Hey guys! Sorry that I haven't posted much lately. Every time we felt a good post in the making, it just slipped by. We'd thought that over the last couple weeks the press interviews we did would have been posted, but it looks like it may take another week or two for those. On the other side, we thought we may have some event announcements, and we do, but those only just came in. Then there's the Collapsus Kickstarter. Well, that's still on track but we have to finish putting this mural up...

Say! You know what? Even if the mural won't be finished until next week, we can still make an update post about it! Yeah! Let's do it!


We decided to do this mural WAY back in October of 2015, but didn't announce it until January of 2016 (in this post, to be specific: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/01/initiating-phase-2.html), but WOW has it taken a long time to get it off the ground! It was supposed to be the big lead-in to "Phase 2" of our remodel, the phase where we got the new furniture and new floor as well (with Phase 1 being the "normal" studio painting). The furniture and floor are now firmly in place, but the mural? It was basically a whole "Phase 3" in its own right!

For a quick refresher, here's what the mural wall looked like back when we started:


Yuck! Man, I gotta say... we are all so glad that our ugly "beige box" of an office is now a bright, creative studio! Anyway, Lance T. Miller stepped up to take a huge chunk of the concept art we'd done for not only the projects we were currently working on, but for a lot of our planned projects as well and whipped (or WIPed?) up a pretty killer mockup of what the mural should look like (here):


It also looks spiffy on this tablet:



Only problem is, that when we actually came in and started sketching it (we started documenting that in March, here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/remodel-updates-blogging-about-blogging.html), we had a LOT of new concept art to work with, so things needed to be added (wow, feature creep happens in real life, too! Who knew?!) So, by the time we had it all sketched out, it looked like this (well, that's most of it, anyway):





Getting this all sketched out took Lance, Steve, Natalie, Eric, and I (usually working 3 at a time) a few months to get done. Then we needed to paint! The problem with that, however, was since sketching took so long to do, we all needed to get back to work on other things (*cough* Collapsus *cough*). We needed some outside help!

Well, luckily, our buddy Dwayne from JamaicArts (a link to his Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/JamaicArts-1073463189383414/?fref=ts) was more than willing to take up the challenge! He's a brilliant caricature artist and budding comic book artist, so we knew we had our guy! This is him, hard at work:






He's been in the studio working on it for a couple weeks now, and we think it's coming along great! We've even been taking a timelapse video of him working to mirror the one of Lance doing the digital painting of it (Lance's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLfc64-ygUI). We're pretty sure at this point that it shouldn't take more than another week or two to finish up (if that).

Here are some great shots of his progress:






You wanna know the best part? THESE AREN'T EVEN CURRENT! These pictures were taken last week! The mural looks even better now than they do here and it's STILL not done! How cool is that?! Right now, all we're really waiting on is some printouts from Lance and Steve to clarify a couple things for Dwayne before he continues and then that's it... mural accomplished! After that, we're launching the Collapsus Kickstarter (since about half of the video is being done inside the studio), and the weekly builds to accompany it! Isn't that exciting!? 

From there, we move on to other projects (a few of which have actually already been started by the non-Collapsus team members). In fact, we had to find a new place for some of our actual paper concept art (yuck... paper!) so we moved it to the green screen until we need it. Maybe you can get a sneak peek of some of our other projects from these pictures *wink* (though keep in mind that Steve has yet to put up his concept art, but it'll be up there soon).





Well, that's all I know for now! Don't forget that we'll be at the IdeaFestival in Louisville, KY on the 30th! Our next blog post will either be about that, the finished mural, future events, the Collapsus Kickstarter, or the 3 press interviews we were in recently (or maybe some combo therein)!

Cheers! 
Lately, we've been doing a lot of interviews. It's been great! A while back we even had a whole blog post about them (you can read that here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/if-were-being-pressed.html)! Now it's probably high time we do another post of that nature, but until a couple of the interviews we did actually hit the web, that will have to wait. No, this time I'd like to highlight an interview we did back in February for the website Gamer Problems that's no longer online. Well, until now, that is! See, they had some sort of massive server overhaul and all their content before May was wiped out. Bummer! Thankfully, we just so happened to have that we had a backup of the interview and wanted to share it with you all.

So, without further ado, I present to you...


Tell me a bit about yourself and how it all started?

