Entrepreneurship and Career Development

Entrepreneur of the Month

Nikita Haduong

Entrepreneur of the Month: September

NIKITA HADUONG:

Innovation in Gaming and Music

This month, Project Jumpstart interviews Nikita Haduong, co-founder of Argent Games, a consortium of IU Bloomington students who have just produced their newest game, Requiescence.  

Requiescense is a gothic fantasy BL visual novel set in an arcane, mysterious cathedral. It chronicles the story of a young mage, as he ventures into the cathedral’s dark depths in an attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding his uncle’s death. Nikita is currently a Junior pursuing a BSOF with degrees in violin performance and computational linguistics.  

She is a member of the violin studio of Alex Kerr. Her company, Argent Games is an officially registered company of Indiana with Requiescence being its first published game.  


Project Jumpstart: You and your partner Angela truly brought this project to life from the ground up and there are so many facets to creating video games. What was your process like for getting people from a wide variety of disciplines to unite behind one common project (voice actors, composers, and artists)?

Nikita: We were able to independently contract both the composer and the artist, so it was relatively easy to get them behindthe project. We found our artist through an online forum that she used to advertise her services. There was a mini “composer bid-war” during that process.

Our secondary composer, Richard, was interested in the project so that he could gain experience in writing video game music. In order to find voice actors, we advertised public casting calls for the project. Even though it was listed as unpaid, many people were interested in auditioning for the project. Because of the success of our fundraising efforts, we happily were able to offer them monetary compensation.

Game Image

A screenshot from the Requiescence game featuring two main characters

PJ: Getting the funding for Kickstarter can be a challenge. What were your methods of promoting this project and marketing yourselves as a brand?

Nikita: We relied primarily on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook for promotion. We reached out to audience-specific forums in the hopes of attracting attention, which was minimally successful. Interestingly, about 49% of our backers came from Kickstarter, who had followed recommended links. Tumblr and Twitter promotion were by far the most effective methods, especially with the help of all the Twitter bots. The Twitter community for our genre is also very supportive, so they happily retweeted and liked our tweets.

Video Image

The promotional video for Requiescence

PJ: Did you conceptualize this game together from the beginning? What was the collaborative process like between the two of you?

Nikita: Angela already had 15% of the game made when I joined the team. It began originally as Angela's side project. I helped primarily with proofreading and editing towards the end of Fall 2015. Angela was going to run the Kickstarter alone and I offered to help set up some of the websites (mostly Tumblr). However, I discovered that Angela had no marketing plans in place so I transitioned into fulfilling a marketing role. For the most part, Angela developed the game while I handled the marketing aspects. Additionally, I worked with the voice actors, created sound effects, and oversaw the production team, (which included lots of food incentives). We worked on independent aspects of the game until about a month before it was released. Towards the end of the process we collaborated on the editing as a team.

Nikita

PJ: You are quite an accomplished violin player. How has your musical training informed your role as media manager and editor for Argent Games?

Nikita: My musical training has helped me develop an eye for detail and the ability to connect with strangers to market our game. I am a shy introvert, which begs the question: how did I end up recruiting and working with so many people? Performing and marketing have many similarities. When you begin, you may not have a relationship with your audience. As you progress, you try to cultivate that relationship. Your performance will change depending on the venue and who you are playing with. Such is the same with marketing. When reaching out to potential sponsors and consumers, you need to personally tailor your message. One also needs to be efficient, as creating custom messages can be quite time consuming. We created a flexible template, (or as my teacher Alex Kerr would say, “parameters”,) for this purpose. These parameters need to make sense both to yourself and to your audience. They must be generic enough to adapt to the majority while also demonstrating a unique and genuine desire for connection.

PJ: If you were to give advice to another start up team creating a project like this, what would be your three biggest pieces of advice for other groups out there?

Nikita: If another startup is planning on utilizing Kickstarter, I would advise them to have a polished snapshot of what the project will look like at the end. They should also have a well-developed business plan which outlines various checkpoints. Initially, we did not have a thorough plan to account for all the variables and as a result, our project was delayed. Although disappointing, many projects on Kickstarter are delayed for this reason. If you start your marketing before going to Kickstarter, you will be set up for success. Build up a loyal fan base that will back your project as well as spread the word about your project. The disadvantage of a startup is that you don't have big brand names to vouch for your ability to deliver as a company. To combat this, keep your fans a part of the developmental process so that you can keep them excited about the project. Food incentives (cookies being a personal favorite) were particularly useful in getting tasks done!

Nikita

PJ: What are your plans for future projects with Argent Games and how do you see this project expanding in the future?

Nikita: Currently we are tying up loose ends to the Requiescence project. We are also in the process of developing two new games. I will be the main developer of the first game and Angela, the second. We have some funds from Requiescence that we will be investing into these future games. We also plan to return to Kickstarter (and perhaps Patreon) to gather additional funding. As it stands, Argent Games is still mostly a pet company for side projects. Argent Games is a fantastic learning ground that is giving us a taste of how a real company operates.


Project Jumpstart partners with the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the IU Kelley School of Business.