New faces, departures and a crazy count – reflections on the 2019 Local Elections

first_img Pinterest Electric Picnic organisers release statement following confirmation of new festival date Facebook Twitter Previous articleDeaths in Laois – Sunday, May 24, 2020Next articleHigh praise for three of Laois football’s greatest servants Steven Millerhttp://www.laoistoday.ieSteven Miller is owner and managing editor of From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he’s happiest when he’s telling stories or kicking a point. Pinterest WhatsApp By Steven Miller – 24th May 2020 Facebook Twitter New faces, departures and a crazy count – reflections on the 2019 Local Elections   News center_img LaoisToday coverageIt was our pleasure to cover this year’s Local Elections, the first election since LaoisToday was set up in February 2017.We received massive feedback on our extensive coverage over the weekend, in particular the Live Blog which proved incredibly popular.Traffic levels to the site and our app went through the roof and  to record levels on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and we’re proud to have led the way with the most in depth coverage going right back a number of months.Until the next one …SEE ALSO – Check out all of the 2019 Local Election coverage on LaoisToday A year on, we look back at the drama of last year’s Local Elections in Laois. This piece originally appeared on LaoisToday on the Sunday after all 19 seats were filled on Laois County Council. At 10.30pm on Monday evening last in a warehouse in Kea Lew Business Park in Portlaoise the last three seats on Laois County Council were finally filled, bringing an end to a three-day process of tallying, sorting, counting and re-counting that had got underway just after 9am on Saturday morning across town in St Mary’s Hall.It was a marathon saga that entailed three excruciatingly long days but it ended with an absolute bang – six elections in the space of an hour, each one of them greeted more raucously than the last.The announcements all weekend had been joyously celebrated but things went up a notch when Mary Sweeney and her gang belted out the Skies Oer Ballyroan at half 8 on Monday following her fifth straight election in Portlaoise. Ben Brennan’s huge support base, who’d waited around patiently and with good humour all weekend, got their moment next at the same time as his new colleague Aisling Moran, retaining the seat in Graiguecullen-Portarlington previously held by her father John for Fine Gael since 1991.Then it was the turn of Thomasina Connell for the final seat in Portlaoise – again for Fine Gael – before the triple whammy in the gripping Borris-Mountmellick battle of 25-year-old Conor Bergin, Durrow’s Oliver Clooney and outgoing Cathaoirleach John King. Clooney’s crowd even cracked open the champagne. For the candidates – winners and losers – their families, the Count Centre staff, Returning Officer Donal Brennan, the Gardai, Bosco Ramsbottom and his catering team and the working media, it brought the curtain down on an intense weekend. Dramatic and enjoyable as it was, there was nobody sorry to see the back of the place.Yet an Election Count is a unique experience for so many reasons. The setting couldn’t be any more unglamorous if it tried. Bare concrete floors, a cavernous big building, various sections separated by sheets of plywood and most people surviving on bars of chocolate, bottles of mineral and tea or coffee out of paper cups.For those consumed in it, they’re in a bubble for those couple of days, almost oblivious to what else is going on in the world. Those not at it get a snapshot of the drama through social media but you only get a full sense of it all by being there.It’s a place where all walks of life come together, all backgrounds, religions and ages. And it’s somewhere you’ll witness every human emotion in the rawest form: excitement, nerves, tension, disappointment, pride, joy, anger, bitterness, sadness and everything in between. By the end of it all, 19 county councillors, across three different areas had been elected to serve the people of Laois for the next five years.Here we look back on some of the many various talking points.Thomasina Connell with her group of supporters following her election on Monday nightFour new faces and changes in every areaA couple of weeks ago, a senior council official observed that there’s a turnover of a third of councillors at each election. Yet with 18 councillors returning and the one retiring one being replaced by his daughter on the ticket, the potential for change looked minimal in Laois heading into this year’s campaign.When the council does resume next Friday, however, there will be four new faces and changes in each of the three areas.Aisling Moran did win the seat for Fine Gael in Graiguecullen-Portarlington while Fine Gael also shook things up in Portlaoise with Thomasina Connell displacing