Patch 1.0.10 Notes

After PAX East this year, Jack and I spent the entire car ride taking a critical look at our game based on the feedback we received. It may seem weird to continue iteration on a game that’s already been released, but we wanted to make the game as perfect as possible before it heads to new platforms later this year.

Many of these changes are substantial – altering the solutions to puzzles, the artwork, and even the order in which you solve puzzles. Some changes are so small you wouldn’t notice unless I told you, which is precisely the point of this post!

Here’s all the changes you can expect in the latest patch, which we hope will go live sometime early next week:


10 Artistic Changes

Some of the design problems with Where Shadows Slumber are actually just bad artistic cues – which is to say, these are things I made that looked cool to me but ended up communicating the wrong ideas to our players.

Most of these fixes are focused on the beginning of the game, since that’s the “make or break” period for gamers. If players aren’t impressed after the first five minutes, or the game is frustrating, we’re destined for a 1-star review. So here’s a visual walk-through of all of these changes, with the old versions on the left and the new versions on the right.

The Forest Levels

Forest Level 2, “Bridge”

This is the player’s first interaction with the design pattern we use for Draggable objects, but sadly it’s on two Non-Draggable objects that appear Draggable. (The ancient, crumbling bridges in the water) We decided to cover them with moss so they don’t look interactable.

The Jail Levels

Jail Level 1, “Light”

Before we changed this puzzle, it was very difficult for players to tell when the bridge was being repaired by the shadow. Now the bridge is much longer, which gives you more space to explore and see what the shadow is doing to the bridge.

Jail Level 3, “Lock”

This Level badly needed clarity and simplification. My earlier attempt at color-coding the different gaps in the bridge with really dark, indistinguishable colors and incredibly small little gemstones did not work. The new version has bold colors, big pieces that still connect the bridge even when it’s broken, and one fewer draggable light source.

Jail Level 5, “Pressure”

Similar to the puzzle I just mentioned above, 1-5 needed a lot of color to clarify what’s going on with different shadows affecting different objects. I like how it turned out!

The River Levels

River Level 1, “Docks”

The corner of the land mass above is not traversable. As you can see in the old version, it’s not clear that there’s a gap in the walkway. (We put a gap there because we only want players to see this shadow illusion in a specific way) This fix makes the gap more obvious.

This Draggable raft was giving players a lot of trouble, too. The square pieces are halfway into the water, so it’s not obvious that you can drag them. We want to try the new design, where the Draggable squares lie on top of the surface so they’re visible.

River Level 3, “Guide”

This Level featured a large tree that had some kind of light inside of it, and you could close the shutter to hide the light. This shadow was used to change the bridge in the center. Ultimately, this puzzle had too many elements going on in it. We can keep the same design without requiring players to figure out what’s going on with the tree.

River Level 4, “Ebb”

The shadow-casting wall in this Level is really big now, because it was awkward how you could shine your light as you walked down the steps here. Some people accidentally solved the puzzle on their way down the staircase!

The Hills Levels

Hills Level 5, “Rest”

This Level received a huge change, as well as numerous small ones. The most noticeable change is that the center island is no longer one big draggable, but instead is a platform with a draggable pillar on it that slides freely. We feel that this will allow players to more easily solve the puzzle, though the solution remains the same. There are also a bunch of small changes to where pillars come up to stop you along your path.

The Summit Levels

Summit Level 2, “Blind”

This one is super subtle. Can you see it? We added some footsteps for the invisible ghostly Knight who is patrolling around inside the shadow realm. (If you’ve never played the game before, I’m sure that made no sense at all.) We hope this helps players determine where he is as they try to solve this difficult puzzle!

Six Design Changes

Not everything we’re changing in this patch has to do with artwork. One of the largest changes is really subtle – you’d only notice it if you played the game a lot. New players would never even realize what we did.

