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  • Publisher Profile: Iceberg Interactive

    This is the second post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer publishers and independent developers.

     

    Iceberg Interactive focuses on PC gaming with an emphasis on simulators, adventure and MMO/action games. Although the company is just two years old, its leadership has a combined 70 years in the game publishing business. Staff members have been involved in all aspects of the industry, from public relations and sales to producing and development. They’re also avid gamers themselves.

    Because of their experience in the industry and love of gaming, Iceberg treats every release as a ‘flagship’ title. They understand the amount of time and effort that goes into a game and they invest the same passion and dedication to bringing games to a worldwide audience. Iceberg has more than 30 titles, which are promoted through community contests on the corporate site. GameStreamer carries several of the games, including Craft of Gods and the new title Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok.

     

    Craft of Gods Iceberg Interactive

     

    We talked to Iceberg Interactive’s Project Manager Lex Suurland to get the inside scoop on the company’s name, game selection and Suurland’s favorite games past and present.

     

    GameStreamer: How did Iceberg get its name?
    Lex Suurland: The name Iceberg is actually representing the human mind which is much like an iceberg. Ninety percent is under water / the subconscious. Our CEO came up with that stuff. We also have a catchy company tag line: Play it cool.

    GS: What was the first game Iceberg published?
    LS: Iceberg has formed a big catalogue of games fast but the first game we published (in retail) was Restaurant Empire 2.

    GS: Do you remember the first game you ever played? What was it?
    LS: My first game, that's hard! It must be Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega or Duck Hunt on the Nintendo. Loved both games when I was a kid and still think about the old days when you where playing a single level for more than two hours.

    GS: Describe your favorite aspect of working at Iceberg.
    LS: The favorite part is constantly working with new games. We release about 12 games a year and every single game is different. Iceberg Interactive is a real retail publisher. It is up to me that Iceberg will also have a great digital catalog.

    GS: How do you select which games to publish?
    LS: Our Senior Development Manager is the big catalyst in this area. He is just very involved in the development community and always on the prowl. We also get offered plenty games from developers or third parties. Once we spot quality games that are affordable, we will chase them.

    GS: What do you think sets Iceberg apart from other publishers?
    LS: Through years of experience, Iceberg really has developed an eye for quality. And because we are gamers ourselves first and foremost, we have a good idea of what gamers want. We are also a force now in several niche genres such as adventure games and simulation games. I guess we have a reputation for that and for indie-developed games. We also focus on PC. That's pretty rare, too.

    GS: Can you give us a sneak peek at new games on the horizon?
    LS: We have several launches in the coming months; some of them retail only, some of them via GameStreamer as well. We recommend keeping an eye out for the space sim / RPG Starpoint Gemini and the Cornwall-developed horror adventure Bracken Tor.

    GS: If you could be any game character, who would you be and why?
    LS: That must be Master Chief from the Halo series. Have played Halo 2 and 3 for a great amount of time. Loved the online gameplay.

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  • Game Store Partner Profile: Digital Download Game World

    This is the second post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer game store partners.

     

    A recent GameStreamer game store partner, Digital Download Game World Inc. was created in 2008 as a group of like-minded video game enthusiasts, developers and retailers to observe and report on the growth of the digital distribution sector of the video game industry. Marketed globally, the website sees the majority of its traffic coming, in order of volume, from the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

     

    Digital Download Game World 

     

    Digital Download Game World likes to work directly with indie game developers to show the world that digital distribution is allowing for great game design concepts from even the smallest of studios to make it in this competitive marketplace.

     

    The site also communicates with developers, retailers and readers about the continual growth and change in the digital distribution sector of the video game industry.

     

    We wanted to get to know DD Game World even better, so we asked CEO Dan Awadalla to tell us more about his site and his gaming habits.

     

    GameStreamer: What are your goals with DD Game World? Future plans or news?

     

    Dan Awadalla: With significant growth since we started with our small forum site a few years ago, we have discovered that this new branch of the video game industry is filled with opportunity and pitfalls. At Digital Download Game World Inc., we are discovering our niche in consultation, design and industry reporting.  

