Dream came true for gamedev students after SAGA win

When the students in the team Skamvrån won the award SAGA in 2020 for their game Die, Recompile, some of them decided to follow their dream of starting a game studio. As a part of Science Park Skövde's startup program, they founded Ember Paw Games, and are now working on their next game Odinfall.

Skövde Academic Game Award (SAGA) is a prize for new gamedev talents at the University of Skövde. The municipality of Skövde is behind the prize, which is awarded during the annual Sweden Game Conference in Skövde. The winners get to share SEK 20,000. In 2020, it was the team Skamvrån who brought home the prize with their game Die, Recompile. One of the students behind the game is Oscar Axelsson, now Designer and Artist at Ember Paw Games.

“Winning SAGA gave me enough confidence to follow my dream of starting and running an indie game company,” says Oscar Axelsson.

Prize sum became starting capital

Already in his third year at the University, Oscar applied to Science Park Skövde's startup program together with five others, both members from Skamvrån and other friends from university. Four of them remained, and thanks to the prize money from SAGA, they received a small start-up capital.

“The 15 members of Skamvrån took out SEK 1,000 each. We who took the project further used the rest of the money to pay fees and rent.”

Financed by British publisher

Things went fast when they formed Ember Paw Games and it wasn't just because they were eager to fulfill their dream, there was also a more urgent reason. British Fireshine Games, a publisher in the games industry, had noticed the young game developers and wanted to finance them.

“It means a lot to us that we are part of Science Park Skövde's startup program. We receive continuous guidance from selected coaches and at regular intervals we attend lectures on everything from how a company works to how to market your game. In addition, occasions are organised when you get to pitch your product to publishers worldwide. That's how we found Fireshine Games in London.”

Working on the new game Odinfall

Thanks to the funding, Ember Paw has been able to finish the development of the student project Die, Recompile and is now working on their new game – Die, Recompile's spiritual and more ambitious sequel – Odinfall.

“Now we are working hard on Odinfall! It's a top-down roguelite shooter set in a post-apocalyptic Sweden. The player navigates through randomly generated levels in search of weapons and upgrades in order to defeat Odin.”

The hope is that Odinfall will sell well enough for Ember Paw Games to continue making games.

“Making your own indie game is the coolest thing I know and I'm lucky to work with three others who feel the same way.”

What tips do you have for the students who can submit their contribution to SAGA now?
“It may sound like a cliché, but the most important thing about SAGA is not winning, but the friends and colleagues you find during the game project course. I had never been able to start a business alone, and the game project course that led to SAGA was a trial by fire where I found out who had the same drive as me.”

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