Llaura NicAodh is the founder of DREAMFEEEL, an independent games studio known for work such as Curtain, an award-winning game & interactive story about a female punk band in Glasgow which explores themes of destructive relationships.
I develop apps and computer games for mobile phones and the PC. I come onto existing projects to do contracts for game design or programming, and I even create entire games for clients from scratch, either solo or with a team I put together. For example this has included games for health, eg: to raise awareness about fitness, and experimental commercial prototypes where I’m trying out lots of new ideas. Right now I’m developing my own commercial interactive novel for iOS & PC.
What is the best thing about working in Fumbally?
The people certainly! It’s such a friendly, warm environment and full of such creative and inspiring folks. There’s always something being organized, whether exhibitions or expeditions, lunchtime drawing classes or afternoon board games. Everyone is always contributing and I’m really happy to be a part of it.
What advice you would give someone who wanted to start up on their own?
Know where you want to go! You have the chance now to define how you spend your time, so always try and consider if this work is fulfilling or if you’re getting you closer to where you want to be. Don’t focus too much on being satisfied by goals, eg: I’ll be happy when I reach X, as there’ll always be another goal over the next hill. That said, being fulfilled in the present should probably include moving towards certain goals and achieving progress, but crucially it’s not the goals themselves that are important but the day by day moving towards them!
More pragmatically it’s also good to have or to work towards having the resources, whether knowledge, connections or simply some financial stability, to do it right even if plan a, plan b, and possibly plan c don’t work out. If you put too much pressure on yourself for a certain path to work out or you become too fixated on it, it will only be to your detriment. Be open to things playing out differently than you anticipated, and be prepared to catch, and seek, opportunities.
What was the hardest part about setting up on your own?
Often the work I do, especially early in projects, is solo. When I’m not working, the work isn’t progressing, which can be tough sometimes. This was doubly the case before I started in Fumbally. It was a big change from working on larger teams where there’s always something happening and you were always bouncing off others. The flipside of this is that I have a freedom I wouldn’t have elsewhere, the work is varied, and thankfully it isn’t always solo and the teams I work with are always changing and fresh!
What was the biggest thing you learned so far?
Put yourself out there! 90% of anything is showing up. I know I know this is an over familiar phrase, but amazingly it’s true as ever: most people simply don’t bother. And if you just bother, even a little, it will pay off! Try things. Make things. Share things. Keep going. If you made a mistake or missed out, that’s okay. That’s normal, don’t sweat it. Pick yourself up so you can try again next time.
So much, connections, ideas, opportunity, can be traced back to serendipity, and serendipity happens when let, when given the chance. So don’t be afraid and don’t be protective of yourself, reach out. I would super recommend reaching out to worlds beyond your work and those communities you’re familiar with at the moment. Most interesting things are the result of different, disjoint worlds meeting in a new way for the first time. Do new things & keep growing.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I love the response from people when I put something out to the public. It’s cathartic to see what I do resonate, especially if it’s a personal game. While it’s super nice to get an email or a tweet or an even a thoughtful article, what was really special were the many independent games festivals in America & Europe I brought my interactive story Curtain to in the last 8 months. Seeing people play and be affected in person was really amazing!
What do you do to treat yourself?
I love to spending a day hiking with a few friends in the middle of nowhere. I’m liable to, and honestly probably try to, get lost at every opportunity, usually before we even get out of the car. Oh and, chocolate of course!! 🙂
Interview by Julie Graindorge