Thanks for your patience, trustworthy blog reader, as I took a leave of absence these past few weeks. I’ll tell you all about it once I climb out from under a pile of NDAs, which expire in the year 2030. There’s some exciting stuff to announce in September so I’m sure I won’t miss a week again for a while – until I take up drinking again, that is.
First up, there’s a show this weekend! The Boston Festival of Indie Games is this Saturday (9/14) at the Harvard Athletic Complex. (If you know the area, it’s on Harvard Street in Allston). Let me know if you’re coming to the event or if you live in the area. I’ll be driving up on Friday night to show off Where Shadows Slumber, which was admitted as a nominee for Compelling Gameplay Mechanics in the Digital Showcase.
The show goes from 9 am to 6 pm, with an award show to follow. I’m not sure if the award show is open to the public, but you can get tickets to the actual festival here: Buy Now
Digital Categories: Best in Show, Compelling Game Mechanics, Innovation in Art and Narrative, Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay, Experimental Game Design, Student Games, and Audience Choice Award
Tabletop Categories: Best in Show, Most Dynamic, Most Innovative, Best Game for Social Change, Best Family Game, Best Game in Progress, and Audience Choice Award
I’ve always heard good things, but I’ve never done this show or even attended. I like the one-day format, and it’s also a good chance to see some family that lives outside the city. Hope to see some Where Shadows Slumber fans there!
Wish Us Luck (x 2)
There’s an award show at Boston FIG, so cross your fingers and hope that Where Shadows Slumber takes home the big prize! I believe we’re only eligible to win in the category we’ve been nominated for, which is Compelling Game Mechanics. Of course, anyone can win the Audience Choice Award, which is won by rigging the vote during the day of the event. It’s going to be all hands on deck with that one, so if you come to the show be sure to bring singles. (“See a judge, bribe a judge!” ~Frank DiCola, 2019)
I’m also working on the Independent Games Festival submission for 2019, which is due by my birthday (September 30th). That’s going to be a tougher climb for sure, but it can’t hurt to take a chance on it! I think nominees get to go to GDC 2020 for free?
One more thing…
If you’re on Twitter, tweet “Happy Anniversary” to @blargzor sometime this week [ ^_^]! Jack, programmer and designer of Where Shadows Slumber, got married to his college sweetheart 1 year ago. (Their anniversary was actually yesterday, but this here is a Tuesday blog, damn it.) The couple has requested nice tweets or leaving them alone instead of the traditional “brick through a window with a note attached to it” that is customary for 1 year anniversaries. Respect their wishes!
If you remember last month’s blog post about an upcoming patch to Where Shadows Slumber, and you’ve been eagerly awaiting it since then, I have good news for you. The wait is finally over! Kind of… for some of you!
The patch is coming to iOS later this week once it makes it’s way through Apple’s approval process.
While we have no plans to add more puzzles to the game (a frequent request from fans of the game) we’ll obviously continue to support the game via bugfixes and quality of life improvements as we see fit. Thanks for all the helpful feedback over the past few months on that end!
Stay tuned to this page for more announcements regarding Where Shadows Slumber. While we don’t have anything concrete to announce just yet, a cool experiment is in progress…
What’s Where Shadows Slumber?
I always assume that I’m writing these posts for an audience that reads them regularly, but if you just found out about our game because of this post… welcome! Where Shadows Slumber is a mobile puzzle adventure game for iOS and Android. As the name implies, the driving force of the game’s puzzles center on the shadows your character casts from his bright handheld lantern.
Incidentally, this GIF is slightly out of date now that Patch 1.0.10 is out…
As these shadows move across the landscape of the environment, they can cause objects to appear and disappear from reality. These changes can happen to entire sections of the puzzle or tiny pieces of a single pathway. Shadows from two different objects may have two different effects on the level. Your character’s position matters since Obe is holding the light – he’s more than just a passenger meant to be carted from point A to point B. Where Shadows Slumber encourages outside-the-box thinking, exploration, and puzzle solving!
Try the new-and-improved version of the game at the links below:
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.
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.
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]/
We went live again yesterday morning, so hopefully those who liked the game over the weekend were able to find it!
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!
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.