Edit: Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this! We had a blast answering your questions, and we learned a lot from all of you. We'll be checking back here periodically, so please feel free to leave questions. We all worked on Spider-Man 2 and individuals on the team worked on games like Medal of Honor 2010, if you have any questions about those projects, as well. We love sharing our knowledge, and meeting new people.

Hi, we are Dave Padilla, Tomo Moriwaki, and Rich Bisso, the co-founders of Hyperkinetic Studios, an indie game development studio based in Culver City, CA. We all worked together about 12 years ago at Treyarch, and our paths eventually brought us to where we are currently at. We have spent the last few years working on projects for clients, but finally made the plunge to start working on our game late last year. We would love to share any insight that we have on starting up a studio, making games that you love, and everything in between.

Proof: https://twitter.com/EpicTavern/status/746002518015098880

The Kickstarter for our first original game, Epic Tavern, is also active in case anyone would like to check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/291092632/epic-tavern-rule-the-land-from-your-tavern?ref=user_menu

Comments: 120 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

SMcArthur8 karma

Hey guys, thanks for doing this AMA. I'm curious how you first broke into the game industry world. What was your path that landed each of you at Treyarch? And what were you guys doing at Treyarch?

HyperkineticStudios6 karma

Hey, this is Rich! Thanks for the question :) After graduating from Georgetown University in DC with a degree in International Politics, I flew out to LA with dreams of getting into the game industry. I actually started out working as an IT guy, then worked in advertising for a bit. These were my video game industry equivalent of waiting tables. After about nine months of actively searching for opportunities and reaching out to people in the industry, I landed an interview with a company called Seven Studios in Los Angeles, and got the job. After about two years there, I moved over to Treyarch and became a game designer on Spider-man 2. From there, I was brought in about midway through Ultimate Spider-man to help implement its "open city" component, and then I worked for a bit on Spider-man 3, before moving on. About four years, in total.

Dave: My path was a normal one, for when I actually started out 14 years ago. I needed a job and a friend of mine was working in the QA department at Activision. I loved playing video games, so I figured getting paid to play them was a good fit! It actually turned out to be more work than that, but it allowed to find out more about the game industry, and I eventually got a shot at becoming a production tester over at Treyarch and that pretty much cemented my desire to stay on the production side of things.

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo Moriwaki: How did I break into the industry? I was a friend of a friend of one of the founders of Treyarch. I was a floundering art student without much of a path in life. They invited me over to check out the game they were working on, Die By the Sword. I was blown away, really wanted to be a part of what I was seeing. Thankfully, they invited me to work there over the next summer. That was the end of the first part of my life. Over the course of five years and several projects I ended up in the creative director position on Spider-Man 2. Which changed me even more.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: Oh yeah... our Lead Systems Designer Eric Pavone was a good friend of mine since 7th grade and was working over at Treyarch, so he encouraged me to apply. Tomo is the one who actually hired me! Connections are important in the video game industry. You want to work with people you know and like, as you'll be working with them very intensely, and for long periods of time.

tacotuesday99926 karma

Love the game guys! It looks like there's some real potential here.

My question is, what is your favorite types of beer? Also, Dave is pretty easy on the eyes =) What's his situation???

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: Happy Birthday, Thaler! I'm not much on beer, but Tomo likes Belgian Ales, Bitter IPAs, and Creamy Stouts. Dave's favorite beer is Fireball.

sharp72 karma

I think they were asking if Dave is single lol...

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Dave: I have a cat, so I hope that helps them figure it out!

FoolsGhold5 karma

why do games cost so much to develop?

HyperkineticStudios5 karma

Rich: Figure that, if you have an office and are paying people industry-standard wages, each head on your team will cost about $12k per month, including salary, overhead, insurance, etc. Doing some math, if you have a AAA-sized team, that can run anywhere from 100+outsourcing to 2000-ish people. Throw in advertising and PR, which sometimes exceeds the cost of development, and you can see how it adds up. Even a modest game with 50-ish people that takes two years will cost $14.4 million to develop and maybe as much to advertise. Games ain't easy, and they ain't cheap to make. Even social and mobile games are super expensive, despite their smaller team sizes, since they have to buy users, worry about server costs, etc etc etc.

