The Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards 2019

I don’t think we ever announced this formally on the blog, but we’ve been nominated for an award at the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards! The competition is a week from tonight at the BAFTA center in London, so it seemed appropriate to talk about it now. Who knows? We might have even better news for you next week…

We were eligible for a Pocket Gamer Award since we attended one of their events during the 2017 – 2018 season and Where Shadows Slumber released in 2018. I submitted our application sometime in the fall and waited patiently. There were a lot of categories, so we picked all the ones that could tangentially apply (game design, art, music, etc) Finally, back in December of 2018, we got this message:

Hi Frank

We’re delighted to confirm that your game or company has been named as a finalist for the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards 2019 – congratulations!

You can check out the full finalist listings here.

The PG Mobile Games Awards recognizes the industry’s key players over the last year, from the developers making great games to the publishers, tool makers and service providers that are helping to build a platform for success.

The event will take place just after Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 on the evening of January 22 at the prestigious BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, London.

If you’d like to share the great news, we’ve attached graphics below that you can use on your site or social media (#PGMGA19).

Congrats again!

Craig Chapple
Senior Editor
PocketGamer.biz

It’s such an honor to be a part of this contest! The email didn’t specify which award we’re nominated for, but as you can see on the website (and the image below) we’re up for Best Indie Developer. Wish us luck, everyone – the competition is fierce. Speaking of which…

The Competition

There are a lot of categories to peruse if you’re curious about who else is up for an award. Obviously, our attention is on the immediate competition surrounding Best Indie Developer. This is going to be tough to win – one of the nominees is Team Alto, creators of Alto’s Adventure and 2018’s Alto’s Odyssey. Not to mention the fact that Ben Esposito created Donut County… maybe we should just say “it’s an honor to be nominated!” and leave it there. Being included next to such awesome people is an award in itself!

By any chance, if you’re a fan of Where Shadows Slumber who lives in London, by all means go to the show in our stead and pick up our award for us! Seriously though – as I’ll explain in next week’s money blog post, Jack and I are going to cut back on expensive travel options so that we can actually make money from this game instead of always trying to recoup our investments. It would be a blast to attend in person, but that’s a luxury we’ll have to indulge in some time in the future when we’re wealthy famous game developers. For now we’ll just wait for the email [ *_*]…

Next Week: No Pie Charts

As I indicated above, next week I will actually post the money blog I’ve been teasing for months! I’m nearly done with the corporate taxes for 2018 and then I’ll make some nice charts for you loyal readers. Jack hates pie charts, but you can expect a lot of cake charts and cookie charts instead.

P.S. Want to help us with something entirely unrelated? You can nominate us for the Player’s Choice award at next month’s Bit Awards by going here…

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store!

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

MAGFest 2019

Sup peeps! You may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post for a while, but this week is different! This past weekend was MAGFest 2019, and, as Frank mentioned last week, he was unable to come. Since I ended up flying solo for this show, it only makes sense for me to touch base to talk about it!

MAGFest, and MIVS in particular, is always awesome, but this year was a little different. Frank and I usually drive down together, man the booth together, and basically work together on anything that needs to be done. With someone else there, it doesn’t seem that daunting, but it’s a pretty big task to take on alone – I feel bad for all of the conventions I’m unable to attend that Frank manages alone!

 

So It Begins…

After getting up at 4 am to catch my bus down to Maryland, I set up shop in the MIVS showroom. People started filtering in, and the convention had well and truly begun!

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Come play Where Shadows Slumber!

The first thing I noticed was that it felt like fewer people were coming over to the Where Shadows Slumber booth. At first I attributed this to the fact that it was the first day of the show, but it ended up being a theme throughout the weekend. I quickly figured out what it was – because I had taken the bus down, I didn’t have room to bring everything we normally bring to shows, including our banner. Without it, the biggest piece of marketing on the table is no larger than a normal piece of paper. Because of our unique art style, actually seeing a screenshot of the game is what makes people approach the booth – since there wasn’t anything large showcasing the art, a lot fewer people decided to engage. A lot of fellow indies at these shows lament about how hard it is to showcase a mobile game, but this was the first time that I really felt it.

That was made a little more sour by the fact that the game next to us, One Step From Eden, was really awesome, and their booth showcased it very well. People were crowding in front of it, which was both a blessing and a curse – sometimes people waiting for a turn to play would trickle over and play Where Shadows Slumber, but other times the crowd would spill over and block the view of our booth. Of course, I would never begrudge them for it – they’re fellow indies, and they managed to make a great game that people love, so I’m glad they got so much attention!

That small speed bump aside, the show was pretty awesome. Our player to bug ratio was the highest it’s ever been, almost everyone who sat down and gave the game a chance ended up loving it, and we actually had a few people buy the game on the spot, which was a new (and really awesome) experience. Overall, it’s this fact that made this weekend, and pretty much all of the shows we go to, worth it – people love the game.

