Screen Australia announces $1.5 million for 11 games through Games: Expansion Pack fund

'Bilkins' Folly'

Screen Australia has revealed the next round of titles to be supported through its Games: Expansion Pack fund, with 11 games to share in more than $1.5 million.

Targeted at emerging or small to medium independent game studios, the initiative provides direct funding for original Australian games with budgets below $500,000.

The second announcement of recipients comes after the Federal Government committed $12 million to bringing back the Australian Interactive Games Fund, previously administered by Screen Australia, as part of its new National Cultural Policy.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said there were huge opportunities for growth in the local games sector.

“The government’s $12 million investment to support digital games developers and small and medium independent games studios will enable Screen Australia to support more Australian developers to create original games, build sustainable businesses, and attract local and global audiences,” he said.

Speaking about the Games: Expansion Pack funding recipients, Screen Australia head of online Lee Naimo said he was pleased to see the ambition and skill of local game creators come through in the applications, including from first-time and solo developers.

“Alongside the recent announcement of Revive, we’re pleased to support this exciting mix of games from all across Australia that are bringing to life distinctly Aussie stories, from cattle farming in the Northern Territory to solving mysteries in the Victorian Alps, as well as the next project from the award-winning team at Fuzzy Ghost,” he said.

The Games: Expansion Pack fund is open for applications on an ongoing basis until May 4.

The funded games are as follows:

Bilkins’ Folly (TAS): A puzzle adventure game from Lead Developer Luke Webster of Webbysoft. Players explore an island as Percival Bilkins, treasure hunter extraordinaire, and together with their canine companion Drayton they must complete quests, solve mysteries and find hidden treasures in order to solve a family mystery. Bilkins’ Folly has been financed with support from Armor Game Studios.

Call of the Golden Valley (VIC): A first-person, female-protagonist narrative adventure set in Victoria’s High Country, where players must search for a childhood friend who has vanished into the bush seemingly without a trace. But she’s not the only one – something mysterious is luring people to the mountains. Players explore a country town and navigate the enigmatic countryside to find their friend, all while exploring how fact gets tangled up in fiction. This game is developed by Creative Director Madeleine Clute of O’Saurus Studios.

Conscript (VIC): An adventure survival game from Catchweight Studio and Lead Developer Jordan Mochi. Set during the First World War, this historically realistic gameplay follows a lone French soldier who must navigate twisted trenches, scavenge for limited supplies and solve complex puzzles – all while searching for their brother who is missing in action. Developed with the assistance of VicScreen.

Copycat (NSW): A narrative-driven game about rejection, belonging, and the true meaning of home. It follows the story of a newly adopted shelter cat who becomes the victim of an elaborate plan when a jealous, stray copycat steals her place in the household. The game’s colourful visuals delight the senses while exploring dark emotional depths. Copycat is created by Spoonful of Wonder. The team includes head of art/game director Kostia Liakhov and head of narrative/game director Samantha Cable.

Diets and Deities (NT): A rhythm cooking game that players will be able to taste. In a universe drained of its diversity and left to wallow in its smashed avo and vanilla soy latte, players must help Deities remember their culture by cooking dishes along to the music. Each of the dishes can also be made at home with the original recipes found in the game. Diets and Deities is created by Larrikin Interactive and the team includes founder Dylan Bennett, creative director Miles McLoughlin, lead programmer Declan Smyth, Bininj Chef, language and culture consultant Ben Tyler, composer James Mangohig and 2D artist Skye Lavelle.

GHOST CAM (WA): A spooky exploratory game where players search for ghosts in an abandoned bedroom that unfolds into a labyrinth. They will get to test their ghost-finding skills, navigate the eerie environment, figure out clues, and uncover the story carefully as the dreamscape can twist into a nightmare. This game is created by creative studio ARCH REBELS, with the team including lead developer Amy Louise Doherty, lead programmer Miles Hansen, sound designer Chris Head and systems designer Camille Woodthorpe.

Janet DeMornay Is A Slumlord (and a witch) (NSW): A horror-comedy game from Fuzzy Ghost that explores the anxieties of renting in a world run by landlords. Players will explore their crumbling inner-city terrace house, solving puzzles to try and get back to the real world, all while trying to avoid the increasingly menacing behaviour of their landlord Janet, who is a witch. The creative team includes founders Pete Foley and Scott Ford.

Misc. A Tiny Tale (WA): A 3D platforming adventure game from Tinyware Games and lead developer Michael Pearce. Players join Buddy and Bag Boy, two adorable robots made of miscellaneous items, as they lend a hand to other robots, make a difference by cleaning up mess, and follow an exciting journey.

Pasture: The Livestock Simulator (NT): Set in the Australian Outback, players experience the highs and lows of being a pastoralist, doing battle with the weather, the markets, and Mother Nature as they build their Cattle Empire. This farming simulator game comes from Salty Games, including managing director Chas Cole, lead programmer Luke H and creative director Nathan Groves.

The Sacred Acorn (SA): An adventure game from A Few Dragons where players explore the beautiful, mysterious land of Tansira as Ima, an adorably courageous squirrel. They must solve puzzles, discover secrets, defeat corrupted enemies, and make strange, cute friends that will guide them on their quest. The creative team includes developer Keirron Stach, art director Lauren Nicholls, and producer Vivian Vandal.

Trash (VIC): An online co-op survival craft adventure game set in E-Corp Island, a beautiful post-human world where strange and wondrous trash-based life thrives. Players must explore the island’s different open world biomes, collecting materials and crafting different character forms which give them unique abilities to survive the environment and solve challenges. Created by Bin Chicken Studios, the technical director is Nick Margerison and creative director is Charlie Kenihan. Developed with the assistance of VicScreen.