Author Archives: Colin Cupp

Colin is the product marketing guy at Mochi Media. What does that mean? That means that internally at Mochi he is an advocate for customers and partners, and externally he talks about products and features. When he is not working or traveling to a far-off land, he enjoys the simple things in life like camping, hiking, making craft beer, Netflicking, and playing games. Yes, Netflicking is an activity.

Indie Your Face: An Interview with Lachhh from Berzerk Studio

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The holidays have come and gone, and Simon Lachance (aka “Lachhh”) of Berzerk Studio is still in the giving mood. He has created a great new video series called Indie Your Face, where he gives indie developers tips and tricks on how to make it as an indie game developer. I caught up with Simon to find out what he has been up to and learn more about the Indie Your Face project, below is what transpired.

You can tune into Simon and Indie Your Face by visiting the website, following on Twitter / Facebook, or tuning into the YouTube channel.

 

What’s new at Berzerk? What are you guys up to, and what is your focus as we move into 2014?

We’re doing good! Time has passed since the sad event now, we finally got rid of all paperwork due to the event. Frantic Frigates’s 2 release is planned for early this year and Sky Quest is planned for around early February. Expect to hear from us soon :).

 

Why did you create the Indie Your Face project?

A couple of reasons, actually !

I created the show because I have always felt that we have never shown enough backstage stuff. People knew Berzerk Studio, but not the guys behind it. Some even thought we were a big corporation or something, but in reality, we’re just a couple of dudes making games on their own. So I always wanted to talk to the world, I had a lot of ideas for youtube video before Berzerk’s event, but couldn’t really do them because I was working on a million projects at the same time, until the whole thing broke apart. Now I that have more time to do my own stuff, I can afford to experiment with a YouTube Show.

Second, I’ve seen people giving advice on how to become an indie while they haven’t made a game themselves. The word “indie” is becoming mainstream and glamourous, everybody wants to be indie or claim to be indie, just like anyone who plays a few chords claim to be a guitarist. That pisses me off. So I think that hatred became my fuel to create my own show, a more energetic one, with a Berzerk feeling to it. Heavy metal, in your face stuff.

Finally, because nobody else has done it (in this format). There’s a lot of good content and advice from real pros out there, but it’s often all raw and unedited.  While it’s very good and deep in content, it’s not very entertaining or fun to watch. So since I myself have the attention span of a squirrel, I wanted to make something more dynamic- short episodes with one single message per episode.

Extra Credits is very good inspiration though, those guys are great. You should check them out.

 

Who is your target audience for the show?

Mainly Game developers or students that want to create indie games and make a living from it.  But one of my rules is to make the episodes watchable for everybody.  Even my episode about code can be watched by non-coders, i.e. my mom understood (or at least said so! (Hi mom!)). I have a couple of ideas in mind for episodes that would be appropriate for all audiences, like reviewing games for example.

 

What makes you the indie expert, and why should indies listen to what you have to say?

I hate to call myself an expert, I’m still learning and will forever, hehehe!

The main thing I would put forward to prove my credibility is that I’m feeding my 3 kids and wife on my salary alone, and have been doing it for the past 5 years.

Some people quit or don’t feel comfortable to go full indie because they have kids, which is understandable and I totally respect that. You have to provide for those little guys and being an indie game developer will not make you rich…far from that! (side note, all my coder friends from college now have fancy houses and big salaries, haha!)

But the fact that I earn enough money to feed the family AND I am there for them every day (i.e. I’m working only 40h a week, no overtime), makes my story credible, in my opinion. In other words, I’m not working 96 hours a week and eating noodles just to be an indie, I have a life outside of that (like any regular 40h job).

Second, I have worked on 20+ released indie games so far. You can check my portfolio on my website (indieyourface.com/Portfolio) to see a couple of them.

Finally, I was also the marketing guy at Berzerk.  Meeting clients, going to conventions, creating promotions, etc.  It’s a very important aspect of being an indie. Making games is half the job.