We chose the route we did (small-mid team, small-but-nice game that we can develop on an ongoing basis) because it suited our situation. If you're looking to make a game, definitely analyze your capabilities before starting out!

gamkedo5 karma

Hey y'all! How would you compare and contrast the major differences between serving the needs of in-industry professional types of AAA studio gatekeepers (like publishers, immediate boss/lead/director/GM/CEO in a bigger hierarchy, etc.), relative to how you've been learning to instead directly serve and pitch to the needs and interests of KickStarter backers/audience?

Open Disclosure: I know and used to work with Tomo (and think he's a swell guy with tons of high quality advice to share), although this question is not a plant :b

HyperkineticStudios6 karma

Tomo: Chris! Intense question. When you are in the larger structures of big budget game development you are sheltered. You are a part of the machine and you need to focus on your responsibilities first and foremost. This is not in any way a condemnation, it is the natural by-product of scale. The smaller scale (and in this case, much more connected to the outside world) demands a wider view. What is the most important thing that needs to be addressed right now? It is the opposite of being sheltered. There is a balance of priorities that need to be considered (which I recommend you spend focused time in any given day analyzing, rather than stress about it all day.) In terms of the effects of being exposed to the shining light of the users? It’s amazing, and a significant difference in feeling. It’s like you spent your whole life having someone describe the world to you, then you started traveling. It’s opened our eyes and luckily reinforced many of our hopes about what it would be like to do this.

dare2smile5 karma

Excited for the game!! What gave you guys the idea for it? Was it just a love of beer? ;P

HyperkineticStudios4 karma

Rich: Well, most of us do love beer! The idea came about when I was going through a really intense period of life that didn't allow me to play many games. I found myself wishing for a game that was kind of like the old 'Progress Quest' (an RPG that more or less played itself) but a bit more interactive (would let me outfit/level-up my characters, make big decisions) and would spit out stories that I could read when I was waiting for the bus, etc. Subsequent to this, I also got kind of peeved that there were so many Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy Soccer, and Fantasy Football games out there, but there wasn't any Fantasy Fantasy... where I could act as a manager for adventurers. Why should sports fans get all the fun?

This idea kept banging around in my noggin and eventually I started kicking it around with Tomo, and we began playing with the ideas above, and a Tavern emerged as the natural hub for everything. We are, as you may know, a very social company, so we started analyzing our interactions while socializing with others and brought many of those patterns into the Tavern gameplay, along with many other management-oriented features that just made sense. We're excited to develop the idea alongside our community!

dare2smile2 karma

I love it!!

That least to a curious question... Any plans for tournament style matches against other taverns??

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: We are making sure to make the single-player experience extremely solid, but are keeping our eyes toward how that will lend itself to bad-ass multiplayer experiences. It only seems natural that it will go that way, but we don't want to rush it. If I had to guess, I'd say either in an expansion or, more likely, in a separate thread. Epic Taverns, anyone?!

dare2smile2 karma

AN EPIC TAVERN EMPIRE!

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: HECK YEAH!!!! :D

terabix3 karma

Do you believe the market for game development is more competitive than any other given tech-related market? I'm currently under the impression that the general passion for the arts brings in lots of dead-weight supply competing for the relatively same level of demand.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: Not knowing the specific statistics, my instinct is to generally agree, in principle. Plus, the widespread availability of game creation tools leads to a glut of content. Though I am not sure how sophisticated user-taste filters such as those Steam employs to bring games tailored to any given user's personality/preferences affect the equation.

I do know that it's much, much easier to pursue funding in the pure tech-markets, in that there is a direct path to capital. In games, finding capital to support an indie venture is very rare, although there are some programs that are worth looking into... and there is crowdfunding, as well.

Making art (games=art) that satisfies user tastes is also a definite subset of the larger and perhaps generally easier-solved problem of "create technology X that solves problem Y".

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: All I know is that it feels very competitive while at the same time I see so many opportunities. To be fair, many of those opportunities are far from obvious. There's a ton of space to explore and accumulating knowledge about the industry will almost certainly lead to finding a way into it.

mvolpa3 karma

Hey, are you hiring environment / prop artists?

I recently graduated with a BFA from Ringling in Game Art, and I really admire the Epic Tavern art direction.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: Not at the moment, but you can always check out our website and send over your portfolio. Finding the right address is the first challenge ;)

fledgeling_gl_guru3 karma

Hi guys!

