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!
We recently had access to a 3D-Printer and made a little 3D-Tiny. Here are photos from the first try:
Christian and Jones went to the Steam Developer Days last month and they brought home a special gift. Here are some photos of our awesome Steam Machine:
And here is Tiny & Big, running on our Steam Machine:
You can go over there and download the wallpaper or get it directly from this post. It’s drawn in Stamm’s unique comic style and shows his love for gaming and weird alien creatures.
It’s time for El Blogerino again!
After having worked with the Black Pants for a few months now and getting to know my fields of work in Kassel (which still get more complex and exciting) the time had finally arrived to visit the Berlin office. The university is still on winter break so this was the perfect moment to pack up my things and get onto a train.
For the duration of my visit I would stay with Stamm and his girlfriend Julia (whom I had been in one class with at school way back in 8th grade and who is still one of my closest friends). Visiting those two always fills my heart with joy, because it’s like watching an episode of a TV-show that could be called “The perfect life of Stamm and Julia” or something like that. They are that one couple in my circle of friends that I am secretly in love with for being such a great couple. Oh wait! They can read this. Dammit! Oh well…
So then: Berlin! I arrived near the office and Jones, Stamm and Julia picked me up and we went to get some Indian food. At the office we started planning what we wanted to tackle in the next two days and came up with rearranging the FTP server and some other office stuff like overhauling the calendar so everyone was able to see other member’s business dates and meetings etc. They had been a bit lazy with using the calendar so we need to get a strict regiment going.
Everyone went back to their desk and I just sat down with them one by one and they showed me what they were working on at the moment, to give me a better understanding of their workflow and what it actually means for them if I Skype in and tell them that I need assets for my blog or a Facebook post or whatever.
This lead to the best -work related- moment of my visit. I sat down with Tobi and played through all (more or less) finished of our next game. I am not yet allowed to tell you about the game but: holy shit! I can’t wait for the first teasers and trailers. It’s like knowing this big secret and waiting for the moment you can finally tell everyone about it. I already love the game!
After our day of hard labor we went for some drinks in a bar called the pony saloon and tried to come up with names for the game which ended in pure (drunk) laughter and nonsense. Right now it only has a working title and we are not sure yet what it will be actually called like. I guess “Call of BOLU” or “Rucksack Online” won’t be in the race for very long…
BOLU is actually a turkish supermarket right next to or office where the Berlin pants often go to buy food and snacks for their lunch break. Just to clarify where that name is from. The amount of utter nonsense that is produced on a daily basis in that office is amazing.
Day two started with a late breakfast at Stamm’s and then off to work again. I took some pictures of the office for the blog and we went over some contracts, because I am learning how to read them and understanding what key-words to look out for. Like “exclusive distribution rights vs non-exclusive distribution rights” and business stuff like that. Obviously we went to BOLU to get our food.
Interesting enough Berlin is full of people who lived in the near vicinity of my hometown once (about 300 km away from Berlin in North-East Bavaria) and so I went for drinks with a good old friend of mine called Flix and Stamm and Julia. We went over some awesome stories from our youth, like getting arrested for blocking the road to stop a demonstration of Nazis, or being at a party at a friend’s house and just speaking french with everyone, without either the right grammar or vocabulary for two hours. Good times! The bar was called “Vögelchen” which is German for “little bird” and I fell in love with the most beautiful, french bartender. That accent of hers! If reads this by any odd chance, she probably won’t remember who I am and maybe that’s even for the best ;) Maybe I’ll come back soon and will have the guts to talk to her.
Today I went to work again just to drink coffee, talk silly and have some fun and then I went to visit my relatives which I hadn’t seen for quite some time. Right now I am sitting in the train back to Kassel, writing this blog and having 90 minutes to go until I’ll be home. Then it’s off to bed and tomorrow I’m back on duty in my office.
I can’t wait for my next trip to Berlin! Great city, great people, beautiful women, great BOLU, great everything.
