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  • Spilt Milk Studios: 2020 Retrospective

    - Andrew Smith
  • Coming out of 2020 we've basically become better, stronger and have a more exciting future than we could have hoped. Allow me to indulge as we take a look back at the year, and lay down some teases for the year ahead.


    In April we took the plunge and launched our Patreon, and we couldn't be happier with the support so far! It was a big decision for us - there's a certain amount of emotional exposure that comes from a thing like this, so it meant a lot that we instantly got a really great chunk of supporters who've stuck with us throughout 2020. Hopefully, the content we post here is entertaining and informative, and we have plans to expand it as we grow - certainly, as we release our next Spilt Milk Shake game (see below) there's an opportunity to make it an even more rewarding thing to be a part of.  

    We launched it with two broad goals in mind. An obvious one would seem to be to secure a small amount of financial support that could help take some amount of pressure off our cashflow. But honestly, that wasn't a goal. Ever careful, we planned for £0, and not just because any backer activity at all would be a nice surprise! It meant we concentrated on the two real aims.  One was to keep looking at what we were doing, on a monthly basis, so that we stay true to our company goals, and the other was to keep building and nurturing our community.

    I think the first goal has been an unadulterated success, while the second is a longer-term play and harder to judge. But seeing as we've only had 1 person drop off (and even they promised to be back!) I am cautiously optimistic that we're delivering content here that you want!


    We've grown massively this year, and we couldn't be more excited about it! We brought on Jake (concept art & art direction), Steve (art and design), Danielle (production) & Des (production direction) over the course of the year, and already they've had a huge positive impact on the studio and our games. We also worked with a ton of freelancers too, including Jason, Lillian, Courtney, Jason (yes another one!), Will, Juju and Damion. We can't talk about some of the work that's happening in that mix, but you should know it includes FF4K, Peck N Run and more.  To be making hires and paying good money to great people for amazing work always feels really special, but last year... boy did it feel like we were in a really privileged position.

    Let's just underline this. At the start of 2020 it was me (Andrew) and Andrew (no, the other one) fulltime, and Nicholas our non-exec director for about a day a month. Right now, we've added 7 people to that! I am actually just staggered even writing that.


    2020 was a rollercoaster for Stargrave Reapers, the game we spun out of our dead MMO Lazarus. We'd built an amazing demo, a brilliant pitch document, and had a killer team ready to make it great. But of course, you need to find a partner to fund and launch the game. Self-publishing these days is very hard to we wanted to find a publisher who believed in us and the game to help make it a huge success.

    Long story short I took it to PAX East in Boston, mere days before the global Covid-19 lockdown started to hit; and while we did not land a publishing deal for the game and ended up shelving it for now, we impressed a lot of people, made great new contacts in the business and hopefully that will pay off in our not too distant future!


    Developing FF4K from scratch and launching it with the help of a great team both internally and outside volunteers was a highlight of the year for sure. Being able to do something (anything!) positive in 2020 was a thing to be savoured, and while I could stop there, I won't ever pass up an opportunity to lavish praise on Lillian Martin and Jason St Paul the two incredible Black developers we hired for the project. Couldn't have done it without them!

    It didn't do the numbers we'd hoped, which meant we couldn't donate as much as we'd hoped, but we're still super proud of it and hope it continues to grow!


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