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Layer AI raises $1.8m to supercharge game art production!

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Layer, the AI-powered productivity tool of choice by the world’s top gaming companies, raises a $1.8M seed round by top ad-tech and gaming angels, and VC funds. 
 
The creator-first, enterprise-ready tool for professional art creation, Layer AI, today announced the successful closing of their first seed round. Round included top serial entrepreneurs and industry legends like Jim Payne, gaming angels like Akin Babayigit, Michele Attisani, and Dilpesh Parmar and gaming VCs like The Games Fund, The Games Syndicate, GFR Fund, Laton Ventures along with other AI/Tech VCs and angels like 500 Global, Elena Silenok, Taimur Rashid. Additionally, the team also got a strategic investment from the US-based top art production and talent house Devoted Studios.
 
Getting to know the team 
 
Layer, based in San Francisco, is founded by a team of passionate professionals with decades of experience in AI, Gaming, and Computer Vision. Volkan Gurel is the CEO, with a background in engineering and management from MIT, Hunch and Coinbase. Burcu is the CRO and served in multiple client-facing roles across multiple products from ads to game services at Unity & LoopMe. Kuo-chin, PhD is the CTO who recently joined bringing 20 years of experience in Computer Vision from Appen and XMotors. Finally, Mehmet is a self-taught technical artist and game developer who co-founded and sold Gram Games to Zynga in 2018. 
 
The team strongly believes a compact elite team can outcompete larger players and will expand by staying selective and laser focused on gaming. They believe in driving significant value to many businesses is critical to their own success, whether they are garage startups or industry giants. They are now hiring for their founding team positions: https://www.layer.ai/careers 
 
What makes Layer unique? 
 
Layer is simply unmatched when it comes to seamless integration into art pipelines and intuitive creator workflows, providing a great user experience and productivity boost. As proven by customer testimonials and detailed case studies, Layer leads the race as the tool of choice for game creators of all skill levels whether they are just starting their journey or have mastered game development. Layer proves any creator can go beyond their imagination and experiment with brand new ideas and art styles. A lot of AI tools today focus on either general use cases and foundational model training, or offer standalone cool features but don’t actually serve the everyday use cases. Most of them are either too complicated or are not designed for multi-disciplinary teams and certainly not enterprise ready. 
 
“Layer supercharges artist teams’ productivity by 240% and helps expedite the delivery of art to meet deadlines” says Production Lead, Games United 
 
“Layer AI supercharged Tripledot’s art creation, 3Xing our production speed and elevating quality. By reducing our reliance on outsourcing studios, we’ve not only saved significant costs but also brought the magic of art production in-house. We’re incredibly excited about this technology and eagerly await further updates. VP of Creative at Tripledot Studios. 
 
Creators not only can go faster but can also supercharge their imagination. “Our art pipeline is not only faster, the variations Layer provides has been super helpful in increasing our creative potential and exploring brand new ideas”‘ says the Artist at APPS Teknoloji. (more quotes will be available on our website by 10th of November) 
 
Layer already empowers many artists to generate images based on their own art styles, allowing them to seamlessly iterate on these images through its premier AI-assisted canvas. Layer is the only generative AI solution that has been adopted by the teams of world’s largest mobile gaming studios. Layer has a clear direction in style-consistent output quality, speedy generation, and an intuitive interface that’s committed to solving game artists’ challenges using AI. 
 
Volkan Gurel, the CEO believes “Just like Web 2.0, Cloud computing or mobile unlocked novel applications that beat incumbents and other startup competitors based on a great product experience, we believe the AI revolution will be no different. AI has unlocked many new applications that will be built on top of this new tech stack and we plan to win by building the best product experience for artists in the enterprise leveraging the power of all the great foundational models and tools released by OpenAI, Meta, Stability AI and others. We’re creator-first, enterprise-ready and will remain model-agnostic”. 
 
What’s ahead? 
While Layer is focusing on perfecting 2D generation in games for mobile, then AAA studios, the team is already looking ahead. In the near future, Layer will generate both spine and sprite animations from text, images and other animations and further expand to 3D workflows. Layer will also build integrations into non-gaming workflows like marketing and advertising.
 
