Making awesome games is our passion, plain and simple.
Let’s start a conversation that’ll last a long, long time.
May 2, 2013 Shelley Smith
April 23, 2013 Shelley Smith
April 12, 2013 Shelley Smith
On the left: An image I, the non artist, pieced together in photoshop from existing art assets/google image search. For the record, I was pretty proud of this.
On the right: Actual, bona fide and beautiful, Art by the great Devin Lawson.
We are incredibly proud of all the artists we have for Laika Believes. The majority of the assets are painstakingly hand rendered and we are really thrilled with how this art is starting to shape Laika's world. Get excited, people! You can see more of Devin's promo artwork as well as some screen shots from actual gameplay over on Laika's page.more
March 22, 2013 Shelley Smith
On Sunday we’ll be headed to our second Game Developers Conference and are happy to be exhibiting at GDC Play again. We will be at Kiosk K2 in the South Hall, Gateway Ballroom, at Moscone Convention Center.
We are happy to announce that we will have two, yes TWO, demos of Laika Believes for you to play. The first demo is the same one some of you got to play at SXSW Gaming. This is actually the beginning of the prologue for the game and gives you an idea of gameplay as well as where the narrative is going to take you over the three part series. The second demo is all action because who doesn’t love blowing things up?
We will also have two iPads available for you to check out Tumblewords. If anyone stops by and proves they have beaten Sara Lupa’s one word play of Compartmentalizations for 722 points, I’ll hook you up with some kind of prize.
GDC Play Schedule
March 10, 2013 Shelley Smith
The last and final day of SXSW Gaming had a lot to offer. Inside the Palmer we had live music, cosplay, meet ups, and - of course - more fantastic sessions. I want to highlight two different sessions that touched on different aspects of the same thing: creation.
Session One: Designing Games for Realism: What’s Real Enough?
This session was beautifully lead by Bob De Schutter with Richard Van Eck (University of North Dakota), Amy Adcock (Old Dominion University), Steven Malliet (University of Antwerp). I don’t know if I’ve been to a panel of all academics before and I appreciated 1. the depth of information, 2. the efficiency of the presentation, and 3. obviously, the level of expertise. I was initially concerned that the session would encourage realism from a graphical perspective, but I was pleasantly surprised that every panelist made a distinction between types of realism and didn’t prioritize one over the other. By that, I mean, there is environmental realism but also asset, scope, emotional, etc realisms that can affect players in equally important ways. The ultimate takeaway for me was this:more
March 10, 2013 Shelley Smith
The second day of SXSW Gaming was even better than the first. The event is just HUGE this year and we were absolutely slammed at our booth all day - which is exactly what we love to see! We can’t get enough of meeting our community and getting feedback on our games! The Gaming Sessions were all excellent yesterday as well.
The stand out session for me was ‘Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Tips from the Pros’. The description for this panel had me two parts excited and one part worried. (I am apparently made of only three parts.) I was excited because Harter Ryan (Robot Entertainment), Chris Avellone (Obsidian), and Aaron Thibault (Gearbox) were going to talk about how to survive as an Indy. I was slightly apprehensive because, personally, I would not describe any of those studios as Indy (anymore, at least) and was worried their anecdotal advice might not pertain to us smaller, just getting off the ground, kind of studios. I am very pleased to say I was wrong. These guys gave a great panel, gave me a lot to think about, and reassured me that our philosophies are sound.more
March 9, 2013 Shelley Smith
Day one of SXSWi was an absolute blast. We chatted with a ton of interesting folks at our booth in the SXSW Gaming Expo and we got a bunch of great feedback on Tumblewords as well as Laika. The stand out for me, though, was the session ‘Games R Art’.
Presented by Amy Barbee (Texas Cultural Trust) the session revolved around the idea that digital games require skills in math, science, art, and communication and, therefore, the concept of game design can be used to build critical 21st century skills for young students. The value of digital games as an artistic media as well as their use as an educational tool were discussed by panelists Katie Salen (Institute of Play), Paul Toprac (Associate Director of Game Dev at The University of Texas), and Warren Spector (From Origin Systems to Junction Point, now Blissfully Unemployed).more
March 7, 2013 Shelley Smith
It’s here! It’s upon us! It’s that beautifully hectic time of year: SXSW! This year, SXSW Gaming (previously Screenburn) is bigger and better than ever. We'll be at booth 413 all weekend. The expo hours are:
Stop by and chat with the team, play Tumblewords, and - super exciting - get your hands on the first playable demo of Laika Believes.more
February 22, 2013 John Warren
We’re about an afternoon’s worth of work away from submitting our first Tumblewords patch to Apple for approval. Here’s what you can expect:
February 14, 2013 John Warren
Shelley is out of town and the rest of the art team is building Laika Believes, so that left the job of creating a Valentine Minicorebot to me.
I'm very pleased with myself.
Anyway, share today with someone or something you love! I'll be spending mine with my wife, dog, cats, and Fire Emblem: Awakening just as soon as I get off work.
We hope your day is fun and pressure-free! Valentine's Day may be commercialized to heck, but take it back! Celebrate everything worth loving and be good to each other.
