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The Secrets to Start-up Success

Media Molecule, nDreams and Mind Candy share advice for new studios in a digital age

Media Molecule, nDreams and Mind Candy. All successful companies in a new era for the video game business, creating successful and innovative products for targeted markets, and each with a very different path to success.

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, all three shared their experiences and advice to developers looking to form their own start-ups, where a great idea is just the beginning in the ever-changing and disruptive new games economy.

Mark Healey and Kareem Ettouney are two of the four founding members of Media Molecule, creators of the ground breaking title LittleBigPlanet. The game has been massively successful, with players using the franchise's tools to create and upload over four million levels over the past three years. Media Molecule was acquired by Sony in 2010.

If you're going to do a start up with a bunch of other people take it for granted that you are going to hate those people at some point

Mark Healey, Media Molecule

Both men were actually with Lionhead when they decided to form their own studio, which was originally called Brain Fluff. At the time, Healey was already developing his own, one man project – Rag Doll Kung Fu - in his spare time.

"If I was starting out today I would make my first project quite small, just to go through the process," said Healey, who admits part of the driving force behind Rag Doll Kung Fu was a desire to annoy his programmer colleagues.

"I know Alex [Evans] would probably say something different," he admits. "Alex would probably be like 'no, f*** it, just dive in and aim big.' Personally I would do it with something small first, just so you get the experience of starting and finishing, localising and doing all the stuff that you probably aren't aware of."

Ettouney meanwhile suggested looking after the more creative members of staff was essential to a productive team. "A big part of the investment, in my opinion, other than doing the good work and the creative work, is understanding how to work with creative people."

"It's kind of like an entertainer by craft, a person who does something and gets their kicks from the happiness that comes as a result. So if they're not getting that their cycle is broken and they get weaker and weaker. So it's important to remember these things and not just be completely objective."

You should also expect and prepare to handle disagreements. Healey especially remembered times when the close team struggled to get along.

A big part of the investment is understanding how to work with creative people

Kareem Ettouney, Media Molecule

"If you're going to do a start up with a bunch of other people take it for granted that you are going to hate those people at some point," he warned.

"A lot of start-ups probably fail at that point, they'll have disagreements and then go their separate ways, but if you can accept that that's actually just part of the process, and you work through it, that's what separates the men from the boys."

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Rachel Weber avatar

Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.

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