The gaming industry in Israel is booming, but it’s known for big-name casual, hyper-casual, and social casino studios. That’s why Game Hub, the first indie game accelerator in the country, was founded - to empower indie developers and strengthen their presence in Israel. Through Game Hub, sponsors like ironSource can provide knowledge and support to indie game developers and create a strong indie community where they can learn from and rally around each other.
Game Hub hosted its culminating showcase event in Jerusalem to celebrate the 5 participating teams and other developers from the greater Israeli indie game community. The team at ironSource had the opportunity to mingle with some of these developers and hear more about their games and stories. Let’s dive in.
This game looks great, Mati! Where did the idea come from?
“My partner, Dinara, was inspired by the trend in true crime documentaries and came up with this idea for her final project at Bezalel. She wanted to help raise awareness for the Innocence Project, which is an organization that advocates for wrongfully convicted criminals. With Trial and Error, we’re bringing some of these cases back into the conversation and putting gamers into the shoes of the judge or investigator. It’s up to the user to determine if the accused person is innocent or guilty.”
What a great story. How has the accelerator helped you develop the game?
“Working with the other developers has been the most valuable part of this experience. You can see there is great diversity in terms of game design and style, so we were able to learn from the other amazing teams and keep each other super motivated. It was also nice to have the support of experts in the gaming world. It makes us feel confident that we are working on something that can make a large impact in the industry.”
It’s Raining by Amir Cohen, Michal Shoshan, Michael Barzellai, and Omer Zadok
This game looks beautiful. How do you play?
“Thank you! This is a building game for desktop, and all of the art and assets are meant to look like they are from vintage wooden toys. The idea is that you, as the user, are responsible for taking the game character all around the world to see many places and islands. You can’t make any progress if you don’t move around with the character. Along the way, you’ll encounter other characters who will ask you to build structures or toys for them out of these colorful cubes. That’s the main mechanism of the game - to build things using cubes. You can use any color and have the freedom to build anything that comes to mind.”
What are the next steps for It’s Raining? Did the accelerator help give you direction?
“We’ve only been working on the game for 4 months, so we are still grappling with big questions, like what the main goal of the game should be, and where we should put most of the weight. The incubator definitely helped us figure out what the future looks like for It’s Raining.
First, Game Hub gave us a great facility to work in as a team. The second thing is that since we were working in the same space as the other teams, we got to meet participants at all different stages of game development. The community of indie game developers was invaluable to this process. Everyone was super generous with their help because they really want us to succeed. We also learned a lot from the other developers simply by watching them progress from one stage to the next. It’s Raining is still far from finishing stages, but it was a great opportunity to witness other developers revise games they already built and tweak the little things to make it completely polished.”
Hi Or! Can you tell us about the inspiration for your game?
“We noticed a surge in interest for roguelike games, which are fighting games that users aren’t supposed to finish on the first try. Instead, the avatar dies, so the user goes back to the main area for upgrades before making another attempt to kill the multitude of attacking enemies. Roguelikes are becoming more accessible to the average gamer and less for those that are very hardcore. When our team was brainstorming ideas for a new game, we saw this trend as an opportunity to break into the genre and appeal to a wide audience of users. The rest is history.”
How has the development process been? How did Game Hub help?
“We’ve been working on the game for just over a year. In May, we launched the first demo. The incubator helped us get to the next stage and launch a great beta. There will be two more betas in the next year, so we’ve got another year or so before Spiritfall is ready to be released for PC and consoles.”
Hey Gonen! Can you tell us about your game?
“Trouble Juice is still a work in progress, but it’s going to be a roguelike game for consoles where you have to save the town from an evil, god-like creature. If you win the challenge, you have to complete tasks on a broader scale, like saving the entire world. I want the user to keep playing over and over again, getting better each time.”
How has the development journey been?
“One obstacle we faced while designing this game was striking a balance between keeping the player’s tasks challenging and allowing them to gain power-ups that will make the game mechanics easier. In the supportive incubator environment, I was constantly surrounded by creative indie developers who could help test things out or offer ideas. It was a really great experience, and I’m going to miss working with the others.”
Westurn by Mati Ernst, Itamar Ernst, Nimrod Kimhi, Dima Pshoul, Yuval Vilner
We see that you’re one of the only teams that made a game for mobile. What’s behind that choice?
“Our team wants the game to be accessible to users no matter where they are. With mobile games, you’ve got the controller in your pocket all day long. At any moment, you can take out your mobile device, message a friend, play against them, and then continue on with your day. We see Westurn being a casual game users can play with their friends, and mobile is the best platform to achieve that.”
What have you gotten out of the accelerator experience?
“Having a physical space to work as a developer team really helped our workflow and decision making. And we got input from the other awesome people in the incubator. We all had amazing chemistry and became true friends. In fact, three of us developed a game in the last hour of the incubator just for the fun of it. This community of indie developers is like our family now.”
To build such a strong community, Game Hub organizers look for developer teams with passion and drive. Gideon Rimmer, Game Hub Content and Operations Manager, explained that they accept applications for games as early as the prototype stage, as long as the idea shows promise and the team is capable of eventually producing a full game. Game Hub didn't take any equity or revenue share from teams - its goal is simply to bring motivated indie developers together to build quality games. From premium games for PC or console, to mobile gaming apps, it’s clear that the indie game community in Israel is vibrant and thriving. With opportunities like Game Hub, the community will come together and grow even stronger.