Last year, Untold Entertainment Inc. celebrated its second birthday in the midst of a global economic collapse. The anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing falls around the same time, and i the thought crossed my mind: would it have been better to have been obliterated by the bomb in an instant, or to survive and to deal with the effects of fallout?
i’m hardly comparing our situation now with nuclear fallout, but there are vague parallels: you have the event itself – in this case, the collapse of the global economy – and you think “gee … i’m not dead yet. Guess i just have to ride out this wave?” But then there are the long-term effects of the event. That’s what we endured this past year. i’m proud to announce that i’ve grown an extra thumb.
Here’s what we got up to over the past fiscal:
Stuff We Did
- July – We were in full swing on Interrupting Cow Trivia, a real-time online multiplayer trivia game. Our lead programmer came up with the concept for the game. We began the project in response to some murmurings from our fee-for-service clients that they might like to explore multiplayer games. i know from experience that no one in Toronto will hire you to do a job if you don’t have prior, proven experience doing that exact thing, so we set to work on a multiplayer game.
We took ICT to the Vortex Game Design Competition and failed to make the semi-finals. We did a number of playtests – some of you were even involved. Thank you so much for your help with the game.
As it became clear that Interrupting Cow Trivia needed to be on Facebook to make any sort of impact, our lead programmer left to work for a competing small game studio, and that studio landed the multiplayer game contract with our client. Many of you are wondering why we’ve stopped talking about the game. That’s the story in a nutshell!
We posted a release plan for Kahoots, our fun crime-themed puzzle game modeled entirely in clay. Soon after, we postponed development on the game due to a trademark conflict.
Around this time, we released the first prototype of a game called Spellirium (neé SpellCaster). We had applied for government funding for the game twice already, and decided to just build the thing and throw it online. Thanks again for your help playtesting it!
September was also a crucial month for us because we moved offices from our 100 square foot, $1300/mo (!!!) joint up in Yorkville to a much more reasonably priced and well-located spot at Queen and Spadina. With just over 500 square feet to play with, we have three roomy desks. We shared office space with indie game developer Michael Todd for a portion of the year.
Through the fall, we worked on the Canadian brand sell for Sony VAIO laptops. The site included a rhythm music game, visitor-created content that fed into and read from a database, and a ballot-based contest system where the visitor earned more ballots for performing tasks on the site (telling a friend, playing the game, creating content, etc). We also created an interactive wallpaper app where the visitor could upload his or her own photos into a Sony VAIO-branded wallpaper, and then download that wallpaper to put on his desktop. Fancy!
Towards the end of the year, we took some fee-for-service work that we still can’t talk about due to a slow contract process, but once that’s cleared up, i can’t WAIT to tell you all about it!
We also developed UGAGS, the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System. This engine will help us more easily create graphic adventure games. We put the system to use on Heads, the game i created at TOJam 5 this year. Heads took home the audience award for Best Use of Theme, which was “Missing”.
Spring marked the departure of our lead programmer on ICT, and the news that we had successfully obtained government funding for Spellirium. Around this time, i was playing around with Unity, and inked book deal. The book is due out this fall from Packt Publishing.
We also built a video-heavy portfolio site for the Toronto-based studio Yowza! Animation.
While the oppressively muggy Southern Ontario weather melted the asphalt outside, we were very thankful to have A/C in the new office as we worked industriously on Spellirium. The core team was six people: myself, a programmer, and a character designer (all working in-house), and three off-site contractors doing animation, backgrounds and creature design. Many of you have played our periodic builds of Spellirium. Thanks again. It feels like we’ve got a long way to go on the game, and very recent staffing changes are going to make that a real challenge for us. i appreciate your encouragement and support, and i hope that you’ll continue to be patient with us as we struggle through the growing pains of being a very small player in what has become, in my experience, a rapidly declining industry.