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Funding Models

By Organisation

I’m looking at a whole different bunch of funding models to support what I’m trying to achieve with Sparkwood and 21. Currently, this is the iterations I am considering going forward with. It covers making games–which I love–but it also covers teaching folks stuff, promoting and being part of the open source community and selling merch based around original intellectual property.

Selling Games

The most obvious thing is to sell the games. Through platforms like GOG, Itch, Steam, Epic, Humble Bundle, the Sparkwood and 21 website and wherever else I can.

Now, I am considering making these games open source. It means I can still sell them, I just provide the code with the executable. I just have to be careful with IP licensing of characters, graphics, audio. And this is the bit that might not make it worthwhile to open source.

It might even be the case that I do blended releases: some games are open source and some are proprietary.

I’m looking into this more before making a final judgement.

Reducing tech stack costs

A lot of creative and gamedev software is subscription based or charges over a certain amount of success.

A lot of other creative and gamedev software is free (as in beer as well as freedom). This reduces overhead costs of subscriptions, fees and whatnot.

Streamlining this means that less money will be spent on the tech stack and so money made will go further.

Donationware tooling

I’m going to be open sourcing a bunch of tooling that I think other people might find useful. I want to do this because that is how I got started, mucking about with free things until it worked. I want to help people do the same.

Most of these tools will be released under the glorious MIT license.

If people do find these tools useful, then they can hit me up with a small donation via Ko-Fi, paypal, or librapay.

Online Courses

What can I say? I like teaching. This is a great opportunity to make some courses and teach people stuff I know. Platforms like Udemy and YouTube can host tutorials that I have made and Sparkwood and 21 can receive funding for this through paid access to the courses.

Merch Store

I’ve already set up and online e-commerce store that sells a classic collection of Sparkwood and 21 branded goods. It’s also going to be the place where I can release a whole plethora of goods related to each game release, soundtracks, art books, prints, DRM free versions of the game, and so on and so forth.

What’s good about this model is that it’s got a bunch of different streams of income and that should (SHOULD!) ease financial issues and steady the cash flow over the long run.

Let’s start releasing more games and see what happens.

Iterations: Creativity App

By Labs


A creativity app that can help people with their iterative creative process.


Iterations is a new way to help you generate ideas.

Creative methodologies usually combine divergent thinking (applying a stimulus to generate potential outcomes) and convergent thinking (bringing facts and data together and applying logic).

Iterations help divergent thinking by giving suggestions on how to process the output. They work as a set of guitar effect pedals to your process. There is an input, a set of ambiguous instructions that can be applied to this input, and an undetermined output created by these effects.

In layman’s terms: you sketch an idea, then draw a card. Then draw a new sketch based around your interpretation of what the card says. Then draw another card. Sketch another new sketch based on what the card says. And repeat. The results can lead iterative sketching down new and innovative paths not normally reached through standard idea generation.

Introducing Sparkwood Labs

By Labs

Hi. We’ve just put the finishing touches to the Sparkwood Labs, and it has finally gone live.

What are the Sparkwood Labs we hear you ask? Well, the Sparkwood Labs is where we develop resources and tools for game developers and creatives.

Why? Well, We’re glad you asked. We’re trying to build and create an ethical and sustainable business model and part of that model means we probably have to restrict access to the code of our games in order to make them financially viable. Which is a shame.

Instead most of the the tools and resources that we build to help us develop our games are going to be released as FLOSS / Open Source and stuck up onto our GitHub for whomever finds them useful.

It’s one of the things we’re trying to do to make sure we’re supporting our community.

We hope it helps.

Sparkwood and 21

We turn damn fine coffee into games in an ethical and sustainable way.

Play our games.

I’m not going to have comments on this blog. It’s just another layer of privacy infringement that we really don’t need. If you want to comment or respond you can always do that via @sprkwd on Twitter.

Man playing computer games

Why I’m changing Sparkwood and 21 during COVID-19

By Organisation

Lockdown has given me an opportunity to reflect and think about what I want out of life, work and play. This blog is going to document my journey.

