Indie Fund Backs Duskers – Available for Early Access Now!

Alone in the dark, isolated, surrounded by old gritty tech that can only give you a partial picture about what’s going on around you – a motion sensor that goes off, but doesn’t tell you exactly what’s out there. Duskers, launching today on Steam Early Access, is a deep dive into the feeling of complete dependence on technology in a (somewhat) fictional era in which tech can limit you almost as much as it empowers.

Developed by Misfits Attic (a studio led by Tim Keenan, who also made A Virus Named TOM), Duskers is a game in which you pilot drones into derelict spaceships to find the means to survive and piece together how the universe became a giant graveyard.You are a drone operator, surrounded by technology that acts as your only eyes and ears to the outside world. What you hear comes through a remote microphone. What you see is how each drone sees the world. Motion sensors tell you something’s out there, but not what. And when you issue commands, you do it through a command line interface.


Cliff Harris, head of Positech Games and Indie Fund investor says, “The minute I read the pitch for Duskers I knew it was a game I was going to love, before I even saw a screenshot. As someone who grew up with the Aliens movies, the idea of replicating that claustrophobic ‘can’t see whats going on’ feeling in a game really appealed to me. And for once there would be a tense action/strategy game where my ability to type fast might actually give me an advantage. Misfits Attic have done an amazing job in producing an innovative game that has tension and
atmosphere, as well as a truly original art style.”

Intrigued as much as we are? You can check out Duskers starting today on Steam Early Access (Windows to start, Mac and Linux coming shortly).

How to Pitch Your Game to Indie Fund (or just about anyone)

Since the Indie Fund restructured, we’ve had questions pop up about how best to apply. We also have the awesome insight of the many more investors involved who are helping us add further transparency to our process, and who have contributed to putting this information together on how to prepare your materials for Indie Fund, or for any potential investor.   

Indie Fund aims to support the growth of games as a medium by helping independent  developers get financially independent, and stay financially independent.  Indie games, for better or worse, encompass a wide range of scopes and budgets now.   If you haven’t already, check out how to apply to Indie Fund and hopefully this post will help you to prepare your Indie Fund pitch and, if necessary, to think critically about your project and its financial requirements.



Indie Fund provides funding that helps developers make great games, but we are not a publisher.  We don’t do QA, we don’t manage your game for you, don’t run your booth at PAX, and we don’t do your PR or marketing for you.  On the other hand, we also don’t own any of your IP, don’t expect to be repaid if somehow your game doesn’t launch, and don’t pressure you into launching on an arbitrary launch date.  What Indie Fund does best is:

(1) have a simple, open, time-limited contract that doesn’t require negotiation and lawyers to sign;

(2) have a rapid turnaround so you can be funded much quicker than most other ways games get funded;

(3) have a well rounded group of advisors that you can ask for advice when you inevitably run into some tricky problems; and

(4) allow game creators to create with as few burdens or impediments as possible.

That said, we are also very selective, because it is our own money we are investing, so it is extremely important to make alternate plans in case your project is not a good fit for Indie Fund.



What sorts of things should you include in your pitch? It depends on the exact game project and team, but you can find a breakdown of what to submit over on the Apply page.

Let’s explore what happens when someone does pitch to Indie Fund. The basic process is that the investing members ask themselves a lot of different questions about the pitched game, which mostly boil down to these core concerns:

  1. Is the game interesting, special, and well-crafted?
  2. Do we believe the team can achieve their goals with the game?
  3. Do we think the game will make enough money so we can recoup our investment and the developer can make their next game without any outside funding?
  4. Will the game’s proposed budget and schedule result in the creation of a financially successful game?

These are not empirical or quantitative questions with precise answers, but Indie Fund members use their many collective years of game making (and game playing!) experience to make the best assessment they can. If the project looks like a good fit, one Indie Fund member will champion the project, taking charge of the paperwork but also collecting other Fund members to help complete the funding if necessary.

To further help you in applying to the Fund, we’ll dive into further detail on how we evaluate games based on these three points.


1. Is the game interesting, special, and well-crafted?

Any financially successful game first needs to have some combination of these qualities, and we need to see this reflected in the application materials when you submit. This might mean that you have a game with an interesting mechanic that players can feel in your prototype, along with a clear plan for how to integrate art and execution with your mechanics. Or, it could mean that you have built something like a “vertical slice” – a short gameplay demo that reflects near-final mechanics, art, and audio all together. By playing it, we can see, hear, and feel the final experience you are going for and can see how your budget and schedule will get you there. It could mean a combination – a more simple gameplay prototype along with video and mock screenshots to demonstrate your vision for the final game. We also look at any feedback you received from showcases, festivals, players, other developers, and/or the press, so feel free to link us to references if you have them.

