Wind Catcher Games

Games by Josh Raab

Archive for the category “General Ramblings”

Catching Up

Well! It’s certainly been a while. Most of my time has been going into my thesis project, a sort of digital Eurogame/spiritual successor to M.U.L.E. whose working title is Sumer. The core team of designer/programmers is myself, Sig Gunnarsson, Misha Favorov, and Geoff Suthers. Seori Sachs is our sound designer, and we’ll hopefully have our artist nailed down within a week or so.

For my other classes, I’ve been learning journalism from Chris Plante (Polygon, the Verge) and board game design from Rob Daviau (Risk Legacy, Betrayal at House on the Hill). Moving into final projects now, in the form of a feature article and a hobby-market board game. Details to come.

At Studio Mercato, we’re continuing to iterate on and playtest Crystal Brawl and the Nika app. We brought CB to the Boston FIG and Maker Faire in September, and are most likely planning to have it at MAGFest in late January. As usual, people enjoyed the games but there’s always lots more work to do.

I went 0 for 3 in terms of IndieCade submissions, but hope springs eternal – we submitted Geneses to the IGF Student Showcase. We did get good feedback from the IndieCade judges, mostly on issues of UI, legibility, and learning the game. Hard stuff, but super important!

Lastly, I applied for my third stint as a volunteer at GDC. I won’t hear back for a while, but I’ve loved volunteering there in the past and hope to be able to do so again.

That’s about it! I’ll have more updates when I hear back from various places, and as my school projects continue.

– Josh

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End of MFA 1st Year, Now To Montreal!

With the MFA end of year showcase at NYU on May 22nd, my amazing and exhausting first year of grad school finally ended. Though Chomp and Bandit Kings were present, I mostly manned Geneses, which got quite positive response. We’re planning on submitting that to a few festivals, so hopefully there’ll be some more announcements on that front within a couple months. Also, if you haven’t seen it already, the show and the program have been getting some pretty sweet coverage from publications like Kill Screen and the goddamn New York Times.

As for me, since the show I’ve been enjoying some much-needed rest, hanging out with cats, and catching up on games I’ve been meaning to play. On June 5th, however, I’ll be leaving NYC for…

Critical Hit! Until the middle of August, I’ll be jamming away at Concordia University in Montreal, making weird experimental artsy games or something. The program looks pretty great, and I’m damn excited to be heading up there (along with fellow MFA students Pierre Depaz and Winnie Song).

As for Nika, I’ve just contacted the publisher and learned that there was a slight delay, but the game should be arriving in your home in early August. I’ll be receiving a sample copy within a couple weeks – can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Lastly, the Studio Mercato projects are both making major steps forward. The Nika app shouldn’t be too far away from finished – we just need to add visual polish and possibly AI, then we’ll push it out the door. We added a major new class-switching feature to Crystal Brawl and are currently overhauling our level design process. Both Crystal Brawl and the board game version of Nika are being submitted to IndieCade, so I hope to have at least one reason to buy a ticket to California this October!

Studio Mercato

Studio Mercato

At last! Studio Mercato, beloved NYC developer collective and indie label which I helped found, has a true internet home. Inspect it with great fervor!

Also, if you happen to be in Boston this weekend, come to the Boston Festival of Indie Games at MIT! I’ll most likely be manning the Nika table all day myself, but we’re also showing Crystal Brawl.

Otherwise, I’ve mostly been occupied with being a newly minted grad student at the NYU Game Center. My favorite moment so far came on the first day of class, and went something like…

Me: “Man, it feels like I’m, like, at Hogwarts.”

Misha (friend, colleague; mishearing): “Did you say, ‘It feels like I’m back at Hogwarts?’ ”

That… that was it. Um, it was funny at the time. I should probably go to sleep now. Until later, internet!

Gen Con and On

So, Gen Con was a suitably bizarre experience. Probably my favorite moment was seeing a dejected, lonely LEGO Superman moping around the lobby of the Marriott. Also got lots of people playing Nika, as seen here:

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Their joy is evident.

I finished up at Grasshopper this week, but I will most likely continue to run playtests through the semester. I’ll update the site with details when I have them.

Coming up soon: I’ll be at Ret Con this weekend, then starting at the NYU Game Center masters program in game design in September. Crystal Brawl AND Nika both got into the Boston FIG, which is super exciting! I’ll be demoing Nika all day at the Tabletop Games Showcase, and you can join the Studio Mercato gang at the Digital Games Showcase for Crystal Brawl. That’ll be Saturday, September 14th at MIT.

Think that’s about the update for me – but before you go, here are some sheep.

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Sheeeeeeeeeep.

Come Out & Play

Hey all,

Last Friday (July 12th) was Come Out & Play After Dark, the night section of New York’s biggest public games festival. Hundreds of people turned out for the night’s games, including Studio Mercato’s own Don’t F**k Up for the Grasshopper table! The game was a big hit.