I've been writing my own webGL engine and its a ton of fun, but managing the GL state is tricky (lots of devilish bugs). Have you guys built your own engine for any of the games you've worked on? Any design tips? Thanks so much for doing this AMA! (BTW if you're curious, you can read about it at my website, www.noahLyons.com)

Memige3 karma

Hey fledgling! A few of the past projects have had custom engines; however, Epic Tavern is being built in Unity 5. My general advice as the Lead Programmer here at Hyperkinetic is: If you can get away with not rolling your own engine, do so. Custom engines are a major drag on game development and can significantly increase the time it takes to launch your game. If you want to make games, make games, not engines. That said, if back-end tools and engine structure are your passion: Spend time researching code architecture and optimizations. If you want an engine that others are going to want to use, it will need to be stable, expandable, well documented, and easy to use. Engine building is no small undertaking and I'd recommend going into it with a dedication to developing it as a standalone product.

fledgeling_gl_guru3 karma

Thanks for responding, and for your advice! As it happens, engine structure and developing new features at a low level is my passion and I'm working on this project for fun, without a game in mind. As a followup, what are some of your favorite things about the way unity is designed? Could you share some of the mistakes you made/things you learned from developing engines in the past? Thanks again!

Memige3 karma

Sure :) It's actually pretty cool to run into a passionate engine guy. You're a rare breed and the few I know have all been awesome people.

Couple base things: be religious about system separation, don't let your network code get interconnected with your UI code... trust me, just don't >.> Maintaining single purpose structures will be important for expanding and retooling subsystems down the road. Also, find a couple people (either some indie devs or just friends) and offer to let them use your Engine as a Closed Beta. Little will help you identify areas where your engine needs expanding as well as a dev team trying to make something with it. You will need to write up a license agreement (may be best to have a lawyer do this). Also, don't underestimate the power of art and polish in an engine tool set. Remember, while you are making a tool that will be used to make other products, your customers will be the devs, and you'll still need to sell it to them. Also think about the different workflows from different fields. You'll need to keep in mind that many dev teams want a unified tool, meaning that not just programmers, but artists, music and SFX mixers, and maybe even producers will need to be able to use this engine.

Things that I like about Unity are how quickly you can get a basic product operational, that unified nature that I referred to earlier, the object oriented nature of the engine, and the asset store. Also, Unity has pretty solid documentation, and combined with the community answers board, it is generally very easy to get support or advice when you run into an issue in the engine.

fledgeling_gl_guru3 karma

Thank you so much, that is incredible advice! It's so great to be able to talk to someone in the industry, I'm a little starstruck! I ran into that network/ui problem already in a separate project and you are right, it is a bad bad time. I'm definitely going to make sure it doesn't happen again. I do have a few friends who are game devs, I'll try to see if I can persuade them to play around with it. Polish is one area that I think is pretty strong, I have a few sexy demos working already.

I'm in the midst of a job search right now, hoping to move from robotics/computer vision back into graphics, ideally as an engine dev but maybe as a TD. Do you have any advice for how to break in? Know anyone who's hiring in the engine dev area right now?

Memige3 karma

I would add that Engine and TD positions tend to be high level roles that you will need to work your way toward rather than being hired directly into them. As you can imagine they are fairly critical roles, as they span all of the company's projects rather than just one. That said, if you can pull off a solid engine and have a few clients using it, that will go a long way to proving you know what you are doing. :)

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: I've seen more than a few engine/tool coders hired into Unity based on the strength of the plug-ins they write for those engines. I believe Unreal has a fledgling store, as well, you may want to consider comparing and contrasting what is available/loved on both stores, picking a project, and going for it. It'll be like applying for a job while making money selling your tools :)

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Dave: I don't know of anyone hiring off the top of my head, but I have usually seen more openings in the engineering departments than in any other discipline. I would suggest checking out the job boards on Gamasutra and gamesindustry.biz. Another more targeted approach would be going onto gamedevmap.com and finding a developer/publisher by desired region.

chef_orange3 karma

Have you ever made game before?

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: This is Hyperkinetic Studios' first internal title. The studio has been doing work for hire contracts for the first two years as we built up a team and a company culture. Last year we began efforts to release Epic Tavern, and here we are today. (Edited to indicate who posted)

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: To answer from another vector, all of the leadership and most of the team have made bunches of games before.

sharp72 karma

What kind of contracts did you do and how did you find them?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: Mostly through personal connections and referrals. Making real friends throughout the industry may be one of the most valuable things you do as a developer.

sharp72 karma

I guess I need to go to meetups more...

