Wednesday
Nov122014

KickStarter: That Dragon, Cancer

Alright so this one is a really tough one for me as this is based off true life. It is not a tough decision to put money down for this game, it's just the subject matter hits really close to home for me, as I've got a son at home. The game is basically an ode to a 4 year old son who had cancer.

We created That Dragon, Cancer to tell the story of our son Joel and his 4-year fight against cancer. Our desire is to craft an adventure game that is poetic, playful, full of imagination and of hope. This is how we choose to honor him and his memory.

It is currently being KickStarted for a simultaneous release for the OUYA, and  PC/Mac through Steam. This is probably a project that you have seen or heard about for a while now, and the group is ready to put it to the masses to make this  project the best it can be. Now I know you are going to want to add something in to this, so here's all the reward levels:

$15 Digital Download

You may choose to receive a key to download copy of the game through the OUYA Storefront or for Windows or Mac desktop computers through the Steam Storefront.

$30 Digital Soundtrack

A copy of the game, plus receive Jon Hillman’s immersive, cinematic soundtrack as a digital download and, a special (exclusive to backers) bonus track EP with extra music and spoken word tracks that didn't make the cut, plus you may choose from a selection of exclusive posters and desktop/mobile wallpapers to be delivered to your email box

$50 Early Demo Scene Access

A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, plus you will receive early access to play the first scene that we ever created for the game, remastered for use in the game's final release.  

$75 Behind the Scenes

A copy of the game, exclusive digital wallpaper and poster, the soundtrack, the bonus EP, early access to demo scene, plus you will receive access to our behind-the-scenes website that features Lost Levels: scripts, notes, and Twine prototypes from scenes that didn’t make the cut; 

Absent art: a collection of 3d concept art images depicting scenes not in the game; and Team Talk: a curated collection of team conversations throughout development. Working remotely made for some long, late night, online conversations that were at times, emotional, hilarious, inspiring and just plain odd. 

$125 Patron Consultant

Everything in behind the scenes, plus you will be invited to participate in developer play through and feedback sessions online via Google Hangouts. You will become part of the development process. You will receive a PATRON CONSULTANT credit in the game.

$200 Patron of the Arts

Everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game picture frame in the hospital for your own art, or someone else's art. 

Art can commemorate a loved one, represent a memory, be a child's drawing, or just be a beautiful image. You or the artist will receive a FEATURED ARTIST title in the credits and you will receive a PATRON OF THE ARTS credit. (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

$500 Patron Publisher

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus reserve an in-game message in a bottle for players to discover. 

You or another writer may write up to 250 words of your thoughts and feelings during a difficult season in your life, to be included in a prominent scene in the game amidst other messages. You or the Writer will receive a FEATURED WRITER title in the credits, and you will receive a PATRON PUBLISHER credit (Please read our content guidelines before backing)

$1000 Patron Producer

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus present the game with the team at a game conference for a day. (Travel must occur at your expense.) You will be given an exhibitor’s badge and hang out with and help the team all day as we present the game. (Please contact us before backing at this level to discuss our expected conference schedule in 2015)

$4000 Patron "Saint Bernard"

You will receive everything in behind the scenes, plus we will encode your dog into the game for Joel's avatar to interact with!  

Of all of Joel's favorite things, we are convinced that dogs were his absolute favorite.  If there was a dog around, Joel wanted to pet it, and squeeze it, and let it lick his hands.

We've already been working on a scene where you get to play catch with Joel and a service dog that visited him in the hospital.  We see absolutely no reason why the game shouldn't be full of dogs!

We can think of nothing he would have liked more, and we thank you for your generous support. You will receive an PATRON SAINT credit for your donation.

They are trying to reach their goal of $85,000, and they current as of 11/12/2014 5:01 PM EST, have $10,060 and still have 30 days to go. So here's the link to the site, and lets make this special project happen.

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Wednesday
Nov122014

Assassin's Creed Embargo, a Very Strange Thing Indeed

So as most of you know Assassin's Creed: Unity is now out for public consumption, and I know that there are many of you who rushed out to the midnight release of the game to your local store, or perhaps you just digitally downloaded as soon as you could. The interesting thing that some of you might have noticed was that at Midnight of the release, there were no reviews of the game available for those who may have been teetering on the fence. The reason is really simply, Ubisoft had put an embargo in place on all reviews until Tuesday at noon. What that meant was that even if you didn't do the Midnight Madness approach, there was still a chance you could hit up a store first thing in the morning and still not see a review. 

