Thursday, July 19, 2012

My passion for games... lives on!

Please check for more details. You can red this blog post here.

In early 2007, me and a long time friend also in the IT area found out that we shared an immense passion about Video Games and decided to put to use our already considerable experience in the field of IT to try and create a Games Studio in Lisbon, Portugal.

We had several brilliant ideas and we were almost certain we would change the world of video games with them and make great, fun things. I still do.

My role was to do Product and Project Management, Game Design of the ideas I had in my head to create games and since I was fluent in English and had strong communication skills, I was also appointed to do Business Development, i.e. make sure our games got published.

During the time our Game Studio was able to survive the lack of investment from anyone else but ourselves, I was able to work on some brilliant titles, with fantastic ideas and extremely skilled individuals.

The first game we produced was called Steam, a Match 3/Action/Puzzle full 3D casual game, where you would have to help a cute young girl travel across the land of Sweetopia, fighting “the bad guys” with her train who fired colourful marble balls to unveil the secret of the stolen candies! We successfully managed to get the game published with Oberon Media, Big Fish Games, Boonty and a couple other publishers. The game can still be played today here as it still is being sold.

The second title I worked on was Starwheels, a Car Racing Full 3D casual game. The idea was very good and the concept was awesome as well as the graphics. One of my key participation in this game had to do with making sure the whole art was extremely polished and had to look cute, as the game was intended to be played by women mostly. The players would have to instantly relate to the characters and cars, and the cars had no major differences apart from the aesthetic ones. As with Steam, I was also producing the game and was responsible for making sure the team (the same as in Steam) met deadlines and implemented the game features as they were in the design document. Although the game never got to be published, every single Publisher I pitched the game to was impressed by the game’s graphics and its fluidity.

At the same time as with Starwheels, we had a different team working on a game called Netliga (a Web game). It was a Soccer Management Game and the user had to pick a team of players based on the official players who played in the Portuguese Premier League. The user would then define his team’s starting line-up and the game engine would rate the players depending on their performance in real life. It would then compute the results and determine each user team’s score. In this game, I designed the game concept, gameplay and other game elements, the general layout guidelines and also did some development on the starting line-up UI. I also managed to have it published by, the largest portuguese web portal, on its game section and at its highest peak we had over 10000 active players registered and playing.

Later on, we created another game called Ignite Factory, an Online Action Game. The storyline was intended to show the day-to-day work of our studio and the characters of the game represented each of the studio members. Each one of us was supposed to do something, from creating the raw materials to transforming them with the goal of producing lighters (our games!). My character was responsible to make sure the bits and pieces got together moving from one production phase to the other (kind of mimicking what I did in real life). The game is still playable here and its one of the things I liked doing the most, despite being a very simple flash game.

The last big project I worked on was Portucale, a Real Time Strategy Web Game similar to the very popular Travian or Tribal Wars. The concept was to have a player impersonate one Knight, servant to the first King of Portugal and help the Kingdom grow, always respecting the real events of the History of Portugal. The game started in 1143 (when Portugal was created) and ended in 1910 (when the Monarchy was abolished and the Republic implemented in the country) and the player would evolve with time, accordingly to Portugal and the world’s history and technological evolutions as well. The storyline was very rich and full of historical events and I tried to always keep a pedagogical approach to every aspect of the game as I wanted to be a way for young people to learn a little bit more about their country’s history while having fun! I was also very careful to make sure the environment of the game evolved as the years passed by and major historical events took place (the Arab Wars, the Sea Conquest, the Napoleon Invasions, The Industrial Revolution, etc.).

Sadly, this game came in a late phase of our game studio’s life and we didn’t get any funding for it so it eventually followed the studio’s demise and had to be stopped.

Before our studios had to close, I had the opportunity to work on the design of a game that never got past the initial concept and prototype phase code-named “Pet Doctor”. It was a game aimed for the casual games biggest audience (women in their mid-30s/40s) and the idea was to have a pet with some kind of condition (never anything too serious) and the player would control a cute female veterinarian that would have to use mouse gestures to heal the pet. My idea was to have a cool subject (save/help animals) with innovative technologies (gesture recognition) as I was already looking at having a mobile/tablet touchable version of this game as well. Unfortunately, the studio had to close and the game never got to be done.

Nevertheless, my unending passion for games continues and I still dream of having a career in the gaming industry. Maybe one of these days... ;)