Alright, enough mushiness. Back to work. Play Tumblewords, would ya?
The Minicore Teammore
February 8, 2013 Shelley Smith
February 6, 2013 John Warren
Hey hey hey! It's our 2nd birthday as a developer! That's really, really cool. We have a ton of people to thank so it would take way too long to mention all of them here, but suffice it to say that we've had a so many amazing supporters since the beginning and we are humbled to have so many friends and peers both locally and nationally.
We've got two mobile games under our belt so far (play Tumblewords!) and later this year we'll be releasing the first installment of Laika Believes. Maybe we have some other tricks up our sleeves for 2013, too.
From our awesome team to you, we wanted to say thanks and we're looking so forward to 2013 and beyond!more
February 1, 2013 John Warren
Since releasing Tumblewords for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch last week, we’ve gotten some awesome feedback about the game. The reception so far has been encouraging, and Tumblewords is the newest game in the top 25 Paid Word Games. We’ve been there since last Thursday, thanks to y’all.
We’ve been listening closely to player feedback, and a few things are very, very clear.
Michelle Oglesby Cunningham
So, I’m gonna say this and try not to get upset at me. I don’t play a lot of video games. I never really have. I mean, I’ve owned various consoles over the years and I’ve played games on them, but it’s never really been very many. I usually have more fun watching someone else play games, to be honest. But there is an exception to this. There is a game series I’ve played over the years with such fervor that it’s bordered on obsessive. I’m speaking, of course, of Pokemon.
I was given a Gameboy Color for my birthday back in the year 2000. With it, I was given a copy of Pokemon Red. This was all I asked for and I was so overjoyed to have gotten it! Thus began a roller coaster ride of excitement that took me through my sophomore year of high school and kept right on going through college and beyond. In high school, I took that Gameboy with me everywhere. And I was always playing Pokemon on it. Before school, during class, between classes, at lunch, after school, in my bed at night. Everywhere! Always Pokemon!more
January 11, 2013 Shelley Smith
We have officially submitted Tumblewords to Apple and are awaiting approval! We can’t tell you how stoked we are about this, but it’s somewhere between “a lot” and “EXTREMELY.” While we play the waiting game with the approval process, we’re using our time wisely! We’re working on tutorial videos for Tumblewords that will give new players a nice intro to the strategy behind the gameplay. We can’t wait for all of you to play it! Seriously. We’re excited. Did we mention that?
In the meantime, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the artists that worked with us on Tumblewords and helped give it such a rich and tangible art style. For this first art pack, we worked with talented artists with distinct senses of style:
Michelle Oglesby Cunningham
You know her and love her as Minicore’s Art Director, but have you ever seen some of her personal work and commissions? Girl’s got talent. You can check out some of Michelle’s Non-Minicore Art on her tumblr: http://idrawgood.tumblr.com/. Michelle contributed Dragon Mountain and Octopus Cove themes for Tumblewords.more
December 31, 2012 John Warren
This past year has been a good one for us at Minicore. We grew as a company, we released our first Android game called Tanks for the Memories, we dabbled in web comics, we made great progress on Laika Believes, and we finished our first iOS game called Tumblewords.
Any moment now, we’ll submit Tumblewords to the App Store for Apple’s grinning approval. Look for that on the App Store in the next few weeks. We’ll be sure to shout about it!
What’s there to look forward to aside from Tumblewords’ launch in 2013? We’ll have new modes and art packs available for download for Tumblewords after its release. Do you like Achewood? We do! Its creator, Chris Onstad, will be providing one of the art sets in this first new art pack.more
December 21, 2012 Shelley Smith
A HUGE thanks to everyone who came out on Wednesday night for our little holiday celebration and Tumblewords sneak peak. We had a blast and it was great to finally get to share Tumblewords with our local friends and supporters. Don't worry, rest of the world, you'll get your chance to play soon! We are putting the finishing touches on the game as I type and will be submitting to Apple just after the holidays.
You can learn more about the game on the Tumblewords Page of our site. Check out the slideshow below for pics of our general merriment and Tumblewords fun!more
November 21, 2012 Shelley Smith
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to Turkey, Prime Rib, Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, pie... OH GOD THE PIE... but before we close up the office and head home to stuff our faces to the point of regret, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for this year. You know, as if that’s the point of the holiday or something.
Shelley: I am thankful to have a job. (John told me to say that or he would fire me). I am thankful to work somewhere without an HR Department so we can make inappropriate “you're fired” jokes all day, every day. But really, I’m thankful to be doing work I love on exciting projects with awesome people.
Michelle: I am thankful for Pokemon. All the Pokemon. EVERY POKEMON! That game traveled with me in its various iterations through high school and into college. I remember playing it in between classes and battling and trading with my friends in the halls. I remember riding the bus around campus and missing my stop because I just had to finish catching that one rare pokemon. To this day, I still love those games. That franchise has brought me hours of fun and entertainment and I will always be thankful for that. :)more
November 9, 2012 John Warren
Since November 2011, Austin has experienced well over 1,000 layoffs in the games industry alone. Lots of industry experts might sit back and claim that they called this -- that games are in decline, so layoffs are to be expected. Let’s back up one second and clear something up.
