We still keep in touch with our old course and the games dev society at the Uni which is nice, but it feels good to have grown away from it. Now students are referred to So Good Studios. They see us as professionals and want to ask our advice and in return they help us test our games and give us feedback. We really enjoy being able to help out and give back.”
What has been your greatest milestone since joining Formation Zone?
“Our biggest landmark was securing our first piece of client work, which came towards the end of our first two months on the pre-start package. We were almost out of money but the company worked and completely turned around.”
“We learned how to plan work and stick to it, working to set criteria and strict deadlines. Meeting each delivery deadline was a milestone but sending off the first project at completion was the big one. We even gained extra contract work for proper money. It was a big leap and changed the dynamic of our company.”
How do you feel about your experience in Formation Zone?
“It’s been fantastic! When we started we were unsure but the reassurance and support has helped us to stop the worrying.
“The space helps us to keep our focus and it’s a fun place to work, but it’s not just about the business; we have had other opportunities since joining that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Through Connect we have got to know the people around us in an environment with no barriers. We’ve met people doing different things, and built relationships with them, that we never would have without Formation Zone.”
“It’s great to be on campus in the middle of the city where there are people around, a bit of life, and we have been able to get involved in schools outreach through the University. Talking to kids about what it’s like to be a games dev and seeing them enjoy your game is great.”
Would you recommend Formation Zone?
“We do recommend it!”