Fianna Fail’s Pauline Madigan who had been in the seat for the past year having been co-opted following the death of Jerry Lodge.But it was in the Borris-Mountmellick area where we witnessed the biggest change with first-time candidates Conor Bergin (Fine Gael) and Ollie Clooney (Independent) dislodging David Goodwin (Fine Gael) and Brendan Phelan (Independent).Aisling Moran won the seat held by her father John since 1991Falling turnout Nationally, turnout was 49.7%, down almost 3% on what it was in 2014 continuing an overall trend of decline.That decline was even more pronounced in Laois where turnout was 47.1%, down from 51% five years ago. It’s the fourth election in a row in Laois where turnout is down having been 59.58% in 2004 and 54.33% in 2009.In Graigue-Port turnout was 50.41% (down from 55.27% in 2014) in Borris-Mountmellick it was 58.4% (down from 61.36% in 2014) and in Portlaoise it was 47.54% (down from 51% in 2014).The count itselfThe election count itself was an incredibly slow process with Laois not announcing a first count until after 7pm on Sunday – the last county to do so.In 2014, the first count was after 11pm on Saturday and was completed in the early hours of Monday. On this occasion it took almost 24 hours longer than it did five years ago.There was a delay of a couple of hours sorting the votes in St Mary’s on Saturday which delayed the count actually starting but Laois was way behind neighbouring counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Kildare and Offaly.Longford, however, was the last to finish their count – not doing so until Tuesday evening.Catherine Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail) and Mary Sweeney (Fine Gael) have been council colleagues in the Portlaoise area since 1999 – they’re pictured here with two of Catherine’s grandchildrenFemale candidates increase againFive of the 19 Laois county councillors are women, an increase on the three elected in 2014 and the four that saw out the last council term.Mary Sweeney (Fine Gael) and Catherine Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail) were both first elected in the Portlaoise area in 1999 while Caroline Dwane-Stanley (Sinn Fein) was first elected in 2014 in Portlaoise having been co-opted in 2011. Pauline Madigan (Fianna Fail) spent the last 12 months as a councillor and while she lost her seat, it was taken by Fine Gael’s Thomasina Connell.Fine Gael also added another female in the Graigue-Port area where Aisling Moran was elected.It all means that female representation is at a record high in Laois County Council at 26% and outside of the cities, only Cavan, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow have a greater percentage.Dun Laoighaire-Rathdown have 48% female representation while at the other end of the scale, Longford and Mayo have just 7%.At general election level, political parties are required to have women make up 30% of their candidates, or lose half of the state-funding they receive.Of the total 949 councillors elected across Ireland, just under 22% were women.The Women’s Council of Ireland said “it is very disappointing that in 2019, we still have not broken the critical mark of 30% women’s representation at local level”.Naeem Iqbal, a Pakistani native pictured here with his family, challenged for the final seat in the Portlaoise“While a record number of 566 women contested the elections, up from 440 in 2014, they only made up 29% of all of the candidates,” Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council said.“As was the case with the general elections, a gender quota for local elections is a necessity if we are serious about achieving gender equality,” she added.You can read a full breakdown of the female percentage across the country here. End of two political dynasties The afore-mentioned battle in Borris-Mountmellick witnessed two major casualties with Rathdowney’s Brendan Phelan (Independent) and Rosenallis’s David Goodwin (Fine Gael) both losing their seats.It both cases, it ends a long-standing family tradition. Goodwin was first elected in 1974 while his father William was a councillor for over 20 years before that. Brendan Phelan’s seat also has massive family ties. He was co-opted to that seat following the election of his brother Kieran to the Senate in 2002 but retained it at the three elections following it prior to this year.Kieran had first been elected in 1991 while their father Pat was a councillor for many years too. Phelan split with Fianna Fail prior to the last election and he spoke about that following the loss of his seat on Monday.But while the Goodwin and Phelan families are down now, it’s not the first time they’ve been in this situation. Pat Phelan lost his seat in 1985 before Kieran won it six years later, the same election David Goodwin lost his seat only to be re-elected in 1999.David Goodwin at this year’s Election Count in Portlaoise with former