Enjoying the summer in a Sauna

We had the honor to participate in a hot startup accelerator, the Startup Sauna, in Helsinki during the beginning of the summer. The program (http://startupsauna.com/ ) helps promising startups develop to a stage where they’re ready to take the next step, be it entering their target market or raising a seed round of funding. Their coaches, who are some of the region’s most talented serial entrepreneurs, investors and other professionals, help the startups achieve this goal.

So what did we learn and achieve during the program?

First of all, we got pre-seed funding to help us really make this work. The investment was enough to help us to hire talent, acquire equipment and develop the game with higher efficiency. We also made some amazing friends and contacts from the coaches and other participating teams. As a cherry on top, we managed to get an experienced industry veteran as an advisor.

Me pitching Rival Games for the audience of hundreds

Me pitching Rival Games for the audience of hundreds

As some of you have already noticed, we had a couple of major developments regarding the game itself. First of all, the game has an official name now: The Detail. It has a nice ring to it, and it works as the perfect name for the game due to its multiple different meanings.

The two main characters: Detective Reginald "Reggie" Moore and ex-con Joseph "Joe" Miller

The two main characters: Detective Reginald “Reggie” Moore and ex-con Joseph “Joe” Miller

Second, we released a Presentational Alpha –version of a part of the game. It was just to test out a couple of things and measure the interest of adventure gamers. As a result, we got press coverage in multiple game websites and a lot of feedback. Thank you all for that, especially the negative feedback!

From now on, we will be introducing a new way of updating this blog. By offering you insights from all the necessary aspects of game design, ranging from graphics to audio and narrative design, you’ll get a front row seat in game design and our development process. The game has seen some major developments on all fronts, and progress thus far is steady.

But first, let me introduce you to the team behind Rival Games in my next post later this week.

The Road to GDC2013 Part II

Even though the trip to our first GDC didn’t start out as expected, thanks to the never-to-be underestimated luggage delivery rate at the LAX, it turned out to be an amazing journey into the heart of gaming industry. During the week we got to experience, chat and meet with a variety of the developers behind the top-selling, innovative, and unique games that we have been experiencing throughout our lives.

With the IGDA Scholar -badge hanging around my neck, the overall experience of the GDC2013 was exponentially lifted compared to what it might have been without it. Just to pick out some of the best moments from throughout the week, from which I own a big thanks to my mentor Sheri Rubin for making them happen:

  •  Meeting one of the former executive directors of the GDC and getting a personal advice from him in things related to our first game in development and how to move forward with it. It was surprising to realize that he found our game to be a brilliant approach on a known genre.
  •  Having lunch with one of the original Westwood co-founders and the lead designer/producer behind an all-time favorite game of mine: The Blade Runner from 1997. That game is still an engineering masterpiece from the storytelling point-of-view.

These two meetings were just the tip of the iceberg. As I was sitting in the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony on Thursday I suddenly realized that some of the people on the stage being awarded were the ones who sat with us scholars on a lunch on Tuesday on the Scholar/Mentor Lunch. The host of the awards was Tim Schafer himself, who gave us a Q&A at the tour on his studio couple days earlier.

Just some pictures along the way

Of course one of the main things about the GDC is the sessions themselves. We each managed to catch a good amount of them and found them to be extremely interesting and inspiring. Just to mention a few of the best:

  •  Jesse Schell was on fire telling about the future of storytelling
  •  Scott Campbell from Double Fine turned a lecture into an interactive character design drawing contest
  •  Telltale Games told interesting facts about the way players made choices in their award-winning The Walking Dead
  • Evan Skolnick gave a full day bootcamp on game narrative, which will most definitely prove useful later
  • The importance of live instrumentals alongside with virtual instruments are a great way to enhance the musical experience

These are just to mention some of things that left a mark in our simple minds.

Overall, our first GDC turned out to be even greater experience than we could have ever imagined. We all made some really cool connections and I would definitely recommend the IGDA Scholarship for anyone who dreams about being a game developer or an entrepreneur in the industry. The connections and friends I made during the week are certainly worth the sweaty and restless trip of 38 hours it took us to make it to San Francisco.

Finally, a small piece of advice for the future first time attendees: choose your parties carefully based on do you want to party in a fully packed and earsplitting night club? Or do you want to be able to talk to people? We tried both and decided to focus on latter one from now on. Or perhaps we are just getting old 😉


The Road to GDC2013 Part I

Yet again it seem like it has been ages since the last post here. But to be honest, we have made some enormous progress during this long, gloomy period of darkness called the winter here in Finland.

