10/05/2011 at 9:30 AM
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SKULLS OF THE SHOGUN?
Our game was chosen to be one of the spotlight games! We had the honor of being put into an honest-to-goodness arcade cabinet!! We’ve been calling Skulls “arcade strategy” for awhile, but seeing it in a real arcade cabinet along with other amazing games was kind of shocking.
Unfortunately I was the only member of the team that could go. Venturing down to Austin was a must for me as I called it home for a couple years (way back when). I didn’t know what to expect from Fantastic Arcade, really, as it was open to the public and in an unusual setting. Unlike many conferences we go to, this did not occur in a convention center and did not have the feel of an industry event. Put on by Austin’s illustrious Alamo Drafthouse, the arcade was setup at their hip bowling/karaoke/cocktail bar which had a great 60s vibe and a really laid-back atmosphere. There was an extensive food menu, drinks, old school arcade games… what’s not to like?
When I showed up the day before the event, the Highball was bustling as their team got everything into place, finishing up the cabinets, and troubleshooting the inevitable last minute problems. I brought an updated build with me with a couple minor tweaks just for the arcade environment, and although there were plenty of reasons to be stressed out, the crew was super friendly, super helpful, and put me at ease instantly. I updated the build, offered to help (they were total pros, they didn’t need a thing!), and as I headed out, started to imagine how this unusual, exciting event was going to pan out.
The experience was totally unique. Here, you could actually talk to players – no roaring crowds or jumbotrons cranked to 11. You could hang out with fellow indies and talk game design. You could see how players react to your game in the wilderness. Players could drop in for just a few minutes or hang out all day, kicking back in the comfy booths. In addition to the arcade cabinets, bunches of laptops were setup with games from their showcase selection, so there was no shortage of games to play!
One of my favorite aspects of the event was the “developer’s commentary” that ran for 3 solid afternoons. Various game developers were given an hour to talk about whatever they wished. All of the talks I saw were great, with my highlights being: Lost Mars (some serious SCIENCE was dropped as our friends at Tiger Style gave an overview of current thinking on life on Mars before leading into their fiction and action-gardening gameplay), Radical Fishing (Vlambeer unfailingly entertains, especially when discussing new prototypes like Yeti Hunter), and Octodad (showing a prototype build with perhaps the perfect controller for Octodad… the Kinect!).
(showing off our “senior portrait” / band photo)
I was also given the opportunity to give developer’s commentary on Skulls. I discussed the game’s genesis, how the team came together, and showed some “behind the scenes” screenshots while we worked on various features, before inviting 4 players to duke it out on the big screen behind me. I narrated the match, informing as they played and pointing out strategic opportunities and risks. The winner took the nearest player out very quickly, then let the other two duke it out as he powered up his team. It wasn’t necessary though, as the other player brought his troops closer, he made a fatal mistake, leaving his general exposed next to the pond. The winner had clearly played Skulls on the show floor at least a couple times, as he used several advanced tactics. Deservedly, he walked away with the prized SKULL GOBLET.
But you know what’s really awesome? Even though Fantastic Arcade is over, a staggering number of the games can be played RIGHT NOW in the comfort of your very own bunker! I’ve made it very easy so… you have no excuse!
- Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (buy on XBLA)
- Capsized (buy on Steam)
- Jesus vs. Dinosaurs (free download)
- Octodad (free download)
- Radical Fishing (in browser)
- Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog (free download)
- Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP (buy on iOS App Store)
- Banker’s Dozen (free download)
- Fract (free beta download)
- Owlboy (free demo)
- Salome (free download)
- Bit Pilot (buy on iOS App Store)
- Ute (a game for adults, in browser)
And if you’re looking for games to anticipate, here are the up and coming games you’ll have to wait a bit longer for:
All in all, a great trip stuffed full of Texas hospitality. Thanks to Kody and the Highball crew, Dave Idemoto for pictures, and all those who helped make Fantastic Arcade happen. Don’t miss it when it comes around next year!
The Summer Update
08/23/2011 at 12:31 AM
How have you been? Had a good summer? The Skulls of the Shogun family has been very busy and hasn’t had much time to write! Sorry about that! You know how it is trying to make a great game… sometimes you have to make a few sacrifices!
But what a summer, eh? Our pals at Supergiant Games released Bastion, which you should go play right now if you haven’t. We managed to spend some time with it despite our dedication to the Shogun, and we can honestly say it is a triumph. Spend your time and money on it!
Not only that, but Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet was released by our friends at Shadow Planet Productions! The game is simply gorgeous. And it regularly rewards with new weapons, tools, creatures and environments. Another amazing game worth your time! I’m tempted to stop writing and go play… but where was I?
Oh yes, so you might be wondering “what’s been going on at the Haunted Temple?” Well, all kinds of stuff!
- Borut has been working on finishing off remaining big-ticket features. We can’t say much, but they are coming along swimmingly!
- Jake’s been finishing up our last environment art and completing the last character. His goal for when you see his latest work, dear internet, is that you soil yourself. You’ve been warned!
- Ben has been optimizing and then optimizing more… you probably won’t soil yourself, but if you do, that’s ok.
- Paul is prepping for PAX (say that 3 times fast)
Last week Skulls of the Shogun was on the show floor at Gamescom as part of Microsoft’s booth! We did’t get to have a European summer vacation, unfortunately, so none of us where there. But we do have proof that it happened:
We recently bid adeiu to our summer UI intern Griff! It was a bittersweet parting, but we are comforted in the knowledge that he will be joining us at PAX! And we can once again bathe in his youthful glow.
Speaking of PAX, are you gonna be there?! If so, you should totally come say hi to us at our booth, #6401! It would be awesome to finally meet you in person! We feel it is long overdue. You can play our game and also check out Kairo by Richard Perrin, who we’re sharing our booth with. Come check out our swag and chat with any of us because we’ll ALL be there! The Shogun represents!
Mega <3 <3 <3
The Skulls of the Shogun Family
Skulls of the Boston!
03/11/2011 at 1:45 PM
The Skulls of the Shogun team has landed in Boston and is gearing up for a great show at PAX East! I’m really looking forward to seeing it in the hands of lots of new players!
I arrived a day early so had time to explore a bit of Boston. I always enjoy traveling to new cities, and didn’t know what to expect from Boston. I stumbled across the Granary Burying Ground near my hotel and found out it is the 3rd oldest cemetery in Boston, founded in 1660. Lots of American revolution heroes buried there, and some weird (and macabre) history as well.
Especially interesting was that many of the graves had interesting skull-based designs. There’s obviously a lot of history here in Boston – but I didn’t expect to spend so much time in an old cemetery! Anyway, you can come along for the ride by checking out the pics below. Warning: flying skulls ahead.