Hey everyone! Last week we were visited by our friends from over at the Game Over Game On Podcast. Let's talk about that!


Natalie and I first met them at when we were presenting at LexPlay last year and were featured on one of their episodes (here: http://gameovergameon.podbean.com/e/lexplay-2016-with-jay-kidd-of-wraith-games)

Well, we met some of them, anyway. This time, we got to see Grant again and Jake and Paige (Elvish Gaming on YouTube) while Aaron and Justin stayed back in Kentucky. Unfortunately, while they did get to see me, Natalie, Kristy, Lance, and Steve; Thorne, Cody, Eric, Camille, Adam, Mark, and Rachel had to stay at home... well, this time, at least! Their newest episode talking about this trip is up on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr3NhO743so

So, we started the day just hanging out at the studio. We got to talk a lot about games and their podcast as well as just life in general. 


Steve had to pop out so he could get to work on a project, so I took some time to show them around the Hamilton Mill, where our studio is. They got to see the Hamilton Heritage Museum, the old municipal court room, and the old holding cells upstairs (which we call "the spooky"). Man, we have a great building!



After that, we headed out to one of our favorite downtown restaurants, "Neal's Barque"! Then, after we ran into Kristy, we took a tour around the city! We went to "Monument Cabin", the "Artspace Gallery", the "Fitton Center", the "Lane Tech Center", and "Lemon Grenade Creative"!





After we came back to the studio, we were met by Lance who then blew everyone's minds with some of his awesome card art (and card tricks)! Then Natalie popped in and we spent more time talking. After we decided to have them record an episode the next time they were in town, Lance popped out and we all went to get food at another one of our favorite local spots, "All8Up Pizza & Hoagies"!




Unfortunately, our downstairs neighbors, "the Municipal Brew Works" were closed and the GOGO guys had to go without having a taste this time. Don't worry, though, they'll be back pretty soon! 

When they got back Paige did an amazing episode on Collapsus over at here YouTube Channel, Elvish Gaming (see that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkF_8EZL8dU&t) We're really glad it made such an impression!

Well, anyway, that's all we have for now, but you can see our newest SlideDB blog post here: http://www.slidedb.com/games/collapsus/news/collapsus-is-now-on-steam-greenlight-and-free-weekly-builds-are-now-live which is all about Collapsus being on Steam Greenlight! 

Catch you all later!
Hey everyone! Eric again... looks like I might start handling these more often. Maybe. Likely. Kinda. I don't know. Ask Jay. I just usually write the pretty stories. He seems to think I can write more editorial pieces as well. So, here we go. If you don't like it, not my fault. Blame the “Boss Man” and not me. I want to talk about the developer to publisher relationship in gaming today. Or at least, what was the relation and what seems to be changing about it recently. At least from my point of view. Again, Jay's idea. I didn't choose this... REMEMBER THAT.


Anyway, think of a game you were super hyped for in the past and then it was just a huge let down because it seemed incomplete. Or rushed. Or like, there was meant to just be-- more. We've all experienced it. Heck, you even hear about it now happening with Nintendo's Switch. Some think Nintendo is rushing a console out too fast. Not just a game. You see it a lot in online games as well. The Elder Scrolls Online being one of recent memory that I personally experienced upon launch. Not just a lack of elder game content (no pun intended) but also bugs and glitches so massive and game-breaking, there is no way they could have been missed by internal quality assurance. From banked items disappearing and being deleted to quests that could not be completed that were required to progress at the old veteran level system they used... the game was rushed out, clearly.