     

    In the near future, we will continue to provide indie developers with the advice they need to succeed and will continue to select and report our favorite stories from this exciting industry. Don't be surprised to see some of our own titles launching in the mobile arena, as well. 

     

    GS: Your site is known for its Toronto-area events. Do you have any coming up? What has been your favorite event?

    DA: The Toronto geek and gaming scene is as good as it gets anywhere, and we are lucky to have so many friends who are very active in keeping it that way.  I would have to say FanExpo and GamerCamp are two of my favorite events. Microsoft Canada and Sony Entertainment Canada are both well known for their great Toronto-based preview and launch parties.

     

    GS: What’s your favorite video game or franchise?

    DA: Personally, I have been playing video games since 1976, my first game, of course, being the ATARI PONG home console. So I always find this question difficult. My fondest memory is playing Kareteka on the Commodore 64 and Karate Champ in the Arcade. More recently, my favorite franchises seem to come from Ubisoft Montreal and include Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell as both still have the capability to produce immersive single-player experiences in a continually saturated market. For multiplayer gaming, it's gotta be a shooter. I prefer the Call of Duty and Battlefield series depending on my mood.

     

    GS: If you could have a superpower for one day, what would it be?

    DA: Without a doubt, Time Shifting. I'd start my day in a coin-op arcade and end it on a HoloDeck!  

     

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  • Publisher Profile: FRONTLINE Studios

    This is the first post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer publishers and independent developers.

     

    Modestly sized independent developer FRONTLINE Studios derived its name from the company’s commitment to pushing the technology and design to the limit. Established in 1998, the company develops games for next-generation entertainment devices (Nintendo Wii, PS3, XB360, PC and Mac), as well as handhelds (DS, PSP, and iPhone). FRONTLINE Studios' technology consists of dozens of platform-independent components integrated into scalable and flexible object-oriented architecture. NetVigil software keeps the company's projects efficient and provides real-time reporting and monitoring.

     

    Company offices are in Florida and California, and the main studio is located in Poland (Bydgoszcz). FRONTLINE games include Gene Labs and Christmas Chicken and upcoming titles Life Savers and Mech Wars.

     

    To learn more about FRONTLINE Studios, we asked CEO Marcin Michel a few questions about his company and his personal experiences as a gamer.

     

    GameStreamer: How did FRONTLINE get its name?

    Marcin Michel: Since the very beginning we have had a mission to become a prestigious, well recognizable and creative game developer, so one day we could get a chance to get on the front line of the videogame industry. At FRONTLINE we always try to stay ahead with the proprietary technology and development tools, always trying to deliver top-of-the-line, quality products. That is, we thought FRONTLINE Studios is a great name that reflects our business strategy.

     


    GS: What was the first game FRONTLINE self-published?

    MM: The first self-published title is Gene Labs. Due to limited internal funds, we have selected this simple and fun arcade game, so we could afford to bring this game to many platforms simultaneously and at low cost. In the past we have delivered over 30 titles on many different platforms developed for retail game publishers, and currently we do have 12 titles that we are going to self-publish within a few upcoming months.

     

     

    GS: Can you give us a sneak peek of some of your upcoming titles?

    MM: Sure. Valet Maniacs (screenshot below) is an arcade-strategy game where you are a valet parking supervisor. Galactic Siege puts you in the middle of a space-shooting adventure, and Red Prison gives hidden object games a new twist. If you love to fish, Salt Life: Ocean Hunter offers a first-person fishing experience.   

     

    Valet Maniacs, FRONTLINE Studios

     

    GS: What was the first video game you ever played?

    MM: I can't really remember what was the very first game I've played. There was a bunch of cool games I've played on my first fun machine - Commodore 64. I had been basically buying all games I could get in Poland those days, and I think I've collected at least 30 best games on my Commodore.

     

     

    GS: What is your favorite aspect of working at FRONTLINE?

    MM: There are many aspects for sure, including the possibility to be a part of creative process, however I must say that our company's culture and its people are the most important aspects that keep me going.

     

     

    GS: If you could be any game character, who would you be and why?

    MM: One of my favorite is definitely Drake from Uncharted, as I would love to try my luck in treasure hunting one day!

     

    If you would like to be featured in our next publisher profile, contact us at info@gamestreamer.net.