councillor Larry Kavanagh and his Fine Gael colleague Willie Aird.Brendan Phelan at the count centre with his brothers Laurence and Fintan and Margaret CordialIf either families are to turn to the next generation, Brendan Phelan’s son Brian and David Goodwin’s son Bill could be in the mix down the line. Both were present at tallies and count throughout the weekend and while both have young families now, it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see one or both of them enter the fray at some stage.What now for Fianna Fáil?Was this a good or bad election for Fianna Fail? Yes, they lost that Jerry Lodge seat in Portlaoise but that was always going to be a battle to hold on to, particularly after the way the cumann in Portlaoise went to war with itself over the co-option of Pauline Madigan.Their overall vote only dropped marginally from 2014 (32.8% to 32%) but they go back into the council with only six seats, one less than what they went out with and the lowest-ever representation in their history.The number of seats decreased the last time but Fianna Fail have gone from 14 seats in 1999 to 11 in 2004, eight in 2009, seven in 2014 and now just six.Catherine Fitzgerald with her Fianna Fail council colleagues Paddy Bracken, John Joe Fennelly and Paschal McEvoy. Picture: Julie Anne MillerIt was a case of their strong sitting councillors getting stronger on this occasion. Padraig Fleming topped the poll in Graiguecullen-Portarlington, John Joe Fennelly was elected on the first count in Portlaoise and Paddy Bracken took the first seat in Borris-Mountmellick.All three of those increased their vote substantially, as did Paschal McEvoy, Catherine Fitzgerald and Seamus McDonald.But Pauline Madigan and Donal Kelly never seriously challenged for the last seat in Portlaoise and Deirdre O’Connell-Hopkins in Portarlington and former GAA President Liam O’Neill and the Clonaslee-based Declan Good in Borris-Mountmellick were never in the mix either.Madigan is on the FF ticket for the next General Election with TD Sean Fleming and while Fleming has plenty of years left in him yet, there is nobody standing up as an heir apparent. Former TD and Junior Minister John Moloney put himself forward to go for convention last year and though he later withdrew, he is still very visible on the local political scene.Pauline Madigan and her family at the Count Centre in PortlaoiseBy the time the next Local Elections come around in 2024, their sitting councillors will have an average of almost 25 years service each. The party do have a number of active young members – like chairman Joe Dunne, secretary Thomas Foy and PRO William Delaney and the could be primed to go forward in the coming elections.Changing face of Fine GaelFine Gael find themselves in the opposite position that Fianna Fail are in, seeing their vote fall but their candidates increase.They are now the main party in the council with seven seats – three of whom are new faces.Aisling Moran (Graigue-Port), Thomasina Connell (Portlaoise) and Conor Bergin (Borris-Mountmellick) are new with John Moran and David Goodwin making way. Willie Aird, with a fourth poll-topping display in a row, Tom Mulhall, John King and Mary Sweeney also consolidated.Vivienne Phelan and Fergal Conroy were probably disappointed with their performances but Bergin is arguably the biggest success story of the election, the 25-year-old, who works in Charlie Flanagan’s office, returning a massive vote in his first election.Minister Charlie Flanagan with Portlaoise-based councillor Thomasina ConnellIt now looks as if Flanagan’s local Fine Gael team is as strong as it has been in a long time. Thomasina Connell was a General Election candidate in 2016 and now has a council seat. She will fancy a shot at a Dail seat again too while Bergin and Moran can’t be discounted either.Like Sean Fleming, Flanagan may not be going anywhere just yet but the party’s options are increasing and there could be a queue forming behind him.Problems for Sinn Fein?Sinn Fein did better in Laois than around the country and held onto the two seats comfortably with Aidan Mullins elected on the first count in Graiguecullen-Portarlington and Caroline Dwane-Stanley again taking the third seat in Portlaoise as she did five years ago.Lorna Holohan-Garry polled strongly in Borris-Mountmellick without ever challenging for a seat, just as Rhoda Dooley-Brogan did in 2014. With a bit extra, they wouldn’t be far off challenging for a seat there.Caroline Dwane-Stanley and her husband, Brian Stanley, TDBut with the swing against the party at the moment – and Local Elections regularly being a good barometer for a General if it’s held within two years – their Dail seat in Laois-Offaly could be under pressure.The party has totally collapsed in Offaly following the departure of Carol Nolan – losing all three of their council seats and seeing their vote collapse from 17.4% to 4.6%.And the loss of Aidan Mullins’ stronghold in Portarlington to the new Kildare South constituency will be felt too.Conversely, they’re now strong in Kildare South – with Ballybrittas native Patricia Ryan, who narrowly missed out in the last General Election, winning a seat in Monasterevin in these Locals.Labour gains The Labour party ran two candidates on this occasion in Laois, down from three in 2014.But with Noel Tuohy massively growing his vote in Portlaoise to be easily returned and Eoin Barry putting in a huge campaign in Graigue-Port only to lose out to Aisling Moran for the final seat, they grew vote from 4.7% to 5.6%.Noel Tuohy (Labour) celebrates his election once again in PortlaoiseBarry pulled in votes from across his district but finished 138 first preferences behind Moran – to have a chance of winning that seat he needed to be well out in front on the first count, given that Moran got over 250 transfers from Phelan to be elected.Barry could be Labour’s name on the General Election ticket and as a young candidate, the increased profile would leave him in a stronger position to challenge in 2024.Missed opportunity for Greens?The Green Party were the big winners of the Local Elections nationally but didn’t even have a candidate in Laois.Emo’s Sinead Moore ran for the party in the 2016 General Election in Laois when she got 1,541 first preferences but living in Dublin, she ran unsuccessfully for Aontu in the Locals in Fingal.With Pippa Hackett elected in the Edenderry area in Offaly, and set to run in the next General Election, it was perhaps a missed opportunity not to run someone on this side of the border, particularly in Portlaoise.Looking to 2024?Given the nature of elections, there was multiple family members knocking around the Count Centre over the weekend and it was almost a running joke for someone to suggest to a son, daughter, niece or nephew of a councillor that “they’ll be next”.But with so many of the current councillors with such experience and some of them hinting that this will be their last term, there could be more gaps in 2024 than there was this time.The losing candidates with ambitions of going again don’t need to look too far for a reminder that it often takes a couple of efforts to get across the line. Paschal McEvoy and Aidan Mullins were both defeated in 2009 but elected in 2014 while John King didn’t make in 1999 or 2004 but was successful in 2009 and again in 2014 and on this occasion.In this game, perseverance can often pay off. TAGS2019 Local Elections RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Bizarre situation as Ben Brennan breaks up Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael arrangement to take Graiguecullen-Portarlington vice-chair role Electric Picnic Electric Picnic Laois Councillor ‘amazed’ at Electric Picnic decision to apply for later date for 2021 festival WhatsApp Home Politics Local Elections New faces, departures and a crazy count – reflections on the 2019… PoliticsLocal ElectionsNewslast_img read more

Canadian students take home Detroit Autorama awards for the first time

first_img PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? Check these 5 things first | Used Truck Advice | Driving.caPlayCanada’s most efficient trucks in 2021 | Driving.caPlay3 ways to make night driving safer and more comfortable | Advice | Driving.caPlayDriving into the Future: Sustainability and Innovation in tomorrow’s cars | virtual panelPlayThese spy shots get us an early glimpse of some future models | Trending in Canada Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. A coffin-shaped dragster inspired by the 1960s sitcom The Munsters and custom built by students from Kingsville District High School, outside of Leamington, Ontario, won two first-place awards at the Detroit Autorama Sunday.“We cleaned up at the Autorama,” Kingsville District High School auto shop teacher Gord Osborne said Monday. “I just wanted to get it in there.”The weekend show – with 800 cars and almost 150,000 spectators – is billed as America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show, so it is an honour just to be selected, Detroit Autorama spokeswoman Linda Ashley said March 5. Trending Videos RELATED TAGSNews The Dragula is on display at the Canadian Transportation Museum in Kingsville until March 22. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday. COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Old-school hot rods meet modern customs at Detroit AutoramaWhen Osborne first suggested the Dragula from The Munsters, students asked ‘Who are The Monsters?’The 55-year-old grew up watching the black-and-white reruns. In the “Hot Rod Herman” episode, Herman Munster loses the family car in a drag strip race bet. Grandpa, a veteran vampire, builds his own dragster called the Drag-u-la and wins back the Munsters Koach.Osborne and his wife spent under $10,000 so the students could build something special to get in the Autorama and received another $12,000 in donated parts or custom work from local businesses.Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Gord Osborne, a transportation technology teacher at Kingsville District High School along with students Paige Roddy, left, Grace Vermeulen and Alec Tonkin pose with Dragula 2.0 on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at the Canadian Transportation Museum in Kingsville. ‹ Previous Next › He was happy it made the show and placed first in the high school category where he was told Kingsville was the first Canadian high school in the Detroit Autorama. He wasn’t paying close attention during the Sunday awards when the car won the special interest motorized category and couldn’t believe it at first.Students who were with the car started jumping up and down when he got out of the ceremony to tell them they had just beaten pros in one category.“We built that with 14- to 17-year-old kids. That’s amazing. That still blows my mind,” he said. “It was just amazing that we were right in there with all the big guns.” This wild Cadillac wagon just won hot rodding’s top award See More Videos Created with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 The Kingsville District High School’s Dragula 2.0 at the Detroit Autorama.  gecdsbpro / Twitter Dan Janisse / Windsor Star advertisement The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever The purple “Dragula 2.0” won not only the show’s high school category but the special interest motorized category against cars built by hot rod shops or owners.The one-of-a-kind dragster has a coffin hood with a power lift to reveal a 350 Chevy engine. The two-seater has organ pipes as exhaust pipes, a spider-web front grille, and a tombstone at the front between lanterns as headlights.Ashley called the purple coffin car spectacular. “To say it’s a special interest is an understatement. It was one of the most creative cars there.”More than 80 students worked on the Dragula 2.0 over the last three years.RELATEDlast_img read more

Failbetter Games: Seven Years, Ten Lessons

first_imgFailbetter Games: Seven Years, Ten LessonsFounder and now ex-CEO Alexis Kennedy on leaving the company he builtAlexis KennedyMonday 27th June 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleFailbetter GamesLast week I was the CEO of a prosperous mid-sized indie studio. This week I’m a freelancer. No-one expected this, but it was what I found I wanted. My time at Failbetter was wonderful, but there are a lot of things I wish someone had told me – things I’ll bear in mind if I found another studio – things that other growing indies might find useful. Here are ten of them.Take yourself seriously from the start. It took a couple of years before I could bear to take seriously the possibility that this might be my career. I worried that it would be arrogant or unrealistic to think of myself as a game developer or a writer, rather than a software engineer on sabbatical. So every time I introduced myself to someone, I said ‘tiny’ or ‘trying’ or ‘sort of’. When we found clients, I was so dazzled by the idea that people might pay us to make games that I didn’t negotiate effectively. Every time I thought about spending money, I looked at what we could afford, not what we needed. It held us back.I don’t mean you need to be one of those startups where the site says grandly LONDON, PARIS, TORONTO and where one person (who has ‘Founder, CEO and Chairman’ on their biz card) writes all the posts and refers to her/himself anonymously as ‘we’. I mean, sure, it does no harm, but it’s just playing house. I do mean that if you’re making a game, you’re a game developer. If you’re making a game full-time, you’re a professional game developer. If you’re cash flow positive, you’re a successful professional game developer, and if you’re not, you’re a struggling professional game developer. There are no other qualifications. If you’re doing it, tell people what you’re doing and don’t be abashed.(Conversely, if you’re an ‘aspiring game developer’, that means ‘not a game developer’. Take it out of your Twitter bio and make a game.)If something seems unthinkable, think about it anyway. Some things that happened in my time at Failbetter: I had to lay off the whole writing team; we made a commercially and critically successful PC game (after making nothing but browser games for five years); the founder and majority shareholder (me) sold his shares back to the company.A couple of years before any of these things happened, they were unthinkable. All of them went okay, because we’d taken good advice and we were lucky. But we were lucky, and we’d have managed more easily if we’d thought about them as possibilities. Even if they hadn’t happened, it would have stretched our brains in useful directions. Again, the gods won’t punish you for your hubris if you spend fifteen minutes thinking about what you’d do if your next game really took off, or your colleague who was never going to leave suddenly wants to go into politics or be a full-time parent.(The year before I left, an interviewee asked what would happen to Failbetter if I left, and I laughed rather patronisingly and said it wasn’t something he needed to worry about. Sometimes I’m a certified idiot.)Client work, or your own IP: pick one and stick to it. When you’re a cash-strapped indie dev, it’s very tempting to take time away from your own projects to pay the bills with client work. But client work always takes priority over your own work. You’ll be working to their schedules, on their terms, and developing the competencies that they, not you, require. It’s difficult to wean yourself off client work, and it requires a whole different set of processes and skills. And you can’t make it rain. If, as a small business without a sales team, you need client work and none’s forthcoming, then good luck.I say this even though at Failbetter, we were really lucky with our major clients – they treated us well and paid us on time, and they’re all people we genuinely liked. But I have to say that if I had everything to do over, I’d hire slower or spend more time looking for funding or put the effort into trying to get profitable with our own stuff. “We’ll do one for them and one for us”? This never works.(Client work has advantages! In a previous career, I went to work for a software consultancy specifically because I wanted a wider variety of experience. And I’ve just gone back to the freelancer’s life for exactly the same reason – to shake my brain up a bit and learn new lessons from other people. But client work interwoven with your own work is ketchup on ice cream.)Marketing is no less (and no more) important than QA. It’s very hard to have a success without good marketing and QA (and it’s impossible to have it without good production.) Always remember, when you’re convinced you’ve told everyone in your network everything about your game, half of them won’t even know you’re working on a game. This goes both for marketing and for community relations.This goes, like, triple, for indies. You’re invisible without putting proper effort into marketing. You can’t compete for coverage with the big guys, and if you’re in it to make money rather than make games, you’re probably in the wrong room. (You’re certainly in the wrong article. You should be reading that piece on Business Insider about the uptick in Series C funding rounds or whatever.)So for God’s sake do open production! – by which I mean developing where your potential audience can see your work. This means development blogs, Early Access, crowdfunding, a founders’ beta, all the above. This means the things you can tell the world are the things you’re already thinking about. Sure, it means being transparent, but you’re an individual or a small team. Tell your story directly and honestly; if you’re going to be different, be different; don’t sausage-machine it into generic marketing glurge.(The cheapest, although not exactly the easiest, £3,000 that Failbetter ever made was when my game director Liam and I offered to get inked as a stretch goal for Kickstarter. To this day, people still ask to see the tattoos at conferences.)Get early feedback earlier than feels safe. This is the other big win from open production. Get early versions, and updates, out as soon as you can get useful feedback. The bar here is ‘will anyone bother to play it?’ If it looks so dreadful, is so buggy, or is so light on content that people are going to fire it up, go ‘eh’ and never get around to saying anything useful, hold off. But if it has a face that only an enthusiast would love, get it out now – if only to your enthusiasts. Don’t make people sign NDAs! If it leaks a little beyond your core community, fine. It won’t go far, and when the time comes, you’ll need all the eyeballs you can get.’Ship early, ship often’ is advice that’s been around a long time in software development, but it’s still good advice. It may take work to get your game running reliably outside your development environment, to distribute it to volunteers or enthusiasts, to deal with feedback. But a lot of this is work you’ll need to do anyway. If it’s prohibitively time-consuming, find tools and processes to make it easier, and train your community to help. In any case, the time you’ll save on not making daft mistakes is going to be a lot more valuable.