Alright, I chose my game. You got yours? Good. Savor that pain. The disappointment. It wasn't fun was it? Now think of why your choice was released in such a state. Was it the developers not caring about their product? Doubt it. Shovelware isn't normally hyped or overly advertised. Do you think it was lack of skill of the devs? Another thing I would doubt as well, poorly made games don't get the attention that would make people salivate over them. Done guessing? Hell, were you even guessing? Most of us know the reason. Publishers pushed for the developers to push the game out early, just to pad their financial quarter; make the holiday season; capitalize on a lull in the market, or any number of reasons. But the point still stands, it was rushed out far too early. And now
you are paying for it. Which, is the point really... to a publisher, games are only about the money. It's the developers that love their work. That put care into their work. All publishers do is fund the project. Seeing it as an investment, and believe me when I say they want a high return on their investment.

Who wouldn't though, right? Money makes the world go round and we all have our means to make money. This isn't wholly wrong on their part. And there are publishers that care for their devs. But they're few and far between. There are milestones and deadlines to meet when you're a developer for the publisher. Which is, again, fair. But it's the norm to have
very pushy publishers now. Even trying to drive the creative process themselves, which is usually what gives us these incomplete games.


But fear not! There has been developers that have won their freedom. Bought out their rights to be the sole controllers of their intellectual property. One of which of these companies has been Blizzard Entertainment. Yes, the makers of World of Warcraft. And it shows in their recent expansion: Legion. Before this expansion, Blizzard was under a directive to “make one expansion a year” from their publisher-- Activision. A directive that was never met. And instead, players were given content never truly spaced out properly, sometimes even too fast. But it was always the same thing at the end of an expansion: waiting near a year and eventually longer than a year from the last content patch of the previous expansion until the launch of the next one. Yet with Legion, one of their main points were them stating “We're no longer pursuing a goal of one expansion a year” and I swear there was more cheering for that than any other announcements that BlizzCon. And this was all because they were able to buy back the majority of their company back from Activision, their publishers.


Another successful trend we all have likely noticed is crowd-funding. I'm certain most of those reading can list more than a couple games that have released through Kickstarter alone. Some of these games have revitalized entire genres. All with developers not having publishers rushing their products out just to make a quick buck. Most developers that have used crowd-funding know that a late game that is complete is better than pandering to a community and rushing a game out because people complain. And while I've been seeing crowd-funding slow with game development, I have seen a raise in quality of titles being funded. I feel the huge surge of games first being crowd-funded were a large influx of many independent developers all trying to “get a piece of the pie” as it were. Which is fair. Indie devs are the “Starving Artists” of the industry. People need to eat! And I like pie!


My point is this: I'm seeing less and less publisher meddling with games and their developers. Something that should have never been started to begin with in my opinion. That all said, I feel fair goals to be made during development should be met, of course. Money needs to be made. But investing money should not allow publishers to lord that money over developers' heads. Fair goals. Milestones that are achievable. And stop pushing to get a game out earlier than it should. If publishers do not stop these habits, we'll continue to see developers look to alternate means of funding. I'm certain more than just the two examples I gave are possible. It's a brave new world out there.



A note from our army of legal zombies: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Wraith Games or official policies of Wraith Games.
Much like with our post last year where we re-uploaded a lost interview we had with the blog "GamerProblems" (available here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/08/the-lost-interview.html), sometimes blogs go down and their content goes with it. The awesome people over at Nintendo Love Affair interviewed me last year about what we were working on and a bit of our history, but unfortunately, their blog is now just that... history. Luckily, they've allowed us to re-post that interview here so it can be preserved. Enjoy!


Hamilton, Ohio based Wraith Games is the company behind the upcoming Physix, Collapsus, and Jet Pack Hero soon to be released on the Nintendo Wii U eShop.

Jay Kidd, the founder of Wraith Games in Hamilton, Ohio, started getting into game development in high school.  He knew that he wanted to make games ever since he was 9 years old and first played the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  Since he didn’t really understand what it meant to “make games”, Jay jumped into all of the aspects of game development.  He started studying programming, art, design, and even the business side of things.  Without proper guidance, he tried to do it all at once!  We sit down with Jay (across the internet) to find out more about his journey into the world of game development.   


