BRAZILIAN ADVENTURE IN THE FAR-AWAY-LAND CALLED NORTH – BITCAKE STUDIO
Our next team comes from the land of carnival, samba and great football. Can you guess? Yes, it´s Brazil! Turns out that besides all that was mentioned before, Brazilians can be also proud about some talented game developers out there. We have caught and brought to the cold and windy North one particular team. They are Camilla Slotfeldt (art director), Eduardo Lamhut (game designer), Jefferson Bandeira (coding guru), Vinicius Pacha (master prototyper), Matheus Lessa (code cleaner) and Daniel Bandeira (talented 3D developer), to be short – BitCake Studio.
Their story starts with one of the big developer studios in Rio de Janeiro – Critical Studio. At that time where this story takes us, Critical Studio guys were developing a game for Steam and decided to give an opportunity to other people, to teach and advise them. Their offer brought them a loads of curriculums, but in the end only 7 were actually chosen and asked to come to their office. The offer that was made to these 7 was following – they got free hands to use one part of the Critical Studios´ office space where they could bring devices, use the space to develop and have the Critical Studio guys as mentors to help them (not taking any share of the product what they were supposed to develop). Those chosen 7 were 4 of the current BitCake (Eduardo, Jefferson, Vinicius and Matheus) + few other guys who are not part of the team anymore.
So there it went, the group started to develop a game. It was August 2012. Then already in December they decided to cancel the game and started their current game „Project Tilt“ in January 2013. It was around that time when Camilla joined the team and Daniel joined the team. BitCake Studio was born.
Their road lead them to Slush event taking place in Rio de Janeiro where they were pitching and meeting people. Everything was great, except the fact that unfortunately they got some bad feedback for not targeting mobile market. However, everything was not over obviously. After the event, bitcakers started searching the Slush website and found GameFounders through it. Of course there were only a few days left to apply. Of course they didn´t have a video for the application. But here they are now! BitCake Studio somehow managed to impress the evaluators and pass all 4 evaluation levels. Maybe it was their „arty“ team video about carrying a table (which was actually a door) around Rio to show how great of a team workers they are? Maybe it was the passion of the team that shined through? The fact is they are here and doing great J
Seems that it was perfect time to find GameFounders since Critical Studio had to close their doors, that meant their working space and mentorship was finished. BitCake had to find a new opportunity. They actually went to a lot of accelerators in Rio as well, got some good feedback but always heard the answer we-don´t-know-anything-about-gaming-startups-and-we-don´t-know-how-to-help-you which lead to the realization that GameFounders was actually exactly what they were looking for.
Why BitCake Studio? Finding a proper name was a tough challenge according to Eduardo: „It was a horrible 2-3 month process. We were calling ourselves MiniCrit = Critical Studios mini version but then we really started to think of getting our own name. So, I made this stupid rule that everybody can suggest names, but everybody also had the right to put veto on one name. Then it always happened that others agreed on a name, but then there was this one person who had been talking to a friend who didn´t approve or thought the name was too difficult to spell in foreign languages etc etc.“ However, after 2-3 months somebody finally came up with the name BitCake and finally it was settled. The next step was creating the company logo that took another month. „Everybody was just so tired of arguing about the name,“ explains Camilla. “Project Tilt” was born rather fast though – Vini made a working prototype with one day and they have been working on that game since then.
Camilla doesn´t find it hard to be the only girl in the group of guys. Maybe she is just so used to it. For the rest of the team, nobody is taking Camilla somehow differently either. However, there is one thing that others have to take seriously- Camilla is a Mac user (while others have Windows computers) and she is also left handed. That means when building a game where you have to use a mouse, everything has to work also on Mac and for left handed people.
Talking about Tallinn, the whole team agrees that Tallinn is a lovely place to stay. For Eduardo and Jefferson it has been the first time to actually see the snow. „I wish GameFounders was a 1-year programme,“ says Eduardo. “then we could see more and have time to travel around as well”. In their opinion, the people here are colder than the Brazilians are used to. „People don´t like when you touch them,“ says Camilla. Vini ads: “ And no one talks in the bus! We are the only ones in the bus who make noise. All the others are quiet and looking at us while we are talking”.
Living together has been better than expected, at least according to Camilla. „It is a chaos, but a minor chaos,“ says Jefferson. Apparently they have a system for the household stuff – they take turns in washing the dishes. Eduardo mostly cooks, but sometimes others cook as well, or „try to cook“ as Jefferson puts it. „You should have seen the rice that he once cooked. It got stuck in the pot and we decided to play fresbee with it,“ says Camilla, laughing. They have even more food stories. In their first week they wanted to buy some butter, but not knowing Estonian, they picked a wrong product that in the end turned out to be a certain type of cheese. “We needed the butter to fry some eggs. But when it was on the pan, it started making bubbles and we realized it couldn´t have been the right stuff,” says Vini. All in all they find the prices lower than in Brazil: „It´s awesome to get so cheap chicken from the supermarket. We can even get a decent meal for 5 people with only 9 euros“. What is different in Estonia compared to Brazil is that it is common here to have a lot of fresh stuff in the supermarket that doesn´t stay fresh in the fridge for a long time. „We bought milk and it was spoiled in 3 days,“ says Eduardo.
What was their image of Estonia before coming to Tallinn? Everybody say as one person: „What image? We didn´t know anything about it!“ When they started to investigate a bit back home, they were pretty impressed about the info they managed to find reading the articles. – open wifi everywhere, the beauty of the Old Town etc. „We also found fascinating that Estonia has the same proportion of startups per citizens as US. „One day a guy was knocking to our door to ask some oil for frying and it turned out he was a CEO of a startup, just spending the weekend in Tallinn,“ mentions Camilla. It was not easy to explain their family members about their Estonian adventure either. “Granny, you know what? I´m going to Estonia!” told Matheus to his grandmother and granny replied: “That it´s such a great thing! I´m glad you are going to Espanha (Spain)”. “No, no, I´m going to ESTONIA,” insisted Matheus. “Please write that down for me, so I would remember,” was the granny´s answer to it.
Today, the future looks bright for the BitCake Studio team: „One of our goals is to walk out from the program with a Publisher or an Investor and we are working towards it.” „Thanks to the program, our mindset has changed. As a company we have been evolving a lot,“ concludes Jefferson.
We will surely hear about BitCake Studio in the future, in the meanwhile everybody can play their game here: http://www.projecttilt.com/
BitCake Studio in Estonia (back row from the left): Matheus, Eduardo, Vinicius, (front row): Jefferson and Camilla