With over 31 million downloads, Mad Skills Motocross 2 has continued to be a success for developer Turborilla since its launch in 2014. This is primarily due to a loyal player base, many of which are involved in real-life Motocross, as well as partnerships with the likes of RedBull for exclusive events. Looking to drive more community engagement, Turborilla decided to up the ante in October 2015 by introducing real-money challenges via Swedish skills-based esports platform, Gumbler.
Based purely on a player’s skill, Gumbler brings esports to mobile games by enabling players to win real cash through placing money on their abilities. After integrating Gumbler, Mad Skills Motocross 2 saw players win upward of $900,000 in 2016 – with some individual players earning as much as $6,000 per month.
Having seen the high levels of engagement from the Mad Skills Motocross 2 community, Gumbler worked with Turborilla to host its first World Championship at the beginning of 2017 with a prize pot of $20,000.
For Gumbler, the goal was simple as its Head of Esports, Simon Sunden explains:
I wake up after a night of binge coding to a dawn awash in the song of the muezzin. I am on the 27th floor of a glass tower in the midst of a modernist mountain range that is Bangsar South. Below me is all of Kuala Lumpur incredible in the fading night.
Three weeks ago, I received a message asking if I was interested in applying to GameFounders. I said, “Of course.” To my mind, GameFounders is the modern equivalent of the Sculpture Garden of the Medicis. Sculpture not involving marble, chisel and hammer, but interactivity, pixels and code. GameFounders calls digital talent from all over the world to come to Kuala Lumpur to build the future; accelerating the process by providing investment, a first-rate workspace and a three-month mentorship by masters of the various disciplines that comprise game development.
Over the Holidays, I faced a series of interviews. The first was with Christina Begerska, GameFounders Program Manager, sharp as an adamantium blade and kept fresh – no doubt – by the tears of failed applicants. Next was Reinaldo Normand, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor and author. And finally, Kadri Ugand herself, Co-Founder and CEO of GameFounders.
I was sleepwalking throughout the long wait for The Decision. Then I was told, matter-of-factly, that we were in. It took a lot of staring into space before it finally sunk in – our studio, Moocho Brain Interactive, would be in GameFounders Spring 2017!
This cycle is made of nine teams selected from a growing pool of more than a thousand applicants. Three teams are from South America, two are from Europe and four from Asia. Meet the teams of GameFounders Spring 2017:
The international Indie Prize showcase for independent developers will take place on Nov 1-3, 2016 in Tel Aviv. Sixty games from 21 countries were provided with Indie Prize scholarship by Casual Connect and will be showcased at Habima Square during three days from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Three games will represent from Argentina and Brazil were selected by Indie Prize judges and provided with the Indie Prize scholarship to attend Casual Connect Tel Aviv.
Joymasher is the developer of Oniken and Odallus, two pixel-art titles inspired by various NES action games. The developer is based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The studio is led by Danilo Dias, his wife Thaís Weiller and their friend Marco Galvão. When they started out, Danilo confirmed that they weren’t operating under the mentality of making an “indie” game.
“Well, to be honest at the time I started making Oniken I didn’t even knew what an indie game was!” said Danilo, laughing. “I just wanted to make a fun action 8-bit game, like the ones that I used to play as a kid. Every time that I think about making a game, I ask myself, ‘Hum… I think that I want to make a Contra-like game, or a Castlevania-like game’ and so on. I know that this isn’t something refined or creative but I really love games from 8/16-bit era and I want to make games like these.”
'We adopted a new business model based on partnerships with athletes'. - Wallace MoraisClick To Tweet
Hermit Crab is a game studio based in Porto Alegre, South of Brazil, founded in July 2014 by Wallace Morais. He expanded the studio inviting Guilherme Goncalves in 2015 and Matheus Vivian in 2016. With 9 games launched and one in beta, the studio has now focused on a new business model as they have gone more indie. Wallace sheds more light on their newly discovered direction.
The Global Game Jam post-mortem series covers the experiences of various Global Game Jam (GGJ) teams from all around the world. We ask teams from various locations and GGJ editions to look back and tell us about their experiences, share learned lessons and offer advise on creating something beautiful and fun in less than 48 hours.