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: For sure! Think of it as a skill multiplier :D

disckeychix3 karma

Having made what is usually considered the best Spider-Man game, and easily the best movie tie-in, how do you guys feel when you see the vast majority of recent Spider-Man games (excluding Shattered Dimensions and Web of Shadows) really just miss the mark on multiple levels?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: Spider-Man 2 had many flaws, but what it did well it did very well. I know from direct experience that the locomotion scheme for the game was extremely complex. Trying to go forward from that point is no easy task. I feel like they all had their strengths and weaknesses, and we're never able to get everything we want into a project. Ultimately, any person's dissatisfaction with a game varies based on the kind of gamer they are. (Edited to indicate who posted)

lyinggrump3 karma

how do you guys like making games?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: I can't imagine doing anything else with my life.

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: Same here. It's cool to know I'll be doing something until I'm physically or mentally prohibited from doing so.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Dave: I absolutely love working in this industry. I've met a ton of creative, fun, and kind people, and the collaborative nature of working in development (or publishing) constantly keeps me on my toes. It certainly has its downsides, but I'd rather encounter them in this field than in any other.

Skylent3 karma

I work currently as a journalistic gaming YouTuber who has non stop been applying for entry level Game positions for five years, why can't I find a job? Everywhere seems to want years experience in studio even if they themselves are just starting up. How do I get my foot in the door in a studio from my current position as a journalist?

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: We would need to know more about you to answer this question effectively. However a long history in the game industry doesn't necessarily qualify you for any given position in development. The industry is so big now, there are entire worlds of opportunity in positions relating to marketing, community, admin, hr, development, outsourcing, consulting, etc. What is your desired path? Are you doing things that you can show to indicate your ability to deliver on that path?

Blacktimus_Prime3 karma

This is great. Exactly what I wanted an AMA of.

With all of your experience and the fact that gaming is becoming more ubiquitous each year; what tips could you give to those that are adamant about gaming are seeking a way to get into the field?

In regards to education, what degree would you all say is the most sought after in the gaming industry?

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: Great question! re: degree: I'd say programming degrees are ultimately the most sought-after. I'd qualify that by saying that, when we are hiring, we are much more interested in what you have done, in terms of actually developing games. A good portfolio and history of passion for and execution of games development is much more important than any degree. All the tools you need to make a game are out there right now, available for free. Grab 'em and start making like-minded indie friends, then make some amazing games together. That, plus being a good person who is pleasant to be around and reliable, will get you hired more quickly than anything else.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: I can't stress enough how important it is to try and make something that another can try out and talk about it with them. This experience exposes you to a lot of the most important aspects of what it means to make games. Even in this simple statement, there is a lot of work. Making something is a pain, moreso at first when you're inexperienced. It doesn't matter what development package you use, what matters is that you try to learn how a tool works then use it to make something. That covers the basic activity of making games. But none of that matters if you're not going somewhere with it. So you need to develop your skills at estimating how others will respond to what you make. Feedback is pretty critical for moving your skills forward at a reasonable rate. In terms of how this leads to breaking into the industry: Once you can make things you can show them. Then, it's a matter of to whom... which is anybody at first. If you keep at it you will find the right set of eyes. Oh and a CS degree is probably the only one that substantially increases your chances at getting a job in the industry.

emmandabomb3 karma

Hey guys! Definitely a fan of your work so far.

As developers, what tips do you have to those that are freelance (particularly composers) in reaching out and cold-calling/emailing studios looking for work? Neal is certainly more established than a lot of the industry, so what things would you suggest to those that are fresh in the industry?

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Dave: Thanks a lot! I'm usually the point of contact for emails from developers looking for opportunities so I have a few tips. First off, it never hurts to send an email out of the blue to ask about any openings, but I highly suggest doing a little homework on the studio you are applying to so that you can describe why you are the right person for that job. As a small studio, it's important to find people that can fit within our culture, so doing a little research shows me that you are interested in us and in what we do! A lot of cold call emails read like form letters, so they're instantly put out of the running, unfortunately.

Another tip that I have is networking however you can. Attend the major events like Casual Connect or GDC, go to your local game dev meetups, attend Q&A - whatever you can do to get in touch with other people in the community. It's a small community, so word will get out if you seem like someone that other people want to work with.

