As I promised in a recent blog post, I’m making the build of NFL Halftime Blitz available to the public to download and play. We’re well past the NDA period, so I’m confident we can release this to the world without any repercussions!
What you will be downloading is a prototype created over the weekend of August 23rd, with some light modifications made in the two days afterward. The whole team is extremely proud of the game!
We interrupt this regular stream of Where Shadows Slumber-focused blog posts to bring you something entirely unrelated…
Back in August, Playcrafting gave us an incredible opportunity to take part in a game jam challenge for the NFL and Verizon. Now that we’re allowed to share details about the contest, here’s my full recap of the challenge weekend and the aftermath! Read on for a recap of the Verizon 5G NFL Mobile Gaming Challenge.
The Game Is Afoot!
Eagle-eyed blog post readers will remember seeing this blog post where I described applying for this challenge. I never posted to say we were admitted into the final five, because we weren’t allowed to disclose any of the details of the competition during the past month. Before the jam weekend in August, I got a call from Dan Butchko to tell me that Game Revenant was admitted into the challenge and that I had to put a team of four together.
I honestly hadn’t expected to make it in, so things happened a little last minute. I have to thank Noah Kellman, Brian Intile, and Nicolas Morales not only for their hard work over the jam weekend, but also their ability to drop everything at a moment’s notice and code a game for 48 hours straight.
The stakes of the contest were high. First of all, each team member received $1,000 for their work over the weekend (along with up to $500 in travel expenses to get to Verizon’s Alley on 24th St in Manhattan). More importantly, Verizon and the NFL were committed to picking two teams from the final five – these teams would receive $400,000 to take their prototypes and turn them into game-day ready mobile experiences that will launch at Super Bowl 2020 in February!
There was no time to lose! I put out a call for developers online and reached out to a few people I knew would be perfect. I actually had never met Nicolas before, but he’s an indie game dev from New Jersey who makes a lot of games in short time spans who came highly recommended by Brian. (They’re both veterans of the game jam wars of ’96) Noah is of course one half of PHÖZ, the talented team that composed the audio for Where Shadows Slumber.
The challenge began in earnest on Friday, August 23rd at Alley around six o’clock. Alley was our office for the entire weekend. Each team got a chance to claim some space (we picked the NY Giants Room) and grab dinner before the kickoff ceremony that detailed everything we would do for the weekend.
Our charge was to prototype the idea from my original pitch document, NFL Halftime Blitz, with an emphasis on the gameplay. We were allowed to postpone 5G specific features, which was a sigh of relief. (Getting networking up and running would have been a tall order for a 48 hour game jam.) We would need to still produce a concept for how the networking could work, as well as meet with a 5G expert at Verizon to talk through potential problems with the project.
In retrospect, picking the NY Giants room may have been our downfall.
From there, they cut us loose! We spent the next few days shuttling between my apartment and the Alley, cramming to get something playable up and running from scratch. With a clear idea of what to accomplish, and lots of stretch goals, the team just tackled every objective as soon as possible in order of importance. There was a ton of artwork to do, too – every asset in NFL Halftime Blitz, from the music to the art, was creating during the jam weekend by our team. Of course, the Unity engine made our lives a lot easier too.
The Alley team kept us fed. Well fed! There were three catered meals every day, huge tins of food with plenty of drinks and way too much candy. We were, of course, allowed to leave the building, but we never needed to! I have no regrets. Time is of the essence during competitions like this. I really appreciate that they made it easy for us to keep our heads down and work.
The weekend ended Sunday evening, when it was time to present our work to the judges and our competitors. (The other teams didn’t really show each other their progress during the contest… it had a different vibe than your average game jam) Finally, we got to see what our rivals had been creating all this time. I’m incredibly proud of the work we did on NFL Halftime Blitz, and I know the audience was impressed with our results.
After the presentations, everyone got a final sit-down with the judges to receive feedback on our games. This was pretty tense. We had to get as much information out of them as possible. They also asked us some good questions, like “What about the off-season?” and “What makes this uniquely an NFL title?” We took as many notes as possible during the short meeting and left Alley together. At the end of the day, it’s their money – no matter how much we love our game, if they don’t want it at the Super Bowl, it’s not getting selected.
