I met Connor Hart at Philly Dev Night, where he was showing off his game PUSH, a PC-targeted Sokoban-style puzzle game. Now that PUSH is released, I checked back in with Connor to ask some questions about his process, the game, and the trials and tribulations of being a part-time game developer! Hit the jump for another edition of Local Flavor!
Let’s talk about a little thing called Homestuck.
You’ve heard of it, maybe? If not, a little background: Homestuck is the fourth and longest chapter of an online comic series titled MS Paint Adventures. Homestuck began as a riff on adventure games, starring a basic character in an adventure game world… but slowly morphed into an internet epic, spawning its own fanworks, full animations, music albums, cosplay, and more.
Among the “more” was an extremely successful Kickstarter, to bring everything full circle and fund an adventure game based on this comic based on adventure games. The Kickstarter for the game gathered almost 2.5 million dollars, just one example of how extremely motivated the Homestuck fandom is.
At GDC, I got a chance to talk to Jess Haskins from What Pumpkin Studios, the game development team that is working on the Homestuck Adventure Game project. Later I followed up with her on Skype to ask some questions about the New York-based What Pumpkin, and what we can expect from this game, called Hiveswap.
Sometimes you go all the way to the other side of the country, then get a chance to chat with developers who work right in your backyard. That’s what happened to me when I met up with the development team PHL Collective while they were at the ID@Xbox booth at GDC. They were there showing off their game, ClusterPuck 99, available now on PC, and coming soon to XBox One.
EarthNight started out as a simple idea: a runner game with just two buttons, but a little bit of depth. This basic idea lead Philadelphia-based game developer Rich Siegel of CleaverSoft to a project that would take a lot longer than expected, but yield beautiful results. Now, EarthNight has been announced for the PlayStation 4, as well as targeting PC, PS Vita, iOS, Mac, and Android platforms. I got to see it at IndieCade East and try it out on PS4, as well as ask Siegel some questions about its development.
Do you love learning about upcoming games and their developers? Well… you know the drill by now! I talk to developers on the East Coast who make neat things, and ask them stuff about their neat things. I caught up with several developers at the IndieCade East event in New York City last weekend, so for the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing projects out of New York City, Baltimore, and of course my home town Philadelphia.
I’m going to start off covering my IndieCade East finds with Extreme Exorcism, a game by Golden Ruby Games. I sat down with game producer Mike Christatos in the IndieCade East Esports arena to ask him a few questions. And I got to try out the demo right there on his laptop, pure indie developer style.
A new year brings some new editions of my Local Flavor series, where I talk about and with local game studios on the east coast, especially indies, and especially around my home base of Philadelphia. In this article, I’m chatting with local shop QuadraTron Games, a team that works out of the Philly Game Forge co-working space. My questions were answered by studio head programmer Zenas Bellace, who moved into game making full time in 2013, with a little input from the rest of the studio. Q&A after the jump!
This is a special edition of Local Flavor. Instead of visiting a game studio, I went out to Washington, DC with my co-worker Shahed Chowdhuri, to visit Children’s National Health System and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.
So how is this relevant to games? In an amazing way. The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation is using video game technology to drive innovation in pain detection and management in children. Or to put it even more simply: games for healing.
Shahed and I spoke with Christy Baxter and Dr. Julie Finkel at the organization to learn more about their use of gaming technology to help children. In the process, we learned a lot about how pain works, and a lot about what Children’s National is doing to fight it.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to Local Flavor!
I’m taking another broad interpretation of local and traveled to the opposite side of the state, to Pittsburgh, PA and the Schell Games studio. I have a history with this studio as I spent about six months working with the company last year. I was eager to check out their brand new space in Pittsburgh’s Station Square, and talk to the team behind one of their releases this year, Enemy Mind. Photos and interviews below!
This edition of Local Flavor takes me out to Boston. Quite by accident, really. I originally met Michael Silverman on a message board set up for Philadelphia game developers. I really enjoyed his game Don’t Shoot Yourself, which is currently on Steam Greenlight and playable on iOS. But before I could nail him down for an interview, I discovered he was moving to Boston, to work out of the Fire Hose Games incubator! Though I couldn’t check out his physical workspace, I still snagged him on Skype to ask some questions about Silverware Games, his design process, and his newest project. Check it out!
