Stretch Goal: Fund Ludoria
Progress: 76% 5h to go
We love going to game events and festivals to show our games, find new friends and to chase chances. As indie devs we don't have a lot of money and spending it on expensive accommodation hurts. Time for a solution!
After I went full indie in July 2015, meaning quitting a well-paid job, giving up my flat and selling almost all my belongings, I started to work abroad as a volunteer in exchange for food and accommodation. This way I could make a living from my earnings as a game journalist but I faced another challenge: How on earth can I now continue to visit important game conventions? As a frequent traveler and user of "that website where you can surf on couches" since 2008, the solution came to me quickly:
Open a platform for developers to offer their couches to one another during events for free. A platform that lets you meet fellow people from the games industry and makes it even easier to connect with each other.
indiecouch.org will be centered around game festivals from all over the world and make it easy for you to find what you need. You are going to GDC but have not yet a place to stay? No problem, all people who still got space and offer their couch within the festival radius are just one click away. Various search filters will help you to optimize the results.
The use of the website is not limited to events, you can find all users through the basic search, whether it's for a meetup to exchange ideas or you're looking for someone to help you with your project, our platform will make it easier to find the right people.
indiecouch.org is not only for developers, we target everyone working in the games industry. To help identify the special field the users are working in, we color code them accordingly. Instantly you will see if someone is working in for example marketing, sound design or just simply an enthusiast who supports the cause.
We got big plans and hope the platform will grow to become the place to be for anyone attending game events. Last year we partnered up with Ludicious Festival and designed an alpha version for their needs from the ground up within a deadline of only two months . The people loved it so much, we couldn't take it away from them after the festival ended. It's working but very basic, you can find the link below, set up your account and start you indiecouch.org adventure today.
We got a lot of ideas how to further develop the website over time but for the initial launch we focus on the core features, rather than what is nice to have. We will listen carefully to user feedback and gather their thoughts. From this opinions we will create a poll where the majority of people will decide what feature we are going to implement next. Once the majority of the work is done and the website up and running we will begin programming a mobile app. Our design is responsive so you will still be able to use indiecouch.org on your mobile phone in the meantime.
We already finished wireframing and started with the web design. Simultaneously the backend is being programmed. Pictures speak more than words, here's a first look of what the final website may look like:
People have been asking us again and again how we will guarantee the safety of the hosts. The truth is, we can not give you a 100% guarantee because in the end it will always be your decision who you let stay with you but we plan to have certain features to prevent abuse:
- Verification of address: Users will be able to verify their address via postcard.
- Verification of mobile phone number: Users will be able to verify their mobile phone number via SMS.
A verified user is automatically more trustworthy because the information entered is legit and if something should happen we would have access to this data.
- References: Within a glimpse you will be able to see how many references a user has gotten and if they are positive, neutral or negative.
- Choose who can contact you: Users can activate the option that only certain people will be able to see their profile to send messages & requests.
This option will be turned of by default because we would like for people to stay open-minded. Most users will use the website for business purposes. If they want to stay with someone it's likely because they are showing their game or have meetings at a close-by event. We are talking about the indie scene where people spent their whole free - or day - time to build something they love. If something should occur, bad behavior or worse, people will know and the person responsible risks losing his reputation.
Before you let someone stay with you we appeal on your common sense. Check their profile, exchange messages and ask why they would like to stay with you. If it just doesn't work out with your guest, talk to them first because different cultures have different manners. Should that not work out explain them why and tell them nice and friendly to leave. If possible give them the address of a hostel close by. People who use this kind of websites are usually open-minded and easy going. In 8 years I never had any troubles. Sure, you'll never know, but talking to people helps in most situations.
The use of the website will be free but should it get known outside the games industry and people start using it as an alternative to other similar services and therefore higher the risk for abuse, we will implement a paywall. We're talking about a small amount of 5$ for a year's access to prevent just anyone from signing up. Already registered users will get the first year for free as a thank you. We do not want to implement this and only time will tell if it will be necessary.
We will use most of the money to hire another developer, get legal & business advice and to travel to various events to forge new connections and meet the users of indiecouch. In short: The money will give us the opportunity to build a startup and be sustainable for the first months.
The whole process is very similar to developing a game. There is a lot of programming, bug fixing and testing involved for which we will take our time to make sure everything runs smoothly once we launch.
A small piece of the cake (12%) will be used for myself, allowing me to work full time on the project for a maximum amount of half a year. I will use the money to rent a very cheap flat because right now I'm living and working in a hostel in Italy, which is great, but high season is slowly approaching and will make it very difficult to constantly work on the project.
Of course Michael and Philomena are not left dry. They are included in visiting game events and will get their cut once the site is up and running but right now they both have paid jobs and an already busy life, so money would not allow them to have more time to work on the project.
I started supporting the indie scene back in 2013 when I opened a Youtube channel covering only indie games. After one year and 500 videos I got the chance to produce videos and write for website, where I learnt my first experiences as a games journalist. One night around E3 2014 I discovered that the domain indiegames.ch was still available and from there on the real journey started.
In the past two years I went to Gamescom, Ludicious, GameZfestival, Berlin Games Week including A Maze Berlin, EGX, Fantasy Basel and Paris Games Week. I was part in various selection commitees for festival awards, organized the third screening of GameLoading: Rise of the Indies in Europe, helped programming the website of Playful Oasis, a collective around nature centered indie games and gave my first talk about indiecouch at gameZfestival as you can see in the picture above.
Michael is a passionate software engineer with a bachelor degree in computer science with a specialization in distributed software systems. He’s currently working at the University of Applied Science Northwestern Switzerland as a Senior Research Assistant.
When he first heard of the idea of indiecouch, he was totally convinced that this is an amazing idea which needs to be realized. One of his dreams was always to work independently, this is the first step in this direction. His long lasting experience in the field of complex software architecture and his excellent java programming skills complete the indiecouch team perfectly.
Philomena Schwab is a game design master student from Zurich, Switzerland. She greatly enjoys working on game related projects, taking on roles from art to programming to marketing. Her second big passion, biology, becomes obvious when looking at her current game project "Niche - a genetics survival game“. Recently she founded the indie collective Playful Oasis to spread the word about nature and biology related games. As a member of the gameZ and Swiss Game Developers Association Philomena is very active in organizing events and helping the local game scene grow.
Meeting many great people and seeing them struggle to visit important events because of money was Philomena’s reason to join the indiecouch team. Taking on the role of web designer and PR assistant she supports the project with her experience in graphic design and marketing.
In August 2015 we announced the project with a simple landing page where you could sign up for a newsletter and fill out a survey for market research. Shortly after we built our current alpha page for Ludicious Zürich Game Festival which gave us some starting money to cover the server costs for a few months. At the end of the year we started looking for a second programmer through our subscribers (~200 at this point) but got no response. We also set up a Patreon but there were not enough people to know about the project to make this a viable option.
We got in contact with some investors but decided against them, it just didn't feel right and we thought Kickstarter would be the ideal place to see how many people are truly invested in this idea and also to spread the word about it. All of us have a day job and with the money pledged we hope to speed things up and make sure legally everything is fine. Your support will allow us to make that platform you want and deserve with the professional background it needs.
Risks and challenges
We build the website from the ground up and as in game developing there most certainly will be delays. We want the page to run as smoothly as possible and will therefore invest a lot of time in testing before we go online.
We are also new when it comes to legal issues and some business related stuff. We'll have to rely on external personal for that matter, which also could slow things down.
Other than that I think we're ready to roll!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)