MAKE SURE YOUR DEMO/PORTFOLIO IS GOOD! Run it by your peers, your teachers, or whoever you feel is in a place to give you objective and educated advice. You want to stand out from the dozens of other developers that are looking for the same opportunity, and having a high-quality demo will go a long way.

One last thing: grammar and spelling! Attention to detail is important, so make sure your cover letter, resume, and email intro are error-free. edited for grammar and spelling errors

two_off3 karma

How much will the steam summer sale hurt your wallet?

Jack_HyperK3 karma

Some of us at the studio dread the Summer sale. Meanwhile Tomo has over 1k games on Steam, so I don't see it being a problem for him.

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: Think of the 1k games on steam as a historical record of my dread for the Steam sales of the last 7 years.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Dave: I gave myself a budget once I found out when it was going to happen. We'll see if I can stick to it or not, since I also just recently started getting into those sweet, sweet Humble Bundle deals!

Rich: You can't hurt something that is DOA!

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: I'm checking it out... will return with a rough estimate.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: Ok, checked it out. It looks good, but it's nothing like 2 and 3 years ago! Holy crap those were a problem. Things can change over the days of course, but I'm thinking this will only rate as a "pretty bad" situation for my wallet.

Black_Moons3 karma

As an Indie Dev who lives in Canada, BC, does not like to travel far and has basically 0 budget, How would you suggest I best advertise the game I am working on?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: I'd suggest networking online with other indie game devs, and with others who have an interest in your game's subject matter. You might also consider doing what we are doing for Epic Tavern, a Kickstarter that will help with many of the costs of advertising your game above and beyond what I've mentioned already. We are always open to helping out other indie devs with advice based on what we've learned, so please hit us up on Twitter @epictavern, at any time!

Black_Moons3 karma

Yea I have thought of doing kickstarter but my fear is I won't be able to advertise the kickstarter enough for it to succeed without a budget or a pre-existing fanbase. How much advertising does a kickstarter need?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: Ours has been mostly networking and hitting up friends and family. We've spent about $300 on Facebook ads throughout the campaign. Definitely reach out to Kickstarter and get their advice/feedback before launching. They are great people!

Black_Moons2 karma

My friends and family don't do much with video games sadly. Don't have that many friends either.

Did the facebook ads noticeably help? Do you think it was worth the $300?

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Rich: It's pretty difficult to tell how much it impacted, but there does appear to be a rough correlation between when we run the ads and when we see an uptick in pledges. I'd guess we made more than our money back. But your game has to be attractive enough in concept to catch the eye of people who see the ad. Make sure to carefully target your demographic with FB's demographic tools, too!!

Iammaybeasliceofpie3 karma

Why is Epic Tavern a good game?

What makes people go "yeah, this is a Hyperkinetic Studios game and you can see that because..."

If you had unlimited budget, what would your dream game be?

What would you say, are your own weakest points (as a developer), and which of thoses have the highest priority to be fixed?

What is your general opinion on the gaming market right now?

How important do you feel that transparity is on the gaming market these days, and how do you contribute to the mindset you have?

HyperkineticStudios5 karma

Tomo: To answer “What is your general opinion on the gaming market right now?” I feel very hopeful and excited about interactive entertainment today. But to get more accuracy you’d have to identify “which gaming market?” Overall all that can easily be said is that things are growing. The numerous segments of the market differ on a number of axes. So much so that any given strategy may go from being practically impossible to an amazing idea that attracts support depending on the audience.

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: “What would you say, are your weakest points… highest priority to be fixed?” I think our weakest point as a developer is a common one. As a small independent studio it is a constant struggle to address the many needs split among development, promotion, marketing, community, and navigating the nearly overwhelming rate of change in the industry. Our weakness is that we have little wiggle room and mistakes are relatively more costly for us as we are small. That alone isn’t as much of a problem as much as the fact that a situation where mistakes are costly will, over time, make your approach to problem solving more conservative. Which in this industry is the slow path (or fast, depending!) towards death. Finding the right balance of risk taking is hard, and exposes us to risk. How to solve this? Our path so far has included liberal amounts of relying on our friendships in the industry to improve our knowledge and help guide our decisions going forward. -Oh! And my 11 year old daughter… loves pie.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: To answer, “What makes people go ‘yeah, this is a Hyperkinetic Studios game and you can see that because…’.“ Nothing. Epic Tavern is what will establish that concept in the eyes of the audience.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: To answer "How important do you feel that transparency is on the gaming market.. how do you contribute to the mindset you have?" It depends, I think honesty is always important. But there are many strong arguments in favor of controlling information about yourself and what you are doing. (I guess that applies to individuals and companies.) That said, I believe that a truly transparent world would be a better one, but that getting there seems outside our grasp for today. In the gaming market I see transparency with the users as a way of building trust and awareness. We’re here to make players happy, so we do what we can to engage the outside and let them know what we’re up to.