2.Do we believe the team can achieve their goals with the game?

Optimizing your team (and therefore, burn rate) is key to succeeding on an independent budget, so Indie Fund looks at all the information and uses our experience and intuition to see how we feel about your team’s ability to execute. Applying teams could be tiny, or they could be larger. We’ll take a look at your pitch materials, and try to rectify if your teams experience, and the amount of people, can result in the game you want to make. We frequently see teams trying to make a massively ambitious game with far too few people, or overly large teams with unnecessary roles making small games.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean we don’t fund new teams – in fact, many of our games represent the developers first title. Nor does it mean we don’t fund tiny/micro/solo devs, or larger teams with higher burns. However, it does mean that we have to believe your team is staffed correctly.

3. Do we think the game will make enough money so we can recoup our investment and the developer can make their next game without any outside funding?

This can impact our pitch review process in a few different ways. First, if we see a very large team involved, especially with multiple managers, this can be a red flag. There are no hard rules about any of this, but the bottom line is not a lot of independently produced games are going to make millions of dollars. So, if you need over a few hundred thousand dollars just to finish your game, that makes it a risky investment for Indie Fund. On top of that, you would have to earn over a million dollars to ensure you could pay back the investment with a decent return AND be able to make another game without borrowing more funds in the future. There are other funding sources out there that can work with those parameters – it’s just not Indie Fund. That said, there are ways to mitigate the risk of the investment, like experienced team members and/or a highly polished game demo, for instance.

Secondly, we are looking at games through the lens of the current competitive landscape. So we’re very interested in understanding what platforms you want to distribute on and why you are choosing those particular platforms. Sometimes we see applications that have a launch strategy that seems primarily based on what everyone else is doing. While there is some wisdom in the crowds, what’s right for many other games may not be right for yours. Does your game have controls that can easily translate between a console controller and a touch screen device? Is your target audience primarily on one device but not another? Are you having talks about marketing commitments from platform holders and that’s why you feel the need to do a simultaneous launch? Or an initial launch on a platform with a smaller install base? These are all questions you might get if you haven’t answered them upfront in your application.

4. Will the game’s proposed budget and schedule make sense?

Do you have the right people in place to make the game successful? This includes the right talent, but also additional PR or Marketing support if you need it. Sometimes we will recommend increasing a proposed budget to include travel to conferences or to hire a PR consultant. Our Fund assumes that the developer has the capacity to see their game through a successful launch on their own. That means they will be managing conversations with platform holders, organizing the format and submission process for each platform, submitting to festivals as appropriate, coordinating with press for interviews, and buying ad space if needed. Feel free to ask us for recommendations or for sanity checks on consultants you might be looking at, but we don’t supply these resources. Also, we have worked with developers who have received additional funding from grants and who have arranged deals with a porting house or publisher to help bring the game to other platforms.



Our terms are structured extremely favorably to the developer because we expect our developers to be putting a lot of their own “skin in the game.” We do not pay full salaries for team members who are participating in profit-sharing from the game. The expectation is that the funding you receive from IF is keeping a roof over your head, keeping people fed, and keeping the team from distractions created by taking on additional work just to make ends meet. Don’t start from industry averages and work backwards from that. Figure out rent costs, basic living costs, and build your IF budget from there. Sometimes IF funding is used only to hire those contractors needed to bring the game to a high level of polish for commercial success – like a graphic designer, sound designer, PR consultant, etc.

Just one more tip: please do not make up a budget that you think will get Indie Fund interested but you know is unrealistic.  We have seen budgets before and can tell when they are unrealistic. Beyond that, we are real people using our own money to invest in indie developers to get them a chance at financial freedom for their next game. If you mislead us about your budget that just means you end up with an unfinished game and some disappointed investors.

Hopefully this has been able to help you understand how Indie Fund examines a project and our new application process.  Everything that comes through Indie Fund has to go through this process, and even if you’re not pitching to us, we think these are good questions to ask about funding your indie game.

Indie Fund Now Backing The Flock

Remember flashlight tag? You didn’t play it like this. Vogelsap’s The Flock is a brutal first-person asymmetrical multiplayer game where three to five people compete for control of an artifact containing the last bit of sunlight left in the world. Only one player can be “it.” The rest remain monsters, trying to claw that person apart. By combining stealth with seamless motion through a dark and stifled atmosphere, The Flock manages to be as fast-paced as it is suspenseful – and Indie Fund is proud to now support it.

