Pro game development with no code in sight
Fiero's engine targets game dev professionals, agencies, and beginners alike
PreSeed Now brings you an in-depth profile of a different B2B or deep tech startup every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe to get it straight to your inbox.
I’ll admit it; I occasionally spend a little too much time playing video games.
But that means I was excited to discover Fiero, a startup building a game engine that wants to take coding entirely out of the equation for first-time game designers and experienced professionals alike.
Scroll down to read all about what they’re working on.
But first! You might remember the Smart Container Company, a startup we covered back in March that is bringing IoT smarts to the beer supply chain.
They’ve recently been raising funding via Crowdcube and have passed their target, but there’s still time to invest.
Fiero wants to make it easier for pros and beginners alike to build their dream game
If the recent controversy around Unity highlighted anything beyond the company’s poor understanding of its customers, it’s just how reliant the games industry is on a couple of game engines: Unity and Unreal Engine.
Looking to make a dent in their dominance is Fiero, a startup that has developed its own engine with a focus on ease of use, speed, and opening up game development to a wider market while still serving seasoned developers.
“We make tools so that anyone can build their dream video game”, as Fiero co-founder Ruan Pearce-Authers puts it.
Currently focused exclusively on the development of 2D games, Fiero is targeting indie developers with a pitch of being able to build and iterate faster than with rival tools.
“You’ll build better games as a result,” says Pearce-Authers. “If you can go through more of those iteration cycles, you can ‘find the fun’ better. You can really nail down what makes your game good.”
While you might assume that professionals would find a WYSIWYG-type interface to be beneath them, Pearce-Authers says the feedback they’ve received from beta testers is that often programming is simply a means to an end.
Developers aren’t precious about doing their own coding - they just want to be able to build their game.
Nottingham-based Fiero is also targeting newcomers who would be intimidated by the code-heavy traditional way of making games. And finally, the startup is targeting digital agencies.
“We didn't realise this until we went to an event in London, and we ended up speaking to someone who runs an agency himself. It turns out that they get a non-trivial number of requests from quite major brands to build games,” says Pearce-Authers.
“And they don't have that expertise in-house. They can't just go and build the game in the same way that they can build regular kinds of creative.”
How it works
Fiero’s browser-based software is constructed around blocks of pre-written code that users can put together via a visual interface that puts you straight into building the game itself by laying it out on screen.
Features and gameplay elements are added via a selection of ‘power-ups’, as Fiero calls them.
While the software is built with platform games in mind (think Super Mario Bros style games, if you’re not a gamer), beta testers have being pushing the tools in imaginative directions, such as a turbo-charged version of Pong, a one-on-one fighting game, and game based around digging downwards through levels.
“It’s more than we expected out of what we gave them in terms of the tools,” says Pearce-Authers.
“It's not intended to be the limit forever. The idea is that as we scale the product and as we scale the company, we will be going much wider in terms of genres. And also then we’ll start to reach a critical mass at some point, where the weird and wonderful combinations of ‘power-ups’ that you've got at that point create something more than the sum of its parts.”
Games created with Fiero will be able to be exported for play on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Game console support is planned for later.
The startup is planning a free tier and two paid tiers aimed at professional users. Having seen the mess Unity got into recently, Fiero plans to stick to simply charging for the tools, rather than trying to take a cut from sales of games built with them.
The story so far
Pearce-Authers has been in the games industry since he was a teenager, primarily in a range of technical and development roles.
While working for a mobile game development company, he met Diletta Di Lullo, a UI and UX designer who had grown up in Italy and spent a few years in Japan before moving to the UK.
The pair decided to build their own game using Unity. But as one developer and one designer working together, they found it a stressful experience to collaborate when their experiences of the game were so different, with one viewing it through the lens of code and the other through a lens of design and UX.
After six months of this, they took some time off from the game and joked that they should just build their own game engine that suited their ideal workflow.
Before long, that was exactly what they were doing.
Two years later, Fiero is now in private beta, with plans for a public beta early in 2024, and a commercial release that spits out finished builds for different platforms going live later in the year.
Go deeper on Fiero:
Read more about their funding, investment plans, competition, and challenges: