Archive for the ‘Smiling Cat’ Category

I am finally back from my holiday hiatus. Had a very nice trip to Vegas, no gambling this time, but there were guns involved :-). I’m eager to get back to work on Dehoarder 2 tomorrow morning, but first, I wanted to write a bit about an experience that I had last month while on my vacation. The title of the post is no longer rhetorical. It is a question I actually had to answer.

A little before Thanksgiving, I was contacted by the VP of a start-up F2P game company, letting me know that they were fans of my work and that they were interested in interviewing me for a full-time position. I was very excited, and after some family discussion (relocation involved), I decided to pursue an interview.

After a very challenging but mostly doable two-hour at-home technical exam, I was invited for a Skype interview with two very friendly senior developers with the company. There were more technical and logical and problem-solving questions, which I’m told that I pretty much aced, even the C++ parts that I hadn’t used for over 15 years and was quite rusty on.

But then, we came to discussing Smiling Cat. I was contacted about this position through Smiling Cat, so I thought that maybe they would be cool with me continuing work on Smiling Cat, though it was a question for which I was eager to have a definitive answer. I was told that no, I would not be able to continue my work with Smiling Cat.

It really only took a nanosecond to make my decision. The interviewers were impressed enough with me to see if the CEO would make an exception in this case, but all three of us knew what the answer would be. The shop was a typical start-up environment with long hours expected and no room for side gigs. I’m not sure why I expected to find something different, like maybe a unicorn or something =/.

As I related to my interviewers, I could never give up Smiling Cat before it’s time. Smiling Cat is part of who I am. It is a place where I create my visions. It is (hopefully) a path to self sufficiency.

Ultimately, I want to work for myself. In the meantime, though, I wouldn’t mind working for a game development company for a salary, if that company understands that my Smiling Cat work is important to me and they are willing to allow me the room to work on my projects in the off hours. I know I face fairly steep odds on Smiling Cat, though I can only succeed if I put in the time and effort. If there was one single biggest mistake I can say that I’ve made in my career, it’s that I waited so long to start Smiling Cat in the first place.

So with that, it’s welcome to 2015, which will at least see the release of Dehoarder 2, plus work on one yet-to-be-announced project. Hopefully we’ll get some more updates out there, too, for Vintage Pachinko and perhaps for Breaking Block.


posted by Duke
Sep 13

No man is an island. I’ve long known and admitted that my games could stand the touch of someone with visual arts skills greater than mine, and that in general, my games would be better if I had a couple of collaborators to work with to balance out my “particular idiom”.

This year, I’ve partnered with Phil Peer of Dioram to bring the “Deus Penguin” series to Vintage Pachinko. Phil did an excellent job with the first installment of the series, and this partnership will continue for the foreseeable future, as we have plenty of new theme ideas to bring to Vintage Pachinko.

I’ve also enlisted the services of Marc Gegner of 10×12 Productions to enhance the original Dehoarder music for Dehoarder 2, and I must say, he knocked it out of the park. I can’t wait to release the new music, I just need the rest of the game to catch up to it!

Now, a very interesting opportunity is presenting itself. It looks like I may be joining forces with some local peers in 2015 to work on brand new projects from start to finish. Again, this is all very preliminary, and no firm commitments have been made yet, but I am very excited about the opportunity.

I’ll be sure to post updates with the who, what and when once things are more congealed and I ensure that I have clearance to talk about all of that, as well as what it will mean for Smiling Cat. Hopefully it will mean a new beginning, where Smiling Cat becomes part of something bigger, better, and more bad-ass.

In the meantime, I continue to work on Dehoarder 2, and continue to prepare for OGDE. More has happened for the latter than the former this week (not a creative week due to some external stresses), but I figure if I get the expo all sorted, then I can dive into Dehoarder 2 in the run-up to the expo.

I did decide some things about the feel of Dehoader 2. Expect some pretty absurd scenarios to unfold over the course of the game. Things like an alien invasion, demon summoning, or zombie scourge are not outside the realm of possibility (not promising any of those particular scenarios, just providing examples, though all three sound fun). Heck, right now, the game starts with an earthquake. In most cases, though, the answer to the problem will lie within your hoard.

Last weekend, Breaking Block hit 4,000 installs. I’m still getting a slow but steady stream of downloads every day, and a few people have even purchased Silver Coins and ad blockers (Thank you!). Reviews still continue to be pretty good, and it seems most of the small amount of hate is due to tilt controls. I have been experimenting with a touch-based control scheme for Breaking Block, and hope to release an update sometime soon.

Listen as the folks at Multivarious Games discuss several games by Smiling Cat Entertainment, including both Ludum Dare entries Dehoarder and City Beneath the Surface, as well as EARL’s Warehouse.

Thanks for the shout out, WMVG, I really appreciate it!

For the impatient, the bits regarding Smiling Cat run from 28:10 to 34:30, but you should really listen to the entire podcast as WMVG is a great group of game developers.

Lots of good things are happening here in Ohio in terms of game development. For the past year or so, I have been watching a groundswell of activity build. New studios seem to be popping up here every week. We’re gathering and networking, and the latest plans I’ve heard include a possible home-grown game developers’ convention.

This is awesome stuff. We seem to be reaching a point of critical mass, where it is getting much easier to find the partners and complementary skills necessary to take our individual efforts to the next level. I see this especially happening with Multivarious Games.

