Tips on getting OMDC’s IDM Fund for a video game project

Disclaimer: These tips are based on my own experience with OMDC. They are not endorsed by OMDC. They may or may not work for all studios.

Shameless plug: try our games at and follow us here for other similar articles!

The idea to write this article comes from a private message we received on Reddit:

“[…]how was the OMDC process if I may ask? We are also from Toronto and thinking of applying this year with a roguelike we are making, and would love to hear about the process from someone who has been throw it if you had a moment =)”

Go To The In-Person Information Sessions

For every new round, there are always a few information sessions you can attend. Kim usually present the program and you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Go see her after the presentation. Introduce yourself and your project. Ask relevant questions. Show you care.

When you do talk to her, make sure you sound passionate. For the information session, try to stay on topic too, she’s always busy and there are other people who have questions as well.

Ultimately though, the jury chooses the winners of the grant, but I have a feeling she has some say in it. I could be wrong. It never hurts to make a good impression on the people managing the program!

Go To Local Events

There are plenty of good events to go to in Toronto. Kim attends them frequently. She even goes to local game launch parties. I met her for the first time at Massive Damage’s Halcyon 6 launch party.

If you can see who attends events you want to go to, look for Kim Gibson. I won’t share any photos here for privacy reasons.

Another great reason to go to the local events is for the other developers you meet. Having connections in the industry really helps. You never know when you’ll meet someone to partner with, cross-promote, etc. And also, the jury is composed of people in the industry. Any good impression you make during these meetups can increase your reputation.

If you don’t live in Toronto, drive to some events. Pick the ones you think will have a bigger impact.

Write Freaking Good Documents

This is an obvious one, but I really mean it.

This is a competition. Other studios will write awesome documents. Be interesting. Do not be corporate. If you’re not a good writer, hire one.

When you think it’s good enough, do better. Go from good to great.

Share with people you trust to give you brutally honest feedback. If someone says it’s shit, listen to them. If they say it’s good. Improve until they tell you it’s the most amazing thing they’ve ever read.

Aim freaking high. Other studios will.

Only a few select studios get it. Everyone is great. You’re likely competing against studios who have a track record and you don’t.

Make All Your Documents Pretty

To me, this is another obvious one, but I don’t know how pretty other studios make their documents. Our documents look awesome.

Put game art, concept art, design special layouts. Make EVERY page appealing visually. Graphs are nice. Good tables may look appealing too when done right.

If you don’t have an artist helping you with that, you’re screwed. Just being honest here. I found great artists on before I had my team, just to make a good visual representation of the game.

Make sure though that it still looks good when printing. Some members of the jury may print the documents.

Be Impressive

Definitely easier said than done.

When we originally applied for concept definition, we didn’t have a team outside of the two co-founders and had never released a game yet.

We did however have a good track record of working in the industry for other studios and working on projects that were successful.

Here’s what I did to look impressive:

Advisor Network

I sought out a network of advisors for Power Level Studios. People both in and out of the industry. People in games, other businesses, finance, etc. I looked for people with good credentials that I could trust to tell me the truth.

If you don’t know anyone, again go to local events and connect with people. CEOs and other important people do go to them.

Awesome Team Resumes

Make it shine, both visually and professionally. Don’t just print your LinkedIn profile, unless it’s really awesome. For your artists, they need to have someone visually stunning.

Track Record of Founders

Ultimately, investors invest in people. Be awesome. Show you can do great shit. If you haven’t released anything yet, show prototypes of awesome stuff you can do. Show you work great as a team.

Get Featured Somewhere

For our second application, we were lucky enough to have gone through Square Enix Collective and received a very good rating. Do your best to get your project featured somewhere that matters. This mostly applies for Production.

Have A Team In Place, Or Prove You Can Form One

The first time I applied, the team was me, my co-founder and an unnamed artist.

That was one of the negative point of our application. This hurt our credibility a lot. The point of our application for Concept Definition was to come up with a game prototype and define our art style. Yet we didn’t have an artist.

We didn’t hide that though. We did explain how we’d fix that weakness.

If you do have the team in place already, that’s a major plus.

