Beauty and the Best

Exclusive Interview with Team Rubber Bandito

Recently The X from AllGoodThings.TV had a chance to catch up with LA-based indie game developer, Team Rubber Bandito (aka Cold Dish) for the week of the Game Developers Conference.  Individually having worked on such high profile Disney and Nickelodeon titles, these developers have banded together to produce an eclectic platforming experience unlike any other available now on iOS and Android systems.  Check out their interview here:

AllGoodThings.TV Interview with Team Rubber Bandito

AGT: Tell us a little about Cold Dish and what made you start working in mobile development after such games as SpongeBob and Pixar's Up on console?

RB: Most of us knew each other from working on the games you mentioned and more. As the games industry (along with everyone else) fell on tough times, there was a general surplus of talent at any given time. That, combined with so few barriers to publishing on mobile, made it plausible to self-fund a mobile game. We needed at least a few experienced developers willing to devote their free time towards an original product. A few turned out to be 20 in the end.

AGT:  How did you develop the concept for Rubber Bandito and how many people were involved in the process?

RB: Co-Director, Pat, had a concept very early on (even before the release of Angry Birds) of a platformer controlled by slingshotting the main character around. The aesthetics and story flowed from that foundation. A small art team jumped on to work with the directors to do concepts and really solidify what the game was. At the end of that process we had Steampunk inspired enemies and a badass hero with a bear’s claw strapped to his hand. We walk through some of that process on our development blog and visually in a book for Kickstarter backers, “The Art of Rubber Bandito”.

The whole team and their roles are listed on our website and we will have Facebook updates about team members this week. Many of them are doing some really cool work outside of this game.

AGT:  Tell us about the core game mechanic and what games if any inspired your development/design approach?

RB: We set out to do a condensed, focused, mobile experience that was still very classic like a lot of the Nintendo GBA games we used to play. Those games were great experiences that held up to console games but were also uniquely portable/mobile. There didn’t seem to be enough games like that on phones and tablets.

We then took the best parts of classic games like Super Mario Bros and Sonic and made them more casual by changing the structure of the levels and of the challenges. What we tried to keep were things like secrets, tough (but fair) challenge, main characters with tons of personality, and many different environments within one game.

With the player, we specifically wanted quick jumping, precision, freedom, and something that allowed great control once mastered. Those are the elements we felt were worth striving for.

AGT:  A lot of people are moving into developing mobile games now.  What do you see are the biggest differences between console and mobile development?

RB: One great thing about mobile is that you can find so many different and unique ideas on the market. It's currently easier on mobile for the creators to put out original ideas for people who are tired of the same type of game every year.

There are no barriers to getting on the stores, no limited shelf space, and no thick technical requirement checklists. Projects are generally smaller in scope and size and therefore budget. A higher frequency of new games allows for more design iteration.

The obvious technical differences are screen size, device specs and different device resolutions. As it turns out, those are actually not really so different because we have to deal with those differences in console development. Handhelds are small, every console has different specs, and current consoles support many different resolutions.

AGT:  Can you tell us a little about the tech behind Rubber Bandito? Is this your own engine or a third party engine?

RB: We use Unity for our engine/editor and it’s given us a lot of benefits. We’ve had builds on both platforms and a full-featured editor environment from the beginning. Design was up and running about as efficiently as in a large studio within a few of days. This helped speed up the critical prototyping phase. Another really nice feature is the asset store where you’ve got a lot of indie tools developers making some useful stuff. We used products from the asset store to do our fully animated main character and enemies, and to provide iCloud saving, but there’s so much more out there. The Amazon Appstore for Android also supports Unity nicely.
On the production side, we would be pretty lost without Google Drive, Google Sites for our internal wiki, Trac for our bug base, and the usual communication tools like video conferencing and chat. We also customize some of these production tools a fair amount to make sure they fit within our processes.

AGT:  You were able to garner funding via Kickstarter.  What did you see as some of the hardest parts of developing this game?

RB: Operating on a low budget has definitely been a challenge so our awesome backers really helped us out. This can be a rough transition from working on a game where you are used to having a huge budget.
Another challenge, which isn’t necessarily a development challenge, is publishing the game. Discovery in such an open marketplace and other marketing hurdles is challenging, especially in such a quick shifting environment. We recently heard a stat that some publishers are outspending us in marketing on the order of a quarter million dollars.

AGT:  What are the next steps for Cold Dish? Are you planning on doing any work for hire or are you planning to continue developing Rubber Bandito across other skus?

RB: It all depends on our success this coming Wednesday when we launch for free on the Appstore. We also launch on Amazon Appstore for Android that same day. Currently our best bet is to spread the word by getting on the charts. We hope there are enough outspoken supporters of this game to help get people to download it that day. Ask us again in a week! 

AGT:  Thanks for checking out this interview with Team Rubber Bandito.  Be sure to pick up your copy of Rubber Bandito FREE today!

