Wind Catcher Games

Games by Josh Raab

Archive for the category “Studio Mercato”

MFA Complete

As of this May, I am officially a Master of Game Design! A huge thank you to the students, faculty, and administration at the NYU Game Center for two amazing years. You’ve made me a better designer and a better person.

My life now is distilled down to three games: Sumer, the Nika mobile app, and Crystal Brawl.

Sumer is what I’m doing full-time now at NYU’s summer incubator program. We got an incredible reception at the end of year Student Show, and we’re hoping to release in about a year. We’ve recently added AI (!) and are continually iterating on the visuals and design. It’s coming along very quickly, and has a special aura around it – I think it could be a huge success.

Nika is quite close to release. The main hurdle is AI, which has been improving but isn’t quite good enough yet. Otherwise, it’s just polish and QA. We’re aiming to release (on a ton of mobile platforms) before our Kickstarter for Crystal Brawl, most likely in September.

Crystal Brawl development is more or less on hold until we finish Nika, but we’ve got plans. If our Kickstarter succeeds, we’re hoping to add a couple new character classes, a whole new mode, and AI (see a pattern?) The timeline should be fairly similar to Sumer, releasing in about a year.

It’s awesome to just be able to work on these projects with few other distractions. All three are in large part my own babies, which makes me both proud and extremely grateful. Here’s hoping they all succeed.

– Josh


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!


Today I head to San Francisco for GDC, where I’ll be volunteering for the second year in a row. If you’re there, you can see me in my “emergency cone orange” volunteer t-shirt. I had an absolute blast last year and this year should be even better.

My main conference goal (when not on duty) will be to find a summer job or internship at a game dev company outside of NYC. I’m also hoping to show off Nika and Crystal Brawl and spread the word about Studio Mercato, plus the general stuff like meeting new people, seeing old friends, and learning more about design.

If you, person from outside NYC who probably received a business card from me during the conference, might be interested in hiring me for the summer, drop me a line at As a quick reminder, I’m an MFA grad student in game design with plenty of design experience and some technical proficiency. At the very least, thanks for taking the time to remember me and check out my site!

On another note, here are two nice, quick reviews of Nika on Intel’s site and PopMatters. Cool!

Nika Hits First Two Stretch Goals! (Also, play it at IndieCade East)

The Kickstarter campaign for Nika is going great! We hit our first and second stretch goals with ease, and now we’re eyeing the third, a very cool and very useful wooden turn marker. Check it out:


If you’ve backed already, thank you so much! You are wonderful. If not, I guess we can still be friends.

Either way, if you want to help us reach those last couple stretch goals, please help spread the word! You know, on Facebook and Twitter and… Pinterest… LinkedIn? I dunno. Just talk to people on the internet, is what I’m saying. Or in person. Tell your friends, tell your acquaintances, tell the people.

If you’re in the NYC area, you can also come check out Nika and Crystal Brawl this very weekend at IndieCade East! It’s being held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens from Friday to Sunday! Along with the rest of Studio Mercato, I’ll be helping show Crystal Brawl on Saturday from 4-6 PM, and Nika on Sunday from 4-6 PM. IndieCade is also a legendary indie games institution (which is possible, apparently) and we’re super lucky that there’s an East version of it as of last year. It’s going to be cool. Hope to see you there!


Nika Coming Jan 15! Also, MAGFest!

My first semester of game design grad school is over, and I’ve given myself a bit of time to recover – but now it’s time to press on!

To start, I have a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Nika‘s Kickstarter campaign is slated for January 15th! Chris, myself, and the fine gents at Eagle Games have been working hard to get everything ready. The instructions and art are almost prepared, the rules have been finalized, and I’m beginning work on a little strategy guide we’ll probably include as a stretch goal. I’ll be sure to update here when the campaign is officially launched, so keep an eye out – we’d love your support!

Second, we’re going to be showing Crystal Brawl at MAGFest from January 1-5. It’s in National Harbor, MD. If you’re near the DC metro area, come say hi! It’s a solid 4-5 days of Music And Gaming (the “MAG” in “MAGFest”), should be tons of fun.

I’ll end by completing the list of games I’ve helped create this semester. (Again, video games have *asterisks.)

7.  Assassin’s Feed – A live-action game played in a grocery store where you compete to assemble a meal that best fits the judge’s criteria. The catch? You can only take food items you see non-players touch first! Created with Misha Favorov, James Marion, Will Pang, and Alec Thomson.

