I'm not certain how else to open up this discussion than simply asking the question that inspired it: Am I the only one getting tired of the score seven out of ten being the new “average” score? I mean, if I'm honest I'm completely disenchanted with the idea of giving numerical scores to media to begin with... and Metacritic is the biggest reason for that. But, that is a WHOLE other discussion that may or may not be brought up at a later date.

Seriously though... how a seven the new “average” score? Last I checked, in a range from one to ten, five is the median number and the ACTUAL MATHIMATICAL AVERAGE between those two numbers. I don't even need to comb through the recent titles to be released and scored to prove my point. Look up any title online with your favorite site. Go on... I'll wait...

...got it? Awesome. Now, look at all the sevens. Not sixes or eights. The sevens. Note how many are just seen as “alright” games. Not good. Not bad. Just-- average. And that's fine! Really. It's not bad to be average. In fact, I just stated that. It's alright to be average. Not everything can be above and beyond. And I can even argue that we need bad games too... again, another discussion for another time.

In fact, look at all the ones given by whichever site you selected. I bet there's more ones than any other number under five. Hell! I beat most sites have more ones than fives for their scores. And this is the issue! There's no gradient. Reviews have become an environment of extremes. And I think it comes from the fear of being blacklisted by publishers, along with the thought that a ten represents the idea of a “perfect game” and-- I'm sorry. There isn't one. Not matter how much you love again, it can't be perfect. A game can be the best it can become, but never perfect.

My point is this: We need more variation in our scores. Not just from the games themselves, but from the sites that critique and judge them for consumers. It's an important metric used by people looking to purchase games, so maybe we should handle that kind of information with the respect it deserves. A five is a respectable score to have if you're an average or mediocre game. Critics CLEARLY know the scale they are one if you look at the ones and sevens, but I don't think we should forget two through six is all I'm saying.

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.
Hey everyone! Sorry blog posts have been fewer and farther between. We've been working on getting Collapsus finished (and Greenlit) as well as working actively on Cave Worm, Burst Lancer, and Radarkanoid 3000. Couple that with the last couple events we did (and are planning on diving right back into more) and you can see why we have our hands full! Well, speaking of those events, today's blog post is all about the events we just came from: The Ohio Gaming Brigade's Dayton Designed: UDCon Edition at the University of Dayton (man that's a mouthful!) and St. Patrick's Day at the Municipal Brew Works. Let's jam!

So, let's start off with OGBDDUDCE@UD (we'll just say UDCon from now on). A couple weeks ago we went to the University of Dayton for UDCon, which is a little university convention held by their tabletop gaming group. Now, keep in mind that we don't really have much of a connection to UD, but luckily, our friends over at the Ohio Gaming Brigade certainly do! See, OGB was founded after members of that UD group graduated and wanted to keep doing wheat they were doing "in the real world" (man, I hate that phrase), so OGB was born (or so I'm told)! You may remember OGB from when we attended their first Dayton Designed (more on that here: http://blog.wraithgames.com/2016/11/madness-4-events-in-3-weeks-dayton.html). Seems that they liked us enough to invite us to this as well (and good thing, too, because these guys are awesome).

Unlike the first Dayton Designed, this was a 2 day event up at UD and, gotta say, even though it felt like less people stopped by than last time... it was so much fun! It really feels like we've made some great friends within this little community. We even got some people who'd played at the last event (and potentially others unconnected to OGB... it was unclear, but it seemed like they were hinting at it). Either way, it was a blast!

We were even featured in an article on Dayton.com (here: http://www.daytondailynews.com/lifestyles/tried-board-games-from-ohio-designers-and-here-how-they-rate/EvkSOopEjk48BCKtSklQKP) written by our new friend Josher Lumpkin.

A couple days after that, we headed literally downstairs to the Municipal Brew Works (yes, our studio is above a local brewery) and took part in their St Patrick's Day festivities. The place was packed, but boy did we get some great reception!

We even put on what we called "The True Irishman Challenge" (a little play on the "No True Scotsman Fallacy"), where, like at most events, we challenged players to beat Level 5 of Collapsus on hard mode, but instead of putting them on a waiting list for a t-shirt, we gave them a free beer! Only one dude was rad enough to do it (though many, many tried).

All-in-all I'd say that this was a terrific start to our events year! On the 27th we're headed to an IGDA Cincinnati event and then in April it's back to Vector! It's not even the end of the first quarter and we've got 8 or so events lined up for the year already... we're going to really pack them in! Considering we're trying to have Radarkanoid 3000, Cave Worm, Burst Lancer, and (of course), Collapsus all done this year, we're rally looking at having a great year of content all around! Hope you're all ready!
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!
As you may know already, 2016 was a huge year for us. Tons of events and interviews, a few awards, the studio remodel… even the release of our second game, Radarkanoid! Throughout all this time we were prepping for the release of Collapsus. With us being picked up as Nintendo Licensed Developers and us prepping for the Kickstarter, we knew that it was only a matter of time before we were ready to launch the game!
How to do it, though… that was the question! See one of the big things we realized by showing Collapsus off at so many events was that, unless you actually played it, you couldn’t really get a feel for what it was all about. It’s not a game that looks good on video. You have to FEEL it. That’s why we decided to start doing free, early access builds every week online!
Currently we’re in Week 7, and, while we have a long way to go still (bug fixes, more modes... sound even!) we’ve already implemented 15 of our Challenge modes and all 5 main difficulties! You can play it all, for free, on Itch.io right now: https://wraithgames.itch.io/collapsus
And trust us… every week just keeps making it even better!
Because of this, we’re taking the time to launch on Steam Greenlight (before Greenlight get’s replaced) and we could really use your help to make it happen! So, if you would be so kind, take some time to vote for it here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=865391503
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We’ll be posting on there, on here, on our blog (here: Blog.wraithgames.com), on our Twitter (https://twitter.com/wraithgames)and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/wraithgames) as things progress. So stay tuned!
[NOTE: This post was first featured on our SlideDB page here: 

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!