My name is Jay Kidd and I’m the founder and lead designer of the indie game studio, Wraith Games. I founded the company back in 2005 with a few of my friends because we just wanted to make the type of games we liked to play. I realized when I was just 9 years old that I wanted to make video games when I grew up.

I went to the Butler Tech School for the Arts where I specialized in graphic design, though I also have a programming and game design background. I currently live in the Artspace Hamilton Lofts with my fiancĂ©e (Wraith’s lead programmer) Kristy Iwema. I’m a pretty old-school nerd, really. I spend most of my time either playing or making video games, playing D&D or Magic the Gathering or consuming some sort of media (usually either cartoons, anime, comic books, or fantasy novels).

Do you idolize any other game development studio?

Quite a few. Nintendo immediately springs to mind. It was the combination of playing Super Nintendo games and playing on my old Windows 3.1 that made me want to get involved with development in the first place. Every time they come out with something new it always brings me back into my living room as a kid, but with a twist.

Valve is another big one for me. It’s not really necessarily because of their games either, though their games are most definitely some of my favorites. No, it’s more about how they run things over there. They have this kind of creatively-driven, flat management-thing going on. We’re really striving to be a Valve-like place.

There are tons more: WayForward, Retro Studios, DoubleFine, Naughty Dog, Bossa Studios... the list just goes on and on. We could be here all day! Other than that, though, I mostly idolize individual developers like Notch, Pixel, Terry Cavanagh, Connor Ullmann, the amazing duo that is Team Meat; so many talented people! I’m usually not one to buy wholly into auteur theory, but they make a powerful argument for it.

From where do you get inspiration for your games?

Everywhere! I know it’s kind of a clichĂ© answer, but it’s true. There are some times I’ll just be sitting around and something will catch my eye and I’ll think “that needs to be part of a game”. Most of the time, though, it’s media. I consume a lot of media. I love film, music, animation, comics, novels and, of course, games. Classic games, especially. Collapsus, for instance, came to be because I wanted to make a game for my mom. She loves puzzle games, so I just reached into my knowledge of games: Tetris, Bejeweled, Puzzle League, some of the first things you think of when you think “puzzle games” (at the time, at least). I didn’t just want to remake those games, though. So many people would have settled with just making a Tetris clone or something, I just wanted to make something original using some of those ideas as stepping stones.

I also play a lot of tabletop RPG’s. I’ve been running the same weekly game for a little over 10 years now. That’s always been a great way to get out some of my weirder ideas and refine them. Add a little Star Wars, a little Fullmetal Alchemist, some Death Gate Cycle, maybe some Steven Universe and shake. Who cares if it started out as high fantasy. After playing that for a few months, boiling it down to the stuff that matters, then we add more inspiration. After playing, I usually jot down the best parts, the stuff that really made an impact, and I try to save that for my real game design.

Which one of your games did you most enjoy making?

That’s a hard one. It’s a bit like asking who you favorite child is. If I’m really being put on the spot about it, I’d say Physix. It’s nowhere near done, but already it’s been such a blast to work on. It actually started out as an entirely different game. We had been working for a few weeks on a first-person, point and click-style mystery game. Like with this stage of Collapsus, Kristy and I were working alone on it while everyone else was doing other things. It was set in a mansion and while we had that most of the way done, the bulk of the work was on a dynamic dialogue system. We hadn't even started on that part and were due to show it off at a convention in a couple weeks.

While messing around with the dialogue system, I’d gotten so put off with one of the characters, I picked up a nearby object (I think it was a chair) and tossed it at him. Of course, it just bounced right off, because he wasn’t programmed to respond to something like that, but that’s when I kind of realized that the physics engine was way cooler than anything I was doing. I ended up making a kind of maze where I just ran around tossing chairs at people. That’s when I started adding physics based puzzles. We ended up taking that to the convention instead. The gravity manipulation came later, of course. You can’t imagine how much fun playing around with anti-gravity is. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too much longer to experience it, though.

Which game that you have made so far was the biggest challenge?

Early on, especially, we had quite a few projects that didn’t get anywhere. Projects that we literally just stopped and never picked back up again for one reason or another. It’d be pretty easy to say one of those, because their lack of completion wasn’t for lack of trying, usually.