Games are not in decline. Retail is in decline.
Physical formats are in decline. When people say layoffs are cyclical and also part of a larger decline in games, they really mean physical games. These physical games are, by and large, of the AAA variety -- games with the highest production and marketing budgets generally backed by one of the larger publishers in the industry.
Who are some AAA developers in Austin? We’ve got Vigil, makers of Darksiders and Darksiders II, owned by publisher THQ. Arkane Studios just made Dishonored, one of my favorites of this year, which is a Bethesda studio. Bethesda (and parent Zenimax) are responsible for the Elder Scrolls series and the masterful Fallout 3. Bioware is here, too, the developer who made the Mass Effect series. Their work in Austin, however, revolves almost entirely around development of MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. They are owned by EA, one of the largest publishers in the world. Edge of Reality is another developer involved with many projects, including work on Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect Trilogy collection. Junction Point is a Disney company that has focused on the Epic Mickey franchise for a few years now. Lightbox Interactive made the PS3 multiplayer game Starhawk, which unfortunately struggled to find an audience.more
November 2, 2012 John Warren
The game development spirit is alive in Austin, TX. You may not know it unless you live here and talk with devs with some frequency, mainly because most stories coming out of Austin this year have been of the massive layoff variety.
Depending on which reports you read or numbers you trust, Austin has seen around 1,000 games industry workers laid off since January 2012. This is a staggering number and a complicated issue all around.
Austin had been thriving for years prior to this year’s string of studio closures and mass terminations. Austin was a great place to run a game studio. It’s cheaper to live here than in California. The weather is (arguably) nicer than Seattle’s. It’s inarguably better weather than Boston or New York -- not to again mention cheaper to live. No state taxes. “Live music capital of the world” and what have you. Good food mostly everywhere. Attention to lifestyles, both health-conscious and health-destructive.
Austin is still a great place to live, but is it a great place to work in games? What can we do, as an industry, to make it better?more
November 1, 2012 John Warren
We’ve seen the community response to the story of Matt Hughes, freelance games journalist who took his own life earlier this week. Ben Kuchera was apt when he noted that it seems like it’s only when we lose someone that we speak up about these tough matters, but there’s really no point of delaying the issue.
Depression is real and one in ten Americans have suffered from major depressive episodes. Chances are, someone you know has dealt with depression. Chances are also relatively high that you’ve known someone who has thought about or has committed suicide.
No person or walk of life is immune from suicide, but creative industries like ours seem to struggle with mental health issues and suicide on a frequent basis. If you’re struggling with how you feel about yourself or the world around you, please seek help. Friends, family members, professionals -- they are all there to help you and want you around even if they don’t totally understand what you’re going through.more
October 26, 2012 Shelley Smith
There has been a lot going on in the Austin Game Industry this year. A lot of bad stuff. 1200 people losing their jobs. Studios closing down. This post is not about any of that. (That post will be thoughtfully written by John for next week). This post is about a great thing that happens in Austin. The kind of thing that makes our community strong and gives me hope for a prosperous local industry. This post is about The Regulars.
Regularing is a Friday morning meet up at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters for entrepreneurs, freelancers, engineers, lawyers, financial advisors... anyone, really, who has a passion for learning, thinking creatively, and working with their peers to find the next big thing. It’s a great opportunity to vet ideas and find partners for projects. But really, it’s best function is to simply bring like minded people together and offer almost a type of support group.more
October 19, 2012 John Warren
I met Jared for the first time at a Crescent City Beignets in Houston, where I probably dumped powdered sugar all over myself at some point. All I really knew about him is that he loved punk, ska, ninjas, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors -- all info from my wife, who knew Jared from high school. I also knew he was an already accomplished chiptunes musician, which was the reason for the meeting.
I knew Laika Believes had to have an awesome soundtrack. I knew Jared was doing awesome work as Sievert in the DataPop scene in Austin (and beyond).
The union made sense.
I don’t pretend to know about music production, I’m just a rabid consumer. I knew that his 8-bit covers of Aquabats songs were rad as hell, though. If you want to know more about the way he works, the embedded video below is a good start.
Peter and I discussed thoughts for the soundtrack early on. We loved Cave Story’s soundtrack. We love the chiptunes revival. We really didn’t want things to sound too familiar, though. I think one of things we have to ensure with Laika is the match between art and sound. The art is not 8-bit or even pixelated, but rather very painstakingly hand-drawn. The chiptunes soundtrack typically doesn’t follow art that isn’t pixelated, but that’s the case here. The tracks have to fit the mood, which runs the gamut from optimistic to deeply tense.more
October 12, 2012 Elizabeth Salazar
Well when I think back to my childhood… *wavy lines* *flashback music* *wavy lines* the game I remember with the most fondness and nostalgia is Zeus: Master of Olympus. Zeus was the third(ish) game in Sierra's city building series, preceded by Caesar, Pharaoh, and a few of their expansion packs. Zeus captured my attention in a way that even Banjo Kazooie and Spyro had been unable to do. I spent hours at the computer, watching my little people move into houses I had built, worship the gods at temples I created, and farm their fields in order to feed their families and participate in international trade.
I had never played a city building game before, and I was hooked. I had always loved Greek mythology as a really little kid, and Zeus let me act out all the stories I'd loved. I sent great heroes on quests and killed mythical monsters like the Hydra and Chimera. When the Poseidon expansion came out, I led Atlantis from humble beginnings to greatness, through its golden age, and participated in its ultimate demise. Even after completing all the scenarios, I would replay them and try to figure out more ingenious ways to build my towns; I played some of them so many times I'd memorized the dialogue and said it along with the narrator. Even now, twelve years later, I still get a hankering for Zeus every so often, dig the disk out of some corner, and attempt to install it on a newer computer - I've lost or damaged the disk three times, but I keep re-buying the game. That's the great thing about city building: no two cities are ever identical, and there are always new ways to achieve the same goals.more
September 28, 2012 Peter Odom
I played Jetfighter II so long ago I can't even remember precisely how old I was. I'm going to say (based on other hazy memories) that I was 8, though, which would date my memories of playing it on a daily basis to around 1993. I was surprised, when I thought to look it up a few years ago, to see that the game was actually released in 1990. It's so old that it not only marketed itself based on its depiction of the then-in-process Advanced Tactical Fighter program (itself a response to developments in the Soviet Air Force), but the initial release actually bet on the wrong horse, including the YF-23 rather than the jet the Air Force ended up picking, the YF-22. The version of the game I had must've been a patched release, as it belatedly included the YF-22, although it stubbornly kept the YF-23 in as well. The YF-22, incidentally, ended up entering actual service as the F-22 Raptor many tens of billions of dollars later, during the second Bush's second term, and apparently suffocates its pilots. Had I been given foreknowledge of this as an 8-year-old I probably would've said it was the Air Force's fault for not picking the jet with the obviously cooler trapezoidal wings.more
September 25, 2012 John Warren
I’ll never beat you in a footrace, throw you an 80-yard touchdown pass, posterize you on the basketball court, or hit the winning home run off an outside slider. It’s not that I’m a clumsy doof in the classic “teen movie nerd can’t play sportz” way, but rather I have a neuromuscular disease that renders a lot of pretty “normal” muscle movements extremely difficult. I’m a healthy person aside from the condition, which has me using a wheelchair most of the time, but a walker or cane at home. I can do most everything an “able-bodied” can do -- cook, dress myself, bathe myself, walk my dog, drive -- just a little more slowly/differently than most.
I’m also a gamer, which is a term that’s becoming less and less specific but I’ll use it here nonetheless. When I was four, my parents knew that I wasn’t going to live the same kind of physically active life as the other kids who lived on our street. My grandmother knew this, too, which is why she bought me a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1989.more
September 21, 2012 Matt Trullinger
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first game in a long while that I really got into and lost a lot of sleep on. I got lost in the idea of having an entire virtual open world in front me ready to be explored and experienced.
After emerging from the sewers as a lowly newbie, I started on my epic journey. I avoided finishing the main quest for as long as possible just so I could close every single oblivion gate and clear every dungeon and kill every monster and do every side quest and and pick every lock and harvest every herb and decant every potion and read every book and win every arena fight and sell every item and buy every house and reach guild master status in every guild. OCD to the max!
After I got to the top of everything, the content dried up and the experience got old. There wasn't very much loot diversity, the combat became a repetitive and boring, clearing dungeons didn't feel worthwhile anymore, and I had more gold than there was anything left to spend it on. User made mods and official DLC definitely helped to hold my interest in the game for longer, but even those got old eventually too.more
September 19, 2012 Patrick Cunningham
We have been working hard on all the different aspects of our next game, Laika Believes. Recently, I have been spending most of my time on the various weapons and I thought it might be fun to talk about them; give everyone a bit of a preview, as it were.
Starting out, we knew Laika needed a potent arsenal to help her deal with the number of nasty bad guys we were going to throw at her. Since we're not working in a 3D space, we needed to take extra care that we were creating weapon experiences that were distinct, powerful, and visually effective. Brainstorming yielded a lot of ideas, many of which had to be tossed, but a few gems remained that fit the bill perfectly: an energy blaster, machine gun, missile launcher, shotgun, laser cannon, and a lightning gun.
From there, we focused on making each weapon distinct. We wanted each gun to serve a specific function so that they would all be beneficial to the player at any point in the game. After much consideration, Laika’s arsenal was set:more
September 14, 2012 Shelley Smith
John challenged us to think about the games we’ve played throughout our lives and to come up with a game that “fed directly to the pleasure centers of the brain”. Why? Because these are the things we talk about in the office. Also, it probably has something to do with his B.S. in Psychology.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have very fond memories of Goldeneye for 64. It was the only game I could beat my brother at and one of the only games our Dad sat down and played with us. Fond memories indeed, but does the game itself feed those directly? Other games I obsessed over and loved: Donkey Kong Country, Portal, Animal Crossing, and Ninja Gaiden. (Even though I didn’t play it myself, I experienced GREAT pleasure in watching a friend die repeatedly. Love those Ghost Piranhas.)
There is clearly only one answer to John's question. While I have fond memories of the context in which I played this one game, it was the game in and of itself that possessed me and took over nearly 3 months of my life.more
September 10, 2010 Shelley Smith
PAX has come a long way since 2004 , with both Prime and East selling out to crowds in excess of 70,000 and huge exhibition spaces showcasing highly anticipated releases from some of the biggest developers in the industry. However, despite all of this, PAX has maintained it’s original roots and personality. PAX is a celebration of gaming culture with a very For the Gamer, By the Gamer attitude.
As part of that great attitude, we get the pleasure of seeing the little guys getting a lot of attention at this mega-event. Every year at PAX Prime, industry experts get together to select the ten best indie games at the conference. There are a lot of contests out there and a lot of accolades to bestow on a worthy indie developer, but I’m not sure I can think of one more rad than being a part of the PAX 10.
You can check out this years full list of PAX 10 winners here: http://prime.paxsite.com/pax10
I have, of course, narrowed this list down even further to my favorites/must plays and I have also decided to hand out my very own, super awesome, awards.more
August 23, 2012 John Warren
When we announced that Laika Believes would be a three part episodic adventure, we knew we had our work cut out for us. It's less that we were splitting one game in three parts, but rather admitting that we had three pretty major installments on our hands.
We're excited to announce that the first episode will be called Laika Believes: The Sun at Night.
It definitely refers to something, but we can't tell you what. That'd ruin the fun!
Above, you'll also see some pre-alpha screenshots in the gallery. Again, they are pre-alpha. Art isn't final, UI isn't final, the environments aren't final...you get the drill.
You'll notice a few things. There's 360 degree shooting that you can do standing, running, jumping, falling, crawling, etc. Use the right thumbstick on a gamepad or the mouse. Laika is going to be one nimble Soviet-fighting doggy. There's a health bar and a shield absorption bar (design not final). The health bar is fairly standard, though you can upgrade health characteristics throughout the game, but the shield absorption bar is one of our major features.more
August 10, 2012 John Warren & Peter Odom
Laika Believes is the first game we started working on at Minicore Studios. Development was interrupted by work on Tanks for the Memories, but Laika was our first concept conceived as a company.
The game and the story around it is, of course, influenced by the experiences of the real Soviet space dog of the same name. Though fictionalized accounts of Laika’s story have popped up before, we had an idea for a game that would be heavily narrative-based and would dive into the details of how Laika would deal with her situation given (essentially) human cognition and the tools to fight back. Below are the thoughts of Peter Odom, our Creative Director, regarding the very beginning of development.
John and I decided in early 2011, before the company had really gotten off the ground, that we wanted to make a game about Laika. The true story of the first dog in space is one that sticks in the head of everybody who hears it - not only is it shocking and moving, but it’s a story that compels the listener to imagine how things could’ve gone differently. Everybody wants to believe in spite of themselves that Laika could still be out there, somewhere, and might - somehow, some day - come back. We aimed to tell a story that could not only fulfill that wish, but awaken in the player a sense of the fragility and vitality of those wishes when weighed against the brutality of history.more
August 8, 2012 John Warren
We’ve been to a lot of conferences this year. In earnest, we’ve been most excited about attending PAX Prime at the end of the month. Most of us haven’t been to Seattle, which sounds really nice right now sitting in the August Texas heat.
So we registered and began preparing for the show -- getting a Laika Believes demo ready.
Now, when you register for a conference, a few things happen. You get charged for your space, but there’s no real timetable for when that happens. Some conferences charge exhibitors right when the information is provided, while others make the charge sometime down the line. The other thing that happens is you start to get email after email of reminders and information from the conference itself.
Most of those emails are not required reading. They pile up.
We missed one. An important one. And that’s our fault. PAX Prime filled up (because they are awesome and why wouldn’t it?) and they let us know that we were one of the odd studios out, but we missed that email. Thus, we made travel arrangements, preparations for a Laika demo, and plans with friends to have a few beers. When we finally saw our error, the PAX planners tried really hard to find space for us, which is awesome of them.more
August 3, 2012 Brandon Wiley
Brandon Wiley has been kind enough to put together some tutorial docs for using Freefall. There is a usage tutorial that describes all of the different commands you can use with the command line tool. There is also an app development tutorial which walks you through developing a simple leaderboard service. By the end of the tutorial you should have a leaderboard up and running on Google App Engine!
This was originally published on Brandon's own blog, Step Three: Profit!. It's just so great, we had to repost.more
August 1, 2012 John Warren
Recently, and I mean very recently, the people at Cosmosaur succeeded in raising more than their goal of $30,000 on Kickstarter to make Moon Intern, a charming 2D sidescrolling adventure/action/puzzle/thing.
I’ll start by saying that even though they’ve reached their goal, you can still give to their campaign and participate in the many rewards they’re providing. I recommend it if you haven’t already.
I don’t do this for many games because most games don’t need the attention. I could write a dissertation (and I might) about Dishonored before October rolls around, but the buzz is already building quite nicely for Arkane’s innovative title.more
July 27, 2012
We’ve got some pretty big news on the Laika Believes front. First off, the engine is built, the art assets are coming together, and we’re moving into phase one of playtesting. What does this mean for you? Well, without making too grand of a promise, you should be seeing and playing a demo of Laika Believes at PAX Prime.
It won’t be perfect, but our goal is to get you something playable that will be indicative of final gameplay. It’s important to us to give the right first impression and to make sure all you lovely people have a good idea of where we’re steering this ship. It’s exciting.
The second announcement: Laika Believes will be released as a three part episodic adventure. There were a lot of factors that went into this decision, but the three big ones are:
July 13, 2012 John Warren
This past weekend, Minicore Studios had the opportunity to attend Rooster Teeth Expo, or RTX. It’s the second year the good people at Rooster Teeth have done RTX, but they grew from around 500 attendees last year to around 4,000 attendees this year.
We had a great spot on the show floor near the Penny Arcade booth, where they were not accepting donations to keep their booth ad-free, but rather selling their popular merch.
Not far from us was the Halo 4 corral, a rather large fenced-in pen where patient attendees waited for their three minutes with the new 343 Industries sure-to-be megahit. Everyone I spoke to who got to play it was impressed with the game. Also breaking: water is wet.
Anyway, lots of fun camaraderie with the Rooster Teeth team and their fans. Saw some good costumes. Some bad ones. I bought a Fire Ferrets shirt because, you know, Legend of Korra.
I do wish I had more time to explore the show floor and try everything there, we were just busy at our booth talking about Laika Believes and Tanks for the Memories. I think the thing I always enjoy about expos and conferences like RTX is the genuine excitement not only for tried-and-true game franchises like Halo, but also for new ideas that challenge you a little bit. It’s really fun to speak with engaged fans who have open minds about the games they play.more
July 12, 2012 Brandon Wiley
On his blog, Step Three: Profit!, scalability consultant extraordinaire and current Minicore intern, Brandon Wiley, discusses his current projects.
Excerpt and links to full articles below!
Unlike most databases, you do not run Freefall on your own servers. It runs as a Google App Engine app. You run your own instance and you pay Google for the bandwidth and computation time. The reason that you need to run your own instance is because Freefall isn't just a generic database. You specify the services provided by your application and then Freefall generates a custom App Engine app to provide those services. It also generates custom client libraries to call the services. So your experience as a developer is of a high-level API provided as a library for the language of your choice to access your specific services. In this way Freefall is similar to Rails because it provides most of the infrastructure and you just provide your application-specific code. Most importantly, you don't need to know anything at all about Google App Engine! It's all taken care of by Freefall. You just need to define your specific services and then you're ready to go.more
June 29, 2012 Peter Odom
People often ask me – Peter, what are some good writing tips? How can I be a good writer? And I say, the first thing to remember is, if you get started, if you just get started on whatever it is you need to write, like a blog post even, then you can have a drink. Everything after that will either solve itself or it won’t, much like the entirety of life, vitiating the need for questions and clearing the way for a drink.
Once you’ve had a drink (regard, please, how I didn’t start this paragraph with “In all seriousness” or similar), you’ll notice, or remember, that “writing” is the practice of laying down a bunch of words next to each other, much like bricks or cobblestones. I detest this simile, when it is offered as something more than a comical truism, for what it captures as much as for it what leaves out. In other words (more bricks), I immediately stop listening and start doing something else entirely whenever I hear a writer say that a writer should be like, say, a mason, inasmuch as one never hears of “mason’s block”. The writer’s job is to write, this line of argument goes, so write. Nobody will be able to tell the difference between what you meant and felt good about and what you wrote because it sounded okay and wasn’t misspelled. This is nonsense. The reason you hear writers talk like this is simply that recognition of a crude truth (writing is a series of words, just like anything composed of anything else comprises those things) serves as a goad for getting down to business. It’s like insulting someone to start a fight, except you’re the only person in the room. The reason it gets under my skin when I hear other writers adopt this tone is because I can’t tell if they actually believe it or not. Obviously writing is more than laying down interchangeable bricks, or fixing a machine of set specifications, or any of the other similes. Writing is a way of saying something, and if you think of all the things you’ve heard people say, you’ll notice those things can be, among other things, true, funny, beautiful, illuminating, cautionary, diverting, helpful, meaningful, or, conversely, any one of an innumerable different kinds of crap. Writing is both the attempt to find a felicitous way to express something and the struggle to figure out what’s worth saying to begin with.more
June 22, 2012
Normally, we here at Minicore Studios strive to create weekly blog posts that offer some kind of insight into the video game industry or development cycle of a small studio. This week, we just couldn’t do it. Why? Quite simply: meat coma.
The Minicore Team took a field trip to Franklin BBQ this morning - you know, for team building and such. Some say it’s crazy to wait in line from 9:30am to finally get some BBQ 3 hours later. But those people have never had Franklin. Read these articles and then be jealous of us all:
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as praise for this place goes. Some of us have been Franklin Lovers since their trailer days. For others, this was their first trip. And, for our newest team member, Matt, this was his first Texas BBQ Experience EVER. We almost feel sorry for him. How will any other meat ever live up to this? Alas, there are worse problems to have.more
June 22, 2012 Elizabeth Salzaar
Whew! What an adventure E3 was! It was such a whirl of excitement I hardly know where to start, so I suppose I’ll just leap in!