These changes were made based on lots of user feedback with the final product, as well as in preparation for a future version of Where Shadows Slumber that’s free to download and has paywalls interspersed. Here are six non-aesthetic changes happening in Patch 1.0.10…

No More Riding Draggables

The largest change, and one that spawned a whole bunch of other changes, is a clarification to the way draggable objects work. Obe can no longer stand on these while they move, so a few puzzles had to be updated. Now you’ll always see the image above when Obe is standing on a draggable bridge, and we hope this is less confusing.

Forest Level 3, “Monolith”

The draggable pillar now begins raised out of the water instead of submerged. We felt like it was not obvious that it could be dragged, since it was so well hidden by the rock and moss.

World 1 Order of Levels

We’re rearranging this World in order to make the introduced mechanics flow better. (The actual screen won’t look as it does on the right, that’s just a diagram I made to show you how the puzzles are moving around.) The previous section used the old World 1 numbers.

River Level 3, “Guide”

In this Level, you used raised walls to cast shadows on the center bridge. This involved “dipping” the center in shadow briefly either by letting the walls go up and down, or by walking Obe in and out of the corner to see the change. In the end, it was a relic of a way shadows used to work very early on in the game’s history. We eventually changed the walls into pillars you can walk around, to be more consistent with the rest of the game.

Title on Device

We’re changing the build name from Shadows to Where Shadows Slumber. I chose “Shadows” because I knew it would fit nicely on everyone’s phone screens. But it seems like poor branding to have everyone refer to our game as “Shadows” from here to eternity. We also considered “WSS” but that seemed to cryptic. Let me know how it looks on your phone screens!

Paradise Level 5, “Gates”

Last but not least, the most difficult puzzle in the game just got a whole lot less tedious. Now there are doorways to any of the four colors in this puzzle, available from any color area. No need to keep going back to the yellow zone!

Coming Soon To A Phone Near You…

I had hoped to get the patch out already, but there are still some tiny fixes left to do and a lot more testing. But once it’s all ready and this patch is uploaded to the App Store and Google Play, you’ll get a push notification to notify you that it’s been downloaded. Please try it and let us know what you think of the alterations!

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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.

TooManyProblems at TooManyGames

Back in April, I had the pleasure of showing off our game Where Shadows Slumber at AwesomeCon in Washington D.C. (Click here for the recap.) While I was there, someone mentioned a convention called TooManyGames and asked me if I was going. I had never heard of it before, and the deadline to apply as an indie had passed just a few days earlier. Despite that, I applied anyway because it sounded fun, and it was an even closer drive from Hoboken than Washington D.C. since TooManyGames is in Oaks, Pennsylvania.

I ran into a ton of problems during the weekend, but TooManyGames itself is a blast! This blog post is a recap of the convention, but the short version is this: if you’ve never been before, you should really check it out!


The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Revenge

I thought I’d save money on my AirBnB costs and drive to TooManyGames on Friday morning (Day 1 of the show) instead of the night before. In theory, this made total sense. Hoboken is two hours from Oaks, the drive isn’t bad at all, and the show didn’t begin until 2 pm. My spartan setup for Where Shadows Slumber takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. I don’t need an entire night to set up beforehand like some people do!

This plan would have worked if not for one thin piece of metal that came loose on a bridge somewhere along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This piece of metal, when it encounters tires moving at 70 mph, rips them to shreds. My car wasn’t the only one that got rekt, either. The moment I heard the loud BOOM and I felt my back-right tire disintegrate on the highway, I looked to my right and noticed that tons of cars had pulled over on the side of the road.

“Uhhh I think it looks fine, why? Is it not supposed to look like that?”

They were all changing their back-right tires. The cops were there, a bunch of mechanics and tow trucks were there, and I had to pull over. The mechanic who helped me out said that so far, 30 cars had gone over the same exact spot on the bridge and got flat tires! The government accidentally set up a drug-cartel style nail-trap across the road. (This is what your toll fee goes to, I suppose – democratic nail-traps) Suffice it to say, we had to throw a spare on there just to get to Oaks and I was 2 hours late for the first day. Not an auspicious start! Pennsylvania is totally paying to fix my tire now that I’m back in Hoboken.