The truth is, that it’s probably Collapsus. We’ve all had quite a good time working on it, but there have been so many frustrating parts, to say the least. Over the course of development it’s changed engines four times and has had a total of seven programmers working on it at one point or another. Now, this was in the early days of the studio, well before any of us were doing this full-time (before we were a “real” company, for that matter), so trying to work on a game while juggling other responsibilities on top of that can be difficult especially having to adjust to a changing engine (a decision made by a programmer who is no longer with us) while working off of a predecessor's code (and their predecessor doing the same, etcetera), you can see where things fall apart pretty easily. There were times where keeping team morale up was a pretty daunting task and to say that some people didn’t leave over it would be an outright lie. In the end, we’re proud of what we made and learned quite a lot, so really that's all that matters.

Favorite game that wasn't made by you?

Another hard one! I don’t really have one true favorite. I’m a huge fan of nearly all of the Mario games (yes, even Sunshine), but I’d have to say that Mario World wins out, I think, but just by a bit. For some reason, I’d have to say the version on the GBA is slightly better than the SNES, but not by much.  Zelda is another huge franchise for me. A Link to the Past (also the GBA version, though again, not by much) and Wind Waker HD are pretty much tied for me on that front. If I stayed with just Nintendo, we’d be here for a while, so I’ll just say those.

Portal and Portal 2 are simply masterpieces. I actually pre-ordered the stand-alone copy of Portal for PC when the Orange Box first came out after seeing the trailer. I was a bit too low on funds at the time to buy the whole thing and I knew I had to have this amazing new game. It was like nothing I had ever seen before! Most people don’t even realize the standalone boxed copy even existed, but it does, and I still have it.

Cave Story is another favorite. When I first played it, I didn’t even know it was only made by one guy. This was before the various plus versions came out and I was floored. It’s just so charming and oddly moving. Since then, I’ve bought every version that has come out.

I have a pretty big gaming shelf and well over 1000 Steam games, to boot, so narrowing it down is very hard for me. I guess I’d have to say that the Batman Arkham series, Tetris, Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls series, and Super Meat Boy also deserve special mention. Other than those, I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t mention a very small, web based game that really pulled me in. I know it’s probably a bit silly, but Seedling from Connor Ullmann is honestly one of my favorite video games of all time. I have no clue why, because, objectively speaking, it probably shouldn’t speak to me on the level it does, but hey you can’t really help what you love, right?


Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Tahiti. No, I’m kidding. Probably. In all honesty, I just want to be making more games. Maybe hire on some more team members, maybe move to a bigger studio space. Even those are just maybes. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do with people who want to do the same. So I guess, I just want to do more of it.

If you could go back in time to when Wraith Games was founded in 2005 what advice would you give yourself?

I’d tell myself to stick with it. There were so many times I wanted to give up and either friends or family would push me not to. They saw the passion in me. Growing up, I would be in computer lab or in programming class and I wouldn’t work on on my assignments, I’d be working on making little games. I’d carry around notebooks and sketchbooks of ideas. They knew I couldn’t live with myself if I ever gave that part of me up, I just wish I’d known that, too. It would have made the harder parts easier. Of course, it’s easy to say that now with how well we’re doing, but looking back, it was always so uncertain.

Any hints of what your next game will be about?

Oh, now that one’s easy! There exists a document that has been dubbed “The Phone Book” containing all of the projects I’ve ever wanted to work on. It’s called that because of the sheer volume of content in it (and it keeps growing). We should never run out of projects, especially since I’m not the only designer here who has ideas going forward. Other than finishing up our current projects (of which there are always more than we had planned on working on at one time), we’re going to be picking the temporarily shelved “Jet Pack Hero” and “AAAAH! A Giant Freakin’ Cave Worm… RUN!” back up.

After that, we have plans for a more traditional side scrolling platformer, a musically inspired Metroidvania, and a game that I’m not actually allowed to talk about right now. When that one’s done, those reading this interview in the future will know why. Those are really just the tip of the iceberg on what we have planned for the future!
Hey guys! Wanted to a rather short blog post about the Fitton Center's Season Launch that we attended Friday. Let's waste no time and dive right in!


So, as you may know, our Radarkanoid arcade cabinet was at the Fitton Center for the Creative Arts (a local art museum here in Hamilton) for their Hindsight exhibit until the end of next month. In fact, the whole reason we made this particular cabinet was for the exhibit in the first place. Well, to celebrate not only this exhibit, but the big launch of this new event season for them, they threw a big party! They had people counting at the door, and well over 1000 people came (which I believe is their biggest season launch yet). It was pretty darned cool. That also meant that a lot of people got to play Radarkanoid at this event alone.

