Tag Archives: Abilene

“No Rest for the Weary” — Week 15 Recap

By Friday afternoon of last week, the Reactuate team was practically drooling over the Wii remotes during our Play&Learn. We were exhausted and sleep deprived. As we struggled to stay awake and entertain our Twitch audience, we aimed red turtle shells, threw opened bananas, and transformed into racing bullets. Mario Kart was fun. But we were tired.

We officially launched our Kickstarter campaign last Tuesday, September 1st. Within hours of our launch, we had over $5000 dollars raised. We watched the number of backers rise throughout the day, mesmerized, as if we hadn’t known before how numbers worked.

Wednesday we celebrated Colony Rush by having a launch party at The Mill Winery in Abilene. It’s a local hot spot that has recently become “the place to go” in this city. Here, we showed our game and the development behind it; we also thanked our backers and set up a computer for those who wanted to support us. (We actually got a couple of people to back us at the party!)

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Our launch party!

This event was a great opportunity to show our family, friends, and colleagues exactly what we’ve been dedicated to this last summer, but it was also a moment for us at Reactuate to just look at all we’ve done and give ourselves a pat on the back.

It the midst of all things Kickstarter and the statistics of how many campaigns succeed after 20% is raised within a 7-day span and yada yada yada … it was nice to sit back and hang out with those that care about what we’re doing.

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#Famous

A lot of different interactions took place last week, too. We were pleasantly surprised when contacted about an interview with The Abilene Reporter-News, who put us on the front page of the business section. In this Sunday edition, the reporter wrote about Ron, the company, and Colony Rush, which enabled more Abilenians to find out about us. We also received a phone call from L.A., but more on that story later …

Ron was asked to give a presentation at a local Rotary Club meeting last week,  too. This was another chance to share what Reactuate Games is doing. The presentation, entitled “The Narrative of Our Age,”  discussed the history of story and its future place in video games. Ron shared Reactuate’s vision and our own push for progress in virtual storytelling.

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Our latest episode of Say Something Smart with Craig Fryar of Wargaming.net is now up on our website, our YouTube channel, and iTunes. Craig, who specializes in game data for projects such as World of Tanks and World of Warships, shared insight on how analytics can influence game design. Check out the episode here.

 

“The Time Has Come” — Week 14 Recap

This is it. Our Kickstarter campaign has finally arrived. And with that arrival is the tremendous urge to throw up.

Just being honest.

Though the nervous energy consumes us all as a team, we still managed to work together and have fun last week. Especially, Friday. For our weekly Friday Team Lunch, we tested Taco Bell’s ordering app together, which turned out to be a team-building exercise oddly enough. And slightly pointless.

Afterward, we worked on our Kickstarter Launch poster. As one Colony Rushcreative force, we designed a spiffy, detailed poster for all of our upcoming events. Once the poster was finalized, we played Dominion, a strategic card game, for our streamed Play&Learn on Twitch. We joked, we laughed, and we forgot, for a moment at least, that this job could be over in just a month.

It’s difficult to discuss this reality. But it is our reality. If we don’t make our Kickstarter goal, this Command Center at Reactuate Games will turn back into a regular old office. And that is disheartening to think about.

But on Friday afternoon, during our game play, we pushed these thoughts away.

Very few tasks were on our to-do list last week. This was mostly because we prioritized items and issues that concerned our Kickstarter.  The full week looked like this:

When Ron wasn’t working diligently on our Kickstarter page, he grew crystals (which would mimic our game’s mineral shards) for the party tables at our launch. Ron also ordered various swag gifts for our supporters, the poster, and other essentials for our promotion.

I posted the fourth episode of the Say Something Smart podcast, featuring Jose Sanchez. You can view that here. I also worked on preparation for the party. I bought the plates, cups, forks, decorations, etc. The majority of my time was spent contacting the press and others about our KS, though. Lots of emails. Lots.

Katey was the woman behind the wheel for the poster. She’s the one who took all of our critiques and suggestions into consideration and designed the piece. On another note, Katey also animated our colonist and got him to walk. Click the pic to see him strut.

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Cool, huh?

For Austin, much of the week was concentrated on taking screenshots and filming in-game scenes for our KS video. It was extremely important to arrange the best images and segments for this highly influential clip on the KS page. When he finished that, Austin went back to working on the saving/loading system in the game.

 

 

“Are We There Yet?” — Week 13 Recap

The term Kickstarter has been heavily integrated in our vocabulary here at Reactuate Games. Phrases like, “On September 1st, we’ll be Kickstarting our Kickstarter campaign on Kickstarter” have been said, and it’s totally normal because we are up to our eye holes in Kickstarter planning.

Yes, our eye holes, people.

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Jose Sanchez

Fortunately, we’ve had a few other tasks that have relieved our minds from KS. Last week, Angel and I interviewed two new guests for our Say Something Smart podcast. Jose Sanchez, who is not only a  game developer but also a professor at the School of Architecture at USC, was our first guest. His video game Block’hood will be released within the next few months. Our second guest was Craig Fryar, the Head of Business Intelligence at Wargaming.net. Craig has helped with the data analysis on numerous games, including World of Tanks and World of Warships. Both episodes will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

Also, episode 3 with Dr. Brian Burton, a professor of digital entertainment, is up on our website. If you missed it, you can watch that here.

I’ve finally reserved a venue for our Kickstarter launch party, which will be September 2nd (the date had to be moved a day after our actual KS launch). We’re beyond excited to celebrate what we’ve accomplished these last three months and to show others the game’s progress so far. The event will be held at a casual winery here in town, and it will be a come-and-go party. A few monitors will display the KS video, in-game images, and perhaps even our YouTube collection.

Speaking of our launch, Ron has officially started up a page for us on the website. Before it goes live, we want to create a promotional video that will be at the top of the page. Ron and I have researched a lot into how we can produce an entertaining and yet persuasive video because it’s one of the most important items on a KS page. Ron prepared the script that we’ll be filming today, so be on the lookout for that gem!

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Power reachability

Austin has been working tirelessly on many lengthy projects. He now has the power plant and power towers working in unison with the power’s reachability. The colony cams now appropriately work within this range, too.

He’s also successfully built a log-in/quit scene with username and password blanks. At the time of this post, the game wasn’t able to be saved, but Austin is working hard on getting that fixed.

Our KS page was in need of a great visual that will entice people to click on our page, so Katey created that image. Katey has also been rigging our first colonist, which turned into a tougher task than we had first imagined. But Katey, the great perseverer she is, finally got the job done. Our colonist, seen here, is quite the kung fu artist.

It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a team. We’re rigging art, recording podcasts, and making a game that we are really proud of. We have a long way to go, of course, but the journey thus far has been immensely fulfilling. On to week 14!

Reactuate Games does Super Smash Bros.

Last Friday, we had a blast playing Super Smash Bros. … and you can’t see it because our screen didn’t record any of it. But we promise it happened.

There was screaming and jeering and vengeful laughing– mostly from me– but everyone seemed to have a good time. And after some intense 4-player action, we talked about the pros and cons of this wildly entertaining game.

Pros:

  • So many characters to choose from! Not only do you have the regulars like Mario, Luigi, and Peach, but you also have Pac-Man, Pokemon characters, and the Wii Fit Trainers. Yes, the lady trainer pulls a yoga move. No, it didn’t do much — but it’s cool as an option anyhow.

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    smashbros.com
  • Up to 8 people can play. Why would you want 8 to play? To add to the chaos, of course! As the saying goes, the more the merrier. And the more to demolish.
  • Developers still focused on details. If you attack someone with a shield, you’ll get hurt. Even with all the craziness happening, Jigglypuffs flying left and right, it’s nice to know that even these minute details work.

Cons:

  • We still don’t understand the controls. As Ron mentioned, he was just hammering buttons the whole time and played a lot of defense because he, like the rest of us, couldn’t really grasp what the controls specifically did. Nor could we find a tutorial. (But that’s kind of the fun, right?)
  • Controls vary with remote. This may not be a con so much as just an annoyance. We couldn’t help Ron, who had a Wii U gamepad, because our setup was so different. On that note …
  • The wii remote doesn’t have any effect on game play. The movement censor means nothing in this game (at least it didn’t seem like it). I see a missed opportunity.
  • Camera view plays favorites. Sometimes the camera would follow a character to their death besides focusing on the remaining players left on the platform. What gives? This sometimes made it difficult to continue fighting when others were defeated.
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en.wikipedia.org

 

Do you love Super Smash Bros.? Let us know in the comments below, or give us suggestions for our next Play & Learn!

 

 

 

 

“Fine-Tuning” — Week 9 Recap

As Reactuate Games gains more support and Guardian comes into focus, we have begun to notice the details that were once not a big deal — the things we said we’d get back to at a later date or work on once we get the bigger priorities complete. We did a lot of this fine-tuning last week.

We largely focused on a new podcast project we’re starting. Angel Rodriguez (find more about him here) and I will be co-hosting the series and discussing anything from video game development to how society can benefit from playing these kinds of games.

I worked with Ron, who has past success with multiple podcasts, to reconstruct a lot of his ideas. We sketched out our theme, some question topics, and the outline for the episodes. The title is something we’re still wrestling with, however. We’ll be recording some of those episodes this week, so be on the lookout for those soon.

Ron also contacted a music tech who will create our company’s sound– meaning, he’ll produce music that embodies what RG is about. This music could potentially be on podcasts, trailers, and other videos that we create. Eventually, our music man will make a theme for our game. But first things first.

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The new power plant

Over the course of last week, Katey concentrated on fixing and revamping some of her older work. Our digital artist added more realistic lightning to the colony portal, shrunk the warehouse to be a more appropriate size, and recreated a power plant with an interesting design. 

While still coding the game into existence, Austin also managed to take on some art duties by putting together a thumbnail for our YouTube videos. Though this seems like a simple task, it’s important to incorporate the right amount of details and simplicity for YouTube audiences scrolling through clips. He also wrote up a programming blog post and continued testing UI elements. 

Besides working on the podcast, I uploaded a new video to YouTube, entitled “Why We’re Not Free to Play.” It’s an interesting talk on why we’ve chosen not to go with the trend of F2P. Watch that below or check it out on our YouTube channel

I also created an email subscription survey, completed some courses in YouTube Creator Academy, and wrote up a document on our target audience avatar. These tasks are fleshed out a bit more in my marketing blog post.

To end the week, we invited Angel over for some shawarma in our office. And it kind of felt like this … 

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ew.com / Shawarma provided by Big Country Wraps in Abilene, Texas!!

Spreading the Word

Marketing is in full-force here at Reactuate Games. With a little over a month until Kickstarter, the team has had idea-fever (it’s a thing), and our marketing to-do list is growing.

One idea that we’re extremely excited about is our new podcast series. Since our first weeks at RG, we’ve aspired to produce a gaming podcast, but we felt too much time would be taken away from other, more important projects. At this stage in our journey, however, it’s vital to collaborate with other gaming-industry influencers, build our community of supporters, and spread the word about our game.

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imdb.com

With the movie Pixels coming out this Friday, I saw the debut as an opportunity to introduce our company to those who enjoy or enjoyed gaming in Abilene. This Adam Sandler film is about aliens misconstruing feeds of classic video games as threatening, so the extraterrestrials send arcade-faves, like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to destroy earth.

Epic. Just epic.

I’m planning to see the movie this weekend, so while I’m out I’ll pass out flyers about our game, hopefully letting a few interested strangers know that a video game company exists right here in town. Fingers are crossed on this one!

Another project we’re working on is an incentivized survey for our email subscribers. Sharing by word of mouth is still a crucial part of marketing, so we’re offering subscribers to choose what we do next here at RG, and we’ll do it … once we get a certain number of subscribers. This will encourage others to share the website and our work. Some of the choices include me writing a flash fiction piece involving the colonists and streaming a special Youtube video for the subscribers.

I’m always trying to learn more about my job. Therefore, I’ve been going through YouTube Creator Academy, a helpful video series that teaches the fundamentals of sustaining and popularizing a YouTube channel. Tips on titles, thumbnails, and talking to your audience are all included. For those wanting to grow an audience on this site should look over these short clips and take notes.