The Flock

Ambitious as a 3D online multiplayer may be for the first project of a student team, Vogelsap has restricted the scope of their game in a way that reinforces all its elements. Players begin as members of “the Flock”, a dying but deadly species with the speed and agility of Ridley Scott’s Alien. Players must pick up a glowing orb to win, either from it’s original spawn point or the corpse of whoever had it last, but doing so transforms them into a slow and vulnerable humanoid “Carrier,” unable to hide the light they’ve stolen for long. Catching the Flock in this light turns them to dust unless, of course, they’re not moving. Or was that just a statue?

“I love sharing new experiences with gamers online, but I hate the tired mechanics of most of them,” Indie Fund investor Kellee Santiago said. “The Flock stood out to me immediately as a delightfully scary and fun game to play with friends, both old and new. There’s something about shrieking and then laughing at yourselves that really bonds people together – and that feeling of connection is ultimately what I’m always looking for in an online game. And it’s why I’m proud to be a part of this unique project.”

To convey the consequences of the Flock’s lemming-like attraction to light, and to heighten the stakes of an otherwise endlessly looping deathmatch, Vogelsap is introducing a new twist – The Flock’s population will be finite. Each senseless death will count against a running total, resulting eventually in extinction. Players will trigger a finale when the counter reaches zero, in which players can partake and then the game will never be playable again. Vogelsap is still working out the details, but they’ve pledged to be transparent about the extinction process, and disciplined in applying it.

The Flock is currently in a closed beta, and will release on PC this summer. Until then, you can follow the project on Twitter and visit Vogelsap’s website for updates.

Indie Fund Adds New Investors, Now Backing Armello

We’ve got some exciting news to announce about the future of Indie Fund. We have restructured how the fund is organized, which allowed us to add more investing partners.

This means more ways to contact us, more brains to pick, more available funds, and hopefully more games! We’ve funded a couple games under this new model, and we are proud to announce the new expanded Indie Fund is now funding Armello, due to launch later this year.  First, a little bit about Armello and why we funded it, and then we’ll explain some of the changes at Indie Fund.

Armello is a procedurally generated, turn-based strategy game where one to four players vie for the throne of a mad king through loyalty, hostility, or treachery. It combines the best elements of card and board games with the capabilities of digital platforms for an experience that’s simple to start but deeply complex and replayable. While stories within individual sessions will differ, Armello is set in a rich and beautiful world reminiscent of Game of Thrones- were the warring houses of Westeros replaced by clans of woodland creatures.

“Armello is both extremely pleasing to the eye and crammed full of creamy gameplay goodness; it somehow manages to feel simultaneously familiar and innovative.  This is the kind of game that makes people willingly sink a huge amount of time and I’m excited to contribute to it as our first investment via Indie Fund,” said Paul Kilduff-Taylor of Mode7 Games, the team behind acclaimed strategy game Frozen Cortex and one of the latest developers to join Indie Fund.

More details about the new Indie Fund:

The original 7 partners started Indie Fund in 2010 with the goal to support the growth of games as a medium by helping independent developers get and stay financially independent.  We’ve helped fund over 30 great independent games, and almost all of them have met our internal success benchmark in that they allowed their developers to self fund their next game from the revenue of the game we funded.

However, after doing anything for 5 years, life changes — kids arrive, people start new projects, games come and go — and we started to feel like we needed to change the way the fund operated.  Fortunately, many more independent developers have had their own success in the last five years, and have now come on to help out.

Last year we started partnering with individual investors outside of the fund with good results. More people got to participate, which meant developers had access to more capital, ideas and advice. With this more ad-hoc model, investors could vary the amount they wanted to put into each game, allowing more flexibility depending on life changes, interest in the specific projects, and how much money is available. Games like Future Unfolding, Duskers, and now Armello have been funded with this more flexible model.


Internal structure aside, all the fundamentals behind the fund, including our investment terms, will remain the same. We will continue to be selective about the projects we fund, be transparent about our work, and judge our own success by the success of the developers we fund.

We’re now fully adopting this model, and Indie Fund will be managed by a much larger group of investors moving forward. We’re especially pleased that some of the new partners are developers we’ve funded that are now looking to invest in the next generation of developers. We have a list of current partners, along with our updated guidelines on how to apply.