Disclaimer: Sorry for the layout. Our WordPress has been acting up and we will update our website towards the end of the year anyway, so after a few attempts of fixing it, I just posted the blog like it is now. It will look better, once the website has has been updated.
Hey guys, Murmel here, starting to write a new blog from Poznan, Poland – or as you could call it: Murmel in Wonderland. So basically we have been invited to fill in for another German dev team for a study visit to Poznan and the Poznan Game Arena (PGA), which is the biggest Polish trade fair for games. I was the lucky one to get sent here, since it is my job to be at these kinds of events. I have to tell you, things have started off kind of surreal, because essentially this whole trip is paid for by several organizations like the EU and the Polish government and what not. So what is happening is that I get stuffed with awesome food at fancy restaurants, and get hailed a cab whenever I want to go to the fair grounds from the hotel (which is a 20 minute walk away, but somehow I am in Wonderland, remember?) So yesterday (Wednesday) I arrived late, because Deutsche Bahn likes to fuck around with me lately and my first connecting train from Kassel to Berlin had been cancelled. Thanks again. I was set up in a hotel near the city center, within walking distance of the fair grounds and met some of the other participants of the study visit, ranging from journalists, to other devs, to people who work for real industry heavyweights like Humble Bundle or Adobe. Everyone is super friendly and from all over the world and we are having a great time. I still have no clue, how I have “earned” a spot here, but I am definitely enjoying the hell out of it. Here’s the view from my hotel room (free mini bar included) and a shot of the restaurant we just went to. I will keep writing over the next days and put this up some time next week, when I will be back in Kassel. So let’s see, what awaits me next!
So I did not have too much free time after the slow start, so I left this for the weekend. My favorite quote of the whole trip was when we were at lunch on Thursday. We were offered white wine with the meal and after we had first emptied our glasses, we were offered a refill. So the waitress goes around and reaches Sébastien and says: “Do you want more wine?” To which he replies: “I’m French”.
Thursday continued with an evening of Polish culture. Since my group had been invited by the Poznan trade fair we attended the opening ceremony of the tourist exhibition which started one day before the PGA. There was a polish folk ensemble with singing and dancing called “ŚLĄSK” and everyone wore traditional Polish clothing. The overall theme of that show is guys screaming “HEY!” and “HA!” and the women must somehow be able to talk to dolphins, considering their cheering noises. Despite not understanding a single word they were singing it was was interesting and fun to watch, although it went on a little too long for my taste.
The evening ended with the tourism fair banquet which was, sadly, not our cup of tea with loud karaoke singers and 70s and 80s music. The group started to get closer though, which was nice, and we had some vodka and weird-looking lemonade.
On Friday the PGA started and after breakfast we left for the fair grounds and I started by visiting all our awesome German indie friends from Brightside Games, Rat King Entertainment, THREAKS, Maschinen-Mensch and Megagon Industries and talked to them about their projects and stuff. I don’t get to see these guys enough, so the PGA was a welcomed opportunity. The rest of the day I strolled around the halls. looking at games and went for lunch with the THREAKS. For me the interesting part would start on Saturday, with the developers conference. In the evening our hosts Paweł and Ewa, who did an amazing job being there for us and showing us around, took us to dinner at the restaurant Brovaria which has its own beer brewed with honey and some of-the-hook food. The cheesecake was to die for! By now our group had gotten to know each other even better and it was really fun and interesting being around people from all around the globe and being able to talk to them about their work and culture. I need to do stuff like this more often – next year will be a release year for us, so I hope to get around even more.
Saturday was finally the day of the developer conference and from now on I would spend most of my time in some room where a talk was held in. They ranged from marketing talks to game developing and level design to people talking about their company’s history like Devolver Digital or Humble Bundle. The most interesting talk for me was about developing for Microsoft platforms, mainly because we want to get into the ID@Xbox program and I was able to ambush the Microsoft speaker after his talk. Here is an interesting thing for other indie/new/young developers: Personal contact is the key. At first the guy was really short with me and just wanted to end the conversation quickly. Their process is streamlined, they send out monthly mails because (I guess) they must have a huge backlog of developers wanting to get into ID@Xbox. I really get how he does not want to spend hours talking to people at a conference, nagging him about this. But I managed to exchange business cards with him and gave him our portfolio. Note: Always have great stuff to show important people – see why on Sunday! After that accomplishment my “work” for the day was done and together with the rest of the group we went to the PGA party with free vodka (only free vodka) and some time to get dinner, networking and a little dancing. I was somehow tricked into leaving not too late by Paweł but together with tow of the French guys I went out to a night club right across the street from our hotel which rounded out the night.