NLA: Tell us a about Wraith Games.  How did it all begin?

Jay: It all started back in 2005 when a bunch of my friends and I just figured it would be cool to make games together.  None of us really knew what we were doing at the time and most of the games didn’t make it past the first few months.  Right now, though, it’s not looking that will happen again anytime soon.  We all work pretty well together, now that we’re an actual business nearly a decade later.


NLA: How big is your team?

Jay: Currently, we’re a team of around 10 developers: programmers, artists, designers, modelers, writers, and the like.  Most of us wear multiple hats.  It’s really nice to be able to work with a fairly small team.  We’re all friends outside of work, so that really helps.  We really “get” one another and that shows in our projects.  We’re making the things we want to play and making them how we’d want to see them made.  No compromises.


NLA: By the looks of it, Physix appears to be your biggest title yet.  Give us a little backstory on how that game came about.  

Jay: We started working on the prototype that became Physix back in 2008.  This was before we officially picked the prototype of our other big game, Collapsus, back up.  It’s not uncommon for one of us to come up with a crazy idea, make some sort of terrible prototype of it and then have the rest of the team make a real game out of it.  Physix and Collapsus both started that way.


NLA: And what was Physix like originally?

Jay:  Physix was pretty different back then from what it became; that’s for sure!  Before we even really started working on its prototype we were working on first person, point and click mystery game.  A good majority of the code was centered around a dynamic dialogue system similar to what you’d see in, like, an Elder Scrolls game.  That way you could interrogate people and try to suss out clues from them.  It was a pretty cool idea, but working on it was tedious to say the least.


NLA: And how did the shift in gameplay come about?

Jay: While getting frustrated working on that, I picked up a nearby chair in the game and tossed it at a character I was using for testing.  It just bounced right off of him because he wasn’t programmed to do anything other than talk.  I realized then that just messing around with the physics engine was far more interesting than anything else I was doing with the game.  After a while of just messing around by tossing more things at more characters and dropping things down stairs, I started adding little physics based puzzles from there.  After playing around with it a bit, it was my brother who suggested adding an antigravity element to the re-existing puzzles.  The rest just kind of sprang up from there.


NLA: Wow!  That is quite the turn.  Where did the game go from there?

Jay: After that, in 2009, GamePro magazine had decided that they wanted to get into the fairly new market of indie game publishing under what they were calling GamePro Labs.  They ran this huge contest looking for the best indie games they could find.  They go thousands of submissions and ended up choosing about 10 of them.  Thankfully that early Physix prototype was chosen!  IT felt like a dream come true.  Sadly, the next year the magazine closed and with it, Labs.  


NLA: So what did you do next to keep the project alive?

Jay: After that we turned to Blitz Games Studios’ Blitz 1Up program, who were very receptive to the project.  By a strange turn of fate, they shut down before we could strike a formal deal.  


NLA: Wow, you guys were literally a wraith for these companies.

Jay: Things still looked up though since self publishing was a more viable option after 2011.  Luckily, there’s no way that we’re going to take Nintendo or Valve down when we release our Wii U or Steam versions.  We hope not, at least!


NLA: What became your inspiration for Physix after that change in direction?

Jay: A lot of the design sensibility really comes from the game Portal.  Back when we first started working on Physix, Portal was the only first person puzzle game out there.  A lot of what we started doing after I got the rest of the team on board was based off of what we saw there; subconsciously at least.  A friend of the company was the one to make the Portal connection, so we decided that we should take it in a different direction.  Of course, since then there were tons of first person puzzle games made, including Portal 2.  


NLA: How have you differentiated Physix from Portal?

Jay: Early on we followed the well trodden Portal path.  Physix was still a “go to this chamber, complete this puzzle, move on” type game.  So, by seeing these other games pass by, we realized that we needed a change.  We started focusing far more heavily on narrative, for instance.  One of the things we noticed is no matter how hard these games set out to have an interesting story, that story was always there to facilitate the gameplay first, rather than working in tandem with the gameplay to make a bigger whole.  We wanted to make the gameplay fee more organic.


