Although the exact plans are still being worked out, Canadian development studio Eden Industries is taking the first steps in an initiative to help other indies get their projects off the ground. While there are a number of charities, fundraisers, and networking organizations out there to help connect and fund struggling indie developers, the Garden of Indie initiative aims to do things a bit differently.
The first area being tackled is in education. Eden Industries has taken on a mentorship role with a number of students from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver. These students have the chance to channel their passion and interest in game development into a real environment. By taking the areas of game development these students are most interested in and finding areas within Eden Industries that are in line with those interests, it’s giving these students a chance to learn and create while building the skills and confidence that will help them succeed in the industry. In most cases, the work being done by these students actually makes it into the released product. The studio would like to branch out to other schools if the situation is right.
On a more professional level, the Garden of Indie initiative is helping development teams fill gaps in experience or abilities. A prime example can be found directly within Eden’s ranks. Lead level designer Robin Vincent has started his own project with his own team outside of Eden’s confines. While that project has the right people to handle level design, certain technical aspects need some outside help, and that’s where Garden of Indie steps in. Eden Industries has been able to to provide a custom-built game engine that Robin and team can build on.
Naturally there’s risk involved with focusing so much effort outside of the team’s own work, but Eden Industries founder Ryan Vandendyck believes that these kinds of strategic partnerships can benefit all sides. Even if it’s not always a success from a financial standpoint, they can find value in the work completed. Exposure to new types of game genres or even the tech developed are potentially valuable resources for later projects. Will all future partnerships be as involved as the project with Robin Vincent? Not necessarily as Vandendyck says “it may look different from partnership to partnership”.
It sounds like Eden Industries is pushing forward with a new method of collaboration within the gaming industry. It will be interesting to see whether there are some growing pains as the studio expands beyond this first round of partnerships. I know I’ll be watching to see whether Garden of Indie picks up steam within the community and whether it can spur other developers to take on these same kind of roles.
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