Have A Good Project

As in, not a clone of another game with a different theme.

They want you to show some innovation, but also that you can sell the game and make money. Another Candy Crush clone doesn’t qualify.

Combine ideas from different genres. Combine ideas from awesome games. Design something unique.

If you’re a small studio, be realistic. Present a project that’s not too ambitious and not to easy.

Present your idea to potential gamers. When applying to IDMF, only present ideas that generate VERY positive reactions from the gamers you talked to.

Never Lie / Be Realistic

When I asked for feedback on my first application, a very positive point from the jury was that they saw how honest and realistic I was about everything.

I didn’t hide any weaknesses. I showed them how I’d overcome them. With precision. Always.

My numbers were backed by data I’ve analyzed. When I had to estimate things, I explained my reasoning.

Never put numbers you can’t “prove”.

Meet All Deadlines

If you were realistic to start with, that could be a non-issue. If you send your application before the program deadline, that won’t go unnoticed.

If you do get the grant, respect your milestones. If you can’t meet your milestones, don’t lie about it.

Limit Deferrals As Much As Possible

You are allowed to defer payment for work done on your project. For a small studio with limited funds, it’s hard to avoid that. But make sure you limit it to the bare minimum.

Invest your own money. Ask friends and family to invest as well. This shows how serious you are about the project.

If 50% of the budget comes from OMDC, provide 30% yourself. The more the better.

Apply For Concept Definition Instead Of Production

If you have no credentials yet, apply for Concept Definition. If you have an ongoing project currently, apply for a new project. You can’t have started the project beforehand, so it has to be a new one.

Concept Definition is less competitive, and less risky for everyone. Plus, you receive money to build prototypes, how awesome is that! You get paid to make a better design of your game.

Once you receive the grant for Concept Definition and deliver successfully, it’s much easier for them to give you more money when you’re ready for Production.

Business And Marketing Plan Is The Most Important Document For Production

In one of the information session, Kim said that was the most important document.

I took that seriously. I spent a shit-ton amount of time polishing that one. Again, make the text and the visuals awesome.

For Projections, Do Worst Case, Normal Case and Best Case Scenarios

This shows you’ve done research and are as realistic as you can be. No one can fully predict what’s going to happen. Prove that even if you reach the worst case scenario, you still benefit from the project.

Research your competitors, pretend you’re going to perform worse than your worse competitor. Put your numbers in the worst case scenario.

For normal case, pretend you’re going to do exactly like your worse competitor.

For best case, pretend you’re going to be doing a little better than your worse competitor.


I hope this was useful.

I’ll update if I come up with other tips.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or tips of your own.

First published here:

Devlog #4: MASSIVE Prototype 2.0 Update

Download Prototype 2.0 here:

In the middle of grant applications this month, we managed to squeeze some time to put up an incredibly big update, which we call Prototype 2.0. It deserves the 2.0 versioning! Here’s a summary of what you can expect:

Vault-ful of improvements for you, reapers of souls: much improved exploration, arm yourself with unique legendary loot and soul gear, and reap new exciting monsters’ soul!


This is very much still a prototype. It has LOTS of bugs. Probably even more than before.


Here’s a full list of changes:


  • Walk in any direction (works great with a PS4 Joystick)

  • No more room switching (it was frustrating)

  • Dash! (R1 on PS4 controller, or “1” on keyboard) (dodge monsters more strategically)

  • Can now also go upstairs (combined with the feature below, it makes it much easier to farm souls you’re looking for)

  • Floors are not random anymore (combined with the feature above, it makes it much easier to farm souls you’re looking for)

  • You can now jump to any floor you want (combined with the feature above, it makes it much easier to farm souls you’re looking for)

  • Improved monster movement AI (makes exploring the vault more eventful and exciting)

  • One new, nicer layout (but still could be much better with more time)


  • Basic support for Debuffs (no visual cues yet) (poison damage each turn, slow target for x turns).

  • Monsters now drop treasure (makes winning combat more interesting)

C 1.png
Description of the loot after combat

Description of the loot after combat


  • 10 legendary loot (there were zero before) (changes how you play the game)

  • More better trading recipes (trade level 100 souls to obtain guaranteed legendary loot)

Some epic loot you can get for trading max level soul gems.

Some epic loot you can get for trading max level soul gems.

  • Lots of new Soul Gear (game changing combinations of souls on multi-slotted loot)

Very powerful fire based Soul Gear, you need to farm the Flame Bee, Burning Drake (boss) and Stabby Squirrel.

Very powerful fire based Soul Gear, you need to farm the Flame Bee, Burning Drake (boss) and Stabby Squirrel.

3 new monsters:

  • Octoblader (Bladed spider throwing speed-altering spider webs. (debuff))

Volcadillo  (Armadillo with a volcano on its back. Catapults meteors for AOE damage)

Volcadillo (Armadillo with a volcano on its back. Catapults meteors for AOE damage)

  • Volcadillo (Armadillo with a volcano on its back. Catapults meteors for AOE damage)

  • Cursed Snake (Spits poisonous saliva, dealing DoT. Acts as “turret” in the vault)



  • Game balance tweaks (still a lot more to do here)

  • New Game Icon (chosen by the community)

  • You don’t lose your levels anymore (we want to dissociate Soul Reaper from Roguelikes)

  • You can reset your stat points.

The Bad

  • We broke the lava in the vault. It may be fixed in the next major version.

  • Debuffs from the Octoblader and Volcadillo are NOT shown on the screen currently.

What’s next?

Prototype 3.0! 3.0 will mostly be about improved combat.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Unreap feature! Summon monsters to fight by your side!

  • 3 new unique monsters. Feline Clawer, Burning Worm and Shield Turtle.

  • Combat buffs. More armor for x turns, more resistance for x turns.

  • AOE actions. — shape, | shape and + shape (line, column and cross)

  • Much improved combat UI.

  • Much improved flow and stability of combat.

  • More better maps.

  • More legendary loot

  • More Soul Gear

  • More Trade Recipes

  • Ongoing game balancing.

What do you think?

Play the prototype 2.0 and let us know what you think. We’re leaving prototype 1.0 up for download as well so you can compare. We think 2.0 is a major step in the right direction. Do you agree or disagree?

First published here:

How our first game project accidentally reached 3 million players

During a recent interview with Gaming Reinvented (, I opened up on the “success” of our “first” title: Rogue Sharks Arcade, which has been played by over 3 millions players around the world.

I thought this may be an interesting story for other developers, so I’m sharing it here.

Here’s the question and the answer as a preview:

Rogue Sharks Arcade seemed to be your first game, and it was pretty damn successful. Did you imagine it’d have 3 million+ players?


Haha, this one’s a good story I think. Rogue Sharks Arcade was some kind of “accident”, both the game itself and its “success”.

I started working on Soul Reaper back in September 2013 and came to the realization that the game was way too ambitious for a first game. I would need money to hire artists and more, but didn’t have the money. So I thought making a simple mobile game, similar to the classic gravity-based helicopter web game, would be my way out. For some reason, Sharks was the first theme that came to mind. I thought Rogue Sharks would take one month to build. I had limited Unity experience back then, but that’s not why it took much longer. It took about a year to build. The game just wasn’t fun enough by my standards, so I re-did it a few times with different mechanics. I released Rogue Sharks Arcade two months in, since the game had enough content to be a full-game loop.

Classic gravity-based helicopter game.

Classic gravity-based helicopter game.

I released it on the web on Kongregate and was hoping to get feedback so I could improve it for mobile after. Money was not the target here. About 200 people played it on Kongregate and had a score of 3/5, confirming my assumptions: it’s not a very good game.

But here’s the interesting part: how did I get from 200 players to 3M+? The short answer: it was stolen and put on MANY other websites around the world. You see, I was too dumb to protect it, and I didn’t even put my company logo or the game title in the game, so people just rebranded it and claimed it as their own. It got featured on lots of Chinese, Turkish and Russian websites. There was no English text in the whole game. Everything was icon-based, so it was accessible in any language.


BUT, because of that incident, I got exactly what I wanted: feedback. With 200 players, I got close to no feedback, with 3M+, there were plenty of players to give feedback. I had to track websites down and translate feedback back to English, but still, there was lots of feedback. But that’s not all, I was tracking everything in the game using Game Analytics. I knew exactly how people were playing, so I knew how to improve the game for mobile.