I’m also reading Made to Stick, a marketing book that specializes in getting people’s core ideas to stick with the public. Using the acronym SUCCESs, the authors breakdown the techniques to having good concepts being remembered. Simplicity, Unexpectedness, and Concreteness are just a few of the strategies to consider. This book can actually work for many professions and not simply marketing (teachers, I’m looking at you).

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Finally, Ron and I spent a little time (like two hours) writing up our target audience avatar, Caleb. This imaginary man is a representative of the people we believe will buy and enjoy our game.  It’s crucial to understand Caleb as we market our game and company. We’ll share an in-depth post on Caleb later.

Are you marketing a game now? What ideas have seemed to help? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The RG Team does Civilization V

Last Friday for our Play & Learn we wanted to play Star Trek Online … but, unfortunately, I am inadequate at remembering passwords two minutes after I create them. So, we played Civilization V instead.

Here’s our video of the Retrospective and Play & Learn:

While Katey took over observer mode, Austin and I played. An hour of game time flew by as we established our empires, conquered brutal bandits, and waged war on Germans who didn’t want to be our friend.

Here are some pros we found for the game:

  • Animals move like real animals! We noticed that whales jumped from the surface of oceans and horses seemed to do horse-like things, too. These small details make the game play more realistic and fun.
  • Viewer mode. The observer mode that Katey was on is similar to a feature we hope to implement in our own game. Like our Colony Cam, this position allows the person to look at the game play in a new and unique way.
  • Automatically takes you to the action. This feature helps prioritize the big battles that occur during game play.
  • The mini-map is clickable. Katey could click on where she wanted to go using the mini-map. (However, she had mentioned that clicking on the users’ names would be more helpful.)

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  • Enlarged images. These large-scaled images help players understand what to do. A huge group of cattle or giant glittering minerals give players a hint at what’s supposed to take place.
  • Option to change pace. This is nice in that various personalities or gamers can play at their own speed.

And here are ALL of the cons we came up with:

  • It can get dull if pacing is too slow. Sometimes I found myself clicking “Next Turn” just because …
  • Observer can get lost. If you’re the observer, you won’t really know what’s going on with your friends. No info is available on them, and you won’t be able to see political relations. (But this may be a good feature because you certainly don’t want a spy helping out an opponent.)

Have you played Civilization V? What did you think?

Remember to join us next time when we do another Play & Learn on Twitch!

“Checkpoint”- Week 8 Recap

Last Friday, our company let go one of our digital artist. We were saddened by the decision, but it was one that the company felt needed to be made. The RG team shared a tearful goodbye with the artist and then tried to get through the rest of the day.

This is the ugly side of business. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

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Guardian’s colony portal

Though we are one man short, we still have a dedicated team working hard on getting Guardian’s demo out by September 1st to begin our Kickstarter Campaign. Austin, our programmer, has been implementing the UI into the  game and creating the introductory missions that will advance the player through different levels. Katey, our digital artist, has nearly completed one of the most important pieces in Guardian— the colony portal. This gigantic contraption will transport humans from earth to the foreign planet by  using tremendous amounts of electricity. Because so much energy goes into this process, colonists won’t be able to come and go all willy-nilly.  The decision to populate this new world will not be an easy one.

Katey also revamped our hydroponics farm, a building that will act as a greenhouse for agriculturally-inclined colonists. More windows= more sunshine = happier plant life. (Katey will be doing a majority of the artwork from now on, except for a few graphics that will be contracted out to other artists.)

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Hydroponics farm

This last week I focused largely on finding new blogs and bloggers that are primarily interested in indie games.  From Kickstarter’s website, I searched for other indie game companies’ campaigns and saved their games’ images. After using Google image search, I found a few blogs that covered these games. Eventually, I will reach out to these bloggers in hopes that they will want to write about Guardian, too. It could be a long shot, but there isn’t any hurt in trying, either. This marketing strategy stems from Tim Ferriss’ article “Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days.” It’s a great read if you or your team are planning to do a crowdfunding project.