On Sunday this whole amazing trip was about to end and some people left right after breakfast to reach their flights and trains home, so we said our goodbyes and the group split up. While writing this I already miss them. Zee Germans and Americans stayed and went to the fair grounds one last time. We decided to walk and save Paweł’s money and do something for our health. Remember Saturday? OK, it’s just one paragraph above. So while standing at a traffic light we were talking about Humble Bundle when suddenly our group counted one more. My Microsoft man from the day before had stayed in the same hotel and suddenly was part of our walking party. He told me, he had looked over our portfolio and that it was very important that I had given it to him. He liked our stuff and had already put us in touch with people in charge for our region. BAM! Mission accomplished! The rest of the day was more talks and a boosted ego and in the end back on a train to Kassel. Paweł had to do some on-the-fly booking for my connection from Berlin to Kassel, because my initial ticket had only been valid from Poznan to Berlin, which I realized on the train. So after a second of anxiety of yet another missed train and a night in Berlin the conductor let me on the train to Kassel without the printed version of the ticket and I reached home late at night, exhausted but happy. I hope I can go again next year, if Paweł will have me. A great few days in Poznan with some great people have come to an end.
So there are these awesome people from the School of Arts and Design in Kassel, who have a comedy film project where people have to compete in a cooking duel while being more or less wasted. Our very own Murmel (me) has been asked to participate and the result can be seen online now.
Disclaimer: I was REALLY wasted. The video is only partly in English, because it is a German show, but Craig is Canadian so it switches between German and English. We are being told, there will be an English version soon, maybe with subtitles. I only put this on the Black Pants site after being told by the other Pants to do so, because this was a personal thing. They said it might be funny to other people, so here goes nothing:
Awesome news on the comic front!
It is an honor to report that the Black Pants Adventure Comic Lescheks Flug won “Best Independent Comic 2014″ at the International Comic Salon Erlangen.
The English translation of Leschek is almost ready for release and we will update you soon.
It’s me again, and this time it is only a short update.
Last week our Symmetrain friends Daniel and Philipp plus Christian and I (for Black Pants) went to Munich for the “Deutscher Computerspielpreis” (German Game Award). Symmetrain had been nominated in the category “Best German Mobile Game” and thus was our 3rd game of three to be nominated at the DCP. Sadly it was the first one not to win. We want to congratulate Golden Tricycle and their game CLARC for winning the award.
The rest of the evening was a success! Our friends from Threaks won “Best German Youth Game” with Beatbuddy and the cool guys from Studio Fizbin won “Best German Game” for The Inner World. Congratulations are in order again! Love goes out to them.
Here are some photos I took at the award ceremony. I hope we will be able to return next year with our new game and get a shot at winning again.
My dear readers,
It is me again with news from Berlin. The last few days have been amazing. I am now sitting in a bus back to Kassel and have a few hours of travel ahead. Berlin was awesome as always and here is my full blog of the event and stuff around it:
I arrived Wednesday evening and we just had a relaxed few hours at Stamm’s with some cooking, beer and talking. Daniel was also staying at Stamm’s and we did some catching up and listened to Daniel’s stories from IGF. I really hope to get nominated with one of our future games, I so wanna go there!
Thursday was our first day at the A Maze. and we arrived a tad late for Jonathan Blow‘s talk and only caught the last ten minutes. It was quite interesting though. He talked about his new game “The Witness”, puzzles in games, how he thinks adventure games a not a very good way of making games and answered some questions. I heard someone say the talk would be online, but right now I can’t find it.
The forum “Indie Arena”, which is a place for German indie devs to talk and get help from their peers, had some of the members do 5-minute talks, which was up next for us. This also marks one of the most beautiful moments of my life, because I can now officially declare: I have found my arch enemy! @Majusarts had the audacity to accuse me of “stealing” his idea to tweet a photo of the stage, and so – what will go down in human history as fight of the giants – the Twitter-war commenced. I have been waiting for 29 years to finally find myself a true arch enemy! Feels like the movie “Megamind”. The question, which one of us will be the evil one has not yet been addressed, though. Gonna tweet him right away to ask. If you want to make sure he knows who clearly is the cooler one, I suggest you tweet him @Majusarts and let him know it’s me! Go #teammurmel #majusVSmurmel (actually: if ANYONE even uses this, I think I will laugh my ass off and then send them fan mail)
Next up was a visit to the exhibition where some really cool games were shown to the public. I won’t go into detail with this, because this blog will be long enough even without describing the games. Here are a few impressions of the exhibition though:
Next up was the Indie Arena meeting, where members could get to know each other “offline” and have some cake and beer. This is where I met Wolf from the studio “Threaks” (creators of Beat Buddy and friends of Black Pants) for the first time, who is a very nice and really awesome person. We talked about a project he has in mind, for a cooperation of some German devs, which will be amazing, if it happens. We actually talked for so long, I did not get the chance to have any other meaningful conversations, so that’s the Indie Arena meeting for me. Some amazing Indian food with the guys from our studio concluded this day.
