The State of the Ironic Iconic Nation

Those who know me know that while I am a writer, I’m not much of a blogger. But I do like to take a moment on occasion to recount what’s happening in my life for the curious. I’ll begin with some highlights from the past year or so:

  • I recently celebrated my first anniversary of becoming a partner at Talespinners, a company that I’ve previous worked with as a writer for some time. We recently went through a restructure to a co-operative and founder Ian Thomas brought myself and two other partners on to help take things to the next level. Here’s the original announcement, if you’re curious.
  • Through Talespinners, I’ve worked on a bunch of projects for clients including designing and writing a special event for Bud Farm: Idle Tycoon for East Side Games, writing the launch trailer for Albion Online with Antimatter Games, writing and editing work on Cryptant by Orcari Games and story consultation for a VR project for DIVR Labs. Not to mention a bunch of work on unannounced projects for Playful Solutions, Jassim Albuarki, and the Royal Mint.
  • Returned to help organize the WordPlay Festival in November with the Hand Eye Society. And I’m happy to say I’m back again as Festival Director for 2019.
  • Was interviewed for an article for PC Gamer magazine: “The evolving art of dialogue in games“.
  • There was not one, but two EGLX cons last year: one in the Spring and one in the Fall. I spoke on the “Developing on a Dime” panel at the one in March and participated as a mentor in the Mentor Lounge at the one in October.
  • Participated in my first TOJam and helped to create the game “Grimistar” which was later selected as part of the TOJam Arcade at the Toronto Media Arts Centre (TMAC)
  • Returned to Breakout Con, a terrific local tabletop game and RPG con that’s been growing and getting better every year. I had a great time meeting new friends and old and playing loads of games. I’m looking forward to attending the next one though it’s months away.

Besides those highlights, there’s been a bunch of other things happening that I’m not at liberty to talk about yet, including work on a new game featuring a famous literary detective! There will also be a couple upcoming podcast appearances that I’m pretty excited about. Stay tuned as you know that I’ll be sharing more details as soon as I am able.

 

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Mandatory Upgrade coming soon to PC & Mac.

I have some news I’ve been sitting on for a while now: I’ve been working on a Unity port of Mandatory Upgrade: X Marks the Spot! It’s a new version of my award-winning cyberpunk mystery game that you’ll soon be able to download and play on your very own computer. I don’t have a ton of details to give you yet, except that it will feature some updates to the design of the game and new artwork by yours truly. Indeed, you may have already noticed the sneak peek at the new art style that I’ve included at the top of this very post. I hope you like it!

Stay tuned for further announcements as I get more info to share.

Come see me at EGLX!

 

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be attending the Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo this weekend (March 9-11) as a guest! I’ll be speaking as a part of the Developing on a Dime panel running from 1-3 pm on Saturday, March 10th in Panel Room 1. Join me to learn tools and tactics for developing games on a minimal or non-existent budget, a subject about which I am intimately familiar. Also, watch this space as I’ll be posting a number of resources on my website afterwards to help you with your micro-budget game development needs. See you at EGLX!

X Marks the Spot Wins First Place in Game of the Year Competition

 

In a great start to the new year, Ironic Iconic Studios’ first game, “Mandatory Upgrade – X Marks the Spot” has taken top honours at the 2nd annual TorontoGameDevs.com Game of the Year competition. Hundreds of people voted for their favourite game produced in Toronto and Southern Ontario and our game was fortunate enough to be voted #1 overall. This puts Mandatory Upgrade in the esteemed company of terrific games from other game devs such as DrinkBox Studios, Benjamin Rivers, and Ubisoft Toronto.

A game like this doesn’t just appear fully formed from the ether of the designer’s mind and so I’d like to take a moment to give a shout-out to the folks who helped make this happen. Firstly, my partners at One More Story Games who provided the platform to create and release great story-based games, StoryStylus. They also provided plenty of encouragement and technical support and were flexible enough to accommodate me when I started to use their game engine in strange and unexpected ways. I’d like to send props to Julia Harrison and Alistair Murphy, the artists who took my pages of descriptive text and reference material and whipped them up into a cohesive world with their gorgeous art. Also mad props to Steven G. Saunders (aka Mr Zoth and the Werespiders) who created the perfect musical accompaniment to the world of Mandatory Upgrade; a soundtrack that is evocative, moody, and fresh, all at the same time. Finally, I’d like to do a big shout-out to Pati Tozer, my editor and chief of QA who helped keep all of my mistakes in the dev room and out of the public eye, a service for which I am ever grateful.

One of the best things about contests like this is how easy it makes it to discover new games that you may not have heard of. I’ve definitely added more games to my ever-growing game queue as a result of this. And I hope that if you haven’t yet tried Mandatory Upgrade: X Marks the Spot then you may be inspired to do so now. You can play it via the One More Story Games Website.

Toronto Calling

As you may have noticed, things have been a little quiet around Ironic Iconic Studios of late. It turns out that there’s been a good reason for that, which I’m happy to share with you today: We’ve moved to Toronto!

When I founded Ironic Iconic Studios way back in 2003, we were one of the first game studios to exist in Victoria, British Columbia. Happily, over the years, the Victoria game dev community has grown steadily as more studios have opened their doors and more indie developers have thrown their lot in with this crazy, wonderful industry. I like to think that some of that growth was due in part to the efforts of myself and the other organizers of IGDA Victoria, the local chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) that grew out of the indie game dev group known as LevelUp Victoria. Regardless, I’m excited by the emergence of Victoria and the surrounding area as a game development centre.

The Victoria industry has grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to do so, I’m positive. But I feel like Ironic Iconic Studios has outgrown Victoria and is ready for bigger things, hence the move to Toronto. Toronto has a large and vibrant game dev scene and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I’ll definitely miss my friends and colleagues out west, but I’m excited to see what is in store for us in Ontario’s capital. I hope you’ll join me in finding out.