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For Crystal Brawl, we’ve recently heard news that suggests we’ll be able to put it on the Ouya, our target platform. Hurray!

If you want to check out the game, come to the NYC gaming meetup on July 23rd. We’re demoing, and we’ll have a playable version available. Hope to see you there!

There’s also a chance Crystal Brawl will end up in an arcade cabinet at a Brooklyn DIY music venue. I’m talking with the guy on Tuesday. Gotta say, that would be pretty awesome.

Nika to be Published by Eagle Games!

Major news: I have officially signed and sent my contract for Nika to Rick Soued, owner of FRED Distribution! Nika will be published under the Eagle Games brand, either late this year or early in 2014.

Ευχαριστώ πολύ to everyone who contributed their time and thought to testing it out over the past two years. Particular thanks go to Chris Hernandez for creating the board and piece art, and to the NYC board game playtest group for their expert feedback.

There will be a Kickstarter to fund it at some point – rest assured, I’ll let you know when that happens. Also, get in touch with me if you want to set up a time to play Nika. Otherwise, on to the next game!

Pulsing Towers

Hey all,

Here’s a little tower defense game I whipped up. It was inspired by the theme of this year’s Global Game Jam, “heartbeat”. I’ve been working on it sporadically for a month or two. Not exactly a polished release, but it is pretty fun.

Just defend the treasure in the middle as long as you can. You should be able to figure out how it works pretty quickly by just messing around.

My longest survival time is 1:08. Can you do better?

LINK: Pulsing Towers

Pulsing Towers Screenshot 2

GDC Recap, Nika Demo

Hey all,

First things first: If you want to play Nika, I’m going to start bringing it to the NYU Friday playtests, starting this very Friday. I may ask experienced players to test new variants, but mostly I just want to give people a chance to play the core game.

Anyway, just got back from volunteering at GDC. It was a super amazing experience, and I recommend it to any aspiring game developer. You meet a ton of cool people, see (and help run) the inner workings of the show, and get an excuse to hang out with and/or piss off iconic game creators. (Naming no names, but I did a little of each. No badge, no entry, no exceptions, man.)

Personal highlights:

1. Matthias Worch’s talk at the Level Design Bootcamp. It was pretty high-falutin’, exploring Marshall McLuhan’s differentiation between oral and print culture. Since games can combine the experiential, mutable nature of traditional storytelling with the exploration of complex themes and concepts of literature, they have the potential to fulfill McLuhan’s prediction of a modern “secondary orality”.

2. James Russell’s discussion of mechanics design in Total War games. He argues that in order to create games that involve as many systems as your average TW title, you need to explicitly model these systems so you can control their overall direction and shape.  Also he revealed Total War Arena which hooooly crap that looks amazing.

3. Finally getting to try Spaceteam. Yes. Somebody give me an iPad. I need to play this game forever.

4. Fellow CA Keith Nimitz’s mind-boggling 7 Grand Steps. Honestly this may have been my favorite game of the conference. It’s a little hard to explain, but basically you control a family across several generations and ages, building up your legacy. It took him two years to write, and the sheer amount of story is incredible, particularly since the forking paths in the various mini-adventure sections rarely seem to reunite. I’m not really doing it justice, but seriously, keep an eye out for this one.

5. Experimental Games Workshop! They were all pretty awesome, especially Searchlight by Margaret Robertson and Adnan Agha. This is a game taken straight from my childhood fantasies. A green light moves back and forth across a play area, and you have to freeze when it’s on you. You win by moving little blocks around the play area, or something like that. It’s an installation game, so I’ll have to hunt it down sometime.

Aaand in other news, I had a lovely demo of Nika at the IGDA NJ Demo Meetup. Special thanks to Brian Chung for running it, and to GJ Lee for taking a decent picture of the game, a feat I have yet to manage.

Nika at IGDA NJ

Hope to see you on Friday!

To GDC! And the IGDA NJ Demo Night

Away I go to GDC. I’ll be volunteering, so keep an eye out for me in one of our “fire engine red” CA getups. I’ll do a lil’ writeup when I get back – I’m sure I’ll have many stories, at least some of which will be fit for public consumption.

Also, I’ll be presenting Nika at the IGDA NJ Demo Night at the Hoboken Business Center on April 2nd. It’s going to be amazing. Just, like, I’m going to blow your socks off. Right off. You should come.

Nika Demo

I had a great time at the NYC Demo Meetup last night demoing Nika, hanging out, and seeing all the other games. Thanks to everyone who came out! (I didn’t take any pictures myself, but if you took any I’ll happily post them up.)

I’ll likely have news about a publishing contract very soon, so if you liked what you saw, check back every so often to see what’s happening.

You can check out Meg Stivison’s writeup of the event for Geek Magazine.

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