This post collects resources from the community to (hopefully!) help the several-hundred recently laid-off Avalanche employees find new positions, start new studios, or go indie.
Our hope is that these talented folks can stay in the industry and stay in Utah, and not have to uproot their families and move cross-country just to find work.
This outreach is an initiative of the Utah Games Guild in the interest of preserving, and hopefully strengthening, the Utah game dev community. (Here’s Utah Games Guild co-founder Josh Sutphin on why local still matters.)
A "living document" version of this information is available here for anyone to contribute to.
Utah Games Guild – A local indie game dev support network
Utah Game Devs Slack Channel – Semi-public Slack channel run by Utah Games Guild, with 100+ local game devs from the indie, studio, and student sectors
Utah Indie Game Night – Discussion group and bi-monthly in-person meetups for local indies and hobbyists
Salt Lake/Provo IGDA Chapter – Official IGDA chapter for the Salt Lake/Provo area
Utah Digital Entertainment Network (UDEN) – Building a community of everyone involved in film, games, YouTube, VR etc. Regular networking meetings, guest speakers etc. (You are here!)
Utah Unity Users Group – Official Unity users group for the Utah area; organizes quarterly meetups for technical presentations and discussion
Hack Night SLC – group of programmers (mostly web programmers), often talking about job openings, good networking opportunity
Small startup is looking for a gameplay programmer with design experience to work on a multiplayer unity game - email email@example.com for info.
Sam Nielson is collecting artist portfolios here: https://www.facebook.com/sam.nielson.3/posts/10209400516839406
Indie dev project looking to add a senior engineer to a talented core team. We’re acquiring funding for a project to start in June. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Local Game Companies
Don’t hesitate to send these companies your resume/portfolio, even if their current job listings don’t include your position. The Disney layoff may represent an opportunity for them to hire hard-to-find talent that isn’t explicitly on their roadmap yet.
Games Made In Utah
https://trello.com/b/XTX7zXlz/utah-games-guild-database - All encompassing database of indie studios and games made or being made right now in Utah.
A Kingdom For Keflings and A World Of Keflings - NinjaBee
Infinity Blade - ChAIR
SAGA - Silverlode Interactive (defunct) - The world’s first and longest running Persistent Online Strategy Game from 2008 ongoing. Currently being maintained by @AyrikX.
Going Indie Full-Time – May 2014 Utah Indie Night presentation by Josh Sutphin
Utah Games Guild’s Learn page – Links to various game dev resources, tools, communities, and education options
Adapting to Unity – November 2015 Utah Unity Users Group presentation by Josh Sutphin, oriented toward experienced programmers looking to jump in to Unity
How to Survive Your First Indie Game – Control Conference 2015 talk by Rami Ismail about the nitty-gritty of indie dev survival
Gaming PR & Marketing - March 2013 Utah Indie Night presentation by Adam Ames, owner of True PC Gaming
Pixel Prospector - The Indie Goldmine. All-in-one site containing links to tons of other resources useful for going indie and game development in general.
Starting a studio
The best possible silver lining to the closure of Avalanche would be the formation of some exciting new indie startups in Utah. Starting a company seems daunting to many people, and there are some developers who simply prefer the security of working for a large established company. That security is illusory anywhere in the entertainment industries, however, as we’ve unfortunately just seen demonstrated.
Consider this: the hardest part of starting the next Valve or SuperCell isn’t the logistics, legal work, or fundraising — it’s assembling a great team. This usually takes years, because each new hire requires finding the right combination of talent, personality, and ambition to fit your vision for the company. So if you have a team of Disney co-workers with whom you already gel, whose talents you trust and admire, you have already accomplished the biggest hurdle to building the next great game company.
One of your first steps will be to actually create a legal entity for the company. You can register your company in Utah using this website:
and this guide:
…however, there are some significant advantages to incorporating in Delaware, even if the business will be located in Utah. Those advantages are outlined here:
This is a helpful resource, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the legal terms that tend to swirl around new startups:
You’ll need to consider practical things, like healthcare and making sure you have business insurance.
Working from home can be great to get started, but it isn’t ideal for teamwork or collaboration. Most landlords require big commitments for office space - multiple year leases and security deposits. You’re probably not ready for that right away, so consider an incubator (if you’ve seen Silicon Valley on HBO, this is the idea, but not someone’s house!).
There are a few local incubators where you can rent desks and facilities by the month, secured by a credit card. It’s a really cheap and effective way to get started. Other advantages include professional meeting rooms where you can meet investors or clients, high-speed internet, a real street address, business services plus there are other startups just like you with whom you can share or even collaborate.
Here are a few to consider; each has a slightly different mission and vibe, so check them all out to see who has space and which will be the best fit for your needs:
- Holodeck: https://www.holodeckslc.com/
- Church & State: http://www.cs1893.com/
- Impact Hub: http://saltlake.impacthub.net/
- Sustainable Startups: http://www.sustainablestartups.org/
- Work Hive: http://workhiveslc.com/
- Miller Business Resource Center: https://www.mbrcslcc.com
- Sandy/Cottonwood Heights/Midvale:
- Salt Mine: https://www.meetatsaltmine.com/
Grow Utah has also put together a useful directory of resources for startups, here:
Startup Ignition: “Financing Your Venture”
May 24 @ 7pm
10235 S. Jordan Gateway
South Jordan, UT
Advice From Local Experts
There are a lot of decisions you and your business partners will need to make at the outset. How will the company be funded? What roles should each of the founders play? Are we going to create a new original game, or focus on contract work for other companies? What are the major strengths of the team, and how do we best leverage them?
Unless you’ve done this before, it can be very helpful to have the advice of people who have. UDEN is a great resource for this. Here are a few UDEN members with experience founding companies in Utah that are willing to advise new startups:
clarkstacey at me.com
TapStar Interactive, Inc. / iEntertainment Inc.
Coping When You Are Let Go
It’s tough being let go, and you will feel a range of emotions. You will worry. You will feel sad. You will think that maybe you will never get a job again! This is all quite normal. But you will be OK. Be prepared, know what you will be going through, stay active and sooner than you know you're starting your next job. That might be a week, a month, six months, maybe more. So it is important to get a plan together really quickly.
Here is a blog post that talks about how to cope during the time between jobs. http://www.guv1.com/jonblogs/2015/12/9/being-let-go-part-ii-the-employees-perspective (scroll down to ‘Being Let Go’.)