Spare tires are much thinner than I thought they were!

In truth, I’m just glad I’m ok. I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t see anyone else crash, and being a little late is not the worst thing in the world. (But I’m definitely going to remember this the next time I get into an argument with someone about taxes and roads.) Shout-out to Ford Roadside Assistance for offering me free access to a mechanic who came to me on the side of the Turnpike and swapped the spare out! The government mechanic was charging $60.00 and told me to just wait for Ford to come [<_< ]…

The theme of TooManyProblems continued, when on Sunday morning I awoke to see this wonderful push notification:

So Google does this a lot – they randomly check the apps on their store for this one specific thing, and then take your app down without checking with you first. [ /o_o]/

They get annoyed we don’t have a privacy policy on Where Shadows Slumber, but the reason we don’t have one is because we don’t take your data! And we got punished for it, leading to $0.00 in sales on Sunday. The workaround is to just put some kind of URL in the spot where they ask for a privacy policy. The longer solution to make sure this never happens again? Not sure…

We went live again yesterday morning, so hopefully those who liked the game over the weekend were able to find it!

Enough Whining

Sorry, I had to get those stories off my chest. The truth is, I had a great time in Oaks! This show was awesome and I’m definitely going back to TooManyGames next year. How about a look on the bright side? Here’s 8 good things that happened, in absolutely no coherent order:

1.) I conducted 200 personal demos with attendees (yes, I keep track of this stat at conventions!)

2.) About 20 people bought the game right there at the booth, and some left reviews over the weekend. I think this is due to my new policy on pins – no freebies! Cards are always free, but the pins are exclusively for those who have purchased Where Shadows Slumber. (More details on that below…)

3.) Speaking of cards, I got to debut the new slate of Where Shadows Slumber business cards. There are 8 cards, since we have 8 different Worlds in the game. Everyone loved them, and they drew lots of people to the table.

4.) Someone asked for my autograph on one of the cards… LOL

5.) I ran into some of my old friends from the Stevens Game Development Club as well as some indies I met a few months ago at AwesomeCon, and tabletop developers I’ve known since the Mr. Game! era.

6.) The AirBnB I stayed at in Phoenixville had a cat.

7.) I got the chance to hang out with Nando and Emily, old friends from Stevens, in Philadelphia on my way back home Sunday night. (Nando is the host of the extremely popular channel NandoVMovies on YouTube. Like and Subscribe!)

8.) Finally, before I left Pennsylvania on Sunday night, I had the distinct honor of walking into a Wawa for the first time in my life. The scales fell from my eyes, I was comforted, I felt accepted, and I experienced true luxury. All other pretenders to the throne (7-Eleven, and other atrocities) revealed themselves to be false gods and I know the truth now.

Two Lessons Learned

During TooManyGames, I spent most of my time trying to learn what drives people to purchase things. For the longest time, Jack and I were been in “marketing mode” – which is to say, we wanted to tell people about our game. But since launch, we’ve transitioned for the first time into “sales mode”, and I’m still not used to that. It’s strange knowing that every new person is a potential $3.00, or a potential 5-star rating. In some ways it was easier before. We could always say “the game is a work in progress!” and be happy with people that thought it was cool and promised to check it out later.

After this weekend I have a new convention strategy, based on these two principles. I strongly encourage you to adopt these ideas as well if you are in “sales mode” like us!

Later Isn’t An Option. Buy It Now!

It’s tempting to use these shows as a chance to hand out as much swag as possible, show the name of your game to as many people as possible, and demo the game as many times as possible. But I’m focusing a lot more on sales and other quantifiable stats, because the truth is that the people at these shows are being bombarded with about a hundred other games at the same time.