But then at that point I was travelling around the world with my wife for about a year, so I didn’t have much time to make the mobile version. But I did it anyway. I stopped Chiang Mai, Thailand, to work on it for one full month and finished it. So Rogue Sharks for mobile exists, and is a much better game than Rogue Sharks Arcade on the web. I never released it though, because it’s still bad in my opinion. We were in 2016 then and there’s millions of games in the App Stores. A lot of them are great and have a much bigger budget than we had at the time. Unless I found a good partner to release the game, I figured there was no point releasing a game no one would discover and play. Plus, we’re Power Level Studios, we want to make great RPGs, not game genres we know nothing about.


So yeah, the game was “successful” for what we tried to achieve, but definitely no commercial success. And yeah 3M+ was definitely not expected!


Getting your game stolen is not necessarily all bad. We got the feedback we needed to make a better version of the game for mobile, which would not have been possible otherwise.

Is it a valid marketing strategy? Well maybe. If you’re a little smarter than I was and add ways to track actual players’ contact info, it may be one of the best ways to get discovered.

First published here:

Opinion: How important is the story in RPGs?

A lot of my personal favourite RPGs of all times have seriously good gameplay, but is sometimes lacking an enticing story to go along with it, or doesn’t provide a movie-quality plot. I sunk a lot of time playing Nippon Ichi games like Disgaea or Phantom Brave. For me, these games are incredibly fun. I very much enjoy the min/maxing aspect of it, trying to perfect your stats in every way. These games, however, don’t have the most incredible stories.

Gameplay matters more?

When we started designing Soul Reaper, we focused on gameplay first. Re-creating similar moments like when moving around in The Legend of Zelda, fighting monsters in Final Fantasy, getting epic loot in Diablo, collecting souls in Castlevania Aria/Dawn of Sorrow and catching pokemons in Pokemon.

Because of that, the story was always some kind of afterthought, which we realize might be a mistake now. Heck, just looking at our early gameplay teaser, you can see that story is almost absent:

People want an enticing backstory. At least. We do have a backstory, but it doesn’t reveal much of the plot at all. See the story section of our Square Enix Collective campaign:

[…]the story was always some kind of afterthought, which we realize might be a mistake now.

Serious vs Not Serious Story?

Are you serious?

Are you serious?

Soul Reaper’s current story is inspired by Nippon Ichi games and iconic Marvel Characters like Deadpool. Needless to say, it’s not the most serious of stories. Like it’s inspirations, it has a more serious backstory, but is delivered in a comedic way.

Like it’s inspirations, it has a more serious backstory, but is delivered in a comedic way.

We decided on that tone because it seemed that most stories featuring the grim reaper depict him as an evil being set for destruction. We thought showing “him” in a different light might be refreshing.

We still stand by that, however we’re second-guessing if it has its place in an RPG like Soul Reaper. Looking back at most of the highly acclaimed RPGs (like here for example:, not many of them are comedic.

We want your opinion!

What’s more important in a good RPG? Story? Gameplay? Visuals? Something else?

What makes a good RPG story? The characters? The setting? The tone? The dialogues? The backstory? Something else?

Serious vs not serious?

First published here:

Dev Update #1: A little more like Zelda

Shortly after getting featured on Square Enix Collective (, we decided to add two little Zelda-like “features” to the game: a dungeon mini-map, and tools.

The Mini-Map

For those who remember old-school Zelda games, you’ll remember the mini-map that would show up in the top-left corner of the screen when you found the map object in the dungeon.

We decided to integrate that in Soul Reaper. It helps with exploring dungeons and know where you are and where you’ve been.

In a previous post, we talked about how we’re building dungeons in Soul Reaper. Each floor has a pre-defined layout made of different rooms, not unlike a Zelda dungeon. For those familiar with Unity3D, we store the floor in a prefab object and instantiate it at runtime when going down a floor.

Building the mini-map object turned out to be quite simple for us. In fact, here’s the code:


The “hardest” part was to convert the localPosition of the rooms in the canvas into a Transform child object index. Simple math did the trick (see GetIndex ()).