Layer will continue its dedication to style-consistent output quality, seamless workflow integrations that empower and free artists from redundant workflow overheads. “AI unlocked many opportunities for gaming and we want Layer to be the easiest tool to get onboard with and the fastest to ROI “ says Burcu Ozcengiz, the CRO. Layer is already serving numerous top tier clients like Tripledot, Sciplay, Mag Interactive and hundreds of professional artists since launching in February 2023. Layer is also working to shore up their compliance program and will achieve SOC 2 and ISO certification to further cement the security and reliability of their offering for the enterprise. 
 
“Being deeply rooted in game development we see pivotal changes coming to production with Gen-AI tools coming into play. We are not big fans of the idea of flooding the market with soulless content and Layer.AI sets itself apart by aiming to enhance, not replace, human artistry, liberating creators from mundane tasks. That is what we all believe in. We also like that their focus is on enterprise clients and their real needs for seamless integration into existing production pipelines.” – comments Maria Kochmola, General Partner at The Games Fund.

Gaming

Midjiwan opens Stockholm’s first co-working space for game developers

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Midjiwan, the award-winning independent studio behind The Battle of Polytopia, today announces the opening of Game Town, Stockholm’s first coworking space for game developers.

In addition to being a new home for Midjiwan, Game Town will also serve as a base for Toppluva AB, the makers of Grand Mountain Adventure; Warm Kitten AB, the developers behind Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack; Gro Play AB, a studio creating educational games; and Dataspelsbranschen, Sweden’s trade association for video game companies. More game development companies are expected to join over the next few months.

The Swedish games industry, including subsidiaries abroad, generated SEK 86.5 billion (USD $7.9 billion) in 2022, according to a Dataspelsbranschen report. Gaming is a strong growth industry, accounting for over 4 percent of Sweden’s total service exports. Game Town will become a creative, innovative, and social meeting place, further solidifying Stockholm as a key games industry hub with industry meetups, mixers, and game showcases hosted for indie and AAA developers.

Södermalm, the Stockholm island where Game Town is located, has one of the highest concentrations of game developers. The nearby areas constitute a cluster for companies within game development, housing among others Paradox, DICE, Fatshark, and Epic Games.

Christian Lövstedt, General Manager at Midjiwan, commented:

“Game Town will become a professional and playful environment for smaller game studios that want to work and develop among other developers. We’re looking to create a community of people who share our same passion for gaming and game development. Game Town will bring together indie developers and freelancers to create an open and welcoming place for the entire industry to gather.”

Per Strömbäck, Chairman of Dataspelsbranschen.

“Within a kilometer radius of Södermalm, there are at least 3,000 game developers, making it perhaps the most densely populated place for game developers in the world. Here, games are created for billions of players worldwide. Perhaps there is something in the Earth’s magnetic field that makes local games particularly good? Game Town will be located right in the middle of this hub, so it is only right that our own office should be right here.”

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Gaming

Metaverse Studio Karta Reaches Huge Milestone with New Game Beat Builder

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Karta pushes the boundaries of music game innovation with Built Builder on Fortnite – reaching 100k players

  • Beat Builder is Fortnite’s first-ever build-based rhythm game
  • Karta partners with NoCopyrightSounds for the game’s music library
  • Two new big songs just added: Royalty by Egzod & Maestro Chives and Invincible by Deaf Kev

Karta, an award-winning metaverse studio pioneering the world of in-game experiential marketing, continues to push the boundaries of music game innovation as its latest project, Beat Builder, reaches 100,000 players.

Beat Builder is an interactive music rhythm game where players put down walls, ramps, floors and cones to the beat of the music. Centred on building a core Fortnite gameplay feature used in its very popular Battle Royal, Beat Builder is the first-ever build-based rhythm game on the platform. As well as being a music-filled experience played for fun, the game is also used as a practice tool for players to improve their game-playing skills on Fortnite.

To create the game’s eclectic music library, Karta has partnered with NoCopyrightSounds, a copyright-free record label and music platform. Focusing on drumstep, phonk and trap electronic music for now, with artists such as Twisted, if found, XTOM and Lost Sky, players interact with the stems of each song that have their own visual world to match the vibe. Karta aims to develop the game further, updating it with a plethora of new music and genres such as metal, K-pop and rock. The long-term aim of Beat Builder is to integrate artists into Fortnite to share their music with fans, with the game becoming a recognised platform for exploring new artists and music.