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: To answer "Why is Epic Tavern a good game?" Well, that's the heart of the matter, isn't it? Personally, I think it's a good game because it explores the genre of roleplaying from a perspective that is quite unusual. It is simultaneously from the bird's eye view of managing many teams of adventurers and building them an Epic place to socialize and rest, and from the very up-close-and-personal view of getting to know the quirks, traits, and characteristics of every single adventurer. In lots of ways, you are well and truly getting to know the people who work for you (in the very enjoyable setting of your ever-improving Tavern, or by seeing how they react to the quests you send them on) and, armed with this knowledge, making wise decisions about where best to employ their skills and personality. In the process, you become attached to your adventurers in a way that is very unique to Epic Tavern and, therefore, you thrill even more at their triumphs and despair even more when they are defeated, because they really mean something to you. This, to me, is real fun.

Also, seeing them pass out in ragdoll mode when they've had a bit too much ale is pretty hilarious, too ;)

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: To answer, “Why is Epic Tavern a good game?” This is a hard question for me, because things aren’t objectively good. They are defined by the response they evoke. Epic Tavern has the potential to evoke a positive response due to innovation as a result of its pretty unique combination of ideas. The idea of friendship being the starting point for any great story and the player’s choices having significant agency over how the story plays out is something we feel will be refreshing and engaging experience. I could go on and on about this. Does this make the game good? I’m excited, that’s all I know.

Master-Thief3 karma

What kind of stuff will backers get to name and contribute?

What has been your favorite game that you worked on?

What is the most epic tavern IRL (and Rich, why is it The Tombs?)

HyperkineticStudios5 karma

Awesome question. We are super excited to collaborate with our community on the game, and this is definitely the most direct way to do so. If you head over to the Kickstarter, you'll see that backers can write quests and chains of quests, name landmarks (cities, dungeons, prominent terrain features where the adventurers will be... adventuring), name drinks that will be served to everyone's adventurers, name adventurers, get in-game items, get their name in the credits, get real-world tankards and t-shirts, get to spend an evening out with the team, get to attend PAX with us, get to come to our launch party, get their picture in the Tavern (this will show up for everyone, and even become the Patron Saint of Taverns, the spirit that will walk you through the tutorials, and whose visage is prominently placed above the bar. phew I think I got it all, but I may have missed something. OH YEAH you can also become a real Lord or Lady :)

Epic Tavern is, by far, the favorite game I've worked on.

And the most Epic Tavern?? The Tombs, definitely The Tombs. Hoya Saxa!!

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: To answer "What has been your favorite game that you worked on?" EPIC TAVERN, ofc! That said, my experience on Spider-Man 2 at Treyarch was the most important. It was a gigantic effort, and I am supremely proud of the team's achievements.

NameRetrievalError3 karma

How do I get people to play my shitty rpg?

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Rich: Pretend it's not shitty long enough to get some people to play it and give feedback so you can be inspired and find ways to improve it! Good luck!! :)

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: Asking for feedback is a great way to make friends. Listening to what they have to offer to you about your game is a great experience, and excellent practice for being open minded. Although, this is an essential part of game development regardless of its perceived quality. (Edited to indicate who posted)

Gh05tDee2 karma

How important is a Computer Science degree for a software/video game developer? Is that paper important at all, or is it the skills/knowledge that matters? Thanks in advance!

HyperkineticStudios3 karma

Tomo: CS degrees are great. However, there are many positions to fill on a team that don't require or even use one. On paper it is pretty much the best degree type I can imagine. If you are intending to be an engineer, technical designer, or technical artist it can have a huge impact on your ability to get hired. That said, for any position you pursue your skills and knowledge, or more importantly your ability to convey your mastery in the necessary skills and knowledge is essential. Think of the paper as a foot in a door, but you can't get all the way through without convincing someone that you can do what is asked for.

ranak122 karma

Think you guys can go over to Keen and get them to fix Space Engineers?

HyperkineticStudios5 karma

Tomo: We love Space Engineers. I am thankful for what they have, and cannot wait for what comes next.

