There is no deadline per se, as the program has variable start/stop times on an ongoing basis. But when we’re out of seats, we’re out of seats.
Does my entire team need to be in Montreal?
Yes indeed. Part of the experience, especially the learning and teaching part, comes from being in the same physical space. Also there’s the office badger…
Does my team need to be complete before we apply?
Ideally your team will be complete before you apply; if it’s not we’ll have a harder time accepting you. An incomplete team can opt to join the program in the Prototyping phase, using up to two months to work on their prototype and complete their team.
Can we use contractors if our team is missing a key resource?
Well, sometimes. It depends on whether the missing piece is part of the core team (in which case, the answer is no) or just ancillary (in which case, yes). This is what your discretionary budget is for; it’s up to you how you spend it.
What about audio? Do we need a team member with musical skills?
Unless you are making a game specifically about music, you probably don’t need a dedicated audio person on the team.In fact, Game On Audio and La Hacienda (from award-winning Papo y Yo) are our partners and they will be able to provide audio production help to each team.
Can you apply solo or do you have to be part of an existing team?
You cannot apply solo. If you’re open to join another team, contact us with your details , we’ll keep your info secured away in our underground badger lair in case any teams are a bit shorthanded. Then we’ll do some matchmaking should the need arise. Or, better yet, put a team together by connecting with peers at IGDA-Montreal and/or Mount Royal Game Society events.
Is there a minimum number of team members needed to apply? Can we be a team of two, for instance?
The program is very intense, and remember that the idea is for you to create a successful team/company–not just release a game. So far we’ve seen that the most successful teams are 4 or 5 people including 2-3 programmers, 1-2 artists, and a lead designer. Typically 1 or 2 team members do double duty on marketing and monetization. So, in short, it will be tough if you’re a small team.
Do all team members have to be full-time?
Yes. It’s really, really hard to be a part-time entrepreneur. This should be all you’re focused on during the time you’re with us.
What if I want to make a PC game. Are only mobile/tablet games allowed?
We’ll consider allowing a PC SKU as long as mobile/tablet is your lead platform and you’re optimizing your game accordingly.
Can my team and I apply while retaining our current jobs?
Yes. In fact, we highly recommend that you don’t quit your job until you’ve been selected. We’ll make sure to keep your application confidential so you don’t piss off your current employer.
What level of involvement will teams have in the marketing/PR process?
We’ll be taking the “teach a person to fish” approach… That is to say, it is done in partnership with teams.
Does the stipend get taxed?
Yes. The stipend ($2k for spin track, $3.5k for internal track) is paid directly to each team member as a wage, so it is counted as personal income.
To what extent can XL management or mentors mandate creative decisions (e.g., “Change those ninjas to dragons”)?
None. We are here to guide and help – perhaps in some cases, strongly encourage – but it is your game, your decisions.
If against all odds, we fail, what do we “owe” back to XL?
Nothing. These are not loans. We are taking a gamble and jumping off the cliff with you. Mind you, please don’t run off with the coffee machine, or those dev machines. Those are ours.
What do you mean by a “minimum” of $10k for discretionary spending per team?
The discretionary budget is impacted both by the size of your team and how fast you move through the program. If you’re a small team and and blaze through all your milestones, you could end up with much more in your budget.
What happens to discretionary funds that are left over? Do I get to keep that money?
Money carries over for next phase. If there’s still money left at the end, for spin teams we give it to the new studio spinning off. For internal teams, we feed any extra cash to the Office Badger.
Can I switch track once the program is started?
No. Once you are started in a track for a given project, you need to stay on that track for the duration of that project. That said, internal teams can reapply for the spin track at the end of their live ops phase (i.e., the current project is winding down). For spin track teams, prior to spinoff you have the option to move the project internal.
How do we decide when my project/team is ready to spin?
The first major indicator is that the game has been released globally and has positive metrics with revenues starting to come in. There needs to be the sense that if you jump from the nest, you’ll be able to fly on your own and be sustainable. Pushing you out of the nest and watching you plummet to the ground would not be pretty.
Questions about Execution Labs itself:
What is the Office Badger thing all about?
No clue, man. No clue.
More to come…
We’ll add more questions and answers as they arise