If they don’t buy your game in front of your eyes, they probably won’t buy it later when they get home unless they are highly motivated already or were prevented from purchasing it during the show. So I’ve been thinking of ways to ratchet up the pressure and persuade people to pull the trigger while they’re at my booth. I recommend doing some kind of promotion / deal that only lasts while you’re at the con. (Reducing the price doesn’t count, by the way! That will not encourage an impulse purchase.) This is connected to the next piece of advice…

Make It Physical

When selling digital products, you are at a disadvantage. A tangible item like a cup of coffee will always seem more real / justifiable as a purchase than a non-tangible item like music or video games. (This is why free versions of those go further – such as Pandora, Candy Crush, and piracy) If you’re at a convention, you have the ability to do something that Internet ads can’t do – you can make the purchase physical. That’s why I only gave buttons out to people who purchased the game on the store. I needed to make the purchase physical for them to persuade them to buy the game in front of me. I also didn’t feel like selling pins because I’m not in the pin business, I’m in the gaming business! And I know for a fact that this lead to more sales. One guy literally said these words:

“So to get the pin I just buy this?” (And he held up his phone with Where Shadows Slumber’s app page loaded on it)

“That’s right!”, I said. He bought the game and I gave him the pin. It seems so backwards, right? But that’s just how humans are, and you shouldn’t fight our human nature. The next time I do a show like this, I’ll have more physical stuff to sell. Not exactly merchandise (logo tees, plushies, etc) but stuff like Google Play codes printed on cards. I saw one guy selling Steam Codes as physical cards that were about the size of Magic: The Gathering cards. That’s genius!


I hope this advice helps, no matter what you’re selling – I’ll certainly put it into practice when CT FIG rolls around in a few weeks. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Have a great week 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 Accepted Into CT FIG 2019

I am happy to announce that Where Shadows Slumber has been accepted into the 5th annual Connecticut Festival of Indie Games (CT FIG), which is taking place within ConnectiCon XVII this July! They have an indie showcase of board games and video games that were offered at a discount to those who applied early and submitted the game to their judges. The show is in Hartford, CT next month (July 12th – 14th) at the Connecticut Convention Center.

I’ve never been to ConnectiCon before, but I went to a CT FIG event back in 2016 during the Mr. Game! years and met Jason Miceli of Geek Fever Games. The event was quite small, and very board game focused, but apparently their offerings have expanded to digital games as well! (There’s not many of us, but we’re growing…) I’m glad to hear they have connected with ConnectiCon to reach even more people! I wish Jason the best as they expand the CT FIG brand.

That’s Jason in the middle, next to his game Dead Man’s Doubloons,
which I playtested years ago!


Find out more about CT FIG here.

Find more info about ConnectiCon here.

If you live in the area and want to purchase tickets, go here!

That’s all for now – but stay tuned to this blog for upcoming posts about a design patch for Where Shadows Slumber, news about our PC port, and a look inside our insane new digital ad strategy.

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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.

OPINION: Top 7 Games From E3 2019

This week, I couldn’t resist talking about my favorite games from E3, so here goes nothing! I should really be working on the upcoming Where Shadows Slumber patch, but I took a break to watch 37 consecutive hours of press conferences. (Not really.) In the interest of time, I cut the list down to just eight. Here’s my top 8 anticipated games from this year’s conference!

SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t watched the major conferences yet and you don’t want to hear this cool news from me, close this blog post and run away! You’ve been warned!


Spiritfarer

I saw this game during Microsoft’s press conference. It looks beautiful! The game mechanics seem to be a mix of boat-building and gathering, but I’m more interested in the premise. Your character’s job is to ferry the living to the land of the dead. It’s a subject that’s obviously near to my heart, as you can see echoes of that theme in our game Where Shadows Slumber. I can’t wait to try it!

More info: https://www.gamesradar.com/spiritfarer-preview-e3-2019

12 Minutes

Well just what the heck is this? I love the Clue aesthetic going on here in 12 Minutes, coming soon from Annapurna Interactive. It’s not clear how much gameplay there really is – you might be mostly watching the story unfold and making decisions – but that’s fine, because this game looks really well done. Its top-down Groundhog Day as a game, where you can be tied up and beaten by a bald man. Sounds like my kind of game!

More info here: https://www.shacknews.com/article/112218/annapurna-interactive-reveals-12-minutes-at-xbox-e3-2019

Phantasy Star Online 2

I have been waiting one million years for this stupid, terrible game to come out in the West. I loved the copy of PSO Episode 1 & 2 we had for GameCube back in the day, so when I heard about the sequel I knew I would have to try it. Unfortunately, the game has been marooned in Japan for like seven years or something ridiculous. It’s finally getting an English translation and support for U.S. servers! We think. Honestly, they might pull the rug out from under us again, who am I kidding.

More info here: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/9/18658948/phantasy-star-2-xbox-one-2020-free-to-play-sega

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A while back, Paul and I came up with a game idea that involved multiplayer Animal Crossing on a big island with survival elements. You would each set up your own town, there would be wilderness in between, and players could clash violently or live peacefully. The new Animal Crossing title seems to be 1/3 of that idea, since the multiplayer is shared screen co-op like always and there’s no real danger to the player. But you can craft stuff in this game and decorate your town! I’m loving this design. AC is my guilty pleasure… there’s nothing like building up a ton of relationships and then vanishing suddenly, leaving everyone to wonder where you went and why you won’t leave your house. Just like real life.

More info here: https://mashable.com/article/animal-crossing-new-horizons-reactions

Banjo-Kazooie Finally Comes to Smash!

As a long-time Smash player who wanted Banjo back in the Smash 64 days, I can’t believe they finally did it! I also can’t believe it took this long, so I’ve been bouncing back and forth between exasperation and elation. Also, DragonQuest or whatever. But Banjo-Kazooie is finally in a Smash Bros. game! My new main arrives in the Fall, and the Season Pass purchase has been vindicated.

More info here: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-06-11-banjo-kazooie-joins-super-smash-bros-ultimate-line-up

Watch Dogs III: Legion

I have never played any of the games in the Watch Dogs series, so when I heard about the third entry I wasn’t too excited. But the premise sounds interesting! I’m mostly watching this game to see if it’s filled with lies, or if it’s as awesome as Ubisoft promises it will be. Apparently your team of freedom fighters is whoever you want it to be – you can pick your team from any of London’s virtual citizens.

That’s crazy though, right? What if I picked a team of 16 old ladies? How could they all possibly have their own origin story mission, their own voice acting, and character interactions that make sense? Maybe the game’s main story is really short, and they recommend playing it a few times with a diversity of team compositions… we’ll see!

More info here: https://www.newsweek.com/watch-dogs-legion-gameplay-trailer-e3-2019-144325

Cyberpunk 2077

Last but not least, CD Projekt Red showed off an awesome cutscene of their game Cyberpunk 2077 that revealed Keanu Reeves as a story character. Sold! Give me the game now! There’s no new gameplay that I’m aware of, so if you already saw this clip from last year, keep waiting until August.

Personally, I don’t want to see too much of the game because it’s probably very narrative driven and I don’t want to get it ruined for me. It’s disappointing to see that some of Cyberpunk 2020’s wackier character classes won’t make an appearance (RIP Rockerboys) but so far this title looks like a must-buy. They even got it to launch in the actual year 2020! I don’t even want to know what it took to pull that off…

More info here: https://kotaku.com/keanu-reeves-is-in-cyberpunk-2077-1835358305


What were your favorites from this year’s E3? Comment below!

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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.

Favorite Games from Indie Prize London

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting London for the Indie Prize contest at Casual Connect Europe! (If you want my thoughts on the show itself, you can check out the previous blog post on this feed here.) This post is exclusively a roundup of some of my favorite games from the show, regardless of who won the actual Indie Prize contest.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not on this list, I only got the chance to play a few games out of all the ones there! Plus there are still some on my list for later, like Holly’s Home Design. You didn’t think I’d forget about you Holly, did you?

Number #3 on this list will shock you!

Morkredd by Hyper Games

Morkredd instantly caught my eye because the aesthetic looks like our game Where Shadows Slumber, and I just had to know what the mechanics are. Whenever I see another game that uses shadows, my gut reaction is “Did they copy us? Did we copy them? What is this game?!”

Well it turns out no one copied anyone! Morkredd is a co-op game for Nintendo Switch where you play as little shadow dudes. If your character ever falls into the inky-black shadows, he dies and the group loses. This forces a restart. It’s tricky, because you don’t normally pay attention to the shadows being cast by yourself and other objects. (I finally understand the initial frustration everyone has when they first play our game!)

I don’t think Morkredd (which is Norwegian for “afraid of the dark”) is available for the Nintendo Switch yet, but you can follow their progress here.

Unbroken Soul by Oscar Ruiz

Although I didn’t get to play Oscar’s game too much, I appreciate how:

  1. It looks like Dead Cells on a phone
  2. Oscar is making use of this ridiculous, awesome control rig

Yes, that’s an iPhone you see in the image below. I have no idea what the controller rig is called, but it’s really cool. (No, you don’t need it to play – but you probably need it to be good.) Gameplay video below:

Oscar has had a lot of success in the indie space already, so it was good talking with him. I wish him luck on Unbroken Soul!

Hellrider 3 by Andrey Chernyshov

Andrey has a really sleek looking motorcycle game that’s the third in the series. The first two were pretty different, so I’m assuming this is the kind of gameplay he’s always wanted for Hellrider and he finally made the game he was dreaming about. It’s amazing what people can make for mobile devices these days! Check it out:

I really love the art style for this game. Everything fits together so well in a cartoony, low-poly indie way. This game is not available to the public yet, but he has all of his current releases available on his website here.

Pico Tanks by Panda Arcade

Not only is Pico Tanks an impressive online mobile game with cute art and fun gameplay, their setup at the Indie Prize was incredible! Look at the effort they put into this display. Indie Prize gave us the smallest amount of space I’ve ever had at a show – essentially just 1/2 of a table and 1 chair. Using that limitation, Panda Arcade created a themed display that blocks out other competing games from taking up your attention, and invites you into the space. I’m impressed… now I just need to ask them how they did it!

I’m definitely taking notes for future Where Shadows Slumber shows…

Honorable Mention: Last Pirate

Finally, this pirate game was a little odd and I’m not really sure what was going on, but his setup was pretty good. A pirate pistol, a box of gold coins, and plenty of signs – honorable mention for you, pirate game! Last Pirate is a survival game where you’re stuck on a deserted island, forced to survive using only your rusty hook-hand and your wits. (The developer showed me the game and chopped down a tree with his hook, then got killed by a wild boar. 10/10 would be a pirate again)

The pirate’s life for me! Check it out on the Google Play store, it has a ton of downloads so far.

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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.

Casually Connecting in London

I’m typing this from the lively lobby of the Smart Russel Square Hostel, after Day 1 of Casual Connect has wrapped. Rarely, an event will land directly on my Tuesday blog spot, and these posts go out late. Apologies for anyone waiting by the phone!

This day has been a blur and I’m exhausted, but here are some scattered thoughts about Casual Connect London. I hope this blog post is helpful for those who are considering applying to a future Indie Prize, purchasing a ticket to Casual Connect, or just traveling to London.


First Impressions

Architecture: Loving the stately buildings in London. The convention center is across from Westminster Abbey, the church where every English monarch has been crowned since 1066. It’s incredible to behold! And London is filled with awesome old buildings like that.

Power Warning: I woke up this morning feeling screwed, because I realized late last night that the UK has different power outlets, and I couldn’t plug any of my devices in to charge. That’s always a terrible feeling, especially abroad. I felt even stupider because I have an adapter at home from my trip to Australia, but just forgot to bring it… Luckily, the man running the Smart Russel Square Hostel front desk was nice enough to let me borrow one for the week. What a gentleman!

Thank you Mr. Hostel desk manager [^_^ ]

Pips and Dip: At the venue, we began to set up at 8:30 am for a 9:00 start. The QEII Centre was nice enough to provide free morning tea, proving that some stereotypes are wonderfully true.

Yes, it’s a tea station! (Crumpets not pictured)

Indie Prize: The game developers who are here have been included in the indie game showcase because they’re eligible for the Indie Prize, a title given out on the final day of the show. Apparently it’s an audience favorite vote, similar to how SXSW does it. That seems silly to me since everyone would obviously vote for their own game and there are few outsiders, but what the hell, why not?

Small Stations By Design: The setup is very tiny – the smallest I’ve ever seen – with just half of a table, a chair, and one socket in a shared power strip. This is on purpose, though. Your table is more like your office space than a demo area. You’re supposed to use it as a headquarters to hold meetings, store your stuff, and chat up other devs.

Oscar’s coffee mug is basically the dividing line. Tiny, right?!

Indies, Everywhere: There are a ton of indies at this show from all over the world! Below is a shot of what the main game room looked like during the busiest hours of Day 1. Believe it or not, all of the people shown there are game developers! Jack and I have talked about this idea before – the notion that the most important thing about these gaming conventions is who you meet, not how many sales you get. Casual Connect puts that theory to the test by putting you in a room with 75 – 100 other developers and giving you a chance to mingle!

Afterparty: I got a chance to catch up with some devs I recognized, and meet a few new ones. To be totally honest, I didn’t stay long. These are early mornings, and my travel woes are still gnawing at me. Even so, kudos to Casual Connect for throwing two parties for us. What better way to connect casually than a party?

Ok, these posts are never intended to just lavish fawning praise on the conventions I attend. Let’s get into it.

Making The Most of B2B Shows

As a premium game, these B2B shows can sometimes be pretty irritating. (B2B as in, business-to-business) Casual Connect isn’t a consumer show like PAX East or Playcrafting. You won’t find random people walking around that could be potential customers. That doesn’t mean that your fellow game developers won’t buy your game, just that the show isn’t meant for that. You’re supposed to take the opportunity to connect (casually) with businesses that can help your game succeed.

The companies seem to be getting the better end of the deal here, since not all of us even need to work with ad management systems. Because of that, it’s hard to avoid the feeling of being “sold to” at Casual Connect. Having said that, there are some companies I’ve met that could be useful for a future project. There are even 1 or 2 that could help Where Shadows Slumber out of our current slump.

There is good news, though! The staff has promised that the show is undergoing some massive changes. “We’re evolving! Come see what’s next!” Tomorrow’s afterparty is called the “Last Ever Casual Connect Party” which probably means the show’s name is changing and the business model will shift. Maybe future shows will have more indies, less companies, and the presence of off-the-street enthusiasts? If that’s the new proposition, I’ll keep returning to as many Casual Connects as they invite me to. If not, this might be my last one for a while.

In any event, I’m making the most of this B2B show. There are some translation companies here, some big ad networks, Unity, a Microsoft booth, and tons of awesome indies from around the world. We may even be able to get Where Shadows Slumber on a cool game streaming service that operates similarly to Netflix, but for games. (Stay tuned)

After the show ends, I’ll post the results of the Indie Prize and a roundup of some of the coolest games I found. Thanks for reading!

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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.

Too Many Games!

The Where Shadows Slumber World Tour™ continues with a trip next month to Oaks, Pennsylvania for Too Many Games! The wonderful developers at AwesomeCon were nice enough to mention this to me last month when I was in Washington, D.C. I got our application in just in time, and we were approved!

It’s kind of a depressing name for a show, since the the title hits close to home: there are too many games. The App Store, Google Play Store, and Steam are packed to the gills with titles. (In fact, sometimes it feels like there are too many marketplaces too!) The truth hurts, I guess [<_< ]

Here’s their description of the show:

TooManyGames is a long-running gaming convention in the Philadelphia area with a massive marketplace, gaming guests, tournaments, cosplay, tabletop gaming, console and arcade freeplay area, and more.

TooManyGames offers 3 days of gaming fun and activities for everyone from the hardcore gamer to the whole family.

This year, TooManyGames will be held June 21-23 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. Buy your tickets today!

In particular, we’ll be part of their Indie Showcase. I don’t know what the price of being a regular vendor is, but I’m glad we got into the showcase. Like many other conventions, the indie section is curated and we needed the approval of judges to be included. (More about costs below)

Their description of the section:

The TooManyGames Indie Game Showcase highlights independent game developers locally and nationally. The Indie Game Showcase is a great place to show of your game and have space at a reduced rate. Indie Game Showcase submissions are reviewed and approved by the TooManyGames indie game team.

Thanks again to the TooManyGames staff and judges for choosing Where Shadows Slumber – we’re honored, and we’ll see you in Oaks next month!

How Much Does This Cost?

This blog isn’t just a weekly update about the development and marketing of Game Revenant’s projects – I also want it to be a behind-the-scenes look at independent game development. Specifically, I like focusing on some of the business-y aspects that people rarely discuss. One business decision you have to make a lot is “Does it pay to do X? Should we bother going to Y?”

Unfortunately, usually you only know the answer after you’ve dedicated your time and money on the risk in question. The same is true of TooManyGames, but I can at least record here how much the show will run us.

We’re getting a table at TooManyGames since the booths were sold out, which is $75.00 + tax. I also need to stay in an AirBnb near Oaks once I arrive Friday morning, since it’s too far from my apartment or any of my Philly-based friends. We’ll forget the cost of tolls since I’m borrowing my brother’s car & E-Z-Pass (sorry Paul!) and assume the cost of gas is on yours truly. So the cost for doing this show is:

  • 3 days from Friday to Sunday
  • $ 82.40 for the table
  • $ 118.45 for the AirBnb

For a grand total of $200.85, I think that’s a pretty good deal. We could also take our chances on a $200 Instagram ad (and, honestly, we’ll probably do both) but it’s important to get out into the world as well. I think the fact that my AirBnB is in Phoenixville, PA has something to do with the low overall price. You’d expect to pay way more when staying closer to a large American city, but this town is 45 – 60 minutes from Philadelphia!

I love smaller shows like this – the cost isn’t too high, the barrier to entry is low, and there are plenty of new customers who have never heard of your game before. Now that I’m keeping track of how many face-to-face connections you really make in the course of a weekend, I feel like smaller gaming conventions are just as important as big shows like PAX East. Don’t get me wrong, we’re totally still submitting to PAX 10 later this month – but do you really need to travel to Seattle to find new customers? Why get in a plane when you can drive a few hours to a city filled with people who have no idea what Where Shadows Slumber is?

As for our Return On Investment – ask me when I get back to Hoboken. For those of you who are saying to yourselves “Frank just loves every show he goes to, what’s the point?” you should read my thoughts on last year’s IndieCade and why I’m not returning. I don’t always apply the sunk cost fallacy to every convention! Some shows do, in fact, end up on the dreaded blacklist written in blood on papyrus, kept deep inside the Game Revenant Vault of Secrecy.

If you’ve ever been to this show before and you have thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments! Otherwise, if you’ll be there this year, let me know! I love meeting other developers at shows [^_^ ]

See you there!

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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.