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Image credit: xkcd.com

In fact, for the first time, someone came up to the booth, started playing the game, and ended up actually beating it. To be fair, she played about half of it on Friday and picked up where she left off on Saturday, but it’s still quite an achievement. Any slight annoyance I might have felt about someone playing the entire game without buying it was salved when she brought not one, or two, but three more people over to the booth to come play her favorite game of the weekend. In fact, on Sunday, before I left, she stopped by again and asked if she could have some extra buttons and cards, so she could give them to more people. I either didn’t catch her name, or I forgot it, but thanks for your help, kind stranger!

 

Lonesome Jack

When Frank found out he couldn’t come this past weekend, I knew immediately that I would still be attending; MAGFest is too big a show to give up. The reality of it – running a 4-day show by myself – didn’t hit me until I sat down to do it on Thursday morning. It really wasn’t too bad – I’ve given the Where Shadows Slumbers pitch a thousand times at this point – but there are a lot of logistics involved in these shows (making sure devices are charged, answering people’s questions, enticing passers-by to come and play, etc.) that get a lot easier when there are multiple people at the booth. One of the biggest differences was that I couldn’t really leave to get food or hit the bathroom, because there would be no one to watch the booth!

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Day 3: Look at this guy, all ready to help out

After a somewhat lonely Thursday and Friday, I decided to call in reinforcements. A friend of mine from the area was free on Saturday, and we had an extra ticket to the show for Frank, so he offered to come in and help out. Even though he didn’t have any experience running a booth, and had only played the first few levels of the game it was a huge help! After watching me talk to the first few people who showed up, he knew enough of the sales pitch to handle a newcomer if I was already in conversation with another player. In fact, just having someone there to talk to during the downtime made the day run a lot more smoothly.

I also want to throw a shoutout to Brian Intile and the team from Touhou Microgame, whose booth was immediately behind ours. We actually know them in real life, so it was fortunate that they were set up so close to us – in the stretches when neither of us had too many people to talk to, we could chat, or play each others’ games, or watch each others’ booths. Their game is also awesome (moreso if you’re invested in the Touhou Project), so if you get a chance, give it a shot!

 

Bugs and Improvements

One of the biggest differences between a show before the release of a game and one after is how we can handle things like bugs. When we’re still squarely in development, a lot of things tend to be in flux. At a lot of the shows we’ve been to previously, a bug would come up, and our reactions would fall into a couple of camps:

  • That bug’s fixed in a more recent version.
  • That bug will be fixed when we make some change that we’re planning on making.
  • That bug has something to do with X, which we’re gonna update soon, so it’ll probably end up being fixed.
  • We know about that bug, and we’re gonna fix it as soon as we get a chance!
  • I’ve never seen that bug before – if we can reproduce it, we’ll try to fix it if there’s time!

A lot of these cases have a decent amount of guesswork, and the majority of them don’t actually involve going home and fixing the bug directly.

Once the game is actually released, however, it’s a different story. There’s really only one camp that the bug can fall into:

  • We didn’t know about that bug, but we’ll fix it as soon as we get back!

Since there aren’t any big changes forthcoming, and there’s not a huge amount of work that we’re doing day-to-day, it’s a lot easier for us to figure out what’s causing the bug, we know our fix isn’t going to be invalidated by a future change, and we have more time to actually fix it! With that mindset, I kept a list of all of the bugs that I saw over the weekend (along with any places where the level and/or visual design could be improved), and I’m gonna start heading back into the code and fixing them! Fortunately, none of them were game-breaking or heavily impactful, so we don’t have to rush out a new build.

 

In Summary

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Players love Where Shadows Slumber!

All in all, MAGFest was a great show, even if I was the only one of us who was able to enjoy it. It’s well-run, and it has a good crowd – I was glad that we were accepted to the Indie Videogame Showcase, and I would totally recommend that any other indies give it a shot for 2020!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store!

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Jack Kelly is the head developer and designer for Where Shadows Slumber.

Who’s Going To MAGFest 2019?

Happy New Year, everyone!

This is a quick blog post update to remind you that MAGFest 2019 is this weekend at the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge music fan, but MAGFest is exciting because of MIVS – the MAGFest Indie Videogame Showcase.

Even though they spell “video game” weird, the convention is awesome! Where Shadows Slumber has been given a complimentary booth in the MIVS section along with a bunch of other awesome indies. I unfortunately cannot attend due to an unexpected family tragedy, but Jack is still going. Say hi to him at the Where Shadows Slumber booth. (Not sure where it is yet, this convention is usually by-the-seat-of-your-pants.)

