When Soma Games was started I don’t think we had any idea that such a number was even a possibility. At other times, as we saw certain titles explode onto the scene with huge download numbers, a mere 7 figures seemed like a gimmie. Today, with both extremes more tempered by poise, we recognize the milestone as significant…but we’ve only just begun.
As I write this, the ‘news’ o the number is at least a few months old and it was something I’ve been meaning to note ever since then. No matter what it’s an auspicious event and worth pointing out. But have you ever come to a place that you thought was a destination only to find it was simply a checkpoint?
Sometime in the next 72 hours, unless something unforeseen slows us down, we’ll pull the trigger on a small kickstarter campaign.
The immediate goal, and the actual deliverable, is something we’re calling AbbeyCraft – a build of Redwall Abbey inside Minecraft and, at the lowest funding goal, distributed as an adventure map.
To be crystal clear: AbbeyCraft is NOT the adventure game we’ve been talking about. It’s just a small step along the way…but a way fun one.
As we mentioned in the previous post, the various descriptions of the abbey across 23 books cannot be reconciled in 3D space. One way or the other a few tweaks, bumps, and cuts will need to be made as we ramp up for an explorable space and we feel like Minecraft is an ideal tool for that work. Continue Reading…
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…
Introducing Troy Parker. Troy is our current development intern at Soma. We feel like the fortunate ones to have Troy around. When it comes to learning the ropes of the video game business, Troy is like a sponge. Beyond that he is a tremendous addition to our team. Troy one day plans to have his own game company. In that pursuit we have been giving him the full amount of what is needed to succeed today, from marketing to writing elegant code.
This post was the result of an assignment Troy was given. The assignment was to read Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin and then apply what was learned to the video game business. Feel free to ask Troy some questions, challenge his approach or comment on your agreement.
By: Troy W. Parker
Have you ever owned a business? Have you given it much thought? I used to believe that there was a special formula to running a successful business, but recently I read a book called “Meatball Sundae” by Seth Godin that totally tipped my perspective. Now I believe it is an equation that is ever changing and this article will help explain why.
I work at Soma Games as an intern and have come across many questions that I’m sure most companies are faced with. Here is a list of those questions and a formulated answer. I hope you will enjoy this information and that it will inspire and motivate you deeply.
How can the business communicate best with the customer?
When we first set out in creating Soma as a company we had console games as our target. What we did not expect was that we would start telling our grander stories with casual games. G Into the Rain launched our journey into telling the Arc saga. Wind Up Robots and now the even more casual Wind Up Football introduced the story of GRoG (That Giant Robot Game You Have). Some may argue that you can’t tell a deep story in a casual game. We obviously disagree. This summer our CTO Chris Skaggs had the opportunity to speak to a great audience at Casual Connect in Seattle. Here is Chris’ talk in whole. We know you will enjoy it.
This past week we got a chance to have a great conversation with Slide To Play’s Editor in Chief Andrew Podolsky, about GotOats.org (Organization of App Testing Standards). The site was founded to bring some order out of chaos when it comes to game and app review standards. Check out the full interview and have a great weekend.
As indie developers we really, I mean REALLY appreciate this kind of stance. Over the years the fun of app development has inevitably transformed into more and more ‘business’ and its meant that everybody wants a buck. On the one hand, I don’t begrudge anybody making a living but I also got a really icky feeling whenever we catch a whiff of that ‘sure we’ll review your game…if you buy a banner ad thing that has started to creep in. A general policy like what they’re doing at GoOats is awesome but as a developer I know that the problem has to be attacked from both sides. So long as there are developers who are willing to pay for reviews then there will be reviewers willing to sell. For my part, I’m thinking about a parallel commitment from the developer side NOT to submit to that kind of bribery. While I’m at it…perhaps I can get developers to all agree that selling months of hard work for free is stupid…
73 That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire, Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Alas – our Ultrabook Challenge is coming to a close and too soon it seems the lights dim to reveal what is left…and what is lost.
When we got Intel’s invitation we frankly had to first get our heads around it. We’ve been steeped in mobile technology since 2008 and the idea of an Ultrabook first had to work its way past all of our expectations on handsets and tablets. But in a fairly short time – especially once the hardware arrived (!) – we saw that there was a LOT to work with here…
What we came up with is a game called Wind Up Football or WUF – a multiplayer, multi-touch, pick-up-and-play robot melee. In the scope doc under ‘what makes this game fun?’ I wrote “S&!^ goes flying.” and that’s pretty much been the guiding principle.
Now while the challenge was specifically to build something that made use of the Ultrabook’s strengths we also took the challenge a step further by cleaving to other high-value targets Intel has set for us in the past, specifically ‘multi-platform’ deployment. In other words, while we optimized for Ultrabook we built WUF with a much wider distribution target in mind and we’ll launch the app on iPad, iPhone and Android devices all at roughly the same time. This kind of thing is made possible by the magic of Unity 3D and the sweet tools they provide.
Of course the hardware drives a lot of what’s possible in an app. Things like GPUs, processor power and built in sensors all effect what we can do so WUF will change depending on the platform its being deployed on. For this case, the Ultrabook has the most horsepower of all the target platforms so it gets a slew of extra eye-candy and special effects that simply won’t fly on weaker machines. Explosions, environmental cues, dynamic lighting, dancing Bok Choy Boys…it’s all possible because the Ultrabook gives us headroom that the iPad frankly never has.
In the end, we’re pretty proud of what we produced in a rather tight development cycle. Not only were we able to come up with a playable and marketable game but it is something that has a lot of room to grow and we expect we’ll see WUF evolve into a bigger, better and funnier game as we get feedback from players and time to reflect.
Now there is an obligatory part of this wrap-up post where I’m supposed to convince the judges why we should win so I’ll take a stab at this.
I’m always aware that the other folks in this competition are better programmers than our team – it’s a demonstrable fact and I’m always wowed by the things these people can do with a keyboard. But in the end, despite the ‘ultimate coder‘ name of this competition, it really isn’t about code…it’s about user experience. If the iPhone explosion proved one thing it’s that we all want the experience of an app to be smooth and slick and lovely. The sterile utilitarianism of Windows productivity software has given way to the charming but often pointless elegance of iEverything. And in the realm of art, UX and fun – I think we can hold our own. Soma Games has a history of celebrated visuals, above-par sound and unique gameplay. Wind Up Football has already been picked up by GREE as part of their iOS launch and we’re off to a great start with showing the world a fun game that risks a world where multi-touch is not a possibility – but a requirement. Windup Football is a great example of how the Ultrabook is a string entry to an increasingly mobile ecosystem and yet stands head and shoulders above its nearest competitors.
Long Live the Ultrabook!
Long Live Wind Up Football!
Here we are in week 3 of the Ultimate Coder: Ultrabook Challenge and things are heating up. (To catch up you can see the other updates for week 1 and week 2.) Game development is challenging on its own. This time we are throwing in brand new technology into the mix. It has given us some big decisions to make, not only in how we develop but also how we publish.
In this episode, Gavin and I unpack some more technical details in the Ultrabook development process as well as how we plan to publish Wind Up Football (WUF). And as a spoiler we plan to publish on Metro for Windows 8 using soon to be available tools in Unity 3D 4.0. Oh and since monetization is key to our business model for WUR, we will be using our partnership with GREE and some exclusive tools they are offering us to monetize using an html api. We will talk more about that in coming posts.
While we were at it we recorded a discussion about technology changes, what really interests the consumer and how we can best use a device like the new touch Ultrabook for a game like WUR.
As usual we have some pretty strong opinions. Check it out and join the discussion.
In our race to win the challenge we have been working hard to find ways to make the game dazzle on the new hardware Intel has supplied the participants in the contest. First I wanted to share a general Ultrabook experience. For nearly 5 months we have been using a first generation Ultrabook, the Asus Zenbook UX31E, to blog, play games on and even do a little Unity 3D work. Right before the contest started I (John) traveled throughout Asia and took the opportunity to leave my MacBook Pro behind and try out the Zenbook as my only tool for all communications as well as video editing. While I was looking forward to the lightweight and long-life battery, I was a bit skeptical as to it’s video editing capabilities. I had a good system going on the MacBook. Why would I mess it up? The truth though after the trip is that the Ultrabook did better than I could have imagined. Traveling with it reminded me of the first months I had my iPad. In every airport terminal all eyes were on the it’s sleek profile. I was with a group and we easily passed it around for people to check Facebook statuses and send emails. Many in the group had brought laptops but they all ran out of battery before they could watch a film or get the chance to work. They also loved how light and quick it fired up since we were often only around wifi for brief periods of time. And in regards to the video work, it satisfied every need from rendering time to editing the timeline.
Ok, Back to the contest. We are excited to announce we have our first build on the new Ultrabook! It plays really well and the touch interaction is excellent. Find out more on the video update below. We plan to have a surprise next week so make sure to check back.
This past week we were invited by GREE to attend the Pirates of Silicon Valley Cruise in San Francisco. On the trip we were once again treated like kings by friends. Lana
and Matt Vaughn hosted us and we got to do a bit of exploring at Pixar. Chris recaps the trip and the hospitality of friends in this weeks Flurry Friday.