Having your own indie game company is amazing right? Well, yes and no. Mostly yes, though. With a shoestring budget (if any at all), you don't have the funds to spend on a marketer/social media person, so you have to pick up the slack where you can. Which brings me to marketing...it sucks (but extremely necessary).
I'm Mike Moreno and one of the cofounders of Bearded Man Studios. We started up with some self funding, motivation, and a dream. The team at the time started working on our first game, Word Lab, a 3D puzzle word game which we released to Android/iOS and recently Windows Phone 8. We had a marketing guy on the team at that time and we really didn't have any marketing in place other than a write up in a Philippine blog at release. Needless to say, WL didn't get much attention and friends and family were the biggest advertisers for us. While I can't say I wasn't bummed it didn't do better, if we had a marketing strategy in place and got the word out, more people would have played. And honestly, it just felt awesome to see/hear people enjoying it. I even got to get the sound design from a fellow Dtoider Naia-the-gamer.
Now, our second game, Warp 5 Overdrive, an infinite space retro shooter is pretty close to being done and I have taken over most of the marketing/social media stuff on top of programming/iOS testing. I am working on a teaser trailer, made some pretty fun flyers to send out as a press kit, even built a screen printing press to make shirts to get our name/logo out there. Holy crap y'all, marketing is a full time job. I semi-enjoy it but at the same time it's pulling me away from programming or testing or coming up with ways to make the game more fun. One of the more awesome ideas for marketing (and a personal dream) was building the W5O arcade machine that I used at my school's portfolio show to show off my games.
So my first time at GDC has been exciting, anxiety causing, and emotionally overwhelming (I can be a bit dramatic at times...we'll get back to that). I've already met some amazing people (and reintroduced to Dale North and Jayson Napolitano) and hope to continue to meet even more. There have already been times that I have lost my way around the show floor trying to find another Dtoider (Naia-the-gamer). She graciously accompanied me around so I wasn't alone.
The emotionally overwhelming part of being here is that the slap-in-the-face moment came and I realized that I'm a PART of this industry. I've always felt that when I made the choice to go to school for game programming that my main goal was to bring enjoyment to others via games that I created/helped create. I can remember being younger and playing my games, since there were not so good kids to hang around with, and my NES was basically my best friend. My best friend also helped bring me together with my family, and that was especially awesome because it gave me time with them that we probably wouldn't have had. One of the last memories of my grandpa before his health began to fail, was he and I playing Wii Sports Bowling. That was the first time I was able to play a game with him because playing with a controller was too complicated. So yeah, that's the emotional part.
Being a Dtoid community member has brought some special people into my life and given me inspiration to go after my dream. Thanks, Destructoid, and all of you guys and gals that make up the community. Y'all are awesome, and I hope soon you'll be able to get some enjoyment from our games.
But what the hell does that mean? Well, it's actually what I summoned in Super Scribblenauts to make a witch get out of a line in front of a video game store (btw that didn't work)! The rules were that you couldn't cut the line or harm an innocent. Besides that damn witch, the other people in line were a: delivery man, rocker, soldier, bodybuilder, and barbarian. I was able to breeze by all but the barbarian and witch. The barbarian didn't take the sword (regular and flaming), shield, nor the ferret. He did take the polka dotted horse though!
The control with the stylus was a bit better than the first game, although I did keep accidentally cutting line when I was trying to remove items that weren't making the characters get out of line. The ability to switch to the D-pad for movement made me super happy, because using the stylus to move used to frustrate me!
I asked the demo rep what the new features were in the game, and she told me that the character count was increased, more nouns and adjectives were added, and you can add the word "pregnant" to say the word, "zombie", and at some point the zombie would give birth. So I gave it a try and put the words "pregnant zombie" in the notebook, and not too long after the zombie was chasing me, did it stop, drop a little zombie out, and both chased me. It was awesome.
I figured out how to get everyone out of the way except the witch. I tried a wand, magic wand, warlock, good witch, black cat, and none of that worked (that I could tell). I got frustrated because I kept accidentally cutting the line, so I decided to check out some other games before E3 closed. The rep told me that the wand should have worked, and that there may have been a bug. Hopefully that bug gets worked out!
I enjoyed playing the first Scribblenauts and while it had some issues from making it a great game, the developers seemed to have honed in and worked on fixing them. Now with all the new possibilities added to Super Scribblenauts, there could be a veritable cornucopia of ways to best the puzzles that are thrown at you.