 

Is the show scripted?

Yes and no, I give myself 2 days per episode. I write down a script early in the morning, then start recording some footage, edit, create animation, add some music, etc. (in whatever order I want). It’s a pretty chaotic way to work, but it allows me to be spontaneous. If I think of something funny, I try it out right away. If it’s bad, I remove it.

My 3rd episode about inspiration explains how I tend to work: I just start doing stuff I want to do and that gives me more ideas.  I can tell you though, at the beginning of each episode, I have pretty much nothing prepared in mind. I just force myself to sit my ass in front of the computer and come up with something, then the magic happens.

 

Do other members of Berzerk Studio help produce the episodes in some way?

For now, I do everything on my own. However, I use visual assets from all our other games. The 2nd episode of the show “Indie Story” features a long animation with Berzerk Ball 2 characters, Berzerk Ball 1 background, fx from Frantic Frigates 2 and UI from a game that we never launched. So I make the animations with stuff that already exists because I just can’t draw. Here’s proof below.

Simon artNailed it

In other words, I do everything myself, but thanks to the brilliant work of Etienne and Marc, it looks great.

 

Which episode has been the most fun for you to make (so far)?

The 6th episode about clean code was a nice episode. I received great feedback after its release as well. I knew I wanted to clean a laptop and I found my wife’s old laptop in the basement (it was already broken, don’t worry hahah!) So I just went nuts and clean the shit out of it.

 

I laugh a lot when I’m editing my videos, and watch them about 20 times when they are released. I’m making these videos for the indie community, but also to entertain (myself included). So as long as I’m having fun making them, I’ll make more.

 

The question on everyone’s mind- where did that now-iconic screaming audio clip that we hear at the beginning of each video episode (and each Berzerk game) come from?

Haha! Nice one. :)

When Etienne made Berzerk’s intro animation, I added the music, screams, thunder, etc. on top of it. I found the guy’s scream somewhere on SoundSnap.com, lowered the pitch a little and tried it out in the intro. It worked perfectly!

Then for my show I had this animation of me giving a super boosted thumbs up, but my face suggests that I’m screaming, so I reused the scream and put it there. Again, it sounds great :).

I just love when it’s over the top, when it’s somewhere between awesome and ridiculous.

Raaawwwr

I just did a quick search, and found the source of the scream again : http://www.soundsnap.com/node/43732

I wish I could scream like that though, I have to practice.

 

If you were to give (prospective) indie game developers your top 3 tips for success, what would they be?

  1. Scope small, start with something that has already been done, but add a twist to make your friends and/or family laugh. For example, Asteroids or Pong, but with inside jokes just to entertain your friends. Start making them laugh, entertain them. It will be a great incentive to finish your game, and you won’t even notice you’re learning how to make games along the way.
  2. Don’t risk all your money on your first/second game. Consider a plan B, consider what would happen if you fail. One rule we had at Berzerk is to never borrow money from the bank, and we never did in 5 years (thank god).
  3. Most importantly: keep yourself motivated. Starting a project is easy, you have this perfect idea in your head for a game and you are on steroids to start. But finishing the project is another story, you are sick of the game, you know every corner of it,  the jokes don’t make you laugh anymore, and you might even start to have some doubt. You keep thinking that you can “let that one go” even though you know it’s ugly on the screen. Find ways to keep yourself motivated. Show the game to some people, gather feedback, let other people play and enjoy your beta-game, and feed off of their entertainment. Use that fuel to finish up the project.

 

I don’t know the exact source of this image, but it sums it up pretty well.

Life of a project

 

Thanks for inviting me to this interview!  Keeping making/playing games guys!  You rock !

- Lachhh

 

Thanks Simon, looking forward to more episodes of Indie Your Face!

 

 

Announcing the New MochiMedia.com!

I am happy to introduce the new MochiMedia.com! We have redesigned our main website, and have extended our new brand identity across all of our online destinations.

Why did we do this? We had some goals.