Technically, our submissions were due the following Tuesday. This gave us another 48 hours to refine the submission pitch PDF and bug test our game. Other than polish, the game didn’t change too much. (It’s hard to work on something remotely once you’ve been in such proximity for so long) We really overhauled the pitch though, converting it into more of a team-based street-football-in-the-concession-area mobile game. Brian even got his father’s friends together for a virtual focus group session all about what they loved about football, and the NFL in particular. Nervously, I submitted the final pitch & build to Playcrafting at 9:15 pm on Tuesday night…
So, what happened?
¡Qué Lástima! [ ︺︵︺]
The winners were announced just recently, and as you can see we were not selected. Qué lástima, indeed. We would have loved the opportunity to work on this game more, and I really believed in the business plan we set forward for the future of the game – not just during the main NFL season, but the post-season and draft periods as well. NFL Halftime Blitz will always be here if they change their mind, though! I’d love to work with the NFL and Verizon again someday.
Want to see more? This images in this blog post aren’t the only ones I shot! I tried to take a bunch throughout the weekend because I knew I’d write an embarrassing tell-all eventually. I put up more photos on the Game Revenant Facebook Page right here.
“It’s an amazing feeling when you can successfully coordinate an idea amongst multiple people and make it come to life in a short time span.“
Nicolas Morales, NFL Halftime Blitz developer
We all really enjoyed the experience. Regarding the challenge, Nicolas said “It’s an amazing feeling when you can successfully coordinate an idea amongst multiple people and make it come to life in a short time span.” I’m just glad to be a part of it, honestly! Being left out of the competition would have felt really bad, and I’m going to make a point of signing up for more of Playcrafting’s challenges.
The contest rules state clearly that those who were not selected retain ownership of the game’s IP. I probably shouldn’t have slapped the NFL logo on there, but I don’t think their lawyers are going to come tracking me down anytime soon. So keep an eye on this space – now that the non-disclosure period is over, I’ll add the game to the Game Revenant itch.io page later this week so everyone can try it for free!
I hope this shed some light on the process. I wish I could have shared more during the contest, but rules are rules. Have any questions? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
After missing this show multiple years running due to totally forgetting about it, I finally got a chance to see Boston FIG through the eyes of an exhibitor! This past weekend, on Saturday, September 14th, two gyms in the Harvard Athletic Complex were filled with games by independent creators. Where Shadows Slumber was one of them! Read on to hear my first impressions of being an exhibitor at this show.
The schedule for this short show was pretty straightforward – setup on the Friday night beforehand, with a show from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturday followed by an award show. It’s worth mentioning the Friday setup was mandatory, and no setup was allowed the day of the event. (If you have a long drive to get to the show next year like I did, keep that in mind! Friday night traffic in Boston is brtual.)
I was next to the very chic and awesome looking Sole by Gossamer Games, and I definitely took notes on booth aesthetics. Look at those lamps! Tom always goes to shows in full white attire too, it’s very striking. I might have to come up with a Game Revenant uniform…
The Figgies took place in the other gym (where tabletop games were) at the end of the day. During the show, people could vote for your game by slipping a raffle ticket into your little box. At the end of the day they awarded the Audience Choice award to 1 tabletop and 1 digital game. They also awarded games based on juried categories like Compelling Game Mechanics and Best Visuals. (More on that below)
My legs were killing me at the end of the day, but I had a great time!
Show Analysis: Pros
As always, everyone who came to the booth absolutely loved the game! It was a busy day, too – I counted 135 demos (that is, people who stayed and played on a device for at least a few levels). Journalists from Hardcore Gamer and the Nerd Entertainment Hub approached the table, and the Hardcore Gamer coverage is already online! (Scroll down to read James Cunningham’s thoughts on Where Shadows Slumber)
The show is very affordable, too. You’re not guaranteed to make it into the show, but an application only cost me $63.69. If you don’t live near Boston you’ll have to drive, but parking was only $10 so travel wasn’t an issue. As far as lodging is concerned, that could make the show more expensive for you. (I lucked out because I have family that lives in the suburbs outside the city.)