I’ve been interested in computers and games for as long as I can remember.

I used to invent games as a kid. I used to build great and complex worlds for running paper roleplaying games in. I used to little video games on my computer. I used to write turn-to-page-whatever books and sink hours and hours into video games few people remember.

I used to read and experiment on my BBC Micro when I should have been sleeping. I built a replica of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in the style of Ceefax using BBC Basic. I used to transcribe music into bittrackers on my Commodore Amiga and hack boot drives on old floppy discs.

Used to.

I grew up. I left all the games and computers behind and went out and explored the world. I’ve set up my own design studio in Amsterdam. I’ve consulted on social media with the David Lynch Foundation. I’ve taught courses online and in person at the local university. I’ve headlined a festival with a Rock and Roll band. I’ve written music for films that don’t exist. I have had many, many, many unpublished screenplays and novels returned to me.

I fell into working with open source organisations and philosophies and tried to apply them to the way I think and work. I researched projects on building community and exploring how libraries can be used as third places. I began reading about business ethics and alternative ways of working. I looked at how things could be different and change for the better.

I discovered a lot of things about myself: I like people and community more than I pretend to. I have a really strong reaction to things that are fair or unfair. I really like tinkering with websites and little bits of code and how things work. I like to research, to learn and to tell people what I’ve learned. I have a compulsion to create. If I don’t, I turn peculiar.

Now, I’ve ended up exactly where I am.

Which is actually a pretty good place to be. I have a job that I love where I get to help people start new careers and lives. I have a roof over my head in the beautiful city of Bath. A family that I adore. I actually have time to explore the things that I want to explore.

I find myself circling back to the things I used to like: games, play, community, friends, fun and thinking about how I can re-ignite those feelings with all the skills and experience I have gained over the years. To give myself a side project that I can work on that gives me pleasure and is something I am proud of.

So I set up a pretend studio, Sparkwood and 21, named after a location from my favourite TV show Twin Peaks.

I built some board games that people seemed to like and I really enjoyed designing and making them. I was going to design and make more.

But then COVID-19 struck, people died and the world went into shutdown.

I no longer had easy access to tools and wood to make these games with. If I wanted to keep making things that people liked I thought it would be far easier if these things were ephemeral. Digital.

I think about how the world has paused and how it’s possibly on the brink of something terrible and scary and different.

But I can also see the opportunity for change. Instead of getting back to normal we could move forward to a new normal. A better normal. And I have this idea nagging at me.

I’d love to build and grow an organisation that allows me to make games, build tools and resources for people, explore ideas, learn new things and then pass all of that on in a variety of ways. I want to make sure it’s ethical, open, transparent, caring, and a safe space for a diverse range of people. I want to be able to give back to communities that I love and respect. I want to build things that make me happy and proud. I want it to help other people. I want to feel part of something positive and bigger than myself. And I want it to be sustainable so I can do it for as long as I can.

I’ve no idea what form this organisation will take, how it will look, who will be involved, but the journey is part of the fun, right? And I know it’s not going to be easy in any stretch of the word, but it’s a whole bunch of things I feel passionate about mixed with a few essential skills and so there’s the drivers right there.

And to do all this around a job that I love already. Not easy.

This blog is going to document and explore this process. It’s going to be my bouncing board, my journal, my guidance. It’s not going to be weekly to grow an audience to market to. It’s not going to be more noise in the online realms. I’m going to try and craft these posts to be useful, interesting, informative or relevant as best I can.

I’d love it if you’d join me. Thanks for your time.

DJ x

Sparkwood and 21

We’re trying to become a new type of game development organisation. We make games that we want to play, and we want to do it ethically, transparently and sustainably. We want to give back via open source, tools, teaching and safe and diverse community building. Go take a look at our games.

I’m not going to have comments on this blog. It’s just another layer of privacy infringement that we really don’t need. If you want to comment or respond you can always do that via @sprkwd on Twitter.