Friday, June 22, 2007

Finding the Right Fit

Well, Dinowaurs was rejected because it was "too cute." While we really liked the idea, it's not the end of the world for us. Thankfully, coming up with ideas isn't too hard. Three new pitches have arrived at Adult Swim this morning. What if they still don't like those ideas? Does that mean we're just not the right fit for each other?

The concept of the "right fit" is an often neglected, yet very important part of game development. Adult Swim would essentially be our publisher. It's very important for a publisher and developer to have like-minded goals in game development. Unfortunately, most of the time the goal of the publisher is to make money by bringing profitable games to market, instead of bringing games to market that create a certain kind of game experience. I don't think this is the goal (at least not the short-term goal) for Adult Swim. The games on the their website are free after all. The short-term goal seems to be simply bringing people to the website by many different means, including original Flash games. What is the long-term goal? That is yet to be determined.

If we focus on the short-term goal, then we need to ask ourselves if the people Adult Swim wants coming to their website are the people we want to make games for. I think an easy way to find that out is whether or not Adult Swim likes our ideas. If we get rejected again, than it's a pretty safe assumption that the people we're focusing on don't match up.

Surely there's more to funded Flash development than just Adult Swim, right? Shouldn't we not put all our eggs in one basket?

Enter Kongregate, an attempted "YouTube of Games" website that aims to bring Flash games to the masses. So far, they seem to be well on their way. In fact, they just recently started sponsoring Flash game development. So off Dinowaurs goes to Kongregate. Maybe it will be appreciated there. If only we could make another Dinowaurior...

What is the right fit for us? We're still not sure. These are just two of many opportunities out there. Part of being a new company is wandering around trying to figure that very thing out. One thing is for sure, though: this is an exciting time to be in game development.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Levi, Model Dinowaurior #0001

Here are some pictures Greg took of Levi before we sent him out into the world. We miss you Levi! Let's hope Adult Swim is a good home for him. Man, Ted did such an amazing job with Levi. In fact, it turned out so well, I want to see more Dinowauriors! Maybe someday we can have a set of vinyl figurines. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"It's like sending your only child off to college"

Not that I've ever had to do that, but I imagine the experience would be very similar to today's Super Secret Special Shipment. That's right! Today we shipped out something so special and top secret that we can only refer to it by its Christian name: Levi. He's making his way due south to Williams Street, not for a sampling of Georgia's great golf courses, or Atlanta's rich history, but for his future; heck! for our future.

Ted and I spent most of the morning packing little Levi's things, taking pictures desperately trying to capture his final hours in Ames where he was born. Oh heavens, the memories! I remember when Ted (Levi's father) brought him into work to show him off to everyone, we all cooed with delight. Ted looked so proud. I know it's probably hardest on him, letting him go, off to explore the world on his own, but I remember hearing a song once about letting birds free if you truly love them and I take comfort in that, I think I'll record that on tape for Ted.

Little Levi (I keep calling him that, he's big now... he's big) has always been an inspiration to us. His leaving brings up so many moments, laughter, and even sadness. The annual swap-'n'-save we had at work a week or so ago. He brought me a beautiful pink sweatshirt (seen in my bio picture on our site) that was so festive and warm that I don't think I took it off for at least 5 days. It wasn't until just yesterday that I found out Levi had knit me that sweater from the wool of his first lamb in honor of our friendship.

That young Dinamo, he's persevered through a great deal and God bless Ted for all his love and grace in raising such a fine specimen. He won't be in Atlanta until 10:30AM tomorrow, but when he does get there, his driver has promised to email us with confirmation that he's arrived safe at William St. Godspeed to our little guy, and to all you readers down there in Atlanta, keep a lookout for our special one, he's probably a little sun burnt and needs your helping hand.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Website Updates, USPS Bullshit, though not in that order