Friday started off with a very interesting talk by Rilla Khaled about reflection in and on video games, which basically is a philosophical way of looking at games that is really similar to what literature studies is for the field of literature. She actually does with video games, what I do with books at university and I am impressed. Super interesting talk and I so wanted to talk to her that day, but she was like the most wanted person on the festival and whenever I spotted her she already was in a conversation. I really hope that I will get the chance to meet her somewhere and ask her more about her work and views.
Followed by a panel discussion with writers/journalists Cara Ellison, Chris Priestman, Dennis Kogel and Lucy Morris, about “modern game criticism” that, I guess, was supposed to be a state of the union of game criticism but for me the questions that were asked were a bit too shallow, which was not these guys’ fault at all, just made it not that interesting to listen to.
After this we went to get some food and meet up at the Black Pants office for a night of drinking with the studio. We are scattered over two cities so we rarely are able to meet all in one place and this was great fun. Not too interesting talking point wise for you to read, just telling stories and getting drunk. But I made pictures, so there is at least that. Lennert was missed dearly, he had to stay in Kassel.
It was getting a bit late and I really wanted to go back for the last night of party at A Maze. and so when we split up I was the only one to go. I once again met Sos and Marius, and some other people and I would guess around 3 a.m. I went on to get home to Stamm’s. Boring ending though, right? Enter Jones and Flo (one of the Black Pants founders who went on to working freelance, but still a close friend). Almost home, the phone rings, some drunk mumblings on the other end and back to Urban Spree I went. In hindsight this might have been one of the better (see description below) and at the same time worse (headache next day) decisions recently but let’s say seeing Jones raving (handing out vodka shots left and right), a bunch of nerds ripping off their shirts to 8-bit-techno music and just all around mayhem was totally worth it. I was home around 6 a.m. and the next I heard from Jones was a call at almost 6 p.m. stating he had somehow just woken up at the office. I am so sad and sorry, that there are no photos to testify of this glorious night, but my battery was long gone after a long day of A Maze.
This concludes the blog. I have to say it has been a wonderful time in Berlin and I hope you had some fun reading this. For those who stuck around till the end now comes the surprise Stamm dance video:
It’s been too long! Two hours ago I boarded a bus (with god-awful internet connection) to Berlin to visit the A Maze. Indie Game Festival. I have been waiting for this day since Spielsalon last year ended. I will meet some friends there, see awesome games and I will blog the shit out of it.
The only sad thing is that we have no game of our own to show in Berlin this week but we are getting closer, guys. Last week we released About Love, Hate and the other ones for Mac and will continue to release it on other platforms this year. As for our new game project(s), expect to read news around the time of Gamescom. Latest talk is that Christian and I will be there to show something, if we have enough material.
I am looking forward to the next few days and I would be so happy to see you guys checking out my ramblings. You can, btw, follow me on Twitter @IamMurmel and the studio @blackpantsgames for short live updates from A Maze.
Hey guys, some good news for all of the Mac owners out there, you can now grab “About Love, Hate and the other ones” from the Mac App Store. It even syncs with your iPhones progress via iCloud so you can continue to puzzle Love and Hate through their journey on the big screen from where you left off mobile. Even though this isn’t (yet, *hint* *hint*) the big Android, PC, Linux release some of you are looking for, we are getting closer to some Love and Hate on all major platforms.
In addition to receiving a Silver Pädi last year, for being valuable for kids, Tiny & Big now even gets mentioned in a German school book.
The article is from the DCP website and is the statement of the jury awarding us with the German computer games award back in2011. Students are asked to write about a game of their choice and to use stylistic devices they have been learning in their class.
We are very proud! Kids: go to school and learn about games :)
In a cooperation with not only our local university, Universität Kassel, but also the bib International College we were joined by a group of future game designers, developers and artists on monday. As all of us are really busy developing the next Black Pants game, we have decided to have them roll a project of their own. I don’t want to spoil anything so take a look at their dev log over at their facebook page.
I might also post some bits and bites I find interesting here in the next weeks during their visit.
They already got familiar with our version control system, the coffeemachine and their workplace. If you want to get some insight you can also follow the personal accounts of
Malte (aka MtO pulse)
We are very much looking forward to the process and the final game!