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When we thought about writers for this project we couldn’t go further than a great friend of ours Cookie Everman. today Cookie fills us in on her thoughts on Casey and Sphynx.

It’s the Casey and Sphynx Show!

CaseyandSphinxMany writers will tell you that their characters talk to them and direct the course of the story they are writing; that was certainly true for me. When I first met Casey and Sphynx five months ago, they were just your average bumbling security guard and sassy stray cat. All I knew was that they had both fallen under an ancient Egyptian curse and had to work together to find the pieces of a broken idol and break the curse. As I began to write their story and dialogue, they each began talking to me in their own unique voices, telling me how their story was going to unfold.

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Casey is to Sphynx as Homer is to Bart. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he generally has good intentions. Casey’s life hasn’t gone exactly the way he had anticipated, and he relies on the women in his life, like his Granny, to give him direction. So when he meets Sphynx, she bosses him around straightaway and he doesn’t hesitate to follow her lead. A lot of his dialogue centers around him not wanting to disappoint Sphynx by messing up their mission.

Sphynx was getting bored with being immortal and Casey’s accidental theft of her nine lives is an exciting and exasperating change of pace. This feisty feline has been around for centuries, she’s super smart, and her caustic wit cannot be denied. Many of her sharpest barbs are directed at Casey, especially when she is frustrated that he has lost another life trying to solve a puzzle, but I tried to make sure that she didn’t cross the line from sassy to mean.

As you play “9 Lives: Casey and Sphynx”, I hope these characters speak to you in their own way.

Enjoy the Casey and Sphynx show!

Cookie

Cookie Everman is an accomplished writer and mom from the sunny climes of California with roots in Hawaii, and now residing in Seattle. We are lucky enough to know Cookie from our days at BioWare where Cookie brought characters to life in ways only gamers understand. It is official that Cookie is awesome and therefore receives the Horace nod of the antler as a cool human being.

tempHMGMoose100As we head towards the launch of our first game, 9 Lives: Casey and Sphynx, I wanted to start talking about who we are, what the game means to us and the studio in general. Today is the first blog in that series and we will be having some guests along the way talk about their input into what we are doing.

When putting together Hungry Moose Games, our initial fear was that if we talked about our past, ie having worked at BioWare, the expectation from some of the fans and the media would be epic games of 100+ hours, in RPG universes like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. How could we live up to our previous employer’s legendary status within the game industry and still stand up and say we used to work there?

Rather than hide from it, I want to surface my thoughts on what our philosophy is around what we bring to the table from BioWare; I personally worked at BioWare, as director of marketing from 2007 – 2010, from when Mass Effect was in full scale production until Mass Effect 2 launched. I took two things from my great experiences: Quality Culture and Story telling through characters.

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 12.45.06 PM Quality Culture

It is no secret that Quality = BioWare. When I was there the quality average over 15 years of games was the best in the industry, Mass Effect 2, is still sitting at a 96 today. The culture at BioWare was very open, any person could talk to anyone about what they were doing, and in marketing we heard a lot of feedback from the development community about not being open and rushing things. This philosophy really drove excellence and feedback loops that made everyone better. Initially I struggled with it coming from more corporate closed cultures. When you learn that everyone’s opinion is valued, I think it somehow made a big studio feel smaller. Experts are still respected and have the final say but it doesn’t mean that that an accountant couldn’t talk to Drew Karpyshyn about the latest Mass Effect storyline. dragonAge

Storytelling … when it is implemented well, story is the awesomeness of most single player games I play. BioWare had been creating great story based games for a long time before I arrived and I was but an observer in the process. The amazing ability of teams to get together to create amazing characters and the great banter that then created awesome memorable gameplay moments is, I believe, something that BioWare does better than anyone else. The way that character progression and relationship progression was the narrative and that then drove  great stories. CaseyandSphinx We hope to bring that side of narration to our games, not in a story choice way, for now, but in a way where great character’s banter and interact in subtle ways to build out their back stories and the overall game story and therefore the player’s relationship progression with the game. Once again to call it now, we are not building 100 hour epics with branching story lines and story choice mechanics, but bringing characters to life using our experience in building them. Cookie Everman, a friend and member of our team, is writing for us and will drop in soon to give us her take on our two characters. Our games will be simple, and if we execute well will create hours of fun for those who play them on whatever device they choose.

Ric

It is 2:30am, I wake up in a cold sweat, with a tear in my eye, the games industry is dead and the most fun my 8 year old son and I will have in winter, with -35 temperatures, is kicking a soccer ball back and forth in the basement populated by girl’s dress ups.