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  • Are Video Games Addictive?

    Should we blame video games for causing gamers to become addicted to playing?

     

    In August, a man sued the manufacturer of Lineage II over his addiction to the game. The popular health site, WebMD, contains an article warning about video game addiction and discussing a detox center in Amsterdam that caters to the treatment of game addiction. Back in 2007, doctors shied away from designating video game addiction as a mental disorder, explaining that more study would be required before such a designation could be made.

     

    A brand-new study by Yale University suggests that “a small but not insignificant proportion of kids find themselves unable to control their gaming,” said study author Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine.

     

    “That's cause for concern because that inability is associated with a lot of other problem behaviors."

     

    The study defines problem gaming as having three main symptoms: trying and failing to play games less, feeling an irresistible urge to play and experiencing tension that could only be eased by play. The majority of the study participants showed no signs of problem gaming, but 5 percent reported all three main symptoms. The symptoms are more likely in boys (5.8 percent vs. 3 percent in girls). The study draws correlations between the symptoms and a higher risk of smoking, drug use, depression and fighting. The study does not conclude that problem gaming causes these other issues.

     

    An extensive article by Aaron Ruby that appears on The ECA’s site analyzes other studies that do draw the conclusion that video games are addictive. Ruby argues that these conclusions are flawed and even biased.

     

    Can video games be an addictive substance? Should video games carry warning labels like cigarettes? Or are people with more tendencies to develop addictions the ones who are becoming “addicted” to video games?

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  • GameStreamer Loves Independent Game Developers

    GameStreamer supports independent video game developers. We believe they bring to the industry some of the most innovative and creative thinking.

     

    Developers can distribute their games through our flagship stores and growing number of white label partner stores at no cost. Our extranet makes it easy to upload and manage games, as well as view sales figures. We offer an above-industry-standard revenue split on games sold. On our game store sites, users can search the Indie genre, where we have 80 games and counting.

     

    If you’ve been reading our blog recently, you’ll have seen posts by independent developers offering advice to fellow indies. Look for more posts like these in the coming weeks. If you would like to contribute a post or to distribute your game through us, contact us at info@gamestreamer.net.

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  • Slaying the Dragon: Fighting Fire with Water

    This is the second post by independent game developer Dan Felder, who has his own indie studio and consults other game developers in his spare time. Read his first post here.

     

    Look at the dragon. It’s tremendous, a monstrosity that dwarfs giants and their kin. Its gleaming scales are hard as diamonds, its jagged teeth sharper than nails…. And to top it off, it breathes fire. Yes… Fire. Now that’s just not fair!

     

    In order to defeat the dragon, you can’t fight fire with fire (remember its aforementioned respiratory condition). If you want to take down this beast of legend and get away with some of its treasure, you have to tip the battle in your favor. Seriously, have you ever tried fighting fire with fire? It sucks. Instead, fight fire with water – you’ll be a lot happier.

     

    When you’re shifting the battle to your favor, it has to be at a game the dragons aren’t used to playing. Hit them where they’re weak, hit them where they can’t strike back, and – if possible – try to challenge them to a ballet contest. Dragons are great at tearing through mountainsides and roasting regiments in their flames… But they have a bit of trouble fitting into a theater (not to mention a tutu).

     

    So how do you shift the battle to your advantage?

     

    It starts in design.

     

    Your first goal is to create a title that changes the discussion of how to evaluate the game, matching your strength directly against the Dragon’s weakness. You don’t have to be better at everything, you just need to be different in one thing – so you become a legitimate choice.

     

    Here’s a real-life example. A few months ago, I was strolling through the farmer’s market and passed by a pie salesman. The man was selling blueberry pie. Now I was actually on my way to a stand a few dozen feet away, one I’d been going to for years, that made the best apple pie I’d ever tasted… And I love apple pie.

     

    Still, the blueberry pie salesman waved me over and asked me if I liked pie. I responded, politely, that I did, but only apple pie – and I was on my way to get a piece right now from the other stand. “Great farm.” He nodded, “They make great apple pie. You want me to tell you what makes mine special?” I shrugged and said, “Sure.”