Cody, Kristy and I by the Radarkanoid machine

It was only Kristy and I here for this one (though Cody did swing by for 10 minutes near the end). Most of the team are from the surrounding area (the Greater Cincinnati Area) rather than being in Hamilton specifically. Lance was there, though, since a couple of his pieces were there, as well as some Artspace and Hamilton Mill people; so we were among friends if not surrounded by team members.



I had to duck out of there after a couple hours since I was participating in the Hamilton Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday, and practice was the day before (for those who are interested, my team did lose, but it was a blast anyway). Practice only lasted about an hour or so, so I was back pretty quickly. The Fitton Center is on the river with practice starting at the RiverEdge amphitheater just a block away. The Hamilton Mill, and by extension, our studio, is actually right between the two. For context, Kristy and I live in Artspace, which is only 2 blocks away from all three, so our commute is just a few steps (jealous?). Kristy stayed at the party through the whole thing so she could answer questions since she was the programmer and all.


It was a great event! Some seriously great art and people were there. Since you're on our blog, though, I guess you want to hear more about Radarkanoid, though... I was able to get some pictures and video of people playing the machine, but only after I was back from practice and only while I was near the cabinet. I really wish I could have gotten more (or that Steve, Lance, or Natalie were there to take some awesome footage as well). Oh, by the way, we DO have an Instagram where you can see stuff like this (shameless plug): https://www.instagram.com/wraithgames/


 

We hope to be able to do more events of this nature here at some point. Until then we still do have at least three larger, convention-style events coming up. So that'll be cool. Hopefully one of us can edit the video we got from this one and get it up on YouTube soon, but we are still needing to get the new Collapsus trailer (and GIFs), and Radarkanoid trailer (and GIFs) as well, so we'll see.

As a little bonus, here's an interview we did with Slickster Magazine! Check it out: http://www.slickstermagazine.com/collapsus-physix-developer-interview/
Hey all! I really wanted to get this blog post out sometime last week (I knew it really couldn't be Monday, though), because I wanted to start off by showing some pictures from our Microenterprise class graduation. It... well, it took them a while to get the pictures to us students, unfortunately, but we have them now! I have a few other pieces of news as well, but I'll cover those after this part. So lets make the magic happen!


For those who don't know, I took part in an SBDC/SELF Microenterprise class representing Wraith. That probably raises more questions since you may not know what any of those three words even are. the SBDC is the (Butler County) "Small Business Development Center", while SELF is "Supports to Encourage Low-income Families". A "microenterprise" is a small business with typically less than 9 employees making less 2 million dollars. Wow. What a lot of jargon in such a short space!

We've worked alongside the SBDC before. In fact, they're in the Hamilton Mill with us (and after the flood in the building are even on the same floor as us). David Riggs of the SBDC set us up with our LLC. His partner, Mark Lankford, was in charge of this class (and he was an awesome instructor). SELF's involvement is pretty simple, they help low income people (and most first-time small business owners certainly fit that bill) with classes, grants, and loans. It's actually pretty awesome since the people coming out of this class get to apply for a $5000 business loan from them (that were hoping to pick up soon). The microenterprise part is a bit trickier, however. We do have 12 team members, which is a bit over the number, but a couple of them are volunteers, so I guess they don't count.

Outside of the Hamilton Mill: Mark in the back, David in the front. Stolen from their Facebook page

Anyway, the class was 11 weeks, and I took it alongside our good friend Lance T. Miller (and Joni, whom you may remember from our first-time VR video on YouTube). The class went over all aspects of business ownership and management including (but not limited to) sales, expenditures, taxes, paperwork, insurance, hiring, and the like. We all learned a lot, but luckily, since a few of us already had established businesses, we had a bit of a leg up.

On the 5th, we had a graduation ceremony for all those who completed the class with a satisfactory business plan. Take a look:





The event was even catered by our absolute favorite bakery (as well as not only Kristy's and my neighbor, but also alumni of this very class a while back), The Almond Sisters! Tasty!

But yeah... it was a great experience and I learned a lot that will help Wraith along (Mark was VERY impressed with not only the business plan, but what we've done so far, so he's certainly not worried about our success, so maybe I can lighten up a bit, too).