You see, my dream was driven by all the discussions and negative thoughts around what is happening with the games industry. Free to Play and traditional game developers going under, EA killing off studios by the dozen, well not that bad but….RIP my friends :(.

Have we started a studio at the worst time in games history……shit!! What are we doing?

At Hungry Moose Games we really want to build games that are fun, high quality, for small budgets (in comparison to our AAA past) and make them quickly. In a similar way to modern software development practises where an MVP is quickly launched, at a quality level for a target market and platform. Testing the idea with real live people and then killing it or iterating on as many platforms as possible, without breaking the bank.

The emergence of Green Throttle, Moga, Ouya, NVidia Shield, the potential Steam box, Apple’s potential joypad et al. says to us the space is heating up and they are all going to need content, quality experiences that work for the TV and other devices that are light weight enough to be played on a tablet or similar operating system, with or without internet connection. The sweet spot is now and we are chasing it.

We believe we can build quality games for new and existing IP’s and platforms, and with today’s publishing environment, test gaming ideas quickly in the wild getting feedback from the intended target market, not a test on a flash based PC but on the new platform. When they stick we will double down, if they don’t we will review and some may not make it beyond that first iteration. If I learnt anything from Empire Avenue, we were able to move mountains in days due to the team’s ability to iterate quickly.

The Hungry Moose Games team are awesome! Senior and new talent, quickly getting their hands dirty and having fun, doing what they love doing, riffing on game design and making it happen. Sure they would probably be earning triple the money in big developers or other jobs, but they all have input into the larger game design and the company’s future.

Like any modern start-up we are testing a hypothesis, who knows if it will work but with savvy partners like Green Throttle, Amazon and the other platform holders we are going to give it a red hot go!

Ric

I am so happy we have announced our deal with Green Throttle and at last we can talk about our first IP. 9 Lives is not my first original IP but the first I have have had such a major influence over, and I must say the process has been a little daunting. From the first time Tony Lynch and I talked about the progression mechanic of sacrifice to where we are today is a relatively short journey, but in the timing of Hungry Mouse Games, we are now a studio of 7 people, full of pee and vinegar, and with an IP that we are all proud of. Sure, we have a long way to go, but we are all excited about the prospects of where this IP can take us as a studio.

Bad Casey

Casey smashes the idol, and shit breaks loose!

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 8.58.22 AMWhy Green Throttle? When Dups and I were first developing GamrRank and Dups ran into Charles Huang at E3, 2012, and discussed Charles’ new hardware project that was looking to change the face of games, I originally wasn’t that excited. I saw just another blue tooth controller that was going to struggle to get shelf space at retail, even though it was being lead by one of the industry’s legends!

I then woke up at 2am the next morning and started ranting at my long suffering partner about how cool this could potentially be with a great community back end and games from great developers, all of a sudden I saw it as an opportunity to be part of a change of the face of games. It was, in my mind, a natural progression. A progression from playing games on the bus, to wanting to play those same games on my TV when I got home and continue my adventure.

Our tag line is to make “games for the mobile console generation”, the console that sits in most of our pockets every day, and can easily connect to an HD TV and give immersive gaming experiences.

9 Lives is our first Internally developed IP at Hungry Moose Games, in partnership with Green Throttle.  9 Lives: Casey & Sphynx introduces death as a progression mechanic. Not only is death acceptable in 9 Lives, but it is sometimes the only way to get to the end of the level. Inspired by a local Gamejam winner, Life Goes On, 9 Lives takes a fresh look at death in games. Why does death necessarily need to be bad? Could there be more to the after life?

Playing Battle Block Theatre with my son over the weekend, sometimes death was an acceptable out, for being left behind or screwing up. In 9 Lives, sacrificing yourself will be a way to solve and progress through a puzzle like no other game has commercially done before. (Well maybe Lemmings….)

Green Throttle’s Atlas controller has been a dream to work with. Linking easily into Unity, we have developed the prototype and subsequent milestones with little hassle. Co-op gameplay between Android smartphone and Atlas controller have come together easily, allowing us to handover between touch controls and analog controls seamlessly. We are excited to show off the game to anyone who is interested in developing for Green Throttle in the future.

Our deal with Green Throttle is not currently exclusive, and we are open to discussions with other hardware manufacturers to extend the franchise beyond the Android platform, but our major focus right now is to smack 9 Lives out of the park and make it a must have title for Android.

Ric