     

    He lifted one of the pies from the table. “This pie,” he said, “Is the only pie here made from the freshest, most delicious wild blueberries. There’s nothing else like it. Want to try a slice?”

     

    I did, and it was great… And I ended up buying a pie, too.

     

    If the man had tried to offer an apple pie, he never would have been able to beat out my favorite stand – but he didn’t try to fight fire with fire. Instead he offered me something completely different, yet absolutely great in its own right. He knew he couldn’t compete with my favorite stand when it came to apple pies – but they sure couldn’t compete with him when it came to blueberry. Why? Because they didn’t make blueberry pies!

     

    He changed the battlefield and got me to buy in, and I’ve loved blueberry pie ever since.

     

    So what about fighting fire with water?

     

    The key is that the dragon’s got a weak point. Maybe on its flank, or in its co-op mode, but it has one SOMEWHERE. All you have to do is find it and then craft your title to slam through that weak point as powerfully as possible. Just pick something, anything, that the most popular titles don’t do too well (or at all)… And then make it your purpose in life to do it so well that everyone else looks absolutely silly by comparison. You don’t have to beat them with better graphics, you just have to be different – wonderfully, engagingly different. If the battle isn’t about the best graphics and the biggest explosions – then the dragons won’t know what to do.

     

    After all if the battle’s about teeth vs. teeth, fire vs. fire… The biggest, meanest dragon always wins. But let’s take a look at mermaids. Could a dragon eat a mermaid alive? Oh hell yes. It’s called sushi. But which do you think a sailor would rather spend time with? Well, I’ll let the Flight of the Conchords answer that (via YouTube). 

     

    So, right from the moment you’re shaping your title, make sure that its strengths hit directly against the dragon’s weaknesses… And don’t you dare do it halfway. A poke at the dragon’s weak point isn’t going to do anything, you need to hit that sucker with a sledgehammer. If the biggest titles have overly complex leveling systems, make yours so simple that a near-sighted goldfish could make it through the game. If everyone’s simple – make yours require a graduate-level course in character customization just to make sense of it! Alright, these are exaggerations but only barely so. In order to avoid comparisons to the dragons, you have to make sure that people can’t compare you to the dragons… Except where your strengths lie. Just make sure the game’s still fun!

     

    So put your flamethrower back on the shelf and pull out the fire extinguisher. Trust me, you’d rather have the extinguisher when you’re facing down a dragon. Unless it’s trying to twirl its way across a ballet stage that is, but then – you’ve already won.

     

    Dan Felder

     

    About Dan Felder: A student at Babson College in Massachusetts, Felder is studying entrepreneurship while building his own indie game studio. He has a passion for storytelling and theater, which is playing out in his studio by giving it a creative vision to advance the conversation about what games can be and how games can touch us, move us, embolden us and strengthen us. He also blogs for Gamasutra, a leading game industry news site.

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  • New GameStreamer Game Stores

    A big welcome to our newest game store partners, Gamer Reaction and Digital Download Game World! Their game stores are branded to their sites and contain the same games that GameStreamer carries on our stores, GameStreamer.com and PCGameStore.com.

     

    Gamer Reaction is a popular gaming news site that features podcasts and articles for the “common gamer.” Marketed worldwide, Digital Download Game World covers news about the growth of the digital distribution sector of the video game industry.

     

    For both sites, a game store is a perfect fit with their audiences.

     

    “At Gamer Reaction, we are constantly talking about all the games we are playing or looking forward to or remember from years ago,” says Dianna Lora, Gamer Reaction Producer. “A GameStreamer game store seemed like the obvious choice to us. We tell people about games, and then they don't even have to leave our website to get them. Gamer Reaction tosses the ball up, GameStreamer dunks it.”

     

    Daniel Awadalla, CEO of Digital Download Game World, says, “As digital download game sales continue to grow worldwide, we can’t be anything but excited about an opportunity to enter into a partnership such as this. We found the staff at Game Streamer Inc. to be highly motivated and professional and the integration of the store with our current site could not have gone more smoothly.” 