Of course the conspiracy theorist are going nuts over this. Did Ubisoft know that this game was not going to stack up to previous entries into the series and so they wanted to take "sucker money"? Was there a fear that some magical thing that happened in the game would be revealed? Will this start a trend with embargos with other companies? And the list goes on. 

I'm going to be honest, I don't know the answer. I do know that the reviews are all over the place so saying, "YOU HAVE TO BUY IT NOW" all the way to the "Wait until its priced at $10 in the bargain bin". So maybe it was to protect potential zero day profits, only Ubisoft knows, but it is really odd that they didn't want ANY critic publicity until after the game was released. There are quite a few games on the release docket in the upcoming weeks, and you might have noticed that there are reviews starting to appear for these games.

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Tuesday
Nov112014

Baltimore Museum of Industry has Exhibit that All Future Developers Should See

The Baltimore Museum of Industry has just opened up a new exhibit called "Video Game Wizards — Transforming Science and Art into Games". It actually opened up on the 30th of October, and features six stations that will allow for people (especially grade schoolers) to see what their skills could amount to in the game industry. Now of course a huge chunk of this exhibit is also centered around the history of the game industry as it grew in Baltimore, and that's actually a very interesting 30+ of history to examine. 

At the end of the exhibit people will be able to play the games that they helped make, as well as games that were made by previous attendees. The coolest thing though, at least I think so, is the fact that you can then share your game online on the museum's website so that you can share with family and friends. So just in case I missed a juicy detail, I've decided to just pull the description straight from The BMI website:

This interactive exhibit allows visitors to immerse themselves in the exciting process of creating their very own video game.

 

Video Game Wizards—Transforming Science and Art into Games provides an interactive environment where visitors can explore how their talents, skills and passions could lead to a career in the interactive entertainment industry. The exhibit’s six stations provide an opportunity for visitors to meet game makers and learn about their roles, while making and customizing a game using the skills demonstrated at each station.

Visitors will experience the collaborative process of video game development at every point in the exhibit. At the end, visitors are able to play their own game and share it on the exhibit’s website with family and friends, and will be able to play any of the games developed at the exhibit.

The Video Game Wizards—Transforming Science and Art into Games exhibit was developed by the Baltimore Video Game Wizards, Luci Creative, Ravenswood Studio, Silver Oaks Communications, Cerebral Lounge/Clean Cuts Music, and the BMI. A start-up grant was provided by the Maryland Film Office/Maryland Department of Economic Development.

I wonder if Atlanta can do something like this a couple of more years down the road. I'm also curious as to what museum would house an exhibit like this in Atlanta. Oh well I guess we will just have to cross our fingers and hope that we get something like this in the future.

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Monday
Nov102014

KickStarter: Momentum, a Physics Based Labyrinth Game

 

So I found out about this game just a second ago, and of course had to take a peek at it. You see this game falls firmly into the category of Independently Developed, and here, at Altered Confusion, we want to help out as much as possible, especially if they actually have a demo to play (Click here to download). If you do download the game you will find that there's definitely some polish to it. Now of course there's also a very fast ramp up in difficulty as well, but I'm sure that through trial and error, and a little strategy you'll find your way through this game. Now of course the music being played doesn't hurt to have going, especially if you're like me and have to restart a lot.

As you might have guessed by the title of the article, this is a KickStarter Project, so here's the KickStarter Video for you to Enjoy:

 

So let's get right into it, shall we. First off as a once upon a time programmer, and somewhat of an OCD person, I'm going to say that there were a couple of things that bothered me about this demo. Now of course I can't speak on the game as a whole as they are still developing it, but I can talk about the demo portion of this project.  Okay so you are going to have a reflective steel ball at your disposal to try to navigate through the paths, twists, and turns of the game. It's probably just me, but since the ball is a reflective surface it SHOULD take into effect all that is around it. The problem is that the ball only reflects what I'm assuming is the skybox back onto the ball. That means that no matter how you twist and turn in the game you are always going to have that 50 percent sky and 50 percent skyscraper/cityscape present on the ball. To me that takes me out of the game. 