One key catalyst in bringing us all together is the Central Ohio Gamedev Group (COGG). Many, many thanks to Todd Barchok for continuing to organize these great meetups. They are a good place to meet other developers, talk shop, solicit opinions on our latest work, network, and have a great, jovial time. I have been attending these meetups regularly for the past year, and have seen participation steadily increase. I very much look forward to continuing to attend these awesome sessions.

Another catalyst that is in the process of forming is the Ohio Game Dev Association. Their goals include connecting game developers throughout Ohio, encouraging learning, growth, and innovation in local game development, promoting games created in Ohio, and building a database of Ohio studios and developers. Their most ambitious goal has me very excited: Launch an Ohio game developer conference in 2013. You can bet that I will be there with bells on. Steve Castro, Administrator of the Ohio Game Dev Association, gave a very good talk about all of these goals in last month’s COGG meetup. I very eagerly support his efforts to promote Ohio as a center of game development.

What does all of this mean to Smiling Cat? Everything. With all of this energy and chaos to be directed and put to good use, all options are on the table, nothing is certain, and when the dust settles, Smiling Cat Entertainment will probably look very different than it does now. Such is the face of revolution. All of us that are here, now, in Ohio, have the opportunity to be on the ground floor of Ohio’s next big industry.

I want to take that opportunity. Who else is with me? Let’s get this industry moving forward!

The Good Gaming Initiative may have ended for now, but not before Smiling Cat Entertainment donates $100.00 to their last (for now) featured charity, the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America. I hope to continue supporting worthy quality-of-life causes, and then eventually, when the time is right, re-establish the Good Gaming Initiative in some form.

Mid-Winter Update

posted by Duke
Feb 4

Over the last few weekends, I have been designing the encounter engine for the fortune-telling dungeon explorer game that I mentioned in my last update. While all I have so far graphically are some placeholders, I’m pleased with how the encounter engine is coming together. I’ve also been working on the story, and I think I have the major plot points of the first episode all worked out.

Despite all of this progress, though, I still need a good graphic artist to make this project succeed. Someone who can do 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, and the lot, as well as 2D artwork. If anyone out there is willing to work on this project in that capacity on a contingency basis (if it makes money, you make money), please give me a shout.

Today I finally get to fix my file server, now that the hard drive shortage is passing. Its RAID has been in failover mode for some time, leaving me with that not-so-secure feeling. Once that is done, it’s back to the encounter engine.

As for the Good Gaming Initiative, so far we have not received any contributions. I am still hoping to use my games to somehow give back to the community at large. For now, the Good Gaming Initiative will continue. Since I’ve not yet done my part by posting about the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America, I am extending sponsorship of that charity for another month, until March 31, and will post about it right now.

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are both debilitating diseases that severely affects the quality of life of over a million people worldwide. The Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America is dedicated to finding cures for both diseases, as well as improving the quality of life of people suffering from those diseases. Over a third of the money contributed to them funds medical research, with nearly 80% of donations overall going to programs. They consistently meet the standards of the American Institute of Philanthropy as well as other charity watchdogs. For these reasons, I chose the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America as Smiling Cat’s first sponsored charity for 2012.

Please remember to get out there on Kongregate and rate up my games. Your support is very much appreciated!

Jan 4

After a relaxing holiday season following the release of Snowflake, I am ready to hit the ground running again with a new game project. But which one? I have so many ideas. I will probably spend the next couple of weeks exploring proofs of concept – one idea of mine that is gaining favor involves using fortune-telling cards to explore dungeons. I’ll let you know more when I have something workable.

As promised, the Good Gaming Initiative has sent $100 to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. For January and February, the chosen charity will be the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America. At the weekend, I will try to post an article about why this particular charity was chosen.

In addition to amounts donated from any contributions that are made between now and December 31st, I will personally pledge to contribute $100 to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Remember that your contribution serves two noble causes: aiding the fight to prevent cancer, and helping Smiling Cat to create even better games in the future.

Also, if you have not already, please head over to Kongregate and rate Snowflake and Chroma Invader. Your ratings directly help my games get to the top of the lists on the site, which gets the games more hits and more recognition. Thanks!

Nov 12

Our first charity beneficiary for the Smiling Cat’s Good Gaming Initiative is the Prevent Cancer Foundation. My main reason for this choice is a personal one. Earlier this week, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer at a very early age. It was a rather large tumor that apparently had been there for some time. Seeing how much damage the tumor caused while left untreated reinforced for me the need for prevention, early detection, and early treatment. I will make a strong argument, though, that the best kind of cancer is the kind that you never get, so cancer prevention is the first and one of the most important steps toward curtailing this disease.

I found the Prevent Cancer Foundation to be unique among top-rated cancer-related charities in that they focus their efforts largely on cancer education and prevention. In 25 years of service, the Prevent Cancer Foundation has provided more than $125 million dollars for their mission, contributing to the areas of research, education, and community outreach.

Due to their dedication to cancer prevention efforts, I am proud to select the Prevent Cancer Foundation as the first beneficiary of the Smiling Cat’s Good Gaming Initiative.

Nov 22

The new website is now up and running. I hope everyone finds it more enjoyable to browse. Comments will remain off for the time being until I get logistics worked out for that. I’ve tested all links and have found everything to be in working order; if you find differently, please don’t hesitate to send an email.