(Do make sure that any screenshots are prominently watermarked ALPHA, for when you get press later.)Go beyond your community. For an indie dev, your community is essential. They’re your evangelists, your early warning system, your Baker Street Irregulars, your Praetorian Guard. They’ll tell the world about you, they’ll QA your game unevenly but enthusiastically, they’ll keep your morale up when you most need it… and all you need to do in return is treat them with courtesy and give them the best game you possibly can.But you have to look beyond them, too. Another term for ‘your community’ is ‘the people who’ve already heard about your game’. They’ll buy your new products, but wouldn’t it be nice to have customers who’ll buy your back catalog too? You need new customers. At Failbetter, we spent years focusing on our core players, because they were keeping us afloat – but when we launched Sunless Sea, Fallen London suddenly got a whole new non-core audience, and Fallen London revenue literally doubled overnight.And when you’re looking for those new customers, never forget that a core player (a) sees the game very differently from how a new customer will see it (b) will give more feedback, good or bad, and attract your attention more easily than a new customer. Elsewhere I’ve called this ‘the Veteran’s Curse’. We learnt this the hard way on Sunless Sea. Listening disproportionately to feedback about the endgame rather than the early game probably lopped 5% off our metacritic score. Of course not listening at all would have been much worse.(If community members are saying something that’s wrong, about you or about the game, don’t intervene unless it’s really hurting. And it’s better to ban someone than post in anger. Your forums are your house, and having a silly argument with a drunk on your doorstep is not a good look.)Above all else, hire people you can trust to work effectively when you’re not looking. Indie teams have to be small, lean, and run with minimal oversight. If you have to chase someone to do what you need – not just ‘do work’, but ‘do the work you need’ – you’re not just losing productivity. You’ve also missed out on the chance to get someone who’d do a better job; you’ve missed out on Christ knows how many wins you can get from someone showing useful initiative; and you’ll find the rest of the team knows what’s going on.Conversely, when you find someone who understands what needs doing and can do it, give them their head. It’s better for them to get something non-critical wrong, and learn from it, than it is for you to guard them from every possible mistake. Especially since you won’t always be right either.(Take probation periods seriously. They’re your safety net to avoid making a hire you’ll regret, and mediocre hires who don’t cause active trouble can slip through if you’re not paying attention.)Story is not a feature. Failbetter has a very good name for the quality of the writing, but the writing wasn’t the story. In a good narrative game, the story is expressed through everything, from writing to game mechanics to art direction. If you’re making a narrative-centric game, make sure the whole team understands the story – not every detail of continuity, but what’s going on, and why the player should care.(As a writer, it also took me a while to accept that lore I actually made up five minutes ago can always be changed, and that the story is collaborative. Of course in most shops the writer isn’t the CEO, and I don’t think anyone’s ever suggested that writers are treated too respectfully in this industry, so I don’t know how useful this point is.)”Overnight successes are years in the making.” This isn’t a novel sentiment, but I want to dig into it a bit. Reading industry news is vital to keeping informed; but unless you remember that newsworthiness is by definition unusual, you may end up with a distorted idea of normality. “Unknown indie dev has a surprising success” is newsworthy. “Beloved indie dev shuts down” is newsworthy. “Reasonably successful indie dev continues to have a reasonably good time” rarely makes headlines. Most life isn’t stories: that’s why we have stories. Don’t panic, don’t get distracted, and leave bandwagons to roll on their own.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games (Sometimes you need to change course, obviously. But looking back on Failbetter’s early years, we spent a lot of time zig-zagging.)It’s more important to focus on what you’re good at than try to fix what you’re not good at. I took this away from a talk by Fredrik Wester of Paradox, and it’s probably the most important point here. If you can’t be distinctive as an indie, you’re screwed anyway. Be distinctive.(I think this is good business advice. Even if it’s not, I can guarantee it’s good advice about having fun.)Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesFailbetter Games’ quest to eradicate crunchAdam Myers and Hannah Flynn talk about making Sunless Skies with a dedication to ethical development practicesBy Connor Makar A year agoFailbetter: Sunless Skies did “far better than we needed it do”London-based indie reportedly in good financial health following critical and commercial success of latest titleBy Haydn Taylor 2 years agoLatest comments (1)James Berg Games User Researcher 4 years ago Great interview! 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more