Ruben & Lullaby are finding their relationship under increasing scrutiny from the press… “Citizen Gamer” on MSNBC.com published an article on indie iPhone game development that features the game, and Emily Short’s “Homer in Silicon” column on GameSetWatch this week serves up a very thoughtful review...
Got the happy news yesterday that Ruben & Lullaby snagged a nomination in the Independent Games Festival Mobile. A lot of midnight oil was burned trying to make the entry deadline--I’m grateful for the response, and all props to Ezra Claytan Daniels for his beautiful artwork for the game (see this post for links to some of his really excellent graphic novel work). It’s been about 10 years since I was last at the Game Developer’s Conference (while working at Inscape on games like The Dark Eye), so It’ll be good to be there again, especially now that it’s held in San Francisco.
Well, almost exactly six months after I got my iPhone, I’m happy to announce that Ruben & Lullaby, my first game for the iPhone and iPod touch, is now available on the App Store. Ruben & Lullaby is the first of a planned series of “opertoons"--stories you play like musical instruments--and I’m very excited about how this project has turned out. Many thanks to Ezra Claytan Daniels, who did the wonderful illustrations for the project and has been a great collaborator along the way. Thanks also to beta testers George Loyer, Mitchell Whitelaw, and Greg J. Smith for invaluable feedback.
Since the iPhone 3G was released and the developer program opened to the general public, I’ve been cramming—learning the ins and outs of the SDK (not to mention C, Objective-C and Cocoa) in the hope of developing an original application by year’s end. Progress has been good so far, in that wonderfully frustrating way that happens when you’re really stretching your skills. Painful happiness!
I’ll be releasing more info about the project as time goes on, but there’s two things I can report now: the first is that I’m working again with comic artist Ezra Claytan Daniels, who is doing some really wonderful illustrations for the piece. The second is that I’ve finally caved and started a Twitter account for the purposes of keeping a micro development diary on the project. So, if slightly vague descriptions of programming tasks and other minutia are up your alley, then you’ve come to the right place. Must remember not to violate NDA…
I was recently invited to be a mentor at the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Producers Institute, a week-long intensive workshop in which teams of independent documentary producers are immersed in interactive technologies and techniques and then develop pitches for interactive projects based on their work. At the end of the week the project teams pitch their ideas to potential funders and hopefully get a kick-start on the path to getting their proposals underway. Though I was only able to help out for two days towards the end of the workshop, it was still a pretty amazing gathering to see and be a part of.
The main project I was involved with at the Institute was the forthcoming work from Take Action Games (TAG), the company best known for Darfur Is Dying, a game about the crisis in Sudan which received a lot of media attention and helped to put serious games on the map for many people. I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with TAG team members Susana Ruiz and Huy Truong before, and have found their professional style to be a wonderful mix of a strong vision combined with a genuine excitement about the medium and an openness to new ideas. Looking forward to finding out more about their latest project, In The Balance: The Death Penalty Game, I wasn’t disappointed, as Susana, Huy, and Ashley York are again bringing their talents to bear on a challenging social issue and stretching the boundaries of the medium in the process (the project was recently written up in the Washington Post).
I met with a number of project teams while at BAVC—the whole atmosphere of the gathering had a lot of camaraderie and intensity as the various groups, flush with new information from the Institute’s various speakers and events about leveraging documentary content online, sought to assemble compelling pitches for a host of fascinating projects. For a taste, check out the following video from The Drax Files, whose creator Bernhard Drax was documenting the goings-on. This clip touches briefly on In The Balance during a chat with Tony Walsh, a veteran BAVC mentor and founder of the game development firm Phantom Compass. Drax filed a number of reports from the Institute, so check out The Drax Files if you want to see more.