NLA:  Can you give us some launch details for Physix, Collapsus, and Jet-Pack Hero?  

Jay:  We’re trying to get Physix done as quickly as we can.  We’re trying for a 2017 release, however.  Collapsus is much easier to pin down, thankfully.  We’re launching a Kickstarter to finish it up (along with free, online weekly builds) sometime in April.  The Greenlight campaign will launch shortly after that.  This should lead to an official release this summer!


NLA: And Jet-Pack Hero?

Jay: That release date is even more nebulous.  We have a couple smaller mobile and we releases that are coming out between Collapsus and Physix, and JPH will be released either before or after Physix, depending which we get finished first.  We know that is an unsatisfactory answer, but we want to make sure we have the best games we can before announcing a launch.  


NLA: Which platforms will they be launched on?

Jay: All of our games will be released on Nintendo consoles!  We’re releasing all three games on Wii U at the time of the other launches (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire, Windows Phone, Web, etc) and we have a 3DS version of Collapsus being worked on as well.  


NLA: What does the future have in store for Wraith Games?  

Jay: We just want to keep making games!  We have some plans for some minor expansion, hiring two or three more team members, but other than that, we want to remain as a small studio.  It’s easier to keep a clear vision that way.  We do want to up the scope of our releases though.  We already have some bigger games planned after our current release schedule clears up! Things are going to get very exciting around here pretty soon!

Look forward to the future releases from Wraith Games. We are sure to see a lot of amazing things out of this company.  For more information on Wraith Games, check out their website, or follow them on Twitter.  They also share a lot of interesting content on Facebook!
Hey, all! Man, it's been a busy last couple of weeks! Sorry for not posting as regularly as I would like as of late. It's been a while, so without further ado...


So, we've been getting quite a lot of press lately (as you may already know very well from our previous two posts here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/04/if-were-being-pressed.html and here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/12/the-pressing-issue-of-press.html). It's always really great to be getting some more eyes on the studio and our projects. Heck, being featured in the JournalNews was huge for us. We thought it may be the biggest press we'd be getting for a while. Boy, were we wrong!


There were actually two HUGE pieces of press that we received this month. On January 4th, I had the pleasure of being interviewed on 91.7 WVXU Cincinnati (NPR) alongside Clayton Belcher of Jolly Crouton Media and Rob Buchheit of Nectar Game Studio. We talked all about the process of making games as well as the Cincinnati Game scene (especially IGDA Cincinnati). It was a blast being on the radio! You can hear that, well, here: http://wvxu.org/post/how-video-games-are-developed-and-challenges-multi-platform-world


The other HUGE piece of press was on January 7th. I was invited to Cincinnati's Fox19 (WXIX) to talk about Collapsus. I was interviewed by Catherine Bodak and even though the interview wasn't incredibly long, it was really awesome that they had me on to get the word out! You can see that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SKeL7CkLSg. Now, for whatever reason, my mic wasn't on properly so there's a bit of a popping sound, so sorry about that.

Now, that's it for press, but on January 13th, I was asked to speak at the Fairfield Rotary Club about accessibility in video games. While most of the audience weren't really "gamers", what they do understand is helping people! The talk went over incredibly well and afterward I got to talk to some of the movers and shakers of Fairfield and may have laid the working for some cool new things coming up! They even gave me a really nice pen for coming to talk! Sweet!