Since it’s a curated show, you’ll receive detailed feedback from judges about what they thought about your game. This actually benefits work-in-progress titles a lot more, so consider going to Boston FIG pre-launch. Since Where Shadows Slumber has been out and finished for a year, it’s less helpful for us. Speaking of judges and feedback…
Show Analysis: Con
The only negative thing I can say about the event was that I never knew for sure if Where Shadows Slumber was eligible for an award or not. For Boston FIG, you need to apply for a specific award in order to be at the show. My understanding was that being accepted into the showcase meant you were also eligible for the award. (For example, we submitted under Compelling Gameplay Mechanics, but Best Visuals was another option)
So… was our game nominated or not? When they read the nominees for Compelling Gameplay Mechanics at the award show, there were only 3 games listed. I would have appreciated an email saying something like “hey so you’re not nominated for the award but you’re still accepted to the show!” Maybe they’re worried that if they do that, people will bail?
In any event, there’s always next year! (Or next game, I guess) If you’re in the greater Boston area and have a work-in-progress indie game, I highly encourage you to submit your work next year. Don’t forget, you can also go to the show as a customer and enjoy a fun filled day of gaming!
I wanted to take a break from the usual Where Shadows Slumber news to talk about an exciting opportunity I discovered through Playcrafting. Verizon and the NFL have teamed up to challenge game developers across the country to create an awesome mobile experience that uses the new 5G Network. I’ll let them do the talking here:
Verizon has partnered with the NFL to re-think mobile gaming in a 5G world. That’s why we’re searching for the next big idea for a football-themed mobile game that leverages the power of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.
The Winning teams will be awarded $400,000 to develop a game that will debut at Super Bowl LIV events.
5G infrastructure will take gaming to a whole new level. The high bandwidth and low latency of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband will enable technologies like cloud gaming, multiplayer experiences with ultra-low latency, and more.
On Sunday I submitted on behalf of Game Revenant to create a game called NFL Halftime Blitz. In this proposed game, you are a football fan who is trying to push through the Super Bowl crowds in order to get your favorite snacks before halftime ends. Dan Butchko of Playcrafting was kind enough to help me with the submission even though he was also dealing with his massive game convention in New York City this weekend, PLAY NYC. Thanks, Dan!
Sometime by next week, I think I’ll know whether or not this proposal was accepted into the next round. If it’s accepted, Verizon will host Game Revenant (as well as the other finalists) at a paid game jam in the Verizon 5G Lab. From there, I’ll have to prototype the game over the weekend in order to impress the judges. Only the best game prototype can win, receiving $400,000 to develop the game in advance of its launch at the Super Bowl.
Whether or not I make it past the pitching round, I had fun designing something so zany, i with a bunch of really specific constraints. That’s the best way come up with truly awesome ideas, whether you’re talking about games or some other form of art. Good luck to all of my competitors, especially those that make it to the next round!
The headline says it all, but you heard it here last: Where Shadows Slumber has been nominated for the coveted People’s Choice Award at the upcoming 15th Annual International Mobile Gaming Awards!
We might also be nominated for other awards? It’s not clear, exactly. I want to say we’re eligible for stuff like “Best Design” or “Best Art” or “Best Audio,” but I don’t know that for sure. Also, with games like Fortnite on the list, we know our shot of winning is pretty steep. Our chances of taking home the big prize are about as good as your chances of being in a cutscene with Obe and not getting murdered.
Anyway, roll that press release!
Where Shadows Slumber Nominated in the 15th INTERNATIONAL MOBILE GAMING AWARDS (IMGA Global)
[Hoboken, NJ] — [2/26] – Game Revenant announced today that it has been nominated in the 15th International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA Global). The IMGA is the longest standing and highest regarded mobile games award program started in 2004.