Now I do like the fact that there are checkpoints in the harder levels, they have saved me from having to constantly hope I can at least make it so far into a level without screwing up again. The controls (I just used a controller) felt solid as well. Sure the ball sometimes got away from me and flew down to the cityscape, but that was my own fault not paying attention to the velocity of the ball and not moving the level around fast enough. You see you are controlling the orientation of the board, and the ball reacts to that, you do not control the ball. This of course makes the game quite challenging, and definitely makes you want to play as close attention as possible.

Alright so at this point you are either on board and want to kickstart this or perhaps you need to know a little bit more about the rewards, and for that I give you the following:

 

$5: The Highest of Fives: Be immortalized as a backer in the credits
$10: Early Bird: Digital Download of the Game, plus name in the credits
$25: Audible Backer: High-quality digital copy of the soundtrack, plus all previous rewards
$35: Very Audible Backer: High-quality digital copy of the collector's edition soundtrack (contains bonus material not in game), plus previous rewards
$50: Special Mention: Your name in the magic 8 ball, plus all previous rewards
$75: Fortunate Mention: Add a phrase of your choice (within reason) to a fortune cookie ball, plus all previous rewards
$100: Baller: Create your own ball! Design and implement a ball working side by side with the team, plus all available previous rewards (Subject to restrictions)
$250: Physical Backer: Exclusive physical Momentum level as a very special "thank you" gift, plus all available previous rewards.
$5000: Well Ok Then: We'll personally fly to your home town and hang out with you for a whole day, plus all available previous rewards.

Now of course I should just give you the link to the KickStarter Project, and I just did, but I think it's important that we take it a little further with this one. This comes back to the talks that I give at conventions. I understand that these developers have put their blood/sweat/tears into this game, but some of these levels are not inviting at all. I'm just going to grab a couple of them and point out some things that just don't really get a person revved up to donate.

$50: Special Mention: Your name in the Magic 8 Ball, plus all previous rewards

No where on the KickStarter page does the Magic 8 Ball get mentioned. So this begs the questions how clearly will your name be shown, is this a ball that can be used throughout the game, or is it just for specific levels? I think that its safe to say that this also goes for the Fortune Cookie ball, how long of a phrase, when will it be seen, how well will it be seen, etc.

 plus all available previous rewards

What the hell does that mean? Are they saying that there's a chance that they will run out of fortune phrase space, 8 ball room, digital music downloads, hell are they going to run out of copies of the game? I know that developers don't want to over-burden an individual with too much text, but being vague can be very costly as well, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. If someone doesn't absolutely understand what they are getting in return for their money, they are not going to give it.

$5000: Well Ok Then: We'll personally fly to your home town and hang out with you for a whole day, plus all available previous rewards.

I really don't want to be a dick, but chances are no one really knows these developers except for their friends, so the desire to hangout with them is going to be slim. Another thing is what constitutes a whole day? Do the developers decide when they are coming to town? What are they going to do when they hangout? Then of course there's also the "all available previous rewards" part again, does that mean that I pay their airfare to chill with them for 6 hours, and then I don't get anything else involving the game?

Alright so I think its clear that the developers are showing a bit of beginner's marketing, but if you look at the game, it definitely could really have meat on it, and that's what I think in the end we need to recognize. It's people outside the team that can help these developers out, and allow them to make this game. So if you think that this is something you are interested in, go for it, help these guys out, and of course check out the demo.

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Monday
Nov102014

Whoops!!! GGDA Meeting THIS Tuesday (11/11/14)

So I completely messed up on this one, this is actually happening tomorrow, and though I still can't go, anyone who can should definitely go. This will be a perfect chance to catch up with the Georgia Game Developer Association dealings, members, and more.


I know that Altered Confusion won't be able to make this meeting, but that doesn't mean that you should miss out on it if you are in the Atlanta area. This is going to be the first meeting after SIEGE where you can catch up on all that was SIEGE and so much more. This evening's event will be hosted at Primal Screen. For a breakdown of when everything is going down I give you the program as is set in the Facebook Group.

6 pm - Networking and light refreshments
7 pm- Announcements and presentation
8 pm - More networking, women in gaming meetup

Oh there is one more thing that you are going to need to take into consideration, and that is parking. I've been down there a couple of times for other reasons, and I will tell you you are going to need to know where to park. So the leader of the Atlanta Chapter of the GGDA has gone ahead and given us this nice map to give you a better idea of where you are able to park (its all the blue highlighted areas).

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