     

    Game store partners have full administrative control over their stores, including which games to sell and which ones to feature. Templated game stores cost partners nothing, and they receive a cut of their stores’ revenue. Fully customized stores require a fee. Game store partners are responsible for marketing their own stores, but GameStreamer does offer a few free tools. Partners can create banner ads to promote games on their websites. Also, GameStreamer creates a customized, weekly newsletter featuring new games and specials that partners can send to their users.

     

    If you are interested in adding a game store to your site, contact us at info@gamestreamer.net.

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  • GameStreamer Protects Its Users

    A recently well publicized alleged breach of online gamers' privacy may be causing concern about other gaming sites’ safety. Rest assured that GameStreamer strictly abides by the privacy policy on our game store sites. Users’ privacy is very important to us, and one of our goals is to earn and maintain the trust of the online gaming community.

     

    You can read our privacy policy in its entirety on our game store sites, but here are a couple of key points:

     

    • GameStreamer may use personally identifiable information collected through the Web Site for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process Orders made via the Web Site, to contact Users regarding Content, products and services offered by GameStreamer, and otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with GameStreamer and such affiliates, independent contractors and business partners.
    • When we first collect information about you, we will offer you the opportunity to opt-out of having your personal information shared with parties outside of GameStreamer or its subsidiaries or affiliates (except to the extent required by law, court order, or as requested by other government or law enforcement authority).

     

    GameStreamer does not share personal information to third parties without users’ permission, and we respect users’ wishes regarding their privacy.

     

    In addition to our policies, we protect our users’ credit card and personal information via our payment-processing vendors PayPal and Authorize.net.

     

    Should you or your customers have any questions or concerns about users’ privacy on any GameStreamer-powered site, please email us at info@gamestreamer.net.    

     

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  • Advice from an Independent Game Developer

    This post is the first of a series of posts by independent game developers. They will be sharing their experiences and advice for aspiring developers, as well as their viewpoints on the game industry. Our first guest blogger is George Hufnagl, co-founder of My Escape, an eight-month-old development company.

     

    As we conclude production on our group’s first game and dovetail into the sophomore title, I am letting out a poignant sigh of relief because, for our group My Escape, we are about to achieve a victory toward which our progress had me holding my breath for months. Four artists, three programmers, one designer, audio designer/producer and advertising consultant later, we are excited to release Critter Cubes, a micro game that serves as a stepping stone for what we aim to be a long and healthy journey as a developer. Our current team of seven (wonderful) members is pumped, not because we are breaking any technological barriers or hailing in a new epoch of development, but because we finished a game. Yep. That’s it.

     

    In the eyes of the gaming community, this will likely be a minor contribution to what is, in reality, an overcrowded carnival of multi-million-dollar AAA games, match three variations and everything in between. In our eyes, however, it means the world, because despite having eyes that were bigger than our stomachs, the unkept commitments of former members, the multiple changes in direction for a game that we never completed, the technological uncertainties and the fact that we work exclusively online with a 14-hour difference in time zones, we finished a game. Yep. We did it.

     

    Entering our eighth month as a team, I am building up a nice tab of lessons learned, including:

     

    • Enthusiasm is paramount. Don’t work with anyone whose voice doesn’t get higher when they talk about their work.
    • Someone needs to be the boss. Bohemia is nice for vacation, but not for game development.
    • Structure your time before, during and after development, both individually and collectively.
    • Encourage your teammates.
    • Encourage yourself.
    • Be creative.
    • Be nice.
    • Be honest.

     

    The question to ask is, “when the proverbial hits the fan, what will carry us through?” Is it the accolades, the (virtual) bags of money, the legions of fans? Those are nice, but they’re all superfluous to the main event – your gaming Id – desire, passion, enthusiasm. The rest is just noise.

     

    George Hufnagl

    Producer/Audio Designer

    My Escape™

     

    About My Escape: To etch the brand in online gamers' memory, My Escape seeks to create games that will entertain and appeal to those seeking a less-immersive gaming experience and a quick escape from quotidian reality. Competing in the online gaming industry that boasts to reach nearly one out of every two Internet users (Flash Games Market Survey, ComScore via Mochi Media, 2010), My Escape is set to play ball by introducing games centered on oddness, strangeness and peculiarity.

    For more information about My Escape, please visit www.my-escape.net.

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