Where Shadows Slumber is an indie mobile puzzle adventure game based on light and shadow. You guide Obe, an old man lost in the forest, on one last adventure at the end of his life. Use your wits, your lantern, and the shadows it casts to manipulate the world around you and find your way home.
“Nominees like Game Revenant highlight the new standard of creativity and the emerging quality of the productions found in mobile gaming”, said Maarten Noyons, founder of The IMGA.
“We’re honored to be nominated alongside this year’s best and brightest on the mobile platform. Thank you for believing in our little game, IMGA!”, said Frank DiCola, founder of Game Revenant.
As a nominee, Game Revenant is also eligible to win the People’s Choice Award, which is voted online by fans across the globe. From now until March 14th, 2019 Where Shadows Slumber fans and gamers can cast their votes at https://www.imgawards.com/winners-nominees/15th-imga/
will be announced on March 19th, 2019 during the highly
anticipated IMGA ceremony, which will take place in the Minna Gallery in
About Game Revenant:
Game Revenant was founded in Hoboken, NJ by Frank DiCola. Where Shadows Slumber was designed and developed by Jack Kelly, with art and animation by Frank DiCola. PHÖZ, the duo of Alba S. Torremocha and Noah Kellman, created the game’s beautiful audio. The official game website was created by Caroline Amaba.
About the International Mobile
IMGA is the longest standing mobile games award program started in 2004. With
its long history and unique judging process, it has brought some of the world’s
most popular titles into the limelight the likes of Candy Crush Saga and Clash
of Clans. It is the only competition that unites the industry by celebrating
excellence and innovation in games.
We just had a crazy weekend, courtesy of Playcrafting and Dan Butchko. If you’re a game developer in NYC, or part of the industry, hopefully you were there too and this blog post is redundant. But if you missed either of these awesome events, shame on you! Read on to find out what you missed…
Note: Remember that any critiques in this post are my own thoughts and don’t reflect the views of anyone else on the team. Except for the thing about Jack and Overwatch – he really hates that game.
Day 1: The ’19 Bit Awards
Before the awards ceremony began at Johnson Hall (an auditorium that’s part of the New School) all the nominees were invited to showcase our games in a separate room. Here’s a little bit of the room being set up:
I didn’t have a ton of space at this showcase and I can’t say I accomplished all that much. But it felt nice to be recognized! We chatted with a few people we recognized and got something like ~10 people to play the game. Pretty soon, we were whisked away to get in line for our wristbands so we could head into the auditorium.
Nitpick: Next time I would hand developers their wristbands so they can stay by their games! I left Jack stationed at the table while I spent half an hour on a line for my band. It’s fine – there wasn’t enough room for both of us behind the table anyway. Just something for future reference…
After the showcase, the award show began! Dan got Carolina Ravassa (the voice of Sombra from Overwatch) to host the show, much to Jack’s chagrin. As the lights dimmed, and Jack ranted about how much Overwatch sucks, we went through the nominees. Between awards, upcoming games from the Playcrafting community showed off their trailers. There were also a few game-related performances for entertainment. All of this was set to live music from Zac Zinger and the Bits, who returned from last year. The band was incredible!
I generally don’t like quirky things interrupting award shows, because I’m a boring person. But there were two moments I really loved: the first was when ESC Games’ presentation crashed and burned, which meant they had to improvise and vamp for a bit before the next segment began. Those two guys are hilarious all on their own – no games needed.
The other moment I really enjoyed went exactly as planned: Dalton Grey, of the Adventure Society, performed a live “adventure” with four audience members. (Carolina Ravassa subbed in for an absent audience member, actually) You had to be there to enjoy it, I really can’t explain it well. Dalton obviously had a script and a set of sound cues he was running the “players” through, and it was a lot of silly fun. This was way better than his intro last year, because we got the chance to laugh at (and with) the performers onstage. Last year I believe Dalton was alone on stage, asking for audience participation, which felt a bit cheesy. Keep up the good work, dude!
Deep cut for long-time fans – remember when Earl (all the way on the right in the image above) interviewed Jack and myself 100 years ago?