First of all, we have met some extremely interesting people from Finnish gaming industry and starting to really feel the distinctive overall atmosphere surrounding the whole scenery. It is like the northern star Polaris: a single star in the ocean of stars, which currently happens to burn as one of the brightest out there. But on a closer inspection, we realize that it is a multiple stars consisting of a bunch of bright minded individuals sharing the passion for making entertaining, thriving and memorable games.

The second thing I wanted to share with you is a real personal honor for me. I was accepted as the first Finnish student since 2003 to have the possibility to represent, learn and experience the Game Developer Conference as an IGDA Scholar (http://www.igda.org/scholars/congratulations-gdc-scholars-for-2013/ ). I’m really looking forward to meeting, changing ideas and chatting with people like Ernest Adams, who visited Turku couple days ago and was truly an unforgettable person. I’m also honored to be mentored by one of the board of directors from IGDA, and I’m sure it will be unforgettable for me.

Our new logo

We haven’t either forgotten The Ricochet Reaction, but rather been building up the team and skill sets needed to make it the best possible experience for you. We are currently in the process of taking care of the boring, but necessary, company stuff so the real development has been at a slight still for a while. But surely we will cook something up for the GDC to bring with us 🙂

As the GDC is just around the corner, and we are attending it with the strength of a quartet, we will make sure to provide you the best picks and moments from the whole trip. The next post will give you more insights in taking part to the largest professional game developer gathering in the world as a first timer and as an IGDA Scholar.


The Real Prize Behind a Win

It has been again a while since the last post, but we’ve got a good reason for that: we were awarded as the best team participating in the previously mentioned Turku Boost Startup Journey. That really meant a lot to us. Eventhough the prize is a trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the journey itself and how it ended has been the most valuable experience for us as team and as individuals. It has shown us, that we have a functioning team capable of working fluently together for a unified vision of the game we want to make. Also the business side of the product is starting to shape into a clear and distinctive model suited to work as a real TV-series structure and experience made onto modern gaming platforms. But I will tell more about that in the future.

Amazing art by Tim Richert: the original by Tim and the in-game image modified by us.

The next steps we are about to take are some of the most crucial ones in the whole project. Creating the best possible team around us, so we can create the best possible game to you. This process has already been started, and will go on for a while. But the main focus is keeping the core team small, independent and highly motivated. By this way, we can easily manage and adapt to any changes and challenges along the way.

Another important step in the following weeks is the validation and testing with our prototype of The Ricochet Reaction. We are still thinking of the distribution method, and the prototype is sadly Windows only (Mac OS X might be an option too), but if YOU are interested in giving us valuable feedback and thoughts on the prototype, please contact us via email or through twitter @tZZZuKKa. There will be a limited amount of tester spots available, so be sure the inform us as soon as possible.

Thats it for now. The first victory has been accomplished. Eventhough it is small scale, it was the first and the most important. People asked me a number of times during the hours after the win, why I’m still not smiling. Well, that’s because I know that the real Journey has just begun.

But here’s one quick chuckle 🙂

Boost Startup Journey and Inpirations

We have been extremely busy at Rival Games during this month. For that reason, we haven’t had the chance to update our blog as much as we would have wanted to.

Rival Games was accepted into Boost Startup Journey -program (http://www.boostturku.com/startupjourney ) three weeks ago. It has been time consuming and challenging, but at the same time we have received invaluable insights, ideas, and experience. We also received priceless feedback (Much Obliged!) from various sources, and it has given us much to work and focus on.

An in-game image from an early stage version

The art and visual appereance have been most influenced by the two graphic-novel storytelling veterans: Alan Moore and Frank Miller. They always create appealling and touching stories, with memorable moments and stunning visual appereances. Many other artists and sources have also had an effect on the design, like Aurelio Galleppini (creator of Tex Willer), Blade Runner (A Game by Westwood Studios), and Full Throttle (LucasArts) but to name a few.

Thats it for now. We will keep you posted as we travel deeper into the dark and unforgiving world of The Ricochet Reaction.

Rival Games proudly presents: The Ricochet Reaction

The Ricochet Reaction is a story driven film noir adventure set in a grim and unforgiving urban maze of dope, despair and destinies. We, a group with varying education backgrounds and passionate gamers, decided to put our talent, knowledge and enthusiasm together in order to create a thrilling gaming experience for you. Thus, we are now proud to introduce Rival Games’ first game, The Ricochet Reaction. We want it to offer dark, cruel and realistic story with brutal and intriguing atmosphere including challenging and ingenious problems. The following picture was made with in-game characters and scene, but it is still missing some elements (like rain and lighting effects). Nevertheless, it captures the overall atmosphere and graphical style of the game nicely.

This blog is aiming to offer you an insight in developing a game. We’ll keep you regularly updated with the latest info. Next time we will focus on the inspirations behind the story and art, and reveal you some in-game images.