8. Grecian Goldsmiths – As a machinist in an alternate-history Byzantium, maneuver your golden automata across the empire to harvest resources and do battle. Conceived as a hybrid of European- and American-style board games. Created with Misha Favorov, Brad Lee, Chang Liu, and Will Pang.

9. 100K Years War: Agincourt – Command a spaceship fleet in a 3D grid-based combat scenario. The idea was to make a game like Advance Wars but with 3D cubes instead of 2D squares. Created with C.J. Chen and Chang Liu.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Don’t F**k Up Sold!

Quick post today. Officially announcing that Studio Mercato sold Don’t F**k Up! Go team!

Nika Is Coming (Along)

Hello! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Have a seat.

To start: Nika is getting close to entering production! Artist Chris has been hard at work laying out the instructions and revising the board art, while I’ve been moving the rules toward a final edit. I also sent several prototypes off to Ralph Anderson, VP of marketing and PR at Eagle Games, who’s been analyzing the game and running playtests.

As part of this process, I attended Metatopia yesterday and today. I ran the first blind rules tests of the new layout instructions and got a ton of great feedback. The game inspired its usual focused intensity, as seen here:


Intense playtesting at Metatopia!

The Nika app is coming along too – we’ve polished the controls and added a new tutorial, We’re also looking into online play and AI. We’ve successfully deployed the game on a number of different platforms, so it may have a fairly wide-ranging release, though I don’t want to make any explicit promises.

We’ve managed to find some time to work on Crystal Brawl, which gets better and better after every session of work. UI, feedback, and game balance are all improving, and everyone who plays it agrees the game’s just fun as hell. No release date is in sight, as we still may need to port it to Unity in order to support more platforms, but we’ll get it out there someday.

Crystal Brawl

Finally, for those of you wondering what I’ve been doing at school, I’ll just demonstrate by listing the games I’ve created this semester with a short description… (games with *asterisks are video games)

1. Warslayers 2: The Battle of Warslayer Hill – a mod of the card game War – with Char George and Elyse Lemoine

2. Shifty Critters – a tile-shifting game where 4 farm animals use their special powers to make their way toward victory squares – with Char George, Sig Gunnarsson, and Chang Liu

*3. In the Dungeons of Gnomes – an action video game where little square gnomes compete to destroy each other’s bases while upgrading their powers with hidden gems

4. The Emperor’s True Love – a hidden role game where the ladies of the Emperor’s court vie to win his favor without accidentally poisoning him to death – with Sig Gunnarsson, Brad Lee, and Will Pang

*5. Mace Magus Malebolge – a first-person hack-and-slash video game where you use your magical mace to ward off never-ending waves of demons – with Vanessa Briceño

6. The Great Porridge Purge – a hex-based cooperative game where players eat their way through a village flooded with porridge, battling time and the urge to vomit – with Elyse Lemoine and Geoff Suthers

Not bad for two months’ work! Next semester will be even more intensive, as I’m taking Bennett Foddy’s Rapid Prototyping course, where you make a video game every goddamn week! This is in addition to two other production courses. I’ll either go insane or, um… make a lot of games. Let’s hope it’s the latter!

–Josh, 11/3


The Boston Festival of Indie Games was amazing. I manned the table for Nika, which saw constant play and received a very positive reaction overall. I didn’t get to see much of our Crystal Brawl demo, but it was apparently drawing crowds all day. For both games, people were asking “How do I buy?”

If you’re one of those people, you can send me an e-mail to get on my unofficial Nika mailing list. We may start a more formal one if there’s enough demand. Otherwise, follow the Studio Mercato Twitter and Facebook pagefor updates.

Also, I had 2 whole interviews! One was live on NPR’s Beyond the Horizon (WBUR), another was for the Guys Games & Beer podcast. The podcast should be up soon, and the NPR interview will be replaying over the next week and may be available later online. Got to plug Nika and Studio Mercato on the airwaves for the first time – fun stuff!

Back to work now, though – my schoolwork awaits.

Studio Mercato Blog

The Studio Mercato blog is up! Fellow studio member, NYC game designer, and all-around wordperson Ben Serviss keeps it updated with all our wacky endeavors, so keep an eye on that. I’ll probably add a new page to this site with a permanent link.

Otherwise, still working at Grasshopper, and going to Gen Con in about a week. If you’re going to be there, get in touch!

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.


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.

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