Lastly, I wanted to talk about the Collapsus weekly builds for a smidge. We're currently on Week 4 (you can play for free, here: https://wraithgames.itch.io/collapsus) and we're showing no signs of slowing down! What I wanted to go over is just some of the features added since we started doing the weekly builds:


  • The addition of "Obsidian", "Meltdown", "Heavy", and "Wizard" Special Modes
  • The addition of "Shuffle", "Karma", and "Obsidian" blocks
  • Graphical additions and tweaks (new menu items, powerup effects, logos, etc)
  • Bug fixes (including web exclusive fixes such as the "fullscreen" and resolution glitches from earlier weekly builds)
  • And more!
We hope that if you've had a chance to play Collapsus on the web so far that you've enjoyed it and will stick with us as we make it even better and that if you haven't you'll give it a try soon.

With the events of last year, all of the amazing press, and the awards Collapsus has won, we're so happy that everyone's been giving it so much attention. This year will mark even more events and press (and hopefully more awards) and we hope you keep supporting our weekly builds, and hopefully our Kickstarter and Greenlight campaigns coming up. Without you guys, Collapsus wouldn't be what it is, and together we can make it even better! 



Hi, this is Kristy. I’m one of the programmers here at Wraith (and Jay’s fiancee). I’m also designing the puzzles for Collapsus. This is my first blog post. I hope you all like it. As you know, we’ve been pretty busy here at Wraith trying our hardest to get Collapsus out as soon as possible. 2016 has been a really big year for us. We’ve been to 13 conventions this past year, and have had more interviews and press than I can count. We’ve had literally thousands of people pick up and play Collapsus. We even managed to get people hooked on it who claimed they didn’t like “this type of game” or seemed generally disinterested. I always tell people that Collapsus is like a Rubik’s Cube that plays Tetris. And it is. We’ve brought something brand new to the table, and we want it in every person’s hand.

In other news, Collapsus has made it not only to the Top 50 for App of the Year this year, but we placed! Collapsus placed Number 4 in the “Upcoming Apps” category! Awesome! Last year it also made the Top 50, but didn’t place. To think that we’ve come so far! We’re so very proud! To think that this game started out as a hobby project for one person, and now it’s become this big thing that everyone seems to love (who would’ve thought?). And we want to make it even bigger!

We’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who voted for Collapsus on Slide DB! We could not have done it without all of your support! You guys are the greatest! Rock on!

Like I said, we’ve been pretty busy getting things hammered out as quickly as we can. Early access is now on itch.io and Jay and Mark have been working on weekly builds (this is our second week live). If you’re itch-ing to play the game, head on over here: https://wraithgames.itch.io/collapsus and check it out!

While that’s been going on, over the last couple weeks I’ve been working on puzzles for Puzzle Mode, over 50 of which I’ve built so far. That may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that we’re going to have over 200 puzzles in the core game as well as (at least) 365 (different) daily puzzles! Whew! I’d better get cracking!

Jay sure has been getting cracking lately. This week he’ll be interviewed on the radio station WVXU as well as -- get this -- on Fox 19 news! How exciting! I’m not exactly sure when these will air, keep an eye (and ear) out for these interviews!

That’s all our news for right now! Stay with us as we keep you updated on progress and weekly builds!
Hey, all! Sorry about not getting this piece out sooner. Everyone over here at the studio is sick as a dog (well, almost everyone… thank goodness for Skype commuting). So, in this article, since we’ve talked at length about some of our Special modes (here: Slidedb.com) and Accessibility options (here: Slidedb.com) we figured it was finally time to have an in-depth look at one of our oft-neglected modes: Puzzle mode!
Puzz2

Every great puzzle game can benefit from a dedicated Puzzle mode. Many of the greats (especially three of the main ones Collapsus took inspiration from) have puzzle modes. Many puzzle games nowadays will only be in the style of the traditional “Puzzle mode” at that!
Puzzle Modes