I spent the Monday before the expo hall opened watching press conferences and really getting in the mood of the conference, and I thought there were some really interesting looking games. Beyond: Two Souls caught my eye, as well as Assassin’s Creed 3,LogoCycle, the new SimCity (I’m a sucker for citybuilding), and most especially… THE STICK OF TRUTH! I love South Park, and I absolutely cannot wait for this game.more
June 8, 2012 Shelley Smith, Peter Odom, John Warren, Patrick Cunningham
There’s this little thing that happens in Los Angeles every year. You may or may not have heard of it. It’s called the Electronic Entertainment Expo or, sometimes, E3.
The last three days have been chock full of announcements, world premiere trailers, exclusive gameplay footage, and all things gaming. Minicore’s own Elizabeth Salazar was lucky enough to attend - she’s been posting her thoughts and photos to her twitter account @Elizabethinks and will have a full report for us next week. This week, you’ll have to be content with the jealous ramblings of the rest of the team. We’ve been glued to our screens, salivating on our keyboards, and hotly debating the best and worst of this year’s expo.
Shockingly, we have a lot of opinions and got a little long winded in our response to one simple question: What did you like and what didn’t you? Find out what our CEO John, Creative Director Peter, Marketing Director Shelley, and Technical Director Patrick had to say after the break.more
June 1, 2012 Avery Beckett
Being asked to animate a character seems like it should be a fairly straightforward task. You’ve got a character design drawn on a piece of paper, and you just need to figure out how that design is going to be blessed with movement. After deciding what technically needs to be done with the character, you can generally expect to spend a week sketching the character, sketching the movement that the character is supposed to perform, double-checking your animation to ensure that all the parts are moving in a believable fashion, and darting your eyes back and forth from the animation project to the initial character sketch to make sure that it’s cleaving as closely to the original design as possible. We animators justify this obsessive-compulsive behavior by calling it “staying on model”, and after a few scant hours, it quickly becomes the bane of your existence.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s ineffably rewarding to breathe life into a series of pencil strokes. That said, the truth of the matter is that there’s a certain lack of artistic spontaneity that comes with the territory of drawing the same thing twenty times over, just in a sliiiightly different pose each time. The illusion of life is not achieved without a lot of man hours, a lot of tedium, and a lot of pixie dust (just kidding — it’s usually booze).more
May 31, 2012 Michelle Oglesby Cunningham
May 25, 2012 John Warren
I remember being in school like it was yesterday. The anticipation of spending a summer lounging around, hanging out with friends, playing games…
Those days are over for us here at Minicore Studios. Instead, we sit for hours making those games we want to play whilst developing hahaha a drinking problem hahahaha. It’s a cool gig, though! We’re pretty excited about everything in our summer pipeline, so we want to share those things with you and give you a rough sketch of when those cool things will be available.
I think one of the first things we realized when fleshing out the character of Dr. Phineas Phraud — protagonist of our acclaimed Tanks for the Memories Android game — was that no matter where the game took the character, we wanted to know more. We assumed that you wanted to know more, too, which is why we’re hard at work creating Minicore Comics. You’ll see Dr. Phraud and other characters (and maybe thinly-veiled versions of ourselves) in richly-drawn, brilliantly-written comics. The first comic is sitting on our computers ready to be posted and I can tell you now that it’s pretty great. I don’t want to overstate or overhype, but it’s literally the greatest thing I’ve ever seen or will see in my life.more
May 18, 2012 Michelle Cunningham
A few weeks back, we decided that it would be fun if we could share more about the main character of Tanks for the Memories, our first game. Dr. Phineas Phraud is such a quirky and interesting character, but you only get a little taste of his wackiness in the game. We had been discussing a webcomic that revolved around the daily grind at a little start-up indie game dev studio, but what about a webcomic tie-in with our newly released game starring Dr. Phraud? Brilliant! Well, we thought it was brilliant. So our creative director came up with a fun script and I started working on the art and the rest is history!
Okay, so it’s not quite history yet.
I am working on finishing up the coloring for most of the pages and we are in the process of creating MinicoreComics.com, where we will house any and all of our comic creations. The final product is right around the corner, but here’s a little sneak peek and some info on my creative process.
(I’ll warn everyone right now, I’ve never actually drawn comics before. Sure, I’ve been reading them since I was in grade school, but I’ve never really had the gumption to just draw one. Always wanted to, though. With that said, bear in mind that this is a learning process for me and the way I draw these might change for future stories. Probably will, in fact, just for the sake of exploration of style).more
May 11, 2012 Patrick Cunningham
With the recent release of our first game, “Tanks for the Memories”, Shelley asked me to talk about some of the things we learned throughout the process. So after some long and serious debate (note: it was neither long nor serious), I decided to talk about playtesting.
Now we are quite a small studio and are still learning how to do this whole game dev thing. We’re picking it up quickly, but there were three main challenges we ran into with playtesting.
Let’s take a second to break these down:
Challenge One: the impulse to not show your stuff off till it’s “ready” is common, but it’s also BAD! Why? Because it’s never ready. Most games are never really done, and waiting until you are happy with what you have to let people play it will mean that you will not start play testing till it is too late. The whole point of play testing is to make sure that the game is fun - but you have to make sure to do this when you still have a chance to make the gameplay better.more
April 25, 2012
Tanks for the Memories – Now Available on Google Play!
Our Dev Team was here until 3:00am last night, but we did it. Our very first game is now live on Google Play – and people have already been downloading it! If you’d like to check it out, you can download Tanks for the Memories – for only $1! – to your Android Device here.
We are in the process of publishing a free version for Android and the iOS versions will be available in July 2012. We will, of course, keep you posted on all of the above! We’re super excited to have our very first game published! Let us know what you think!more
April 13, 2012
To give credence to the old saying “better late than never” we are finally getting around to our Post PAX Update. Please forgive us! We’ve been pedal to the metal, all hands on deck, crunching it out, etc, etc ever since our return from Boston. It’s worth it though as you’ll be seeing Tanks for the Memories on Google Play (formerly known as the Android Marketplace) very soon. Like, April 25th, soon.
But back to PAXeast. What an incredible event. We were blown away by the sheer size of the thing. The Boston Convention and Event Center is a beast of a building at 160,000 sqft. We all definitely got our exercise hoofing it from panel to panel to the booth and back to panels. Here’s just a quick run down of some of our favorite panels of the weekend:
January 25, 2012
We’re still hard at work at Laika Believes, a fascinating and narrative-rich downloadable PC/console experience. However, our little hands just weren’t busy enough, which is why we’re close to releasing our first mobile outing, Tanks for the Memories.
Tanks casts you as an eccentric psychologist who employs a highly unusual method of treatment. Instead of insightful analysis and therapeutic medications, he uses tiny tanks to investigate the minds of those seeking his help.
These brainscapes, however, are more treacherous than the good doctor ever expected…
Tanks for the Memories is coming soon for Android and iOS devices.
[this post was originally made to the old Minicore blog at 25 Jan 2012 14:19]more
March 15, 2012
It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks here at Minicore Studios and it’s only getting busier. We started March with two birthdays (Shelley and Avery have made it another year!) and then we were promptly off to GDC in San Francisco.
Exhibiting at GDC Play and SXSWi Screenburn was not only a blast, but the feedback and conversation was invaluable. We debuted a demo of Tanks for the Memories and couldn’t believe how much fun it was to watch people play our game. Throughout the two conferences, we spoke with over 1000 people who all gave us amazing feedback and sparked some great ideas for how to finalize Tanks before launch.
Speaking of, expect to see Tanks for the Memories live on Google Play within the next few weeks! The iOS version will follow shortly thereafter.
We also spent a lot of our conference time talking up Laika Believes. We absolutely loved how pumped everyone was about the concept and artwork. And we can’t even begin to tell you how happy we were to see our little studio mentioned on some of the biggest gaming sites! We have to take a second to thank XBLA Fans, GammaSquad and G4 (and all the other sites) for their kind words! Check out just a few of the articles below:more
December 19, 2011
December 13, 2011 John Warren
Between Ocarina, Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Pushmo, the 3DS is looking pretty great right now. Not sure I can vouch for its future in the face of iOS and Android (not to mention the PS Vita once it hits), but it’s a neat little resurrection for the time being. I’m starting to take it with me when I can remember it.
Speaking of things to take with me, anyone looking at the Asus Transformer Prime coming out later this month? My iPad, which I love, by the way, has been…ahem…hijacked by my wife and there’s no sign I’m getting it back anytime soon.
Sharing is caring, right?!?
Anyway, this Asus looks mighty awesome. It’s pricey as hell, but I’m generally a proponent of investing in tech that’ll last a bit longer than bargain tech — by “longer,” of course I mean a difference of a few months when you factor in Moore’s Law. Regardless, that tablet looks great.more
November 29, 2011 John Warren
Any season is great for gaming, but the period from mid-November to the beginning of January has always been a quasi-magical gaming stretch for me.
There are just so many great winter-based gaming memories for me. Feeding my Mega Man obsession. Blasting through Shenmue in one weekend with one of my best friends over winter break. My seemingly annual playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. Losing days on end adjusting rosters and gameplans with NFL 2K5. Beating Majora’s Mask, the best Zelda game of all time — though, I still haven’t played Skyward Sword. Having way too many Words with Friends games going at once. Staying up way too late playing the original Modern Warfare with some buddies. Being amazed by Mass Effect. Unboxing my Dreamcast.
I could go on.
Playing games during the winter is as powerful a nostalgia trigger as my mom’s cooking. It’s that fundamental to my happiness. Truth.
We’re hard at work over here on Laika Believes, but I’m doing my best to make some time this season to sit down and just play. I insist that the rest of our team does the same.more
November 2, 2011 John Warren
Thanks for visiting our official site! Eventually, the blog will feature information on Minicore’s current and future projects, where and when we’ll appear at conferences around the world, and general observations about the most exciting industry in the world!
Making awesome games is our passion, plain and simple. Let’s start a conversation that’ll last a long, long time.
Founder & CEO, Minicore Studios
[this post was originally made to the old Minicore blog at 02 Nov 2011 02:04]more