There were three kind of odd choices during the night – one was a strange dance sequence following the Best Style award. The game Hamsterdam looks awesome, but the dancing seemed kind of out of place. I guess this kind of thing happens a lot at award shows? Then there was a long (long) clip of random Just Cause 4 footage that played over live music from the band. This game footage had no narrative to it at all, it just seemed to show off cool things you could do in the game. But I’ve seen better Just Cause sandbox gameplay from Reddit memes, so this clip left a bit to be desired.
The final odd choice was after Jen MacLean accepted her Game Changer award… their tribute to her was just someone playing (playtesting!) Civilization II. I didn’t mind it at first, but it seemed pretty silly. A women with her storied career probably worked on a bunch of games – why not include more? The video lingered on Civilization II for an awkward amount of time. Again, there wasn’t really a narrative to what we were shown. If they need a video editor for next year, I’m signing up!
Nitpicks aside, we were really there to see if we could win the Player’s Choice Award. I spent the week prior running a shoestring get-out-the-vote campaign. Alas, even though we did not win the coveted Player’s Choice Award, I still want to thank everyone who voted for Where Shadows Slumber! The honor went to Swimsanity!, and I’m happy for them. I got the chance to be next to them during the Winter Play Expo the next day, and they’re really cool guys.
Speaking of which…
Day 2: The Winter Play Expo
This year’s Bit Awards was just part one of two days of gaming. On Saturday, we filled the 6th floor of the Microsoft Center again to show off our indie games. Dan allowed all nominees from the previous night to exhibit for free, waiving the usual $50.00 fee. Thanks, Dan!
Some of the attendees have known about Where Shadows Slumber for years, so it was a good chance to tell people that our game was now available. I also met a lot of new faces. I can’t say it was the best show Playcrafting has ever done – I was in one of the back rooms, so it didn’t get much traffic. For all I know there may have been a ton of people at the show, but they just didn’t know this back room was open. No matter, there was always someone tapping away at the iPad in front of me + free pizza. Can’t complain!
For future conventions, I think having it right on top of the Bit Awards (and one week after the Global Game Jam) was a bit too much to handle at once. I’m not sure if the Winter Play Expo was even announced the night before, which feels like a wasted opportunity. (If it was, and I forgot, take that as a sign that it needed a bit more publicity) My suggestion for next year is to space everything out across February a bit more.
This is all due to the efforts of Dan Butchko, who has been an enormous help to Where Shadows Slumber throughout the years. Playcrafting is a really incredible resource for indie developers in the NYC area. (I plug their company so often, people must think I work for them.) If you make games and you haven’t come to one of these events yet, I urge you to add it to your schedule! We’ll definitely be there.
Next week: Thinking of blogging about our next steps regarding different platforms… comment below with questions about porting Where Shadows Slumber.
If you follow Game Revenant on social media, you’ve already seen a lot of spam this week about the Bit Awards. However, I wanted to make a quick official announcement on the blog about this contest, and what YOU can do to help.
Every year, Playcrafting hosts an award show for the indie game community in the New York City area. We’ve been to the Bit Awards at least twice now, and it’s always a fun time. You can actually buy tickets to the show here: www.thebitawards.com
Since Where Shadows Slumber was nominated for Best Mobile Design way back in 2017, we weren’t eligible for that category again this year. (But congrats to all of those nominees!)
However, they surprised us with a nomination for the Player’s Choice Award. This one works differently from the others – instead of being chosen by Playcrafting’s judges, this award is voted upon by you, the loyal fans!
…so how loyal are you?
Vote for us by completing these simple instructions:
1. Click this link: bit.ly/VoteBit 2. Scroll down… 3. Choose “Where Shadows Slumber” 4. Enter the required info 5. Press “Submit”!
Betray our trust by completing these other, much worse, instructions:
1. Click this link: bit.ly/VoteBit 2. Scroll down… 3. Choose literally any other game, you traitor 4. Enter the required info 5. Press “Submit”!
The choice is yours! Whatever you decide, we hope you’ll come to the award show this Friday and celebrate with us anyway.
Best of luck to our competitors, and all the nominees!