  1. Apply our new brand identity to all (currently supported) Mochi Media online destinations
  2. Update website content & focus
  3. Reduce page count
  4. Modernize the site
  5. Unify our site and apps with a more consistent user experience
  6. Improve site speed
  7. Make it user friendly for mobile devices
  8. Some other stuff on the backend that probably isn’t very interesting to you, but is immensely helpful for us

 

What’s new?

We have reimagined our external site, applying a new identity (look & feel) as well as a new content structure. We wanted to make sure our site accurately reflects Mochi Media and what we have to offer Developers, Publishers, and Advertisers.

The home page has a new layout that includes a much larger rotator, a feed from our games catalog, newsletter signup, Twitter feed, and an additional blog post feed. We decided we needed to re-prioritize what we were showing on the home page.

We streamlined our product pages, taking the previous independent pages and combining them into one page with multiple anchors for each user type. The idea here was to make it easier for each user type to see and understand the Mochi Media platform.

We also applied the new look & feel for the global navigation bar & footer across all of our (currently supported) sites and apps. This includes the main site, all three account applications (Dev, Pub, Adv), the Games Catalog, the Community Forums, and Support / Documentation pages. The end result is a more unified experience for users as well as a cleaner, more modern interface.

 

We hope you enjoy the new look over at www.MochiMedia.com!

All-New Universal Data Storage Feature

Re-introducing Universal Data Storage!

Some may remember a nifty feature we used to support called Universal Data Storage. This feature was tied to our login system, which we deprecated late last year. At the time, that meant that it had to go away as well.

We thought Universal Data Storage was actually a pretty valuable feature for developers, so we have been working hard to re-create it in a way that isn’t reliant on any other product or system here at Mochi Media.

I am happy to announce that today we have re-released the all-new Universal Storage feature in the updated Mochi Media API v.4.1.0!

What is Universal Data Storage?

Universal Data Storage is a feature that allows developers to pass keys and user ids to our system to persist your game data.

This is particularly useful for things such as saving player progress in games, and with this new and improved version, it is possible for developers to make your persisted data computer-agnostic (i.e. your persisted data doesn’t need to rely on the player always playing your game from the same machine).

Developer features:

  • Persist data for your games
  • Not reliant on any other Mochi Media product or service

 

Get the Universal Data Storage feature by downloading the updated Mochi Media API v.4.1.0!

Partner post: Explore Platform & Growth Opportunities at Inside Social Apps Conference

The following is a partner post from MediaBistro:

Explore Platform & Growth Opportunities at Inside Social Apps Conference

If you’re part of the social, mobile, app, or entertainment industries, you shouldn’t miss this June’s Inside Social Apps Conference in San Francisco. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders including Deb Liu, Product Manager at Facebook, Travis Boatman, Senior VP of Mobile at Zynga, and Ben Liu, CEO of PocketGems.

Tackle key issues and explore new opportunities facing social and mobile apps and games, including monetization, app and game design, marketing, and growth on established and emerging platforms, including iOS, Android, Facebook, and more.

Sessions will focus in on Trends in Social & Mobile Advertising, Social Monetization and Payments in Games, Mobile App Discovery, How Developers Can Successfully Monetize the Multi-Platform Landscape, and Developing Cross-Platform. Explore the full program here.

You’ll explore ideas and business opportunities with like-minded developers, marketers, investors, brand managers, app publishers, mobile platform innovators, and more during conference sessions, coffee breaks, and a cocktail reception.

Featured session:

Maximizing Player Engagement with In-Game Incentives: This panel is designed specifically for game developers to discuss engagement and design opportunities, including rewarding players. Gabriel Leydon of Machine Zone, Andy Kleinman of Scopely, Scott Prather of PlayPhone, and Arseny Lebedev of Signus Labs will lead the session.

PERK: As a Mochi Media reader, you’ll save 15% off your gold passport to the event when you enter the promo-code: MM15 and register here.