So what exactly is a “Puzzle mode” anyway? Why does Collapsus have one? Why does that matter?
A Puzzle mode is a game mode in a player must use the established mechanics presented in the default game mode to clear the board (or another objective) in a finite amount of moves/time. Typically, additional game pieces (in our case, Blocks) do not spawn in, and there is only one solution to any given “puzzle”. *Woo* That was a mouthful!
In Collapsus, we’re including (at least) 200 puzzles right out of the box (metaphorically speaking). These puzzles have 4 difficulties (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Master) and several “themes” that take elements from the various Special modes. Through the first three difficulties, whenever you complete a puzzle, you’re given a star rating based on how quickly you did it and the next puzzle is unlocked. When you complete the last puzzle in Hard, however, the first puzzle in the next theme and all of the Master puzzles of the current theme are unlocked. This is where the ultimate test of those mechanics begins!
SELECT
Luckily, with Collapsus, we have a mechanic built in that measures clicks: the Break Meter! Few games seem so ready-made to include a puzzle mode as Collapsus does! Take a look at some of the puzzles we’re prepping!
65
21

In addition to the 200 or so built-in puzzles, we’re also offering a brand-new free puzzle every day (as long as you’re online). The plan is to have a year's worth of puzzles lined up on the network just waiting for players and then making new ones all throughout the next year! That’s not all, though… we also offer tools that allow you to make your own puzzles and share them online.
EDITOR
Right now we’re still getting most of the finite design work on it done still. At the end of the day, it’s basically a Mario Maker-style editor. It has assets (in this case, blocks), a grid, different pallets (for special blocks and things), and you have to beat your puzzle to be able to upload it. Simple!
We’re also working on two ranking metrics… two 5-star meters where other players can rank Difficulty and Fun-factor. They can also report abuse.
Unlike with the main Puzzle mode, neither Daily Puzzles and Custom Puzzles will have leaderboards. That’s just too much server space! Now, we have been experimenting with just having the top player and their speed, but only time will tell on that.
What do you all think? For the Sudoku-minded, we really hope this gives a fun, challenging alternative to the more arcadey gameplay for the Standard and Special modes. We really want feedback, though, so comment below to let us know if this is something you’re into!

[NOTE: This post was first featured on our SlideDB page here: 

Late on Saturday, we got some VERY good news! Thanks to all of your awesome support, once again our game, Collapsus, made it to the Top 50 of SlideDB's "App of the Year" awards! This was a big deal for us last year and an even bigger deal for us this year! Everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive of us (and Collapsus) at events, on social media, even in the press! You guys are awesome!


Now that we're in the Top 50, we actually very much need all of you to go vote again for us. WHAT?! WHY!? Well, for some strange reason the votes that get you to the Top 50 and the votes that actually win the award are separate. Heck, I feel bad even asking for it since everyone was so awesome about going out and voting the first time. Unfortunately, though, if we're going to win I have to ask you guys to vote and share. Luckily, this is the last one... for this year... well, for this particular award this year... *cough* No... wait. It's December. Yeah. Just this year... now NEXT year...

Okay, okay, I kid. Seriously, though. We really couldn't have made it this far without each and every one of you! Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts!



You can vote for Collapsus again (or for the first time... we don't judge) HERE: http://www.slidedb.com/games/collapsus

So. What's next? Well, today (the day I'm posting this, not the day I'm actually writing it, which is the day before), I'm heading off to Talawanda High School to represent Wraith to a bunch of game design students. Then, in January, we're heading to the Fairfield Rotary Club to give a talk and will also be featured on the Cincinnati radio station WVXU with a couple other Cinci game developers! Pretty cool!

As for Collapsus: we've got some big news! Mark has said that the weekly builds should be ready to launch this month (maybe this week) so all of you can get all sorts of Collapsus goodness for FREE as some sort of early access, public beta... thing. Yep! That means builds every week until the game is done! How cool is that?


So, yeah! Looking forward to finishing up this year with a bang! With your help, we can bring home App of the Year just in time to see the start of the long overdue weekly builds! After that? The Kickstarter, Greenlight, and then release! During that we will hopefully be up for some more awards and event appearances, too... so keep your eyes peeled!

Well, until next time!