We still have a lot to do, though. Friday is the Fitton Center Season Launch (featuring our Radarkanoid arcade machine), the Kentucky Fried Pixels bundle still has a month to go (seriously, pick it up if you haven't already: https://itch.io/b/122/kentucky-fried-pixels) and the Collapsus Kickstarter is in 4 weeks... AND WE STILL DON'T HAVE A DRESS FOR THE PROM!!! Or... um... yeah. What was I saying? We're going to be busy, busy busy here soon and that's not even counting the weekly builds, press interviews and events we have lined up! Yikes!

We have a lot of new stuff coming at you, so stay tuned!

Oh boy, oh boy, OH BOY! Radarkanoid is finally out! It's finally here. It's finally... well... done! We'd made Radarkanoid as part of the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam last month (it was a month-long jam). The finished games that were part of the jam also made it on to a bundle, where 50% of the profits go to help Louisville Makes Games, a 501c(3) charity that helps Kentucky game developers live the dream!


You can pick up the bundle here: https://itch.io/b/122/kentucky-fried-pixels It helps us out, it helps them out, and it helps YOU out by giving you awesome games! So, please consider tossing us a dollar (or more if you're feeling generous)!

Anyway... on with the blog post!

So this isn't quite a postmortem of the game, but more of a release post, and update post, and some more info on the game. For starters, since I'd mentioned that we made this in a month for a game jam (well, a bit over, but not by too much), did I mention that we have a time lapse of Kristy working on it? BAM!


Believe it or not, this is actually Kristy's first solo-programmed, non-education related game! Pretty neat, huh? She's really working hard to be on-par with our other programmers. We think she's doing a bang-up job, don't you?

Now, the video isn't all of the development process. We didn't think of doing a time lapse from the start, so we start a bit in medias res, I guess. Not only that, but we didn't do a video for my art or Glenn's music. Oh, who's Glenn? Remember a long, long time ago (2010) when we did an interview with the Nerdfit Network about Physix (you can listen to a re-upload of it, here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/if-were-being-pressed.html)? Well, Glenn Dubois, one of the masterminds behind Nerdfit (who asked all of the questions in that interview, mind) is also the absolutely crazy-amazing chiptune artist, Glenntai! (Check out his stuff here: https://glenntai.bandcamp.com). He just so happened to do the amazing music for Radarkanoid (and I doubt you've heard the last of his sound in our games by any means). 

Heck, he was just featured on Chiptunes = WIN Volume 5! Check it out: http://chiptuneswin.com/blog/chiptunes-win-volume-5-tracks-11-20 Trust us, you'll love it!

Anyway. You may remember from this post a little bit ago (http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/radarkanoid-development-journey.html) that we were inspired by gaming's history pretty heavily for Radarkanoid and that we like to fiddle with arcade games for our games (like this one here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2015/07/collapsus-arcade-edition.html) AND that we're showing off Radarkanoid at the Fitton Center next month (post about that here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/06/its-showtime.html) for their Hindsight exhibit (August 6th - September 30th, to be exact).... well... take a peek at this baby!










Pretty sweet, huh?! We're pretty proud of it. This is actually the second game we've shown off at the Fitton Center, the first being back in 2008, when I was still attending the Butler Tech School for the Arts. Since I was a student there, I got to show off a very, very rough version of our old zombie space game, Project Zion! Oh, the memories...

So yeah... Cat, the Director of Exhibitions at the Fitton Center, asked us to do something more "hand made" to fit not only the indie game spirit, but also the theme of the exhibit. The cabinet we've revamped was actually an old Mortal Kombat 2 cabinet that had over 20,000 plays back in its day! Now that's some game history! That's one of the reasons we went with kind of a street art/graffiti kind of look for the side art. It just seemed appropriate for the 90's origins of the machine. Heck, we're even thinking of maybe doing shirts of it. If you like that idea, please let us know!


Interestingly enough, as it turns out,  it's sitting right next to a piece by our good friend, Lance T. Miller! You may remember him from the awesome work he's been doing on our mural (http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/remodel-updates-blogging-about-blogging.html) or, more likely, his amazing card art. 

Here's a look at the flier for the exhibit as well:


This is all really cool for us. We've had so many great opportunities this past year alone! If you guys like Radarkanoid enough, chances are that it'll get a mobile release. We're already looking at putting it out for free across several browser-based platforms after the bundle is over, as well. 

Besides all this, next month we have another interview lined up, we need to prep for our Fall-Winter events, the Collapsus weekly builds are being made, its Kickstarter is in 8 weeks, we're still finishing up the studio remodel, and we graduate from our SBDC class! 

Man, it feels good to be an indie!