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Rich: Engineer, repair thyself!!!

Cloudy_The_Troll2 karma

Epic Tavern seems like an unusual idea for a game. How and when did you think of the idea?

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Tomo: There are some deeper design issues that contributed the particular combination of gameplay features that came together for Epic Tavern. How do you make an experience where a player can feel like they are at the center of a world story unfolding? Why is it that the player's characters in a game rarely change outside of your control? Aren't the story's we're all accustomed to all about how the path changes the person? Why do we design games that let you take back negative events? (Aren't those what all the other characters in stories overcome?) What does it mean to have agency over your own narrative?

So the idea at a structural level, in terms of the experience we want to deliver, is one about collecting characters in the context of relationship and friendship, then sending them out into the world to quest. The quests irreversibly change the characters (lose an eye, learn to speak with animals, gain mastery over the undead, become famous in the eyes of the kobolds, etc.) then return having gained loot and experience. The bad results are just as important (maybe moreso) than the good events. They create vulnerability and are catastrophes to recover from and remember. We aspire to gratify the sorrow of losing friends on the battlefield. A death is a point in the tavern's history allowing you to celebrate the life of friend. The characters end up being the carriers of the world story, each quest they complete changing both themselves and the world around them (for better or for worse). And you are the center, your choices determining who the great heroes of your world will be and how their stories play out.

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Rich: Yo! As I replied to dare2smile above, the idea came about when I was going through a really intense period of life that didn't allow me to play many games. I found myself wishing for a game that was kind of like the old 'Progress Quest' (an RPG that more or less played itself) but a bit more interactive (would let me outfit/level-up my characters, make big decisions) and would spit out stories that I could read when I was waiting for the bus, etc. Subsequent to this, I also got kind of peeved that there were so many Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy Soccer, and Fantasy Football games out there, but there wasn't any Fantasy Fantasy... where I could act as a manager for adventurers. Why should sports fans get all the fun? This idea kept banging around in my noggin and eventually I started kicking it around with Tomo, and we began playing with the ideas above, and a Tavern emerged as the natural hub for everything. We are, as you may know, a very social company, so we started analyzing our interactions while socializing with others and brought many of those patterns into the Tavern gameplay, along with many other management-oriented features that just made sense. We're excited to develop the idea alongside our community!

WolfChad4362 karma

I love it!!

That least to a curious question... Any plans for tournament style matches against other taverns??

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Rich: Hey! As I replied to a similar question from dare2smile, We are making sure to make the single-player experience extremely solid, but are keeping our eyes toward how that will lend itself to bad-ass multiplayer experiences. It only seems natural that it will go that way, but we don't want to rush it. If I had to guess, I'd say either in an expansion or, more likely, in a separate thread. Epic Taverns, anyone?!

Omegalibrium2 karma

Hello! What was it like in Treyarch and what do you guys feel about the path of Black Ops 3? What do you also feel about VR being more common each day?

Congrats on having your KS Campaign funded!

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Rich: Thank you very much for the kind words about the campaign :) Treyarch, like many big companies, had very different cultures, depending on the game you were working on. The Spider-man 2 team was one of the best times of my life and I based a lot of what you'd see at Hyperkinetic (and, actually, in Epic Tavern!) on what I experienced there. As far as Black Ops 3, I've always been super impressed by what Treyarch is able to do with their FPS line of games, and am definitely looking forward to more in-depth co-op gameplay, as that's really my cup of tea. VR is really interesting and is an area that I am watching like a hawk. I can't wait to see some of the games/experiences that people dream up, and can't wait until the hardware moves forward a few years.

Pixelated_Penguin2 karma

The game industry seems to exist in this netherland between software engineering and entertainment. With video game voice actors and artists increasingly pushing for unionization, along with some rumblings in that direction in the software industry, do you see the game industry maturing into more of a component of the entertainment industry (with highly unionized workforces presenting barriers to entry but preserving high wages), or keeping its allegiance to tech (where barriers to entry are low, but exploitation of labor can be an issue)?

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Tomo: I think this question doesn’t have one answer. We’re already seeing the games industry expressing itself in many ways. I believe both your assertions will become true, just for different platforms,scopes, and audiences. The barrier to entry to start making a game today is lower than ever and there doesn’t appear to be any forces trying to change that. However, the big budget games out there are really big… and approaching the development of those games will have to be handled differently. My hope is that there will be games being made on everybody’s terms, to some extent this is already true.

