i want to tell you the story of a neat-o partnership we began in the fall!
tl;dr – go play New School Blues!
A Strange Turn for an Intern
Last September, Untold Entertainment took on an intern named Mike Doucet. Mike was a recent graduate from a private Ontario college who needed to escape the work/experience purgatory in which so many graduates find themselves. After coming under fire for our nefarious practice of helping graduates, i put some new parameters around Mike’s involvement with Untold.
My friend Jason accused me of bringing Mike (left) on-board because he looks like a young Ron Gilbert. Guilty as charged. (Mike doesn’t see the resemblance.)
Within a short time at the studio, Mike had formed a small, separate game dev team called YoyoBolo Games. Mike took a producer role, while Jonathan Phillips would create art assets and Ryan Roth would take on music and voiceover duties (including casting, recording and editing). Programmer Amir Ashtiani would handle scripting in UGAGS (the Untold Entertainment Adventure Game System), which the team would license from Untold.
All I Want for Christmas
i tasked the team with building a short point n’ click graphic adventure game and releasing it by Christmas; in exchange for the use of the Untold offices, mentorship from me, and a discount on a UGAGS license, YoyoBolo would give Untold Entertainment first right of refusal to publish their game. YoyoBolo would keep their copyright and IP.
The team decided to release their game for free, to avoid the complications that money might bring. (i counselled them that as a first-time team releasing a mobile adventure game, money wouldn’t enter into it anyway :) The end goal was for YoyoBolo to have the experience of creating, releasing and marketing a complete game from start to finish, so that the team members would have a polished portfolio piece they could show off to prospective employers.
The experiment worked, and the team completed the game by the second week of December!
The resulting title, New School Blues, was partially based on Mike’s experiences as an elementary school teacher, and his desire to create a game to which grade school kids could relate. (Mike wondered why there aren’t more kids’ games that are set in schools? i think he has a very good point.) i made sure that YoyoBolo didn’t stop at simply building the game, but that they went the extra mile to prepare a press kit, a press contact list, and a press release to help market the game. Mike has been maintaining a near-daily developer diary with contributions from the team, which is a great read if you’d like to make video games, and wonder what the experience of a group of first-timers is really like.
(PROTIP: It’s like being lost in the woods at night and hunted by a demonic witch.)
i really want to highlight the team’s artist, Jonathan, who went above and beyond the call of duty by taking over UGAGS scripting on the project to ensure that New School Blues looks and plays as well as it does.
So how did they do? i found the game quite charming, and i thought the team did an excellent job for a first-time collaboration. i happily exercised Untold Entertainment’s option to publish New School Blues. Here’s a gameplay trailer of the first few minutes:
What’s in it for Untold Entertainment? Two wonderful “firsts”: this is the first time we’ve published a game that was developed by another team, and it’s the first time that we’ve licensed our UGAGS engine. So call it a win/win/win all around – the third “win” being you, because you get to play the final game!
You can get in touch with the members of YoyoBolo Games here:
- Mike Doucet – Producer
- email: mike [at symbol] michaeldoucet.com
- twitter: mikeDocDoucet
- Jonathan Phillips – Artist/Animator and Scripting
- email: jonathan.f.phillips [at symbol] gmail.com
- Amir Ashtiani – Programmer and Scripter
- email: ashtiani.amir01 [the at symbol] gmail.com
- twitter: pillowmermaid
- Ryan Roth – Music, Sound Effects and Voice Over