Don’t get too excited here, we haven’t actually implemented it yet.

Currently, Soul Reaper can swing his scythe in the dungeon. It does nothing yet. Just like mentioned in this post, it’s just to show a glimpse of the future. You also see the other tools in the top-left corner, and how to use them, once they’re available.

The scythe can be swung to have the first turn when going into combat, cut down plants and trigger barrel explosions.

A bomb can be dropped and explodes on a timer. If a monster gets hit by the explosion, they start combat with reduced health. It can also blow up objects in the vault to lead to new, previously inaccessible, areas.

The grappling hook allows Soul Reaper to traverse to other platforms, leading to new treasures and other bonuses. It can also freeze monsters in place, preventing them to run after you or going into combat, for a limited time. This is similar to the grappling hook in Lufia II.

The mighty shovel is the ultimate tool. Seriously! You get it by defeating the final boss. It allows you to dig yourself down one floor. No need to find the stairs anymore. It’s a great tool to go to the exact floor you want to go to, find the monsters you want to farm and repeat!

First published here:

Tried and True: 5 tips on building a game prototype

Try our official prototype here:

Back in October 2016, we received a grant to build a prototype of our future game: Soul Reaper. The idea was that we would do rapid prototyping to see what features work and which ones don’t. Building a prototype really is about validating that the concept you have in mind is fun. It’s hard for us to define what went right and what went wrong in the process, but we figured we could share some tips based on our experience.

Building a prototype really is about validating that the concept you have in mind is fun.

Tip #1: More is less and less is more

We have tons of features planned for Soul Reaper. Drawing inspirations from some of the best features from Zelda 1, Final Fantasy VI and X, Castlevania Aria/Dawn of Sorrow, Diablo and Pokemon, it was hard for us to choose which features should and should not make it in the prototype.

Whatever the case, I’d say always aim for a full-game loop. In Soul Reaper’s case: Prepare Outside Vault -> Go into vault -> Go down floors -> Enter combat -> Die/Leave Vault -> Repeat.

I’d say always aim for a full-game loop.

Chances are you can create a full-game loop with only 3–5 core features. For Soul Reaper, we opted for Soul Collection, Turn-based combat, Diablo-style loot system and Zelda-style exploration. Everything else is just candy. Of course, the game won’t be as fun without the candy, but it should at least be “fun enough”. If it doesn’t pass the “fun enough” test, change to the core features in imperative.

Tip #2: Show a glimpse of the future

Soul Reaper will have about 100 monsters with 100 unique abilities. That’s not even counting the different “Soul Combos”. There’s no way we could build all that content in the prototype. How do we show players the scope of the game without having built that much content? Simple! In the game, when you go to the Souls menu, you can see a numbered index of all the monsters in the game. “Locked” souls are indicated with a “???”. Players can scroll and see that there will be 100 monsters. We only made 6 for the prototype.

For the exploration, it was always our goal to create “exploration tools”. Things like bombs or a grappling hook, like in Zelda: A Link to the Past. It will be an integral part of the final game, but we decided it wouldn’t make it in the prototype, due to lack of time, and for simplicity. To show that such a feature will be in the game, we displayed the controls on how to use the tools on the GUI, but greyed it out to show that it’s not available yet.

To show that [exploration tools]will be in the game, we displayed the controls on how to use the tools on the GUI, but greyed it out to show that it’s not available yet.


This is important because it lets players use their imagination to visualize what the final game may be like, without playing it. The idea is to get them excited for when the game will be closer to release.

Tip #3: Rapid Prototyping

We built the current version of Soul Reaper’s prototype in about 6 months. That’s a long time! We were lucky enough to have received funds to create it. Most will have to do that faster, and that’s okay. In fact, we probably had our first full-game loop in about 1 week!

For 6 months, we implemented different versions of our core features. Each feature took about 1 day to build. But we re-did many versions of that feature and gathered feedback on how fun it was.

