PAX East 2019 Recap

The show was a full week ago, but PAX East seems like yesterday! Jack and I are still exhausted from our travels to Boston, but I didn’t want to let too much time pass without recording our thoughts on the trip.


Day 0: The PREGAMER Show

This year’s PAX began differently than in recent years. I’ve never made it up to Boston a day early for Playcrafting’s PREGAMER party, but I’m glad I went for it this year. (The regular fee was included with our booth) Dan got a bar at the convention center hotel and covered the whole room in indie games! It was a nice way to start the show – essentially like a Spring Play esque Playcrafting event in a different city, the night before PAX East!

My strategy was to leave the iPad playing our trailer, and put our sweet MOO cards out to attract people over.

Your setup is pretty simple – two bar tables pushed together with a chair for each one, and a power strip behind you. I was next to an adult party card game (similar to Cards Against Humanity) so I don’t think the games are sorted into categories, it’s kind of a free for all. The event had a lot of people in it, but not too much traffic – meaning that I didn’t see too many people at the table as the night went on. Maybe that’s my fault for not bringing my cool Where Shadows Slumber banner? In any event, the people that played it really enjoyed it. One dude even bought it in front of me!

I got to chat with some young developers who are basically where Jack and I were at two years ago – they just graduated college and have a beautiful demo of a promising indie game, with a lot of work ahead of them.

(This wasn’t taken at PREGAMER, it’s just a sweet photo)

Next year, if you’re going to be in town for PAX anyway, you ought to at least show up to the party before the real convention begins! Also, if you happen to be at PAX but you couldn’t get a booth, this is a nice way to still represent your game and maybe get some media attention before the news storm hits.

Days 1 and 2: Showtime!

When the show began in earnest, I was shocked at how busy the event was from the moment it started. In recent years, Thursday has been a terribly slow day. Almost one of those days that makes you say “man, why does PAX even start on a Thursday anyway?” But this year Thursday felt more like a Friday, which was great!

It’s hard to quantify crowd sizes. Every year, Where Shadows Slumber has been at different spots on the show floor. (PAX East Indie Showcase in 2017, Indie MiniBooth in 2018, now Playcrafting in 2019) You don’t just want “a lot of people at the show”, but rather “a lot of people who come to your table excited about your game, eager to engage.” It would do us no good if 1,000,000 people came to PAX East but only cared about Roblox.

I can’t put it into hard numbers, but we felt busy all through the show. Tons of people remembered the game from last year’s spot at the Indie MiniBooth. A few diehards remembered the demo days, which is always heartening. And we bumped into some old friends from Stevens, too! There’s a suprising amount of them that either live in Boston or make the journey north just for PAX. The more of these shows I do, the more I look forward to just making connections with devs, industry people, journalists and old pals.

Our placement at the Playcrafting booth was perfect, too! We were facing out toward the aisle near a corner, with nothing in front of us. And since we were next to the Bose AR-cade (also run by Dan) we got a lot of spillover traffic from them, too. Jack joined the fun Thursday night, which was just in time, because I was already feeling tired. PAX East is a marathon, not a sprint!

Left to right: Jack Kelly, Kati Nawrocki, Adriano Valle, and Dan Butchko.
(I took this from the podium!)

Day 3: How Our Panel Went

Before we even had a booth at PAX East, I took the liberty of submitting a few panel ideas to the show just so we could talk about Where Shadows Slumber. This would be a special PAX, since it’s the first time our game is available on the market for sale instead of just as a demo or beta download. Some of my more selfish ideas didn’t fly, such as an entire 1 hour lecture on the greatness of our game, how beautiful it is, and how handsome the developers are. However, our panel “How Much Do Premium Games Make” was accepted!

It was scheduled for 1:30 pm on Day 3, Saturday. We didn’t get to pick the time, and I wouldn’t normally miss the busiest time of the show to do a panel, but we ended up getting a great crowd! Here’s a shot I took from the podium of them coming in:

Like lambs to the slaughter!

The panel was a fantastic success! Jack and I were joined by Dan Butchko of Playcrafting, Kati Nawrocki of Dots, and Adriano Valle of OrcPunk. (Though, to be honest, I know all of them through Playcrafting!) It was a frank and honest conversation about how difficult it is to be a premium indie game in a crowded marketplace. We talked about changes in consumer patterns, and new business models that can appeal to today’s phone gamer. The short version is that free-to-play isn’t just a “good idea” – it’s a requirement on mobile. Or… don’t focus so much on your game making money!