That’s enough for today! Thank you all for reading! I had some people talking to me about my blog over the winter break and everyone was super cool and made me want to write even more.
Happy new year everyone!
Since the holidays are over and a new year has begun I want to do a little recap of my first “year” (more like 3 months) in the world of indie-game developing.
First off I have to say, I was overwhelmed with the Black Pants. I have known Stamm for ages now, but I had only met some of the other guys (not even all of them because they had left for Berlin already) once before starting to work here. Stamm basically vouched for me to be OK, so after a brief talk with Christian I was in. Like a dream, right? Here I was, having played computer games since I was a teenager, always thinking : “Working in the games industry would be cool” but first: How to get into the game industry, and second: “Hey parents, I wanna do something with games…” – sure, son! Fast forward to 2013 and – not so fast forward – through all the crappy jobs I tried before: Kassel, here I am!
Everyone was super-friendly and I instantly felt welcome and at home. I did not really know what to expect but in my mind I was on top of the world. Finally the dream job! But is it really? Is working in the game industry really what a gamer expects it to be? Well, yes and no. The office work is pretty much like I knew it from before. Mostly boring stuff, that needs to be done, but nothing glorious. The hours are like heaven – at least so far (no crunch time yet). The coffee is great. The people are friendly, no stupid office wars or what have you. Everyone is here, because they want to be. No one feels threatened that their job is hanging from a thread, depending on how you can kiss someone’s ass.
I quickly noticed though, that working at an Indie-Dev is not the same as working in the machine that the gaming industry has definitely become. Majors and indies are as far away from each other as compared to the music industry. I really had to readjust my notion of being “successful” making a video game. Of course Black Pants has had great success with Tiny & Big and also with Love & Hate, but we measure success on a different scale as majors do. Success means, we can work for another year, because there is enough money so everyone gets paid a below-average salary. Of course, we had a steep climb from nothing to where we are now, and I guess (compared to people I have talked to), we are well off, so I am not complaining at all! I just want to realize people that we are not in some kind of dream universe where making games makes you rich. It’s hard work and sometimes you have to burn the candle from both ends (see what I did there, Christian ;) ).
Splitting up the company into two offices (Kassel and Berlin) was not easy for everyone, but the first premiss of Black Pants is: Everyone gets to be happy. If some guys want to live and work in Berlin, we will find a way to make it work. That being said, coming in at a point where the “veterans” had to cope with not being in the same room all of the time was a piece of work for me. Sometimes I felt a little lost because they were just figuring out how to make the information-flow work between the offices and there I was, not knowing much about anything, not always knowing who knew what and when to ask. It took us some time and we came to the conclusion that I would have to visit Berlin and work with them for a few days so I would know exactly what is going on. So I am very happy to tell you, I will go to Berlin next week. Yeeeehaw!
The people I have met while working here are just amazing. My highlight so far definitely was the Spielsalon. It reminded me a bit of going to a music festival. People bonded instantly, people had fun together, talking about a common interest, people played together and it felt like going on gaming vacation. I can’t wait for A Maze. in Berlin this year and hopefully more festivals and conventions when we get close to releasing our next game. Expect news on that topic this year. We are working on our next awesome game, and we are not far away from releasing the first information!
So: conclusion. Have I found my dream job? Hell yeah! Moving to Kassel and joining the Black Pants was the best decision of my life! I am so excited for what will happen next and I am so grateful to have the chance to explore this word of endless wonders and opportunities! (OK, that sounded cheesy, but writing about my job makes me really feel those emotions!)
One last special shout out goes to a fan I met on a Christmas party near my hometown. I was wearing a Black Pants shirt and he came over to me and said: “Cool shirt man, I love their games!” and I was like:”You have no idea!” – So big shout out to Chris (I hope it’s spelled like that, I was so wasted!)
HAVE A GREAT YEAR 2014 FROM ALL OF THE BLACK PANTS!