For several months we’ve been hinting, being coy, posting images here-and-there but not really saying anything concrete about what we’ve been working on. There’s good reason for that and no small part is simply the legal things where any cart-before-horse announcements would earn us well-deserved hot water, but all of that is over now.
Soma Games has officially optioned the rights to make a Redwall video game – and now that my hyperventilation has begun to wear off I’m ready to start sharing some of the details. But before I get to anything technical I really want to tell a story, cause that’s just the kind of guy I am. Continue Reading…
Again He said, “What can I compare the kingdom of God to? It’s like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through the entire mixture.” (Luke 13:20, 21 HCSB)
JB and I were recently interviewed for an upcoming article. As usual, there were the typical WhoWhatWhenHow questions, but it isn’t every writer who asks the more important question:
Once that question hits the table, I get riled up. I start talking faster and louder, and my hands start gesturing widely like my Italian grandfather’s. It gets me talking about ‘calling’ and ‘inspiration’ and ’The Kingdom.’ If you let me ramble, and this gentleman did, I’ll start using military metaphors and words like ‘infiltrate’ and ‘mission.’ Whatever else the listener has gleaned at this point, they certainly have an answer…and an insight into Soma Games that they probably didn’t expect.
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot
Few things pierce my soul like the glorious beauty of autumn. Driving up Rex Hill on a day like today when it’s aflame with a glistening golden fire…it makes me cry for the glory of it all.
The other day I was taking a contemplative walk around the neighborhood with JB and we both stopped as we turned a corner and stared. The maples, elms and oaks we screaming in colors so vibrant and varied that every attempt to capture it with a camera was thwarted. The whole scene was like a living Parish painting. I felt so ALIVE to simply stand there and breathe it all in.
Two days earlier, I’d walked that same street – and didn’t notice a thing.
We had a post a while back where I was reflecting on something Seth Godin (allegedly) said,
“…it’s pointless to have 1000 people ‘following’ you if you can’t call any of em to crash on their couch when you’re in town.“
The week of the cruise there were lots of reasons to do it differently. We had deadlines, we were busy, it was long drive. So really the logical thing to do would be to grab a quick flight, stay in a hotel, and jet home the next morning – easy peasy. But instead we decided to take the road less travelled, all 636 miles of it. Bill Johnson has this great bit about how most of the really good things we want out of life, especially in the Kingdom, are just beyond the veil of inconvenience.
(This was originally written as an email to the above mentioned addressee. But then I thought, “I wonder if that busy guy would ever have the chance to actually read mail from a stranger?”
Then I thought that except for a few details, it’s really a letter I should write to a bunch of leaders, teachers, and encouragers we’ve been lucky enough to brush shoulders* with over the last couple of years. Folks like Ralph Bagley, Gary Barkalow, Georgian Banov, David Cook, John Eldredge, Michael Hyatt, Rick Joyner, Morgan Snyder, Rick Warren, and many others. (yeah, that list is alphabetical) I’ll still send a genuine letter to all these folks but maybe a Google alert on their name will be more likely to catch their attention.)
Roughly a year and a half ago I briefly met you in McMinville, Oregon. You were speaking at a local church and we had a few minutes to talk between sessions. I own a company making video games with a Christian worldview. Not educational bible games for kids but rather mainstream games for adults with Jesus in the mix. More Lord of The Rings than Thomas the Tank Engine.
At the time you shared some great ideas and some good advice. I have no illusion that you’d remember that 5 minutes but I did say I’d let you know how we were progressing and I reckon I owe you a quick update.
Soma Games launched its second mobile title called Wind Up Robots (http://thatwinduprobotgame.com/) just before Christmas. It’s on iPhone, Android, and AppUp but we all know that the iPhone is the only platform that really matters.
Dad opened some awesome doors and the game has received some really great pickups and reviews including a Kotaku feature, an Amazon feature and Apple even had it listed in their “hot” category over the Christmas holiday – we really couldn’t have asked for a better launch.
The game is an allegorical tale of a young boy with a big destiny who is haunted by bad dreams. But really it’s a story about Calling and the spiritual warfare surrounding that. The game also touches on themes like spirit vs. flesh, our position ‘in the heavenlies’ and divine healing.
Our next project is a take on the Noah’s ark story but set in a Sci-Fi, Steampunk space world. Rather than a flannel graph story featuring a bearded old man with lots of pets, we’re tapping into the very grown up features of the story…chapter one, G Prime, should be out later this year.**
On top of the games we’ve also been fired up by a wide range of speaking engagements to address increasingly large groups on topics like Gaming for Good, Games with a Moral Compass and similar topics. IDF, Elements, Casual Connect, NRB, and Serious Play are just a few of the conferences we’ve spoken to – and the invitations creep coming. Our dad keeps on making things come together that we could never do for ourselves and that’s been pretty darn exciting. In “seven mountains” terminology we seem to making many great contacts on that entertainment mountain as well as folks from many other sprees of influence. On top of exciting…its darn humbling.
I’ll wrap this up as I’m certain you’re busy. But I wanted to keep my word to let you know how we’re doing and also to say thank you. The advice, encouragement and prophecy we’ve received from people like yourself has been immensely formative and words like those are what keep us pushing when things may look dim. Thank you again and may the Lord bless you an keep you.
* Just to be perfectly clear, except in a few cases I don’t “know” these people in any deep sense of the word. But I have been lucky enough to trade a few lines of conversation with each of them, and all have been influential in one way or another. So no, I can’t get any autographs for you.
** Technically, G Prime is a reboot of the first chapter that we published in 2009 but that’s the kind of detail I probably shouldn’t expect a (mostly) stranger to really have to worry about.
Today I’m thinking about the fine line between faithful and stubborn.
We had a dismal Q1 around here and when I say “dismal” I mean something like the “Oh wow. There’s a good chance we won’t survive this” kind of dismal. Between scuttlebutt and news stories I know we weren’t nearly alone on that, plenty of folks saw the same kind of sudden contraction we did, but really that’s beside the point.
When you find yourself in a place that makes you wonder if the thing you’ve dedicated your heart and soul to for several years is about to die it makes you look at things in a rather stark light. You start asking yourself troubling questions like:
Did I make a huge mistake?
What did I do wrong?
Was all my effort a waste of time?
This Saturday I had the great honor of being the commencement speaker for the mid-year graduation at George Fox University (my alma mater BTW). It was very uncharacteristic of me but I wound up writing the whole thing out whee I always just go on outline notes. For some reason this one didn’t come out that way. Anyway, the text of what I wrote is below and we’ll post the video as soon as its available. (though you’ll see i drift from my own notes quite a bit…)
The Keys To Your Calling For GFU commencement Dec 17, 2011
I remember this moment very clearly though I’m not certain how old I was – probably about ten.
I was lying on my stomach on the living room floor and the family was watching CHiPs.
At some point a commercial came on and I saw something that totally captured me – a computer generated 3D model of a corporate logo spinning in nothingness. It was as if I was a space ship grazing a massive chrome artifact in deep space – and I was so hooked. I made up my mind right there that I wanted to be a computer graphics animator. I told my folks, then and there, what I would be doing with my life and they smiled politely…but not exactly enthusiastically.
Through school plenty of interests flared up and receded, always fascinating in their time, but by graduation time I was still fixed on CG as a career. So I started junior college with that field in mind and I was very excited. One day I sat down for lunch and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me…”what’s your major?” he asked.
“I want to be a computer animator!” I beamed.
He looked me straight in the eye and said “why would you want to do that? That must be the most boring, tedious job I can imagine?”
…I was crushed.
I’d been going so far on pure enthusiasm. I really didn’t know anything about the actual work of CG. For all I knew he was right. And for lack of knowledge I believed him.
..and my spirit died. Or at least went off for a long winter’s nap.
So we did it. Wind Up Robots is submitted first to Apple and as of yesterday The Barnes and Nobles Store for the Nook and the Amazon Store for the Kindle Fire and the Intel AppUp store for PC’s. It will also be available for the the Android Marketplace soon. The game should be available very soon.
On another note our sister company Code-Monkeys has launched a new game that will be coming out Christmas week. The whole shop loves what Limbic Studios did with Zombie Gunship. In a tribute to them we are publishing our ode to thier mighty craft in a game called Santa’s Gift Ship. Now let your imagination go wild there for a minute and you will basically fall on what our team has come up with. We know you are going to love it.
The last session of CGDC this year was a roundtable discussion that opened with Mark Soderwall’s observation that where faith-laden works had made real headway in movies and books, when it came to games Christian content had scored a “big Goose Egg.” Now to be fair, Mark’s assertion was not accepted by all the members as accurate but I certainly agree that from the purely ‘sales=success’ metric used in basically any other conversation on a game’s success then we ought to be candid in saying that even the best-selling Christian games have come far, far short of secular games we’d call hits…but perhaps that’s a’changing.
Hexify recently released their hit Facebook game Journey of Moses as the first Bible-based game on the platform – and its success has been self-evident. A whole raft of articles have been written in both religious outlets like the Christian Post but also secular sites including CNN, Inside Social Games, and One News Now. But press coverage is one thing – what’s really impressive is the game’s track record. On October 4th Hexify released some ground breaking news:
I had the chance to have an informal interview with Brent Dusing* of Hexify to discuss some of the less-publicized aspects of the game. His insights should be of interest to anyone thinking about adding religious content to their video games but it should be of particular interest to the folks who want to add God to the game and ALSO make a profit.