 

Leading App Experts Join Inside Social Apps Conference

Join fellow developers, marketers, analysts, consultants, advertisers, and venture capitalists at Inside Social Apps Conference, June 6-7 in San Francisco. You’ll tackle key issues and explore new opportunities facing social and mobile apps and games, including monetization, app and game design, marketing, and growth on established and emerging platforms.

As a Mochi Media reader, you’ll save 15% off your gold passport to the event when you enter the promo-code: MM15 and register here.

Featured speakers include Travis Boatman of Zynga, Tommy Palm of King.com, Gabriel Leydon of Machine Zone, Olive Lo of App Annie, Niccolo de Masi of Glu Mobile, Bret Terrill of 12 Gigs, and more.

Session topics include:
-Going Social with Entertainment and E-Commerce Apps
-Understanding Analytic, Platform Opportunities
-The Challenge of Mobile App Discovery
-Maximizing Audience Engagement with Real World Incentives
Explore the full program here.

Everyone and anyone interested in this evolving industry and preparing their business, app, or skills for the future should not miss out on this opportunity to hear from top industry leaders and add valuable contacts to their networks. You’ll receive advice from our panels of experts and learn successful tactics, tools, and opportunities to drive business forward.

Save 15% with our code: MM15. You’ll also save an extra $300 off on-site prices when you register before April 25.

 

Boost Your Revenue with Mochi CPA Ads!

 

I am happy to announce that the new CPA ad products from Mochi Ads are now available in public beta! We plan to keep optimizing this over the next few weeks, but we wanted to get it in developers’ hands as soon as possible.

What is it?

Our intention in creating this new set of ad products was to give developers a flexible, unobtrusive ad that they could utilize anywhere in the game to help boost their revenue. This new CPA ad type also enables us to reach a new category of advertisers (like MMOs), who purchase most or all of their advertising via CPA.

The new Mochi Ads CPA products are based on the “cost per action” or “cost per acquisition” advertising model where advertisers pay once a specific pre-determined action is taken. Because payouts happen once an action has been taken, CPA ads are not paid out on an impression or click-thru basis.

Each ad campaign will have its own unique pre-determined action that is required for payout, so not all campaigns will be the same. The new CPA ad products will enjoy the same revenue share as all of the other products in the Mochi Ads family.

Examples of possible paid actions:

  • New user registration
  • If the advertisement is for an MMO game, a payable action could be the purchase of an item within that game (note: deeper actions like this also have higher payouts)

The CPA products consist of a bar with 5 (default) ad slots. Each ad within the bar will include a 90×90 graphic, link, and short copy text (visible on the rollover). Placement and use of these ad products is completely up to the developer, with the ability to be placed anywhere inside the game.

Developer features

  • Location: you can place the new CPA ads virtually anywhere in your game
  • Visibility: the Dock version allows you to conceal the ad unless a player mouses over a particular section
  • Scaling: developers can scale the ads to properly fit their games
  • Ad quantity: developers have the option to limit the number of ads displayed to as few as 3, with a maximum of 5
  • Traffic share*: developers will be able to participate in traffic share ads for this new product, but we will only show traffic share ads from developers whom have implemented a CPA ad in at least one game

Sponsor feature

We have included a feature for game sponsors as well! Game sponsors that Mochi Media currently works with will get a dedicated ad slot in each instance of a Mochi Ads CPA product within their sponsored game.

 

Showcase & Dock

The new CPA ad comes in two different flavors: Showcase & Dock.

In the Showcase version, the ad is scaled a little larger by default and is static. The ad can be placed anywhere, and is always visible.

In the Dock version, the ad will appear when the player first lands on the screen where the ad is implemented, and will then slide off-screen leaving only a small tab at the edge of the screen. The ad will re-appear when the player mouses over the area of the game screen where the small tab is located. The ad location is determined by the developer.

When should I use it?

This new ad should be used in addition to other Mochi Ads products, helping to really boost your overall ad revenue. Any pause in gameplay is potentially a good time to implement one of these ads (such as menu screens, between levels, shops, etc.).

