One year in, the Indie Fund is currently providing money for the development of three games. Nathan Vella, Ron Carmel, and Kellee Santiago of the Indie Fund – all established indies themselves – and fundees Andy Schatz (Monaco), Steve Swink (Shadow Physics), and Daniel Da Rocha (Qube) gathered in a panel to discuss the successes and failures of the alternate funding method, which is designed to "put itself out of business as soon as possible," as Vella put it, to promote self-sufficient indies.


In the interest of transparency (one of the stated goals) the group posted the terms of an Indie Fund agreement. Developers keep their IP, and have three years to recoup the Indie Fund's investment. After that, the Indie Fund gets 1% per $10,000 of investment. Debts are forgiven after three years.

Vella focused on the fact that the Indie Fund gives valuable feedback, where a publisher might not -- but keeping in mind that the Indie Fund is only a fund, and advice is optional. Vella is very conscious of "becoming the people on the other side of the fence."

Carmel spoke more about keeping from being too involved, and "remembering our place." "I'm somebody who's trying to help game developers and I'm not trying to make [them] follow my vision," he said. Schatz quickly retorted "I did follow his vision." Santiago spoke about how her experience as an Indie Funder affected her dealings with publishers, and vice versa. Because of dealing with publishers, she said, Indie Fund maintains an "easy and clear process" of delivering payments to developers and conducting periodic reviews. Although for Qube, they switched to a different model -- 50% of the projected $40,000 budget and an "intermittent" deliverable schedule.

Schatz, whose Monaco is a recipient of Indie Fund, said that the "fits and starts" schedule of Monaco would have "given leverage" to a traditional partner (one who could have held him accountable for missing milestones, presumably), but didn't affect his relationship with Indie Fund. Those "fits and starts" came from his ongoing process of looking for console deals. Right now, he keeps the funding "on a trickle" to keep him alive and to allow for assistance from contractors. Qube's Da Rocha came into the Indie Fund with a game made as a student project, and felt intimidated by the prospect of working with a group of successful indies. Thanks to Indie Fund's guidance (and money), he said, Qube is on track to be released "hopefully" in June.

"Giving a release date, that's pretty ballsy," Shadow Physics dev Steve Swink said. He said that he found value in having a "small core of people whose opinion you care about" funding your game, rather than an anonymous publisher.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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