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Ready Player One Audiobook Review

Reviewed by The X

Ready Player One is one of the best times I've had in literature since I was a kid. Filled with adventure, danger, mystery and even a touch of romance, Ernest Cline is clearly dealing with subject matter near and dear to his heart. Imagine a future where most people spend their waking hours inside a virtual video gaming world that looks real because it renders its hi-res imagery directly onto your retinas. This book will immediately resonate with those born in the 70's and 80's and fans of retro gaming, sci-fi, anime and John Hughes films.

The story is about a 16-year kid named Wade Watts living in 2044 and all hell has finally, totally and completely broken loose due to a Recession that turned into an endless Depression throughout the world. We have depleted most of our natural resources to the point where we’re just about out of everything we need to survive. Very few true cities exist any longer and humanity is about 25 years away from devolving into Thunder Dome. There are still some semblances of normalcy, such as running water, electricity, and public school but for Wade the latter is more like a nightmare. After the death of his mother, Wade has to live with his junkie aunt in The Stacks, a rickety network of trailer homes projects vertically stacked in order to conserve space. However, as with any good story, there’s a spark of hope and it exists within a virtual reality that’s become most people’s only reality called The Oasis. The Oasis (and yes, it’s an acronym) is accessed by the user via haptic gloves and a visor similar to those seen in Caprica. What? You haven’t watched Caprica? Yeah, I know. You and lots of other
people Anyway, The Oasis is what the name implies – a magical escape across the landscape of the digital created by the now deceased eccentric multi billionaire, James Halliday. Halliday, a teenager in the ‘80s, was obsessed with the culture of his youth, especially all things pertaining to video games. Inspired by the common practice of creating Easter eggs, or hidden secrets with video games, upon his death Halliday released a video announcing an Easter egg hidden somewhere within the massive world of The Oasis. Generally, these hidden prizes only held value to the hardcore gamers who weren’t satisfied until they’d successfully unlocked every part of a given game, but the prize for finding Halliday’s Easter Egg (as it became called) was his entire fortune, in excess of 240 billion dollars and complete ownership of The Oasis itself. Now the race is on to find the Egg and Gunters (Egg Hunters) have come out of the woodwork to join the hunt. A privatized faction of elite Egg Hunters called the IOI are hell-bent on monetizing The Oasis and Wade has to do everything in his power to stop them by getting to the Egg first. Wesley Crusher…I mean Wil Wheaton’s reading of Kline’s debut novel is heartfelt, colorful and down right cool in part because you know he loves the material, but also because of his natural sardonic charm. And if you listen closely, you’ll note that he even makes an appearance in the book himself. If you love the 80’s, video games, sci-fi and puzzle solving you’ll absolutely love listening to (or reading) Ernest Kline’s Ready Player One. You CANNOT have full nerd certification without complete consumption of this spectacular piece of contemporary fiction.

PS. Take a look at Ernest Kline's visit to gaming com… And Sepiawolf’s rendition of The Stacks

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What Happened to Scary Horror Films?

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So the first reviews for the Evil Dead remake are in, and, by and large, they’re positive. Yet I couldn’t help wonder as I repeatedly read about the excessive gore in the new movie: is it scary? It seems horror movies these days are anything but scary - funny, meta, gory. What happened to good ole make-you-crouch-in-your-seat, keep-the-lights-on-at-night scary horror films like The Exorcist or Ringu (Japanese original of “The Ring” ) or Alien? Don’t get me wrong, I love meta and funny horror movies: Cabin in the Woods may have been my favorite film of 2012 (and that was a strong year for movies). Still, what made me fall in love with the genre was the dreadful mystery of going to movies so scary it was rumored people walked out of them. It seems like these movies only existed in the 70s and 80s. (Ti West can set up some scary atmosphere, but is not so good at paying it off.)

For the record, scary to me is not jump cuts or cheap thrills. I’m talking the type of thrills where, when you see them, they send a shiver down your spine and you know it’s going to stick with you later when the lights go out.

I understand today’s audiences are tougher to frighten. The Exorcist had the benefit of religious taboo going for it. These days it’s cool not to believe in anything; that’s a tough foundation to build scares from. To write a horror film today, I think you have to account for aud’s cynicism from the start. The Exorcism of Emily Rose did a great job with that by presenting those courtroom scenes where all the enigma of demonic possession was analyzed away by Laura Linney’s character, so by the time the demons scared her, the audience actually had a reason to be frightened as well. But again, this is a movie that had a problem paying it off (Jennifer Carpenter contorting herself into a pretzel, bathed in trippy lighting, is not really scary). What we need here is H.R. Geiger type conception combined with something revolting and truly shocking, horrifically realized. That means several months of pre production working out your horror conceit, what it will do, and the mechanics of how to pull that off believably, how it will be shot, etc. It also means a good script with characters we actually care about.

Hopefully someone will soon be up to the challenge. I look forward to a Susperia for the modern age.

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Olivia Jensen Hair Tutorial

Olivia is considering her own beauty tips blog and we thought that even though this plays to a slightly different audience than the normal AGT crowd, some of you guys might be a little interested in what's going on here too. Winking

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