This is ship’s log for ARK-II, mission 2301.A.NULL, written by captain-in-charge, NoahX02.
Our mission will begin shortly. It will be our last mission before departing the solar system.
Preparations are complete. The estimated hour for execution was, unfortunately, imprecise.
NoahX01 is MIA as of the last hour. Our current measurements indicate that temperatures have reached critical levels, and we must depart at once.
The storage system is functioning properly, and is ready to receive the specimens. I fear that the early arrival of the sun’s thermatmosphere will render most of the remaining life in the system extinct before our current plan can be executed. It is for that reason that we have ultimately agreed upon adopting plan C.NULL to mission 2301, at our own expense and risk. That plan does not exist in your archives. It is as follows:
ARK-II will follow the designated route of the planets as of plan A.NULL;
Each landing will be the beginning of an approximately 1-minute search mission, instead of the 3 hours designed in A.NULL;
We will deploy as many NoahX units as we can, but only one at a time, to guarantee the success of the mission;
ARK-II will depart the planet when that time has elapsed, regardless of NoahX units that are in the surface of the planet;
The times are calculated for every planet to maximize our orbital jump’s effectiveness;
Upon leaving the last planet, the ARK-II will enter phase 2, and launch into hyperspace as expected.
All NoahX units have agreed on this.
All our hope are belong to you.
It begins now.
Cheers everyone! We are a team of independent game developers who participated in Global Game Jam 2011 from Curitiba, Brazil (with PUC-PR – one of the biggest jam sites in 2011) and created the game Planetary Plan C.
This year’s theme was “Extinction”, and the idea for the game came from looking up the word in a dictionary, where we found the meaning of stellar extinction. After a brainstorm session by most of the team, we came up with the basic ideas for the game mechanics and concept – at this point, it’s difficult to say who had which ideas.
In our basic game conception, the player is able to visit four different planets in succession. In each of them, he is given about a minute and a half to rescue as many plants, animals, people and novelty items as he possibly can, before everything is incinerated by an expanding sun in its Giant Red stellar phase. The game is played as a simple platformer, with the added twist that the worlds are small and circular, so you can walk all the way around it in a few seconds. To add challenge to the quest are natural hazards: lava, water, and volcanic eruptions. Once the time is over, the ship automatically takes off to the next planet, until they have all been visited, and the player is awarded with a sight of everything that he has rescued, on their new home planet.
Determining this basic gameplay took a lot of time. The duration of each world (and of the game as a whole) were also a serious issue, as we needed to decide it beforehand so the music could be composed to match it, but we didn’t have enough gameplay feedback to make a well-informed choice. We went by our gut feelings, and we think that we got it just about right. Beyond that, everything went very smoothly.
With the main idea in our heads, we then proceeded to organize our work process and assignments for each member on the team with what was important to take the most advantage of our time and resources.
The tasks were divided based on the specialty of each member of the team, so the programmer (Rodrigo) and composer (Rafael) worked on their own in their respective areas, and the art assignments were as follows: Santo was responsible for background art, props and audio effects; Amora made the art and animation of the main character, the robot Noah, as well as animating part of our game resources; Irene worked on the design of the game’s visual interfaces, menus and HUD; Henrique focused on concept art, animated resources and Noah’s spaceship – and also wrote the game intro message; and Karen made concept and resources art, spaceship and game introduction screen. That aside, everyone took part in the creation of concept and game mechanics.
“There’s much credit to be given to the classic platforms like Mario, Sonic and Megaman, for their influences on how we perceive platform movement.”
The influences and sources of inspiration for the game were many. There’s much credit to be given to the classic platforms like Mario, Sonic and Megaman, for their influences on how we perceive platform movement. The “controlled jump” and “accelerated move” of Mario and Sonic are seen in the game, as is Megaman X’s dash.
In the case of our composer, Rafael didn’t look for specific game soundtrack references with a thematic similar to our game idea, mostly because there was not enough time for this task. So he focused on his own musical preferences he was used to working with, so he could reach the soundtrack effect he wanted more easily. He took as inspirational sources L. V. Beethoven, J. Brahms, Leonard Bernstein, and music from Banjo-Kazooie, Zelda and especially, Mario Bros. He composed the orchestra as to provide the game with a dramatic atmosphere, supplying an urgent and epic feeling to the task of collecting resources and avoiding extinction. The musical percussion was specially designed so it could give an additional fun ambience to the missions.
The right scale
During the game’s development, several ideas didn’t make the cut, simply because we didn’t have enough time to implement them:
There were supposed to be at least two additional hazards, a lightning bolt and a meteor;
Smoke particles were supposed to be used for the dash and as a notification that the volcanoes were about to explode;
We originally had planned a solar system-wide view, where you could see the star swallowing the planets as time went by.
We tried to deliver the player an experience where he comes upon a situation in which choices are to be made, for he will never be able to save everything from each small planet. These choices per se imply results and responsibilities concerning the influence over the sustainability of a new world as well as the preservation and extinction of species and cultures. We wished this game to provide fun above it all, without trying to stuff the player with moral lessons or cliché preaching. If the player can gather a deeper meaning from his experience or just have a really good time playing, all is well, our mission is accomplished!
“Looking back on our development process, one thing that could probably have been better would be to have more time to balance and refine the gameplay.”
Looking back on our development process, one thing that could probably have been better would be to have more time to balance and refine the gameplay. Particularly, we believe that the final scoring and collectible distribution systems could have been improved. Our programmer’s opinion is also that the game might have ended up being too hard, perhaps due to the unpredictable spawn of volcanoes and the movement (in particular, the unstoppable dash).
Overall, everything went incredibly well. Some great ideas surfaced, like Henrique’s idea to use a “surface map” to indicate the hazard areas of the map. With a combination of Notepad++ Macros and Photoshop trickery, he could create a long string of 0s and 1s indicating which segments of the surface of each world was safe to step on, and Rodrigo hardcoded that into the game as C strings. Without that, it would have been impractical to implement this concept, at least given the time that we had with only one programmer. It was very surprising to see that all surface maps were very accurate, and not a single one required tweaking!
The team is very proud of all the polish that we were able to give the game, including finishing a reasonably complex game with relatively few bugs. We also managed to complete the GGJ-2011 Achievement Playing the Music: The game’s duration is matched to that of a song. When the song ends, the game ends. No loops allowed.
For events like the GGJ, where you only have a weekend to develop a whole game, the most important thing we can say is: THINK SMALL. Games are always more complex than they seem at first. In particular, we strongly recommend making a 2D game, since not only does 3D add extra difficulties in both programming and asset development, and given the time constraints, they are rarely worth the effort, and are more likely to look “amateurish” (it’s unlikely that you’ll have time to make professional-looking models and textures).
“There’s no “write the whole game first, program the whole game later” – and some questions are better left unanswered, too!”
After the first concepting phase, when you know what kind of game you want to make, you will have tons of gameplay and feature ideas. You will also get that paralyzing feeling of “we have to decide everything that would be in a game’s design”. We really think it should be avoided as much as possible. Think of all the questions on your mind, but don’t decide on anything beforehand – instead, think of the smallest subset of the game that you can build fast, and then as you build it you will feel the answers coming. We tried defining that smallest subset as early as possible, and work on it right away: “some platformer guy who is running around on a 2d planet with lots of hazards and a spaceship he has to return to. He collects things.” Whether the guy was a robot, a dragon or a human, whether the things he picks up are rocks or books or people: it didn’t matter at that time. There’s no “write the whole game first, program the whole game later” – and some questions are better left unanswered, too!
A tip we would like to give is that care should also be taken when picking your tools: pick something you’re familiar with; you already have enough on your plate, don’t try to learn new technologies as an added difficulty! Try to prepare in advance, setting up a blank workspace/project can save you a lot of time. When you’re trying to get a game done in 48 hours, you don’t want to spend a few of those tracking down dependencies and writing boilerplate. And finally, have fun! Otherwise, there’s no point in joining.
Finally, we wanted to say that having such a positive feedback about our work is without any doubt the best kind of stimulant we could get. It’s definitely an incentive to keep working hard and makes us value our work as a team and individuals, as game developers. We want to keep producing games and giving it our best.
We are sure that this positive response to Planetary Plan C is the result of an incredible teamwork, full of talents that not only complement one another, but are capable of communicating well and sharing a harmonious view of the whole.
Amora B. has a career in Animation, having worked in productions such as “The Princess and the Frog” (Disney), “Chico y Rita” (Estudio Mariscal y Magic Light Pictures), and other films and commercials. She’s a co-founder of MiniBoss.
Fernando Su is a friend of the team. He helped us as a Beta Tester, cooking-planner and moral support.
Henrique Schlatter Manfroi majored in Game Development. He has worked for Southlogic Studios and Ubisoft as a 2d and 3d artist, and is now co-owner of the independent developer Sulistas.
Irene Sasaki Imakuma majored in Architecture and Urbanism, and works in a retail architecture office. She also works with graphic design, animation and project management as a member of MiniBoss.
Karen Garcia Teixeira has majored in Visual Arts. She works as an Illustrator and is a member of MiniBoss team.
Rafael Miranda is a pianist and studies composition at Alcântara Machado College in Brazil. He composed the soundtracks for the games Jules: unboxing the world, Talbot´s Odyssey – part one and Planetary Plan C. He is a member of MiniBoss team.
Rodrigo Braz Monteirois the game’s programmer. He works for an online casual gaming company, where he is the lead programmer.
Santo, a.k.a. Pedro Medeiros, has majored in design and works with illustration and concept art. He is a co-founder of MiniBoss.
Find out more about Studio Miniboss team on their blog.
In the last decade Brazil’s economy has been flourishing, spawning all kinds of new commercial and creative initiatives. Brazil has a fond love for gaming and a growing industry to match it. We had a talk with the cheerful Martin Fabichak, Technical Director of Insolita Studios in São Paulo, to find out more about him, his company and what makes the Brazilian game industry unique.
After Fabichak graduated in Applied Math with a specialization in Programming, he quickly realized that his true passion was game development, leading him to create flash games. In 2008 he joined Insolita where he recently became Technical Director and a partner of the company six months ago.
One of the characteristics of being a young company in an upcoming industry is that you get to create all sorts of games. Insolita Studios has a diverse repertoire, from serious games to teach management skills, to comedic platformers featuring cavemen and devils.
CaveDays allowed Insolita to get noticed in the Brazilian industry, especially after winning the Jogos BR contest.
While they were making three serious games to encourage entrepreneurship in collaboration with professional experts, they decided to make something less serious, yet important on the side: CaveDays. “This cool platforming game allowed the company get noticed in the Brazilian industry, especially after winning the Jogos BR contest for Best Game, a contest organized by the Brazilian government to stimulate Brazilian game design.” Fabichak explains.
The award was the first step to start more, and bigger, projects. Fabichak likes to describe them in superlatives: “Afterwards we made a huge serious game, LudoPark. Pretty much one of the biggest serious games ever made because it’s a real-time multiplayer management game where 40 players compete to manage their business.” Besides this “huge” game, Insolita Studios joined up with the independent Brazilian game developer Abdução to make something “mini” that turned out quite big.
Freekscape from Brazil
The two companies joined forces as Kidguru Studios to work on the first Sony-licensed game in Brazil for the PSP Minis platform, Freekscape. “We’re the only licensees for Sony.” Fabichak explains. “There is no one with a PS3 license here. It’s really hard to get that in Latin America. Being able to get Freekscape on the PSP Mini platform was a unique opportunity for us.”
Developing Freekscape took Insolita’s international relationships to another level in many different ways. “We developed a prototype with 3 levels and took it to GDC in 2009. There we got in touch with the publisher Creat from the US that gave us the opportunity to work with Sony that was looking for games for its new PSP Minis platform that had yet to be announced.” Fabichak recounts.
Sony was really happy with the way Freekscape fitted their original idea of the type of games they wanted to offer on PSP Minis.
Compared to other PSP Minis games, Freekscape was a big mini. “Out of 40 levels we had in this project, only 15 remained in the game,” Fabichak admits. “We did not know that Minis would mostly be smaller-sized casual games. Most games come down to 1 or 2 hours of playtime, with a lot of replay value, of course,” Fabichak explains. “But Freekscape was disproportionately bigger with about 8 hours of gameplay. We believed and hoped PSP Minis was going to be a platform for small studios with big ideas.” Was Freekscape too big to be a Mini? “Sony was happy with the way Freekscape fit into their original idea of the type of games they wanted to offer on PSP Minis.”
Lessons from the little devil
Fabichak is happy with having an odd-one-out on a platform that has tough competition with delivering bite-sized portable games. He is proud of the game it turned out to be, but especially the lessons and relationships they gained through it. “We learned a lot from Freekscape. Especially in maintaining a relationship with an international publisher and a big player like Sony.” Fabichak says. “One of the things we struggled with was developing for Minis at such an early stage. Developing Freekscape before PSP Minis had even been announced, brought some difficulties, specifically nearing the end of our development cycle because the requirements and features for PSP Minis changed from one week to the other.”
Fabichak does not take his hardships for granted, however. “During this time, we had a great relationship with Vicious Cycle Software, who made the Vicious Engine we worked with. They helped us with a lot of issues. They even made some tweaks to the engine to help us out with some of the issues,” Fabichak recounts. “But when it came to one of the specific requirements from Sony, I spent about a month in the engine’s source code trying to solve it. That was really hard, especially since it came out of the blue, nearing the end of development.”
Now we can approach publishers and companies like Sony with much more ease.
“Despite these problems, we had great help from Sony.” Fabichak admits. It also gave them more confidence to step things up. “Through this project we now talk to others on a whole other level. Now we can approach publishers and companies like Sony with more ease. You can’t reach this level as a company without earning your stripes with a previous project. Now we have the credentials to talk to them and prove we can deliver on what we propose, and our partners know that. We feel like we’re on another level now.” Fabichak says proudly.
The second part of Fabichak’s interview will be published next week, including his views on the Brazilian game industry, Insolita’s current projects, and his effort to inform upcoming talents about the real world of game development in Brazil through his podcast, Doublejump.
The ten winning games were selected from the 1487 games that were developed last weekend during the Global Game Jam 2011. Each winning team has been awarded the opportunity to showcase their game during Casual Connect Europe on Thursday, February 10, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany and all-access passes to Casual Connect Europe and three nights of accommodation.
Submissions were judged based on the potential of their teams to create commercially viable projects and meet with publishers during Casual Connect Europe. Each Global Game Jam site was given the opportunity to nominate their very best project for the contest.
The Winners (in alphabetical order)
Death Pizza Turku, Finland
Sabastian Jakaus, Tatu-Pekka Saarinen, Arash John Sammander. [email]
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Jan Willem Nijman, Rami Ismail, Jonathan Barbosa Rutger Muller, Paul Veer, Laurens de Gier. How to Kill Pandas Pelitalo Outokumpu, Finland
Antti Piironen, Anssi Pehrman, Tuuka Rinkinen, Salla Hakko, Heikki Koljonen, Hannu-Pekka Rötkö, Lauri Salo, Juho-Petteri Yliuntinen, Lari Strand, Henry Härkönen, Sina Aho.
Johann Sebastian Joust! Copenhagen Game Collective
Douglas Wilson, Nils Deneken, Lau Korsgaard, Sebbe Selvig, Patrick Jarnveldt.
MeteorCrash Córdoba, Argentina
Ezequiel Soler, German A. Martin, Carla Soledad Corcoba.
Great games can come from the most unexpected corners of the globe, sometimes years in the making before finding their rhythm. Brazil’s D’Accord Music Software started ten years ago. “We were doing music education software,” recalls chief executive Americo Amorim. The company made mostly PC-based downloadable products, which were very successful in schools.
By 2007, he says, “We got bored with only doing educational stuff.” So, the company created a division called MusiGames. It started with ten people, hired more along the way, and has reached thirty people so far. Amorim reports, with a touch of pride, that almost all of his company’s current development efforts are in games.
Legacy of games
“In Brazil, we had a lot of experience with SEGA consoles,” says Amorim. “But our team’s background is PC development and mobile development studios, like traditional J2ME development.”
Before making a game together, they started with research, attending developer conferences, and meeting publishers. “We weren’t sure what platform we were going to work on,” says Amorim. “Of course, the team wanted to do Wii games, Xbox games, PlayStation games. But it didn’t really make sense for a start-up company at that time to do those kind of things,” he says.
They found the smartphone market to be open in 2008, and there were even fewer music games on the market.
Proof of concept
D’Accord’s first game was Drums Challenge for the iPhone. When they released it in June of 2009, it managed to sell 500 copies in the first three weeks. “With the public we drove to the game,” explains Amorim. “And what really happened was that Apple started promoting it. So when Apple started promoting it, the sales skyrocketed.”
“What our experience says, what really matters, is Apple promoting your iPhone game.”
The initial price was $2.99, and is $0.99 today. “What our experience says, what really matters, is Apple promoting your iPhone game,” Amorim reveals. “If they promote,” he laughs, “you’re successful.”
“And, of course, they don’t promote crappy stuff.” Amorim says that Apple doesn’t have room to promote everything that is great.
“On our side, we’re focusing more and more on the quality.” Last year, the company produced five games to create a portfolio. “For this year, specifically, we’re focused more on quality. So we’re doing only two games, and we’ve been developing them for six months.”
“Right now, we are focusing on smartphones: iPhone, iPad, Android, Symbian, and Facebook.” says Amorim. When asked about budget, he replies: “It’s usually $50,000 to do a nice music game.”
For MusiGames, both iPhone and Android development are done with the same budget. “That’s where we are improving,” Amorim points out. “It’s not a very high budget, but it’s a complicated budget for a small developer.”
Some games, Amorim’s team promotes on their own. On others, they’ve tested distributors like Chillingo and I-play. “Some of those guys have more access to Apple, and that makes it easier for us. But, of course, they get a share of the game. So it’s really a decision that depends on the game we are talking about.”
The company decided to aim for a global audience, because the game market in Brazil is still growing. Amorim reports that the marketing is “starting to happen right now. Two years ago, it didn’t make sense to do smartphone games in Brazil.”
Today, they’re developing a title for Google-owned social-network Orkut. “Orkut is the Facebook of Brazil,” Amorim explains, adding, “Our first experience in Brazil will be this Orkut game. I really have high hopes for it.”
While social games have been a strong trend in recent years, Amorim says: “We are really trying to focus on music games — because our expertise is in this. This social game is really musical,” he adds, about their upcoming product.
It could mark the first cross between the music genre, and a game for the social network platform.
When asked what a music game on a social platform would look like, Amorim smiles. “You’ll see in a couple months.” And that raises the question of whether it’s even possible. “Yeah, it is. The challenge is to get the friend’s interactions. You have to interact with the music, and you have to interact with friends.”
Amorim considers the question of whether music is universal on a global scale. “It really depends on the songs that you have in the game. So as we try to do games that you can play with any song: that makes them universal. So if you have ten-thousand songs in your library, you can play with them: that’s great.”
Something they’re investing in more and more is letting the user play with their own songs. It saves the hassles of licensing, and the company had developed chord-recognition tech from their education software days. “We have a very good technology and we started applying this to games,” says Amorim.
This year, the company managed to get some VC funding. It allowed them to grow their development capabilities, and as Amorim adds: “We grew our marketing team, which we didn’t have before the VC guys came in.”
“We want to be known as the music games studio, and the Brazilian leader.”
Amorim says the strategy for MusiGames is to position themselves as “the big independent music game studio.” Beyond that, they want to have a strong position in Brazil. Amorim reveals: “We’re seeing the market grow a lot there.”
Which is why they’re investing in that growth. “We want to be known as the music games studio, and the Brazilian leader.”
And when it comes to what other developers can do to achieve success, Amorim has a few pieces of advice: follow game-business news, follow the market, and try something different with your game.
MusiGames’ best successes weren’t radically different, he says, but all “had something really unique.” And having a specialization is a great way to keep from losing good ideas along the way.
“What’s our guideline? If it’s a music game, we’re interested,” Amorim says. “And if it’s a platform we already know how to develop for, we can even study the idea. If the idea’s really good, we may do it. But, on the other side, we try to keep the focus.”
MusiGames is currently working on a music game for the Orkut social-network.