The festivities begin Thursday afternoon! MIVS core hours begin at 1 pm.

 

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MAGFest Has Been Good To Us

If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you don’t need the whole speech again. You survived 2018’s Bomb Cyclone with us, and you remember the first time we were invited to MAGFest in 2017. It’s a great show, and we’re happy to return. I regret not being able to personally attend for the third show in a row, but I’ll be there next year. We can finally show off the finished product of Where Shadows Slumber, so who knows – maybe next year we’ll have another game in the works to show off?

I don’t have a lot of time on my hands right now sadly, so that’s it for now. Wish Jack good luck and expect some pictures of the event to be posted here next week!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store!

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Merry Christmas (Sale) 2018!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Instead of the usual Tuesday blog post, since today is Christmas, I don’t have too much for you. (My family is going to be here in about an hour) I guess that’s sort of underwhelming for the last blog post of 2018… sorry!

But Where Shadows Slumber is on sale for Christmas until New Year’s, so I wanted to take a second to let everyone know about the upcoming deals. We’re offering the game for just $1.99 USD (or regional equivalent) for two weeks! It’s a little different for each platform though, so pay attention:

 

App Store (iOS) Christmas Sale: December 25th – January 6th (link)

Google Play Christmas Sale: December 27th – January 3rd (link)

Amazon App Store Christmas Sale: December 22nd – January 6th (link)

 

That’s going to be it for 2018, so take some time to play our game and relax! We’re heading to MagFest 2019 next weekend to kick off the new year, so I’ll see you all on New Year’s Day to give you some updates about it.

Hope you had a good 2018, everyone!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store!

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Where Shadows Slumber is in TechRaptor’s Holiday Gift Guide!

Here’s a quick “in the news” update about Where Shadows Slumber – our game was included in TechRaptor’s Holiday Gift Guide for 2018!

This is a new initiative that they’re trying over at TechRaptor, so it’s nice to be included in the inaugural issue. Robert Adams, who compiled this guide, reviewed Where Shadows Slumber when it launched last month on Android. We’ve been in touch with him since we met him years ago at a Playcrafting event in the city, and he was super excited to try the game.

It’s nice to see that it made such an impression on him, and we’ve already noticed a small bump in popularity since this guide went live. Thanks for giving us this publicity, Robert! We won’t let you down [ *_*]

Here’s a quick snippet of the catalog:

 

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From the description:

For the first time, we’ve sat down here at TechRaptor and made an official gift guide. Put together by Robert N. Adams, this gift guide features a variety of technology, video games, board games and more that we hope you’ll enjoy along with a few words from yours truly.

Scroll down a bit to see our highlight! I don’t want to include it here because I want you to actually go to their site [ ^_^] (They helped us, so let’s help them out!) Along the way you’ll see some good deals on games, peripherals, and nerdy collector’s items.

See the full gift guide for yourself right here!

 

interview-with-microphone

One More Thing – Ask Us Questions!

This was a short blog post, so I wanted to include a small addendum. I’m hoping to compile a list of some frequently asked questions for a future Q & A blog post. That means you better start asking some questions frequently!

If you comment on this post (on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter) with a question, I’ll add it to the article I’m working on and you’ll get a full, complete answer at some point in the future. The benefit of this is that I can pose programming questions to Jack and music questions to Alba and Noah, so we can cover a lot of ground.

What would you like to know about the development of Where Shadows Slumber? No question is off limits! Please submit your questions and I’ll put that blog post together for mid-January. Thanks everyone!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store!

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

We Were Game of the Day!

Every once in a while, we’re going to use this space to just brag about something awesome. We hope you don’t mind! Yesterday, Where Shadows Slumber was featured in the Today tab on the App Store as the “Game of the Day.”

Every day, the App Store Game editors pick a game they feel deserves a moment in the spotlight. The impact it had on sales was pretty severe, as we’ll show in our upcoming financial tell-all blog post. But more importantly, it’s a nice ego boost to some struggling indie devs. Someone out there cares! Thanks, Apple.

Unfortunately, you can only read the official article if you’re on an iPhone or iPad. So just to make sure everyone gets a chance to read it, I’ve copied the text below as best as I could. What follows is the full text of our “Game of the Day” article, which was written entirely by staff at Apple and not by us. How cool is that?!

 


 

 

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Most games treat darkness as a threat. In the melancholy Where Shadows Slumber, shadows shed light on perplexing spatial puzzles.

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Magically repair a broken bridge by passing the right combination of light and shadow over it.

You’re Obe, an old man equipped with a mystical lantern that can change and morph each mazelike level. As you progress, objects and other light sources create shadowy patterns. Activating switches causes objects to slide and move, altering the location of the shadows and revealing previously unseen paths – and dangers.

Obe eventually has to coax other characters to press buttons and switches. It ramps up quickly; within a few levels, you’ll have your hands full puzzling out the right patterns to open the way forward. It’s typically brief, however. Where Shadows Slumber is filled with aha moments when the solution suddenly becomes evident. You won’t be stuck in the dark for long.

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What’s wrong with all these people? It gets pretty creepy.

With an evocative animation style and stark use of color, Where Shadows Slumber paints a dreary, beautiful picture. A strange, rhythmic soundtrack amps up the tension, while brief, menacing cutscenes featuring mean-spirited beasts give glimpses into the game’s mysterious narrative. Where is Obe headed, anyway?

It’s all a bit hazy. But while the story is deliberately ambiguous, Where Shadows Slumber’s unique, shadow-manipulating mechanic shines clear as day. Step into the light.

 


 

We’re so thankful to the staff at Apple for featuring our game. Please share this article with your friends if they haven’t purchased the game yet – what more proof do you need that our game is awesome?!

See you next time!

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store.

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Upcoming Patch: Review Requests

In a patch that will go live later this week, we’re adding a small pop-up window to the game that asks the player if they would take a moment to review the game. I would have put this update through last week (Jack finished this feature a while ago), but my laptop was on the fritz and I just got it back this morning.

I realize it’s a bit odd to talk about a patch before it goes out, but I wanted to explain our thought process behind this addition. This patch will be a bit different than the others. We’ve just been fixing bugs for the past few weeks, but this is an addition that might rub people the wrong way. Read on if you’re an indie developer, because this totally affects your business…

 

No one likes “barriers to fun.”

Why We Didn’t Launch With This

Jack and I spent a long time working on Where Shadows Slumber. During that time, the user interface went through quite a few iterations. The “user experience” was even more important to us than the interface itself. We always asked ourselves what we wanted the player to feel when they first opened the app, or when they opened the app after closing it, or when they returned to the app after not playing Where Shadows Slumber for a few days.

One of our core principles was “don’t annoy the user,” and we took that very seriously. For you old-timers out there, did you ever notice how our free Demo jumps right into the first Level straight from the Splash Screen? Or did you notice how the final version of the game goes right into the Level 0-1 title card after the Splash Screen? We tried to take out as many “barriers to fun” as we could to make the experience as painless as possible. I think we did a great job! So far I’ve only seen one complaint that the game “has no Main Menu,” and that was on a 5-star review. So it wasn’t that big of an issue after all!

Anyway, when the topic of review requests came up, we weren’t enthusiastic about the idea. Sure, every mobile game does it – but we were worried it would annoy people so much, they would give the game a bad review, and say something like “too many pop-ups!!” People are weird. You never know what might set them off.

But it’s a classic Catch-22, because if we don’t ask for reviews, we might not get one at all. Less reviews & ratings mean that our game won’t become popular, which leads to less downloads, and the app goes into a death spiral. Furthermore, right now people who don’t enjoy Where Shadows Slumber have a lot of motivation to leave a bad review. But people who did enjoy the game have no motivation to leave a positive review. Think of it this way – when is the last time you left a great review for a restaurant you love? Have you ever done that? But I bet if you had a terrible experience at a restaurant, you couldn’t wait to go outside and write all about it on Yelp. It’s human nature to ignore the positives in life and let negative experiences motivate our actions.

Our old Demo got a ton of ratings (6,000+) compared to our final production release on Google Play. I realize that version was free, and it’s been out for two years, but I think a review request also had something to do with it. The problem is that the Demo’s review request was at the very end of the experience after the last Level. I don’t really want people to have to beat the entirety of Where Shadows Slumber before they get a message asking them to leave a review. Instead, we’re putting the request towards the middle of the game.

Overall, I’m pretty optimistic. If we get this feature in before the next time Where Shadows Slumber goes on sale, and then drive a lot of downloads / installs with that sale, we might get a nice review bomb to bring us higher up the charts.

In conclusion, we’re hoping this addition:

  • Won’t annoy people too much
  • Will lead to more ratings overall
  • Will increase the rate of positive reviews to negative reviews

Wish us luck! Better yet, wish us 5-stars…

 

Eat an entire megaphone, as shown above. (No chewing!)

Make Your Voice Heard!

Once this launches, you probably won’t even notice it. Jack set a timer that’s pretty lengthy, so it’s rare that you’ll be asked twice or three times to review the app. Besides, if you haven’t done that already, what are you waiting for?

But seriously, if you have any comments or concerns, leave a comment on this post or on Facebook! We want to know what you think. Especially if you have any marketing ideas for us, because we want to do everything we can to get Where Shadows Slumber out to the whole world.

See you next week! A financial update article is in the works, so you won’t want to miss out. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog…

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available for purchase on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store.

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.