He kids, thanks for tuning in. I just got done biking around Ames, which is pretty much all I have to do on a Friday night, and decided to update you guys on the current situation. I know you're all as anxious to hear how our pitch is going over with the Adult Swim guys as we are and I just wanna let you know that USPS is totally worthless, consider this my formal declaration of independence from that government run shit-house. We sent the package on 2 day mail Monday and still have not received notification of delivery. Ted is progressing nicely with the sculpey-dino and we are definitely NOT using USPS. Though I don't really believe the $352.88 Sonic-Air option is necessary per-se, I do know we'll be taking our business far, far away from the government lackeys.
In other news, the website is totally, and I may alienate some of our readers by saying this but I must, pimp. If you haven't checked it out in a while I suggest you stop by and see what's up, its more than just growing grass and 'shrooms now as I've gotten around to implementing some neat pop-up stuff and thumbnails with Greg's help on the visual aspect. We still maintain the data-driven model, so if anyone else ever gets the gumption to mess with the layout, as Greg and Josh has already done a bit on the team page, they may do it with a limited amount of XML experience and without needing to stomach the horror of reading any of my "codes". In reality I am disgusted with the actual "codes" controlling the website, as it's just a mash-up of various pieces of functionality, each one tacked onto the previous iteration. To put it simply, it is the embodiment of feature-creep despite its development time being limited to about two and a half weeks.
At the very least I recommend you check out the back page for our new thumbnail implementation, it was fun to create and we are featuring a brand new artist who joined the team despite him already being the main programmer. I drew some concept art of what I considered to be the best day ever and it just so happened to involve dinosaurs fighting with high powered weaponry while villagers streamed about them in some fanciful representation of worship. Almost like some kind of war... Maybe a Dinowaur?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

And the Lisa Frank Genie Says: "Outlook Good"

The pitch has been submitted! Yessss. Working together on everything has been a blast. At one point, we were discussing how to present the pitch materials. We got to talking about how great it would be to put the materials in a cheesy grade school folder with dinosaurs on it. Greg and I agreed that a Lisa Frank dinosaur folder would be the coolest ever. We went through the internets (and the local school supply stores) in search of such a folder. Unfortunately, such things don't seem to exist. However, while browsing the Lisa Frank website, we discovered there was a games section. Naturally, we went to check it out. The first thing we found was a game called Ask Genie. It's essentially a magic 8-ball in the form of the typical obnoxious Lisa Frank colors and graphics that we were familiar with, but with an updated Bratz-inspired girl genie. Greg asked her "will we get monies?" (Now, it's not all about the money, but hey, we gotta pay the bills just like anyone else.) The response was "Outlook Good." Yes! We high fived and concluded that the matter was settled. Something good is going to happen.

Even though we couldn't find any Lisa Frank dinos, Greg's girlfriend Kym made us an image out of her love for dinosaurs (and Greg, presumably). It was so good, we wanted to use it for a folder, but concluded that the craft of a hand-made folder wouldn't hold up to our standards. So instead, all of you can be blessed with its awesomeness above.

What did we end up doing for presenting the pitch materials? Well, Ted found some folders he had saved from the time of Disney's Dinosaur. Thankfully, he recognized the value of them and had them stored away in a safe location. We unanimously concluded that the folder that said "Extinct This" with a picture of a Carnotaur screaming would be the one used for holding the pitch materials. So the pitch materials were added, stickers were put on the folder and packaging, and the package was sent to Adult Swim.

So far, the genie's prediction has been accurate. Nothing has seemed to go wrong with anything, yet. Our pitch isn't perfect, but everything is there and we feel it's of high quality. Hopefully our hard work will pay off.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Looking Back On the Last 2 Weeks

I was talking with Greg and reflecting on what we've been up to lately. Intuition really started about 2 weeks ago when Greg, Mike, Ted and I got together at ISU to talk about the possibility of making a game. I realized that in the next couple days, we'll have done the following in just over 2 weeks:

  • Created a Flash-based website with a dynamic XML back end
  • Created a slick company identity
  • Created a preliminary design for a fun dinosaur fighting game with a great style and sense of humor
  • Created a good pitch document (we think) and sent it to Adult Swim of all places!
  • Created good concept art for the dino game
  • Created a simple game mechanic prototype for the dino game
Wow. That progress just amazes me. I wonder what we could accomplish in the next 8 months...

Friday, June 1, 2007

Creating a Pitch Is Hard

So we're creating a pitch to submit to Adult Swim. Before you get too confused, it's for a video game, not a show. The pitch has to be 2 pages, which seems like plenty. However, for describing something as complicated as a game, it's surpisingly difficult. We've found the trick is to just glaze over everything. It sounds simple I know, but if you're excited about an idea and want to share that with someone else, your first instinct is to describe all the exciting details. Instead, you've got to try to be short and sweet.

Well, there's a fine line between short & concise and short & confusing. Not only that, it's a pitch, which means it needs to sell. How to do you explain a game mechanic in a concise way and make it sound exciting? I don't really think you can. With our pitch, we've settled for starting out with a more humorous tone, then transitioning into a clear explanation of the game. Every once in a while, some witty phrases are sprinkled in. Will it work? We'll find out in about a week.

Does anyone have any pitch experience or advice?