A line of questions… for us?!

I want to thank our fellow panelists, everyone who came to the panel, those who asked questions, and Matt our theater manager for making the event so successful! We’ve all leveled up and become “game devs who do panels sometimes” which I’m sure is just a few steps from “game devs who are incredibly successful and happy.” So close!

BONUS: I think Night 3 was when we got to try an awesome party bluffing game called Pluck Off! that is still in development. It’s a card game, so don’t expect to see it at too many video game events in the future, but if you can get a print & play it’s totally worth it. (Warning: don’t play with Jack, he’ll destroy your face)

Day 4: An Exhausted Success!

By the time Day 4 rolled around, I had basically checked out and spent most of the day collapsed in a chair in the back of the booth. This ended up being a mistake, as I actually missed a lot of people who planned to stop by the table but hadn’t scheduled a time. (Sorry people!)

We can call the weekend a success though, because we nudged so many people to buy & review our game that it brought our Apple rating up from a 4.4 to a 4.5! This may seem insignificant, but it brings us past the threshold that Apple uses when deciding which games to feature. Some games, like our muse Monument Valley, are featured at least once a week. If we climb the ranks, Apple might give us at least a feature every month. Bring on the Today tab, boys!

Me during day 4 of PAX East (Dramatization)

I don’t know about Jack, but I’m still recuperating from the weekend. I have no idea how some devs did three shows back to back in March… (This is the SXSW / GDC / PAX East Trifecta, sometimes called March Madness or dying.) I’m hoping to get back on the wagon soon though, because we have a lot of little changes to make to the build in response to your wonderful feedback. Jack and I spent the entirety of our 4 hour drive back to Hoboken planning what we can do in the short & long term to improve Where Shadows Slumber. I’m excited to put the plan into action!

Thank you to everyone who visited our table, bought our game, gave us a review, or attended our panel! You helped make a good PAX great. Wish us luck finding the energy to keep going!

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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.

Introducing SlumberLife™, a New Life Simulator

We just teased this at PAX East over the weekend, but now it’s time to make a formal announcement: the Where Shadows Slumber team has been hard at work on an exciting new mobile game, and it’s available as a free download today! Read on for details…


Life Simulators Are All The Rage

Jack and I can be stubborn in our own ways, but everyone has to adapt eventually. We can see the writing on the wall – puzzle games are out, life simulators are in. Why solve cerebral brain puzzles when you could live vicariously through a digital avatar? Why go on a daring adventure when you could play as a character that eats, sleeps, showers, goes to work, and dies of old age?

That’s why our next game is SlumberLife – a life simulator based on the deep, specific lore that lies at the heart of Where Shadows Slumber. Starting today, you can embark on your own journey through the eternal nightlands seen in Where Shadows Slumber.

It all begins by customizing your very own character. Choose your biological sex, age, ethnicity, and vague religious affiliation. We hope that choices like the one between “Old” and “Geezer” are compelling decisions for the player!

Since the game is still in development, some options are limited. Check back later for more exciting paths!

Live The Life Of Your Dreams

In SlumberLife, you can live the life you’ve imagined. But nothing in life is free, so nothing in life simulators should be free either. Whereas most life simulators use money or “gold”, we have Lantern Fuel. Use your hard-earned fuel to pimp out your ponchos, lanterns, and hats!

You collect fuel by working at various jobs. Then, if you work hard enough, you might get an exciting promotion!

  • Prison Guard (promotes into Prison Warden)
  • Thief (promotes into Kidnapper)
  • Ferryman (promotes into Murdered)
  • Knight (promotes into Corpse)
  • Walker (promotes into Torch Walker)
  • Rebel (promotes into King)
  • Lumberjack (promotes into Tombstone)
  • …and “many” more!

Everyone needs a place to live. But your character begins as a homeless wanderer, lost in the woods or whatever. Spend that fuel to give him an awesome new home to live in while he wastes away!

Choices include squalor, a swamp cage, a desert hovel, an “abandoned” mountain cottage, a desert palace, a winter fortress, a floating Bermuda house, and more!

Some of the better dwellings cost lots of fuel. Get ready to grind! This isn’t a premium game – it’s going to cost a lot of your time if you want to really get the most of it.

It’s not a life simulator if you can’t make difficult choices as you navigate your strange old person through a shadowy, unforgiving world. Our thrilling menu-based gameplay lets you choose between living a stable life, or doing something funny.

From the menu, select Crimes to make your character do something unhinged. If you weren’t worried about the mental state of the game developers before, you certainly will be once you choose one of these options!

After you play long enough, your character eventually dies!

Our Development Partners

Everyone is thrilled to be working on this game! Just listen to these real testimonials from the crew:

“When Frank told me about this game, I said ‘what?'”

-Jack Kelly

Jack is the lead developer and designer of the original Where Shadows Slumber.

Me too, Jack. Me too!

“This is a real game we’re working on, and this is a real quote.”

-Noah Kellman

Noah is one half of PHÖZ, along with Alba S. Torremocha. They created the beautiful audio of the original Where Shadows Slumber.

Classic Noah right there.

We’re also bringing SlumberLife to the newly announced Apple Arcade! Here’s a confirmation email I can share with you, straight from the source:

But we haven’t even told you the best part yet…

Releasing… Today!

There’s no need to wait before jumping into your new life as a strange old man. You can download the open beta for SlumberLife right now! (You’ll need to be approved for the TestFlight build if you’re on iOS) Links below:

The game probably has a few kinks in it, so please fill out this Google Survey about your experience with the beta.

Enjoy your new life!

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If you never played the original game that inspired SlumberLife, Where Shadows Slumber is always available for purchase on the App StoreGoogle 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.

Patch 1.0.9 Notes

Even though Where Shadows Slumber launched on iOS nearly six months ago, we’re still making slight improvements and catching small bugs. Did you notice that your game got updated over the past week? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the important changes we made. Jack did all the work here, so this is mostly me just copying things over from GitHub commits…


Level 1-3, “Lock” – Removed Rotatable Casing

This Level caused a lot of players to stop in their tracks, because they didn’t realize the two draggables at the bottom-left of the screen were actually draggable. Those are super weird because they rotate like big airplane propellers – plus, they were encased in rock because I was too lazy to make them come in and out of the lava with a cool effect.

Now you can see them more clearly! I’m still not in love with the look, mostly because of the weird way the shadows interact with the lava. I have some ideas of how to change this Level, but we’ll see if this works for now.

Level 1-4, “Ascent” – Visible Shadowy Doors

Players have always struggled to figure out what’s going on in this Level. I think we even got some bad reviews of the game because of this one! In particular, what’s confusing people here is that we’re using a mechanic for this puzzle that isn’t reintroduced for 21 more Levels! It was too cool to pass up, though. And it’s not exactly the same mechanic.

Anyway, as you can see in the before and after above, the doors in this Level will now glow in shadow to show off that they’ve changed. This fix really improves the Level while still maintaining what we love about it.

Level 2-1, “Docks” – Raft Draggable Size

Players were having trouble recognizing the raft at the bottom of the screen as a draggable, so Jack added a second drag-square to it.

Under The Hood

Here’s some non-visual changes you wouldn’t notice unless you have a keen eye for bugs:

  • Click Detection – Fixed a bug where if you click on a space, but your movement is interrupted, clicking on that same space will not cause Obe to start walking there.
  • Disappearing Draggables – If a draggable disappears (due to a shadow) while you are dragging it, it never “stops dragging”. This means that the player’s input would be disabled, if you dragged another draggable, the first one would continue to move, etc.
  • Walker Pause Time – Walkers will pause for a bit longer on buttons to make puzzle solving easier in select Levels. (2-1, 2-2, 2-5, and 3-2)
  • And more…

As always, let us know if you encounter issues with the game! We’ve got cool news about new platforms coming up in the next few weeks, so stay tuned…

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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, Nominated for IMGA 2019!

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.

Rekt!

Anyway, roll that press release!


Where Shadows Slumber Nominated in the 15th INTERNATIONAL MOBILE GAMING AWARDS (IMGA Global)

Fans Can Vote Online to Help Game Revenant win the People’s Choice Award https://www.imgawards.com/winners-nominees/15th-imga/

[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/

Winners will be announced on March 19th, 2019 during the highly anticipated IMGA ceremony, which will take place in the Minna Gallery in San Francisco.

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 Gaming Awards:

The 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.

For full details visit: http://www.imgawards.com or call: +33 491 315 217. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Contact: Frank DiCola

Phone: (201) 526-4950

Email: contact@GameRevenant.com


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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.

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.

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.

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?!

 


 

 

History-GameOfTheDay2018-Snippet

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.