Note: Even though it is possible, the CPA ad is not really intended to be used on its own. Additionally, use of only the CPA ad in a game will not qualify that game for Mochi Media distribution.

What does it look like?

Here are a few games that are already using this new ad product:

 

A few screen shots:

 

Bearbarians: Showcase ad on the menu screen, player can click the “X” to close.

 

Takeover: Dock ad slides down from top-left corner (slides back after a few seconds).

 

 

Firebug: Dock ad slides out from left (slides back after a few seconds)

 

Papa’s Burgeria: Dock ad slides out from right (slides back after few seconds), and has been scaled down in size. (while it is up to the developer to do this, we do expect that scaled down ads will lead to diminished performance)

 

Public beta- how can I try it?

We’re calling this a public beta because we are still working on optimizing this new ad product. The more games and advertisers we get integrated into the new ecosystem, the better it will perform. Ready to get started?!

  1. Download the latest version of the Mochi API
  2. Follow the documentation for “Dock” & “Showcase” ads

 

* Traffic share and sponsor ads are obviously not CPA. Even though this is the case, for communications purposes we will continue referring to this new set of products as “CPA ads”.

Flash Game Friday Winner: Spaceman Vs. Monsters

Winner’s Circle

This week’s Flash Game Friday winner is Spaceman vs. Monsters by BestPhysics.com!


Spaceman vs. Monsters is a clever and well thought-out puzzle platformer. You are a spaceman, and your goal is to escape the monster while rescuing your fellow space travelers. Each level presents you with a unique challenge and set of tools to overcome them. It’s your job to solve the riddle to move on!

Spaceman vs. Monsters is a fun, engaging puzzle platformer with a great artistic style, well-designed levels, and nice physics. Congratulations Bestphysics.com!

Get To Know Bestphysics.com

Tell me about yourself- how many people are on your team? Where are you based?

I’m Sergiy and live in Lviv, Ukraine. I worked on this game together with Zhenya Volik who did the all graphics (I dealt with programming and level design).

How long have you been making games? What did you do before?

I can hardly remember now, I tried to make my first game about ten years ago but I never finished. After that I tried again a couple of times but nothing good came out. But when I started to maked a Flash game 3 and a half years ago I had the intention to finish it. I made it in my spare time …it took a while to finish.  I did not have much experience in programming games, I could not draw at all. But it was my dream to make a game, and I finally did finish it.

Then I learned that games can bring profit, and one day I sold my game and it was fantastic. It was a hobby that brought money, it’s something you can only dream about. At that time I had been working in a big IT outsourcing company. After having made a couple of games I decided to leave the job and dedicated myself to game development.

What was your inspiration for “Spaceman vs. Monsters”?

We had been inspired by the game Hambo 2. At first it seemed very much alike but we tried a unique gameplay. I hope we managed to do it but in any case thanks to  Rob Donkin & robotJAM for inspiration and a super game.

Did you encounter any major challenges or hurdles during development?

There are nine types of weapons in the game, and it was chellenging to make them work altogether. There are also  many levels in the game, and it took a lot of time to make and test them all.

What types of games do you like to create the most? What types of games do you like to play the most?

Most of my games are puzzles but I got a bit tired of them and am thinking about making a platformer (or something else). If we talk about “big” games, I like to play RPG, action and some strategies..

How long is your game creation cycle? What is your process?

Usually it takes 1-2 months to make a game. When I have an idea of a game I ask advice of Zhenya and try to make a prototype. Then I look at what comes out and think if it is worthwhile to go on or not. I always show the prototype to my wife Olya who gives me her honest opinion, apart from the times when there are zombies in the game  (cause she’s not going to look anyway). In this case I show the game to someone else. ;)

If the prototype turns out to be good, I begin developing the game (which is always chaotic because the process is unpredictable). When the game is almost ready I add the sounds, test the game, and ask to play my friends. At this stage you find out that there are still many thing to work out.

Well, practically after that the game is ready.

Are there any game developers that you admire or consider “rock stars”?

Juicy Beast , LongAnimals, and a special thanks from my three year-old daughter who is a fan of the games made by ROBIN VENCEL from pencilkids.com :)

What is it about making a new game that you enjoy most?

It is the moment when your idea is being implemented in the game- it makes you feel like a creator.

The thing I don’t like is the polishing of the game (when you think that the game is almost done but you keep finding something to be fixed).

Do you have any hot projects you’re working on right now?

I have just finished a puzzle about hungry hedgehogs called Winter Insomnia and started to make a platformer, but maybe it will be a completely different game genre.

 

Thanks Sergiy, and good luck with Winter Insomnia!

Heads Up, HTML 5 Developer Conference April 1-3

A quick note from some friends of FGS:

 

Photo collage from previous HTML5 Developer Conferences


Conference Site, Registration Info:

http://html5devconf.com/

The HTML5 Developer Conference, currently the largest JavaScript and HTML5 Developer Conference in the world thanks to people like you, will be held on April 1-3 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. This time we are as per requests expanding our training offerings on the third day so check them out if you want to explore some topics in more depth.

We are excited to welcome both new and returning experts. Along with returning favorites we are grateful to some speakers coming for the first time, many making a special trip from outside the area and country.  You can see our current speaker lineup here, which you can check back to see updates as they come.

Early bird tickets are available. Our ticket prices start lower and increase.

We’ve expanded last year’s successful Training Classes selection, which now includes:

Training classes are all on April 3rd, while the conference days are April 1-2. We are proud to offer this quality lineup of instructors.

As HTML5DevConf holds its 4th conference, we hold to our responsibility and community contribution in being a developer-friendly conference by:

  • Continuing to offer a diverse group of some of the best speakers in the industry on leading edge topics.
  • Continuing to offer the most reasonable price at possibly the most difficult location in the world to do it in — our beloved downtown San Francisco.
  • Still being a grass roots event run created people who never wanted to be anything but developers.

Have questions? Email Ann or Dave at organizers@html5devconf.comor tweet us @html5devconf.

 

Speakers and Mochis Award Show Finalists Announced for FGS 5!

Speakers, Sessions, and Mochis Award Finalists!

We are happy to announce speakers and Mochis Award Show finalists for FGS 5!

FGS 5 Speakers

After a long process of speaking proposal submissions and Advisory Board evaluations, we have selected the best of the best to speak at this year’s conference. Meet the FGS 5 speakers!

  • Luc Beaulieu, CTO, Frima Studio
  • Carl Callewaert, Product Evangelist, Unity Technologies
  • Chris Condon, Game Developer, Con Artist Games
  • John Cooney, Game Developer, Kongregate
  • Jean-Philippe Doiron, Principal Architect R&D, Frima Studio
  • Stephen Harris, Co-Founder, Ninja Kiwi
  • Thibault Imbert, Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Systems
  • Simon Lachance, Co-founder, Berzerk Studio
  • Josh Larson, CEO, Mochi Media, Inc.
  • Ethan Levy, Co-founder, Quarter Spiral
  • Danny Parker, Head of Technology, Ninja Kiwi Europe
  • James Pearmain (Jimp), Freelance Game Artist
  • Ryan Schaefer, Associate Director of Development, Monster Media

Meet all of the speakers and learn more about their sessions by visiting the FGS 5 Speakers page!

 

Mochis Award Show Finalists

After more than 1,400 total submissions for the annual Mochis Award Show, we have our 30 finalists that will compete for the final prize in each of the 10 categories! We are also pleased to announce that our host for the Mochis Award Show this year will be Mike Pollack (a.k.a. Tasselfoot). Visit the Mochis Award Show page for more details!

Best Game Art

  1. Knightmare Tower
  2. Super Adventure Pals
  3. Jacksmith

Best Strategy Game

  1. Bloons Tower Defense 5
  2. Takeover
  3. The Last Stand: The Dead Zone

Best Shooter Game

  1. Strike Force Heroes
  2. Pirateers!
  3. Decision 2: New City

Best Action Game

  1. Abobo’s Big Adventure
  2. Knightmare  Tower
  3. Rogue Soul

Best Cross-Platform Game

  1. Bloons Tower Defense 5
  2. Paladog
  3. Infectonator 2

Best Multiplayer Game

  1. Pocket Creature PvP
  2. Red Crucible 2
  3. Realm of the Mad God

Most Creative Game

  1. Sequester
  2. Cuboy: Back to the Cubeture #2
  3. Super Adventure Pals

Best Sound Design

  1. Siegius Arena
  2. Sands of the Coliseum
  3. Relic of War

Players’ Choice

  1. Strike Force Heroes
  2. Kawai Run 2
  3. Burrito Bison Revenge 2

 

About FGS 5

Yesterday, there were platform-specific game developers, from Flash to mobile to online. Today, there are just game developers making great content for as many platforms and devices as possible. Being an indie game developer or small development team has never been more exciting.

Game creators with roots in Flash are branching out to new platforms, opening up new opportunities and revenue streams. Often the first (and arguably the easiest) platform for game creation, Flash is playing a huge role in this gaming evolution with a large community of indie game developers, small studios, and gaming portals that spread games across the Internet at lightning speed.

Join us for a one-day conference dedicated to fostering the growth and success of today’s game creators and publishers. This conference will bring together leaders and pioneers in the ever-evolving Flash game space to share industry insights and strategies on successful game design, development, and monetization.

 

Visit www.flashgamingsummit.com for conference and registration information!

Chris Hughes of FGL.com: FGS 5 Advisory Board Interview Series

Visit FlashGamingSummit.com

FGS 5 Advisory Board Interview Series, Take 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of the FGS 5 Advisory Board Interview Series! This is your chance to get to know the folks who will determine the content of FGS 5, getting their thoughts on both the conference and the games industry in general.

This time around I chatted with Chris Hughes, Co-founder of FGL.com and Flash games industry veteran. FGL.com has established themselves as the marketplace to buy and sell games, providing game developers with great monetization opportunities. FGL.com is also a consistent sponsor of FGS, and a consistent partner in fielding the industry’s annual market survey. This is the first time Chris has served on the FGS Advisory Board.

For more information on FGS 5, including passes, speakers, or Mochis Award Show information please visit the conference website.

Interview with Chris Hughes

Introduce yourself- who are you, how big is your team, and how do you participate in the Flash games industry?

Howdy.  I’m Chris Hughes, Co-Founder of FGL.com and other FGL properties such as FlashGameDistribution.com and GamerSafe.com.

There are around 15 of us, and you can probably pick us out easily at FGS as we’re the loud ones laughing a lot and poking fun at ourselves.

As for our participation in the industry: In short, we are the industry’s marketplace.  Developers, sponsors, publishers, buyers, and others in the industry come to FGL.com to participate in the community and monetize games.  We’re best known for being the place to find games to license or publish on the web or mobile.

What did you do before, and how did you first get into the Flash games industry? Tell us about your path.

I’ve been an indie Developer for a long time, but I never made much money at it.  To pay the bills I’ve worked at a sporting goods store, been a website designer, taught at ice hockey camps, and various other odd-jobs.  After getting my Masters in Computer Science I was an Engineer at Qualcomm, where I helped test microchips for use in cell phones, and a Software Developer at UC Davis where I built the online system and interface that every student at the school used to manage his or her financial aid.  But my passion was always games.  I was making Flash games on the side in 2007 when I started talking to Adam (who would end up becoming the other Co-Founder of FGL).  After a few talks about trying to make money in the Flash game space a light went off… why not build a place to bring developers and buyers/sponsors together?  So Adam and I built FGL.

What has been your proudest moment since joining the Flash gaming community?