I’m continuing with my series of visiting local indie developers around Pennsylvania and the East Coast! This trip took me just outside of Philadelphia, to Woodbury, New Jersey, where I visited with indie development house Island Officials. Island Officials makes mobile experiences: from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to the DS and 3DS. They also create analog games, working in the back rooms of the Tiki Tiki Board Games shop. In their business, they make new games, and sell old ones too.
While I was visiting, I checked out some of their newest mobile app store offerings, and asked CEO Ryan Morrison a few questions about the Island Officials brand of game development. More info after the jump:
In my current dayjob I cover a travel territory that reaches through Pennsylvania, out to Baltimore and outside of the DC area. I have met a lot of cool developers through Philly Dev Night who like to come out to Philadelphia every week to create, discuss, and play indie games. I’ve also met some students and researchers doing some fascinating things with game technology to make the world a better place for gamers and non-gamers alike. So, I’m starting a new series of articles. For the next few months, I, AJ, am going to be traveling around my neck of the world talking to indie developers about the work being done in the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh/East Coast gaming scene. I meet interesting people every day, and I want to share their work and words with you!
I’m kicking off the series by talking to Shawn Pierre, the sole proprietor of OriGaminc in Philadelphia, PA. He’s just coming off of a successful Kickstarter for his card game These French Fries are Terrible Hot Dogs and has presented his games at IndieCade East, the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and the Indie MEGABOOTH at Pax East. I asked Shawn a few questions about his current work and future plans. Check out our interview below the jump:
Point-and-click adventure games have been pronounced a “dead genre” time and time again.
And Phoenix Online Studios has a name synonymous with rebirth.
Phoenix’s first released game was The Silver Lining, the King’s Quest-inspired adventure that earned them both a loyal fanbase… and a cease and desist. In 2012, I started following their work on their first commercial episodic series: Cognition: an Erica Reed Thriller. In my review, I visited the ups and downs of the game’s first episode. The “ups” were enough to encourage me to give the second episode a try… and, at PAX this week, I got a chance to chat with Phoenix’s Katie Hallahan for some previews of the third. We also talked about some of Phoenix’s other upcoming projects in the adventure game world.
I’m going to start this feature off without any real spoilers, but if you like dark supernatural mysteries, it would be worth your time to check out the Cognition series before reading. The second episode in particular gets … amazingly gruesome, and I must say some late-game twists warmed my sociopathic heart.
It’s the Games of the Year 2021 Awards!
I forgot to do this last year to be honest, but it was 2020. Was 2020 even a real year for people? I feel like we all just took a mulligan on 2020.
Not that 2021 was a lot better from a global perspective, or really from an online one, but I at least tried to keep track of what day it was in 2021. I also played some video games. This list will contain no real surprises because it turns out I’m very basic in my old age and mostly liked the things everybody else liked. That said, hit the jump.
This is a post all about funny events that really happened.
I’ll start at the top with a confession.
Last year I got myself a press badge for the Philadelphia-based gaming event Too Many Games. Then, after attending the event, I struggled with how to write an article about it that properly captured the zeitgeist. As a result, a draft for this article, sans content, sat in the drafts folder on this site for an entire year. Steerpike can attest.
Seeing this unfinished draft sitting there, taunting me, I resolved that I would attend the event again, and write about it this year, as penance. Of course, this year, I forgot to register for the press badge in advance, so now I had to pay at the door. I can’t feel too bad about having to pay, since enjoying the event gratis one year means I should very well pony up the next. Anyway, I feel much freer to write about the conference in my own words this way, without any puff.
I play fighting games for the story.
I say, “I play fighting games for the story,” and then, I usually follow up with the joke, “which is like saying that I read Playboy for the articles.”
But it’s true… or, it’s at least, partially true. I could say, rather, that I play fighting games for the characters. After all, colorful characters are the core of fighting games, and central to their appeal. But that’s not quite it, either.