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Rich: Agreed with Tomo, and I'd add that the atomization of the AA-and-below segments of the industry, coupled with the virtual destruction of barriers to entry have combined to present a formidable democratizing force, overcoming a lot of the "old problems" that still exist in AAA development, but creating a lot of new and interesting challenges, as well. I honestly don't feel like I work in the same industry as my friends who work in AAA dev, and their situations, while enviable in some aspects, make me sad for them in many ways, too. The life of an indie is scary and demanding, but is very, very, very fulfilling.

CallOfBurger2 karma

Hey guys ! I'm 18 and I dream of creating my own indie studio after my studies. What are the good and bad things to do today,according to you, if we want to enter the industry ?

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Rich: Tied for the number one thing for a person entering the industry are professional networking and skills. If you don't already have a skill focus, you should pick one. In my opinion, everyone in the industry should be skilled at art, programming, or sound, and then should branch out into any of the other disciplines, like design or production. You should know a little bit about everything, so you are useful in a pinch.

Networking and connections are useful for not only the friendships they bring, but for finding people who can complement your skillset, can give you great advice, can give you critique, and can give you support when you (inevitably) need it.

Sir_Lurk2 karma

How could an artist get into video game developing? What would their salary look like? Is there a group of people who sit down and talk about the more "creative" aspects of a game, such as creature concepts and how things work, then proceed to draw them? Or is everything computerized and 3-D? I don't know very much about video games or digital art or even work in general for that matter, so maybe ELI5, if you could. Thanks.

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Rich: First of all, play games! Lots of them! No game employer ever, ever wants to hear that you don't know much about games. Game art is deeply intertwined with game mechanics and game programming, so if you don't have an understanding of how games (and game development) work, you are asking your employer to train that knowledge into you, and I can almost guarantee that there are a ton of people out there putting out high-quality art that have a huge passion for games and have worked with student or small indie teams who don't have jobs and will work for peanuts just to get in to the industry. This is your competition.

I'd recommend taking classes at a local community college on digital art and taking any game development classes you can find. Divide your spare time between learning engines like Unreal or Unity and playing the hell out of any and all video games. This industry is TOUGH to get into and the competition on the art side is only rivaled by the competition on the "I want to be a game designer, but have no measurable skills besides my certainty that I am awesome and have the best ideas ever" side. Since you are already a traditional artist, you have a leg up... If you are serious, start translating your skills toward games as noted above, as soon as possible!

Sir_Lurk2 karma

Thanks for the speedy reply!

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Rich: Of course! Let nothing stand in your way!!!! 🤘

Coronis122 karma

Do you believe recent kickstarter failures have impacted peoples willingness to crowdfund projects in a significant manner? Is it harder to get funding for games after failures such as mighty no 9 and similar games or is there only minimal impact?

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Memige: The stability and reliability of other Kickstarter campaigns certainly do contribute to the success of others. However, failed campaigns actually bolster it's stability to a certain degree. When a campaign fails, that is theoretically the system working. I've seen groups fail in a campaign, retool their product, try again and succeed. It's a way to vet your project with the community and let them help you create a compelling product. Projects that succeed in KS and then fail as a product do much more to harm the other projects, and those you can't do much about aside from try to be transparent so potential backers learn to trust that you will do everything you can to honor their support.

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Rich: Agreed with Memige. I've backed around 113 Kickstarter projects and have seen a small percentage of those that have succeeded fail to deliver. Almost every single time, it is a heartbreaking story, from some perspective. It has in no way dissuaded me from backing other Kickstarters, because I realize that things can go belly-up, at any time, for any reason, with game development on this scale.

Memige2 karma

So, I was curious: As Old guard developers, how do you make sure that you are staying in touch with the new generation of not only game enthusiast, but also the new generation of developers?

Open Disclosure: I work at Hyperkinetic, but am legitimately curious how my bosses plan on staying relevant :) #pleasedontfireme ;

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Rich: By getting out and socializing with the awesome people who are entering the game industry every year. And by playing their games. The important thing to note is that each new person you meet and each new game you play lends perspective, which in turn augments your talent!

Also, #fired.

HyperkineticStudios2 karma

Tomo: Practice having an open mind. Keep playing games, especially ones that you don't understand immediately. The new people are literally the future, if you don't spend energy connecting with them you will be left behind.