Reaching 100,000 players is a significant milestone for a new metaverse game with Beat Builder continuing to grow in popularity since its launch recently. To mark the milestone, Karta has updated the game with two of NCS biggest songs; Royalty by Egzod & Maestro Chives and Invincible by Deaf Kev and is already planning further extensions, partnerships and new seasons.

“We’re thrilled that Beat Builder has gotten off to such a great start,” the Chief Executive Officer for Karta, Erik Londre, said. “We wanted to create a rhythm game that felt 100% Fortnite native, where the music is connected to the platform’s core building gameplay. A rhythm game that makes you a better gamer is an idea that excites us a lot.”

“Beat Builder truly encapsulates what Karta is all about; innovative and forward-thinking design that combines incredible music with interactive gaming in one entertaining place,” the Chief Growth Officer for Karta, Tony Barnes, said. “Music’s presence in the metaverse is evolving and we think Beat Builder has the potential to become its own platform for artists and brands to authentically connect to a Fortnite audience through gameplay and new music. We can’t wait to develop it and see how it grows.”

Since launching in 2021, Karta has worked with brands such as Amazon Music, McDonald’s and Hugo Boss. As well as working with Spotify on its iconic global campaign, Spotify Wrapped, to gamify the listening habits of Spotify users and bring this into the metaverse. Through these partnerships, Karta is reshaping entertainment experiences in the metaverse and creating meaningful connections between brands and their audiences. In the past year, the London-based studio has also worked with global artists like Nicki Minaj for her Gag City experience in Roblox, K-pop giant Blackpink with its hugely popular Blackpink the Palace and Twice with its Twice Square, which has become the most successful persistent music experience on Roblox.

“We’re very happy to provide the music for Beat Builder, a brilliant new game that gives players the chance to interact with the music like never before,” the Brand Manager for NCS, Charlotte Lee, said. “It has the potential to become a go-to platform for music gaming and we’re proud to support it.”

Beat Builder is available now to explore on Fortnite. For more information, go to www. Karta. game.

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eSports

Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov is a New Virtus.pro Player

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Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov (pictured), one of the most decorated and famous players in CS2, a Major champion and winner of the Intel Grand Slam, is moving to Virtus.pro.

“The arrival of star players always generates excitement within the club and among its fans,” the Chief Executive Officer for Virtus.pro, Nikolai Petrossian, said. “Denis is a well-known figure in the world of eSports with an impressive list of major victories and exceptional skill. Few players won both at Major and Intel Grand Slam events.

“Our CS2 roster is strong thanks to teamwork, a clearly defined playstyle and the individual talents of our players. Transferring players with outstanding skills to improve specific areas is a common practice in sports. I am confident that Denis joining will give a powerful boost to the team in the upcoming challenges in Dallas, London and beyond.

“Denis will replace Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov in the VP lineup. Nikolay has been a loyal and valuable member of our team and we express our gratitude for his contributions. Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov is open to offers from other teams.”

“Virtus.pro is a top team,” Sharipov said. “The core of the roster has won a Major not a while ago and all the players are in their prime and ready for victories right now. We share the same ambitions and goals. Besides, I’m also excited about the idea of playing with Jame as he’s one of the most unique IGLs in the game. Can’t wait to adapt to my new team and start doing what I came here for, winning trophies.”

Sharipov has dozens of victories at elite tournaments, including:

  • PGL Major Stockholm 2021
  • Intel Grand Slam Season 3
  • BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020
  • IEM XVI – Cologne
  • EPL Season 14
  • BLAST Premier: World Final 2021

In addition, Sharipov was among the top-ten best players of the year by HLTV four times.

Updated Virtus.pro CS:GO roster:

  • Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali (captain)
  • Evgeny ‘FL1T’ Lebedev
  • David ‘n0rb3r7’ Daniyelyan
  • Petr ‘fame’ Bolyshev
  • Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov
  • Dastan ‘dastan’ Akbayev (coach)
  • Pavel ‘PASHANOJ’ Legostaev (analyst)
  • Nikolay ‘mir’ Bityukov (substitute)
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