I was lucky enough to spend about a half hour with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 earlier today at E3 and I had a blast (er an Expelliarmus!). I've been a fan of both the movies and books, so I was super excited With the help of a booth babe, I played through the end of the 1st year and through a bit of the beginning of year 2. The booth babe also informed me that we were playing a retail copy, and if we wanted could play all the way through the game! Sadly, I had to make time for Super Scribblenauts and had to leave, even though I could have played the entire game. Here are my impressions.
First of all, the graphics are colorful, crisp, and everything you would expect from LEGO title. I played through the PS3 version and the game ran beautifully. The visual staples of the Harry Potter world were intact: the characters, special items, and places. Harry's scar, Dudley's pudgey belly, The Weasley's red hair, Professor Quirrell, Hagrid and his beard, and a almost cute Voldemort were all present in their LEGO glory. I saw the living chess game, the flying key room, the Dursley's house, Hogwards, and Knockturn Alley. One of the funniest parts of what I played was when Harry floo powdered into Knockturn Alley and was being curious (oh you'll see what I mean).
Harry, Hermoine, and Ron are the playable characters and you could have a friend playing along side you while the computer controlled the 3rd character. You can switch your spells from Wingardium Leviosa to levitate things and people, to a vine killing spell (I don't recall what the name of this one is). Aside from those, Harry could don his trusty cloak of invisibility (I never had to use it), and Ron can call his rat Scabbers (which I also didn't use). In keeping with the story, Harry is the only one that could fly a broom (well).
When I picked up the controller, we were in the room with the attacking vines. Next we had to figure out how to grab that pesky flying key. After that we somehow cleared the living chess room, where Ron of course ends up staying behind. Finally, Hermoine and Harry take on a possessed Professor Quirrell in a room full of flames and fiery pits. Since I hadn't played too much of the game before, it took some time to figure out how to defeat Quirrell. Voldemort makes a guest appearance and the game concludes after some more story, leading to the second year.
Just like the movies, you start out at the Dursley's in the introductory movie, and afterwards you pop into the outside of the Weasley's. This is the area to get you accustomed to the spells and whatnot, flipping carrots that turn into rockets and spinning gnomes into basketball hoops (seriously). After playing around inside of the house, you floo powder to Knockturn Alley and have a little fun figuring out puzzles with Hagrid. The puzzles that were in the second game's beginning took some thinking and paying attention to detail in order to conquer them. After you work your way through the alley, you cutscene to Hogwarts, and that is where my time with this game ended.
As a fan, I would totally tell y'all to get this game. It was a fun take on the Harry Potter franchise, and I enjoyed travelling back into that world. The multiplayer aspect was fun, and if the other person leaves, you can drop them out and let the computer take over. I also liked the expressions of the characters and how the games have a sense of humor about them, usually without saying any words. All in all, I can't wait for this game, and lucky for me (and you!) it releases June 29th!
The Legend of Zelda has a special meaning to me. It's not because of the gameplay elements, amazing characters, or ability to attack chickens (although that one is sweet!). Travel back with me will you?
Back in '88, December 18th to be exact, I was a young tike of 9 years of age, and REALLY DESPERATELY wanted the golden game that contained such awesomeness, at any price...
My aunt and grandpa went to the Galleria (in Houston, this was the biggest mall) and I decided to tag along. They went shopping and I gravitated straight to the K-B toy store. I told my family that I would just wait there for them, and wandered around the immensely stocked eisles, and then out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. The box was golden, there was a shield and a sword on it, and I needed to have it.
I thought and thought of a way for me to get it. I had no money, but grandpa did...He wouldn't buy it....Maybe aunt Josie....she probably wouldn't either. AH-HA! I will tell grandpa that aunt Josie would pay him back for it because she is going to get that for me for xmas (even though she had no idea that she was). I grabbed him, convinced him, and procured a new adventure in my hands. By the time grandpa found out, it was too late, and I was at his house with the box opened, reading the manual, and studying the map of Hyrule.
Then the phone rang.
My mom was on the other line, she sounded wierd. When she finally was able to make semi complete sentences, she told me that there was an accident, and Bobby (fiance to her sis/my aunt) had fallen from a ladder at his warehouse job and he didn't make it...
Being an only child, video games were like my best friend. It wasn't often that I had someone to play sports with or anything that. Bobby was 18, and he would take me to my t-ball games, and play Nintendo with me, and things like that.
...I hung up after she was done, and was still kinda excited about Zelda, but didn't really understand what was going on.
As reality set in, I found myself thinking that the accident was my fault. Lying and plotting out ways to get what I want backfired and this accident was because of that. I felt guilty, sad, and angry, and since we couldn't return the opened game, vowed to play and beat any Zelda game that came out and dedicate that to Bobby.