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Incredible Dream has raised a funding round of $ 2 million to create a series of fantastic games for table game fans.
The Los Angeles-based studio is making a game called Kinfire Chronicles, and creating its original fantasy world, characters, games, and transmedia experience for people who want to meet in person.
Jane Chung Hoffacker is the CEO of Incredible Dream. She was the executive producer of Riot Games’ Arcade, the popular animated television series on Netflix, and she was also an early leader in the development of League of Legends. General Catalyst led the round.
She said the studio wanted to modernize tabletop games for people looking for a shared escape. It was a banner year for the $ 12 billion tabletop industry with popular games like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, and more. Kickstarter has helped tabletop games a lot because it’s like Steam for board games. And the gaming boom has also spread to help table games.
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“We managed to get a lot of triple A playing talent,” said Chung Hoffacker. “And we’re all here to play board games. Part of the reason is that we view gaming as a way of life that isn’t just limited to screens and video games. And we really see an opportunity with, as we move towards the metaverse and online presence, how we’re spending less time together in person. And I think the upshot of that is that the few moments that we have together in person are going to become a lot more meaningful to us. “
There have also been a record number of indie board games raising over $ 1 million on Kickstarter. Incredible Dream sees this as a reaction to the growing dominance of digital consumption in our lives, said Chung Hoffacker. The team is developing games, content, and tools to connect more people to offline social gaming experiences.
She added, “For everything the internet and the metaverse promises to solve, the one thing they can’t solve is loneliness. And this is something that in-person experiences solve. We try to create those times when people want to take a break from their digital life and want to spend that time together.
Incredible Dream wants to bring players back to a human connection and a playful immersion in the real world. When people – who are learning, working, and playing in front of screens – finally take their break to meet IRL friends, Incredible Dream creates rich in-person experiences for a satisfying game night, the company said.
Conversion to table play
Chung said she played typical family board games growing up, but looked more like a video player at first. During the pandemic, she played games on Zoom with friends, but it got tiring. On the other hand, playing D&D was a huge joy.
“When I was younger I rejected it because it wasn’t as cool and sexy as the last Xbox,” she said.
She then worked at Riot Games for nine years and Activision for three years. And she saw how big business couldn’t take creative risks. This led her to start her own business.
On Arcane, Chung Hoffacker learned another part of the trade. She helped get the TV show through its green light process, which wasn’t easy as expectations of expanding into a new business were high. It had to either be brilliant or not done at all. She helped put together a writers’ room, reconfigured the preproduction process, and helped the external studio evolve to produce animated content. She left after most of the first season had ended.
“I learned a lot from the creative process,” she said.
After quitting and starting her startup, it was not easy to raise funds as Chung Hoffacker said she was rejected by hundreds of investors. She was thrilled that General Catalyst understood the loneliness issue the company is tackling.
“We have spent a good part of the pandemic at home isolated from everyone just on screens,” she said.
The company’s first game will be The Kinfire Chronicles, a cooperative role-playing game about a group of adventurers who must battle a mysterious global threat, magic and saboteurs to save their city.
Modernizing, Chung Hoffacker said she meant friends shouldn’t have to sit in front of a board game with a 50-page manual. It shouldn’t be like putting IKEA furniture together, she said.
“You have to watch a 30-minute YouTube video to understand what’s going on,” she said. “And at that point, the whole night goes by and everyone loses interest.”
The Incredible Dream team therefore approaches design more like video players would and reflects on the user experience. Eventually, some of the ideas could turn into video games, Chung Hoffacker said.
“It’s something we talk about a lot because the upside potential, with any IP, is you can take it anywhere,” she said. “But I think you can’t start by saying we’re going to create a great value brand. If you start there and focus too much on it, I think you’re missing the mark a bit.
The team consists of 11 people. Chung Hoffacker has also worked on titles such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero. Co-founders include Tucker Roberts, president of Spectacor Gaming; and Jamie Seltzer, an entrepreneur and serial investor.
CTO Chris Butler was the former director of engineering at Riot Games and co-founded Riot Games St Louis. He was one of the first architects of the League of Legends platform. Others include game design director Kevin Wilson, art director Kate Redesiuk, narrative consultants Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz and Jakub Szamalek, and game designer Adela Kapuscinska. Advisors include Felicia Day and Kevin Reilly.
Funding from Incredible Dream’s Seed will be used to develop and ship original intellectual properties as the company continues to build vibrant game worlds.
Besides General Catalyst, other investors include Advancit Capital, Lighshed Ventures, Courtside VC, Slow Ventures, Abe Burns (Ambridge Capital) and David Birnbaum (Five Four Ventures).
The company has previously received funding and angel investments from notable figures in the gaming industry including Strauss Zelnick of Take-Two Interactive, Mike and Amy Morhaime, Kevin Lin, Brent Bushnell of Two-Bit Circus, Shane Debiri and Pete. Vlastelica. This funding has made Incredible Dream one of the most funded startups in the board game industry.
“We decided to partner with Incredible Dreams because we were so impressed with the team’s bold vision during our first zoom chat. Jane’s enthusiasm is absolutely contagious! General Catalyst CEO Niko Bonatsos said in a statement. “Our partners at General Catalyst also appreciated the fact that she recruited an elite team of industry veterans for a start-up company. There is a unique opportunity to shake up the board game industry as we know it today given the excellent timing for this company and the DNA of the team.
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