Example feature: Combat. We experimented with different implementations:

Turn-based, MP based (FF IV, FF V)Turn-based, Cooldown based (Wartunes)Turn-based, MP and Cooldown basedActive Turn-based (Chrono Trigger, FF VI)Quick-time turn-based (FF X)On-map turn-based combat (Dragon Fin Soup)Active (Zelda)etc.

There’s no way we could have accomplished all that without fast prototyping, and truthfully, the game wouldn’t be as fun if we tried only one and said: “That’s it!”.

It’s not that we’re incredible programmers, it’s just that we made the decision to not care about code quality for the prototype (though it’s not half-bad either), knowing full well that it’s likely that we’re going to scrap everything anyway. And if not, at least we will have a better understanding on how to properly build the feature for production.


Each feature took about 1 day to build. But we re-did many versions of that feature and gathered feedback on how fun it was.

Tip #4: Use the tools you know

Maybe you want to release your game on consoles and maybe Unity3D is the engine of choice for the game you’re building. But you don’t know C# or Unity. I’d say don’t use Unity3D for the prototype then! It’s much easier and faster to do rapid prototyping using tools you know. If people like your prototype, then it’s worth it to start to learn the best possible tools to build the game.

Tools are rarely what kills a prototype, execution is. We could have built Soul Reaper’s prototype on RPG Maker, Game Maker, Unreal, Cocos2D, Construct 2, etc. We chose Unity3D because it’s the one we had the most recent development experience with.

If people like your prototype, then it’s worth it to start to learn the best possible tools to build the game.

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to show it off

Now, for me personally, this is the hardest one. It’s hard to show an uncompleted product for the world to see. People may not see your vision and the prototype will certainly not show the full vision of the project, so they’ll judge on what they see. And brutally sometimes. Embrace it no matter how hard it is. Any feedback is valuable to get to the end product, especially the “bad” one. You can’t make a great product if people don’t honestly say your game is shit. You need to know your game is shit so you can fix it in the final product. Better get that feedback while the game is not released!

You can’t make a great product if people don’t honestly say your game is shit.

What do you think?

Have you built a prototype and shared it with the world before? What are some of your top tips?

First published here:

To Kickstarter or not to Kickstarter in 2017


As previously announced, Soul Reaper will be featured on Square Enix Collective on July 17th ( The next step for us after that was to immediately start a Kickstarter campaign and hope for the best. We recently decided against it; we won’t be doing a Kickstarter just yet. The timing is not right.

We recently decided against it; we won’t be doing a Kickstarter just yet.

We’ve analyzed many different video game campaigns from this year, last year and even before. As everyone knows, the trend is not very positive, mostly because of high profile failures: successful campaign; bad, or unreleased product. People are scared of backing projects nowadays, with reason. And especially for studios like ours where we haven’t released a single game yet. It hardly matters how much experience we have in the industry; as a team, we have not proven ourselves yet. And that’s kind off the key here: no one cares about us, because no one knows us. We lack the required social influence to have a successful campaign.

And that’s kind off the key here: no one cares about us, because no one knows us. We lack the required social influence to have a successful campaign.

Is that a bad thing that we’re postponing our Kickstarter campaign until we do reach said “social influence”? Well, no. Not for us at least. We’re aiming to finish the development of the game in Q4 2018. It’s like in 1 year and 5 months if we’re aiming for December! That was our realization recently: we’re not in a hurry. At all. Most recent successes on Kickstarter are games that are close to completion, like Sundered for example ( It’s much easier to convince players if they can playtest a well polished pre-alpha version and see that no matter if they back or not, the game will still be done. For backers, it’s great since they get the game for cheaper, and in a few weeks or months only.

So yeah, we’re postponing because of these two things:

  1. We don’t currently have a big enough social influence

  2. We’re not close enough to the release of the game

So what are you doing then?

Nothing really. At least, nothing to replace Kickstarter.

In the next year or so, we’ll do everything in our power to increase our social influence: be active on social media, forums, groups, local events, not-so-local events, etc. If anyone has suggestions, please let us know.

But also: spend time on developing the game. Everyone tells us how much work it is to run a Kickstarter campaign. We believe them. Time we spend running the campaign is time we don’t spend building the game.

Is that a good decision? What do you think?

First published here: