More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
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More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Three Questions to: rose-engine - Makers of the Sci-Fi Horror Hit SIGNALIS

Yuri Stern and Barbara Wittmann have been creating games together for 8 years now, on October 27 their Hamburg-based studio rose-engine is releasing their latest game SIGNALIS. Published by Humble Games, this dark Sci-Fi horror game with its retro optic has already stirred up quite a buzz in the international gaming press. We took this opportunity to ask them about collaborating for so many years and how the match with their publisher came to be.

You have been developing games together since 2014, how and where did you start out collaborating and how's your journey been in the past 8 years?

We are originally from Bavaria and moved to Hamburg to study Illustration at HAW Hamburg. Here we attended a games class initiated by Michael Benrad (Beardshaker Games) and later led by Mareike Ottrand (Studio Fizbin). At that time we developed our first prototype of what would turn into SIGNALIS.
Back then there was no game development funding in Hamburg yet, so we worked part-time while studying and working on the game. Once we had signed with a publisher in early 2020 we went into game development full time. SIGNALIS was developed entirely from within our bedrooms and production took place during the COVID pandemic, pretty much in isolation aside from contact with our friends online. Shout-out to fellow Hamburg developers Steven Kaule, Pia Heugel, and Studio Monstrum, who we all met in the HAW games classes, for keeping us sane and helping us with playtesting! Another small game called “Insect Builder” we did on the side was part of the exhibition “Facettenreiche Insekten” this summer at the Zoological Museum in Hamburg.

Your upcoming game SIGNALIS will be published by Humble Games, how was this partnership formed? Do you have any tips for other indie devs on how to approach an international publisher?

In 2019 we had a vertical slice and trailer we felt confident in, and a rough idea of the game’s scope and costs, and finally felt ready to approach publishers. We were granted travel funding from Kreativ-Transfer, which allowed us to go to gamescom to talk to publishers. Humble Games was one of them and they later followed up with a very good offer.

For us, what worked was to create a game which has a lot of visual appeal and is a modern reinterpretation of an established but underserved genre, in our case, this is classic survival horror. We also combined it with dark sci-fi anime and retro pixel art, both of which have a sizable fanbase. We are also quite passionate about all of these things ourselves. Our vertical slice showed off how the visual style, its core mechanics, a few examples of puzzles and combat, and how we use perspective shifts and cutscenes to evoke a mysterious feeling. Knowing your niche probably helps with identifying a publisher who is serving this kind of game. Once you are in talks with a publisher, don’t be afraid to negotiate, ask other devs who are signed with them about their experience, and listen to your gut feelings. Don’t sign a contract you will be unhappy with. And if it doesn’t work out, have a backup plan like an indie fund, crowdfunding, or working part-time. Don’t quit your job before the contract is signed, some publishers just vanish.

Now that SIGNALIS is in the hands of the players, what are your plans for the future of rose-engine? Can you give us a teaser of something that might have sparked your interest already?

Right now, we’re still processing the reception of SIGNALIS with players.


SIGNALIS is available now for Steam, Xbox, Game Pass, PS4 and Switch! Check it out here 

rose-engine managed to secure their deal with Humble Games by meeting them at gamescom, where they travelled to with the help of the Kreativ-Transfer. Since then, Gamecity Hamburg has established a similiar program for the industry, the Games Transfer funding program

News

Three Questions to: Dom Schott, Creator of the Podcast OK COOL

Dom Schott has been a part of the German games journalism scene for some time already, but the last few years brought big changes for him: he joined the team of The Pod on a regular basis, moved to Hamburg and started his own podcast: OK COOL. We took this opportunity to reverse the roles and ask him about his work for a change.

3 years of Games Lift: Getting better with age

Three successful years lie behind the Games Lift Incubator. Before we start the fourth one, we take a look back. Our alumni have a lot to show.

2022 in Review

2022 was a big year for us at Gamecity Hamburg as we saw the return of in-person events, a new convention in Hamburg, great projects in our funding programs and so much more! We want to take the last slow business days of the year as an opportunity to look back and offer a sneak peek at what's ahead of us for 2023.

Three Questions to: Elbphilharmonie concert hall about their online escape game

Hamburg's famous Elbphilharmonie concert hall recently released its first game - yes, you've read that correctly: Together with the Hamburg-based digital agency Pop Rocket Labs, they've developed an online escape game in which players must save a classical concert by solving puzzles. We've talked to Julika von Werder from the Elbphilharmonie's marketing team about the background of this project.

Bytro Labs tests 4-day week: Interview with founder Tobias Kringe

Hamburg-based studio Bytro Labs tests out a studio-wide 4-day work week from October to December this year. We talked to founder Tobias Kringe about this decision, how it affects way of working and what they hope to gain from it.

Federal Games Funding: Applications open again from January 1, 2023

Good news for the German games industry: as of January 1, developers and studios can submit applications for the federal funding for video games. The funding for 2023 amounts to 20 million euros, and it is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Goodgame Studios Reaches One Billion Euros in Sales with Empire Series

Congratulations to Goodgame Studios for reaching more than one billion euros in sales with their "Empire" series. The franchise includes four titles at this point and is played by over 220 million registered users, making it a great success for the Hamburg-based studio.

Hamburg Games Conference 2023: First Speakers announced

The Hamburg Games Conference returns on March 1 & 2, 2023 with the topic "Invest in Games". Now the first games industry experts are confirmed, who will share insights and best practices in talks, keynotes and panels around the main topic, as well as on dev, funding and start-up topics.

Games Lift Incubator: Grown together

The graduation pitch has marked the finale of Games Lift Incubator 2022. All five teams got to present what they achieved in the last three months. Not an easy task – but everyone came well-prepared. The setting was relaxed, the presentations strong.

Recap: Games Compass 2022

On November 23, InnoGames and Gamecity Hamburg invited decision makers from the games and digital industries of Hamburg and beyond to their jointly organized, exclusive networking event Games Compass.

Road to Hamburg Games Conference 2023: Apply until January 30

For this year's Hamburg Games Conference, Gamecity Hamburg once again opens its Road to program: We offer a number of physical showcasing spot packages for Hamburg-based studios, publishers, teams, and devs. Apply until January 30!

Hamburg Games Conference: Focusing on the topic “Invest in Games” on March 1-2, 2023

The Hamburg Games Conference will return as an on-site event in a new location in Hamburg. The conference theme "Invest in Games" will shed light on current and future developments in the international games industry.

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