Evva Karr has years of experience working with game creators -- from AAA operations like Activision Blizzard and Riot to their own work as founder and CEO of Glitch, and more recently creator of Galaxy Fund.
Through that experience, they noticed that of all the resources available to up and coming developers, there was a gaping hole that no one seemed to be stepping up to fill.
"In our time working with creators and founders over the past many years, I'd say that one of the biggest things that we started recognizing was that there was a significant lack of funding at some of these really early stages, especially focused on prototyping and R&D within the indie space, and specifically with game loops that we believe have yet to be uncovered," they say, speaking to GamesIndustry.biz. "We're not really seeing the possibilities of innovation in our space."
"There is a significant lack of funding at some of these really early stages, especially focused on prototyping and R&D within the indie space"
To give an example, Karr mentions Charles McGregor, founder of Tribe Games and creator of HyperDot -- which Galaxy Fund supported with an initial $50,000.
"If you look at the game, under most circumstances, a publisher probably would have never picked up HyperDot and possibly not advocated for it, considering it's a 2D action arcade game with only shapes," they say. "And especially as someone who has never shipped on console prior to releasing HyperDot and he didn't have any major AAA titles under his belt.
"But since then, [HyperDot has] seen over 800,000 players worldwide, it's seen success. And Charles has been able to completely and entirely take care of his entire college debt. His story, and many others, really suggest to me that there's a huge untapped potential.
"That's why I've been thinking a lot about how we can do this differently. What are we missing out there?"
To uncover the answer to that question, Karr is launching the Moonrise Fund, a very early stage fund that's focused on supporting new types of gameplay that haven't been seen before.
"I've been thinking a lot about what fresh games could be made if creators had the power to really develop, control, and ship their games and the games that they really want to see in the world without asking for any permission," Karr says.
The fund, they say, has three key components. The first of course is capital: between $100,000 and $250,000 per person, with the aim of funding "a good handful" of projects per year -- Karr says the number is flexible. Those who receive funding are free to seek other funding as well.
"I've been thinking about what fresh games could be made if creators had the power to develop the games that they want to see in the world without asking for permission"
Karr adds later that the funding model is inspired by worker co-operatives, and is based primarily on dividends.
"The goal is never to draw out money at the wrong time," they say. "In, say, a traditional publishing model, what you end up seeing is that if there's a recoup period, that can really actually have negative effects of not knowing when funding is actually going to come in, and that can be really challenging for developers. So with our structure, we've really formatted it around dividends. At the end of the year, if there's profit for the teams, then they'll distribute that to their team and also a portion to the fund itself."
The second component is the fund's network of advisors. Moonrise already has a group of advisors backing it, including established developers who have seen success already by introducing new and innovative forms of play.
Though Karr wasn't able to name most of the advisors for now due to desires for anonymity, former Paradox Interactive COO and co-founder of Aldeon, Susana Meza Graham, is among them.
"There's an under-served market and money to be made here," Graham said in a statement on the fund. "It's time for innovative approaches for things that can't be calculated or measured in a board room just yet.
"Evva's approach is smart, straight-forward, and more than just writing a check. It's a true collective that will raise the odds for studio success."
Finally, Karr says the third component is insights: through Moonrise, Karr wants to offer developers ways to learn and grow quickly, insights about players, and feedback on their games, tapping into that same advisor network as well as a pool of resources, databases, documentation templates, and other forms of support that especially developers new to the industry might not be familiar with or have access to.
"Being able to prototype and being able to basically get your studio started takes not only a lot of courage, but oftentimes, it's nights and weekends, it's time," Karr says. "I think a lot about what it really takes to create something from the earliest stages, and that's being able to have that time. Oftentimes, people are working full-time jobs, or maybe they're a parent, and to me, what the Moonrise Fund is really situated to do is to be able to buy back that time, and to be to give people essentially the time to be able to create the energy to be able to create something that's new from their perspective.
"I'm interested in people who are thinking differently about play, and I'm trying to be open to the possibilities of what someone could show us"
"From the format of the entire fund, even to the term sheets, we've been working alongside numerous developers to co-create new systems. We're able to take some of the current tools that are available out there and start writing what is essentially new rules for a more inclusive creative economy. In terms of investments...those funds are really flexible, so that creators can do exactly what they need with it.
"Something that's also unheard of, in terms of games right now, is fast decision making. From our first conversation, or from a pitch to a check, we can do that in less than 30 days. Oftentimes, when you talk to creators, you'll hear, 'I don't know exactly how long it is before I hear back from a funding source.' We are really focused on people being able to have complete agency with that deep network of support from established creators who can essentially provide advice and also help founders reach their goals."
Karr encourages anyone who thinks they might be able to make use of the funding to apply, saying they are open to a wide range of possibilities. Specifically though, they say they want to see "fresh and new game loops."
"I'm interested in people who are thinking bigger or thinking differently about play, and I'm trying my hardest to just be open to the possibilities of what someone could show us," Karr says. "Even in pitching, we're looking at that very differently than, say, even a pitch deck. Like if someone just records a video of them just showing me a paper prototype with a new and fresh game loop or a fresh perspective on play, I would totally be into that. I would play an Excel spreadsheet, for heaven's sake. I'm very curious about the possibilities of what could be and what is to come and not focusing on what has been."
Interested individuals can apply now on the Moonrise Fund's webpage, and Karr says they are also looking for more advisors and investors to support the fund.
"The thing I am most excited about is the potential impact we can have with this fund, while also seeing returns," Karr says. "If my theory is right, we will have seen at least one of these companies be like, the next Among Us with their own type of play, or the next iteration of what Animal Crossing could be."