It’s hard to pick any one moment, since there have been so many great experiences for me.  I have really loved working with the Flash gaming community in general. Two moments that made me extremely proud were seeing members of the Flash gaming community come together for Indie Giving the last two years to work at a charity event.  With a group of people as creative and passionate as this community, it is moving to see them apply those same talents to helping others.

What was the biggest challenge for you in the early going? How does that compare to the challenges you face today?

Convincing anyone and everyone outside of the Flash game space to take the Flash game community and industry seriously.  There was a stigma against Flash games and Flash game developers when we first started.  I remember meeting with some very large companies early on who laughed at me when I told them that we were trying to grow the Flash game space.  Some of those very companies are now among the biggest spenders on FGL.  I’d say that today the challenges are similar, but for different reasons.  Large companies and publishers are so entrenched in the way they’re currently doing business that they aren’t open to seeing how they may be able to improve their business by working with developers and games that are creative and innovative because they don’t follow the exact models of their current cash-cow games.  That’s one of our goals for the future, to disrupt that way of thinking, as we did for Flash games in the beginning.

Describe the climate as a game developer today in terms of technology and monetization opportunity. How does it compare to being a game developer 2-3 years ago?

There are definitely many more ways to easily tap into revenue streams.  Sponsorships and licensing remain strong.  In fact, secondary licenses like site-lock licenses have more than doubled on FGL in the last year. We’ve also had the record for most up front money spent on a single game broken in the last year.  So sponsors are paying more than ever for game sponsorships.

Also, third party technology and monetization platforms abound.  Systems for in-game ads and microtransactions have become much more easy to implement, and feature rich.  Many portals have their own systems as well, tailored to their communities.  The flip side of this is that fragmentation of these systems make more work for a developer as well.  To me, though, it is a fair trade off and balances out nicely as long as you’re smart in which platforms you choose to work with.  And, of course, these options can be combined with sponsorships and licensing.

As for technology, I don’t want to just repeat what the other interviewees have said, but it is obvious there have been huge changes in the last 2 – 3 years.

What is it that you love the MOST about the Flash games industry?

The community.  I think people often take for granted what a great thing we have with this community.   A close second would be the innovation.  But I think that’s also due to the way the community works.  New ideas are supported and advice is easy to come by.  This industry has fueled much of the innovation we’ve seen in games in the last few years.

What do you like the least?

The guacamole.

How has the industry changed since you first joined?

There’s way too much to list.  There are now easy ways to communicate with sponsors, publishers, and other developers.  There are various ways to monetize games.  There are ways to port your game to other platforms (though there’s still a ways to go with this). And on and on… oh yeah, and there’s a conference I’ve heard about where everyone in the industry can get together every year and have a great time.

The theme for FGS 5 is “Evolve Your Game”. How do you think Flash game developers are evolving their games today? What could they be doing better / differently?

Developers are evolving on many fronts.  Technically, I see developers trying new things, and using new tools.  Creatively, I see developers innovating and rethinking how games are played, and how to make games easier to access.  I see developers testing the waters in different markets and marketplaces.  As for what they could be doing, my big advice would be not to be afraid to fail.  Right now there is a lot going on, and this community is what will drive things forward.  Failures will happen all around, but we can’t advance without learning from where we fail.  Try new things, try new markets, push yourself past your comfort zone.  You may fail, but that will only help you succeed later.

What part of FGS do you enjoy or look forward to the most?

There are two main things I look forward to:  1) catching up, face to face, with all of the people we work with all year and 2) meeting new people in the industry we haven’t had a chance to work with yet.

In your opinion, why should people come out to FGS 5? What should they expect?

There are many reasons.  As I said, I personally like socializing and catching up with everyone in the community, but the lectures are also often educational and interesting.  And checking out all the new offerings from companies is fun as well, when doing the rounds of the booths.  I’m sure what a lot of people look forward to is hanging out with the FGL crew ;)

 

Thanks Chris, see you and the FGL.com crew at FGS 5!