The RG team faced a difficult week, one that stretched us as game developers and as individuals. But a new week is upon us, and we’ve taken the time to rejuvenate, refocus, and reset our mind on the ultimate prize.

“Halfway Point” — Week Seven Recap

We’ve spent 7 weeks on our game.

We have 7 weeks until Kickstarter.

And that is terrifying.

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mashable.com

Last week, it finally hit me how little time we have to get to a playable position with Guardian AND to build a fanbase for our Kickstarter campaign. Forty-nine days. I may or may not have had a mini panic attack.

Our Twitch followers have asked if we are on schedule, and to a certain extent, we are. Colonists’ structures and worker units are being put into the game every couple of days, ominous beasts are being reimagined and designed, and new ideas, like Colony Cams (an interactive option for gamers that allows them to watch their colony grow at ground level), are popping up every day.

Support for our game and the company is not where we wished it would be, unfortunately. Exactly how long does one need when marketing a video game? I’m not sure. But a few months certainly doesn’t seem like enough time. Even then, the finish line approaches with more haste.

Inspiration personified visited the Command Center last week, easing our anxiety some. His name is Angel Rodriguez (@dirOFawesome). Angel is a professional gamer who travels the world to compete in game tournaments and gives inspirational talks related to the benefits of gaming. Oh, he also works full-time in the U.S. Air Force AND has a family.

Angel reminded us why games are so important; besides simply being fun, video games teach us about problem-solving, making decisions, and taking on pressure. After our chat, I realized that Guardian will be more than just an entertaining, intriguing, and addicting hobby. It could make us better at life, too.

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In Guardian-related news, the team has made great strides in their own work. Katey (@BluelKatey) conquered curves while modeling more luxury houses in Blender, Austin (@Austin_Graham24) worked on navigation, having builder units move across rough terrain, and Ron (@rondavis007) created a new UI for the game that follows our futuristic theme.

Our current UI
Our current UI (Click to watch in action)

I also did an interview with Austin, our code artist. In the video, he talks about programming, the foreign language of coding, and what someone should do if he/she wants to become a programmer. There’s tons of great information, so go check it out on YouTube or click here.

 

 

Can You Be Too Hyped for Your Game?

Over the past month, I’ve contacted numerous Abilene reporters and news anchors about Guardian and the company. Unfortunately, I’ve received  little interest back. Feeling defeated, I wondered why our own city didn’t want to cover us. Were abandoned kittens being mothered by a terrier that much more newsworthy than Reactuate Games?

For a brief time, I decided to take a break from the rejection and work on things that did get noticed, like our YouTube videos or blog posts. These marketing strategies were at least being viewed and retweeted in the Twittersphere. Except for one of my blog posts getting put on a website,  I wasn’t getting anything from the press, and I wondered if perhaps I was trying too hard.  Maybe I was becoming a pusher rather than a promoter and annoying all of our followers and friends on our social media pages by my constant plugging.

As Chris Hecker (@checker) says in his GDC video presentation “No One Knows About Your Game,” being an enthusiastic promoter isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Hecker states:

“You can’t overhype a game; you can only underdeliver.”

If you focus on creating a really interesting and fun game, then you shouldn’t have to worry that you talked-up your game in the first place. And if you believe in what you’re creating, let the gamers of the world know!

So we’re excited about marketing again, and plan to do it whenever and wherever.

1. We have joined Abilene’s Chamber of Commerce, a collection of local businesses that get together and network and support one another. Hopefully we’ll meet other Abilenians who are interested in what we are doing.

2. We’ve also made flyers that we hand out at local universities. One school has a Digital Entertainment Technology program that turned out to be a great place to discuss our company with potential future game devs. We also plan to leave these flyers at video game stores and gaming hangouts around town.

3. Just today we booked an interview with our local TV station’s community-oriented series called 4U. Later this month, Ron will talk about RG and Guardian so that others in the area can support the first video game company in the city.

Eventually, our marketing scope will be larger. Our end goal is to have a fan base that stretches across the globe, but it’s important to start with a foundation and grow from there.

Check out Hecker’s GDC video: