Thanks for bringing this conversation to the developer forum @jtreat. I hope to address all of your questions as I think our community at large appreciates our transparency. I should note that I am also available for realtime feedback twice a week on our YouTube livestreams, I am often overwhelmed by the many platforms that we respond to, so I hope that is a welcome resource in which I can easily answer questions that might require a little digging otherwise.
I should note that @danking222 does a good job presenting some of this information here, but I felt like this was fun to articulate clearly in response.
Under what conditions do you consider game submissions? Under what conditions do you not?
At the moment, we consider all game submissions. If you are interested in publishing a game with Move38, get in touch or just say hello (firstname.lastname@example.org). Because submissions are growing, we are working to standardize the process and create a platform that also incorporates the community into the vetting process. One of our advisors, Celia Pearce, did a wonderful job helping IndieCade create a community of indie game devs with a significant amount of submissions yearly.
Do you provide feedback to help steer a design toward something you’d want to publish before it’s developed?
Yes. We enjoy this process a lot. We respect your work as an artist and as artists ourselves only seek to provide critique or feedback that is useful in bringing your vision to life.
Is there a point at which your team helps with or takes over development of a game you license? Does that involve taking over creative control as well?
Sometimes. In the case of RAID (formerly “Overtake”), @gapMindful wrote a game that was fully functioning when he posted it to the forum. We saw it, played it, thought, this executes really beautifully in an area of gameplay that we don’t yet have well represented in the games library. (Diversity of games is really important to us as well as diversity of the people submitting them). Our lead game designer, @danking222, provided feedback to @gapMindful to help with some standards of interactivity we developed. @gapMindful 100% developed the game that will be flashed onto each of the RAID Blinks.
In the case of Group Therapy by @Brett, he created a prototype at a game jam we hosted. It was clear from watching people play that this game was sticky. He had a bunch of game ideas and we helped him choose one to start with. Because he recently accepted a wonderful job for Playdead, he let us know that he wasn’t going to be able to commit a lot of time to creating the artwork for the game label, a game mat, and that he was more than happy to see us bring the game to code complete with polish. He remained involved with seeing builds and providing feedback to make sure game balance played in a way he was thrilled with.
I can post more examples, but I like that these two are very different time commitments with similar outcomes and both great working relationships for us. With respect to creative control, you as the game designer/artist have the ownership of your game. We do feel strongly about making sure a game has a unique identity if we are going to publish it, since the average person still sees Blinks as colorful hexagons, but we think the unique identity of the games so far allow even a novice to say, “oh look! Group Therapy” or “whoops, an Astro Blink is attached to that game of WHAM!”
What are the terms of publication? How is the designer compensated? How is the developer compensated? How do you market games you license?
The agreement we have with game designers simply gives us the right to publish the game but leaves ownership of the IP in the game designer(s)/artists’ hands. If you wanted to make your game on tabletop simulator for example, we would love to see you do it. Your success is our success.
Developers receive 5% royalty on each Blink sold with their game on it. We provide a report of this at the end of the year and write a check. The royalty is not based on profit, it is based on net sales so it is very clear. For games that are designed 100% internally at Move38, we set aside that 5% and make sure we put it back into the game community meaningfully (game jams, scholarships, internships… we want the game making community to grow with us)
We are still learning how to market the games. We have now successfully Kickstarted 2 batches of Blinks games and we think that Kickstarter is a wonderful platform to continue releasing games on. We love the community and we like that we can even test games there too.
We have recently grown our team to include marketing partners that are really great. As we grow, our budget will increase and we’ll surely experiment with many ways of marketing. Our best channel right now is when people see Blinks in person or over Zoom , the word of mouth for a quality product is priceless.
We have plans to make distribution of games easier in the future, but that is the topic for another post.
How do you offset the risk designers and developers take investing time and money buying your kit and working on a game that you might not choose to publish? That cannot be shopped to another platform?
If the cost of a developer tool is significant risk, please contact us to let us know. We want to make the platform as accessible as possible. As @L.C points out, one can make their own developer tool on the cheap and all Blinks are rewritable.
What kind of games are you interested in? What kind are you not?
New experiences for people. Games that challenge what we think of as a board game, a video game, or a puzzle. Games that make us say, wow, that is so simple, I wish I thought of that and games that make us go, wow, that is not easy to make but it totally works.
Our principles are as follows:
- If it is better on a touch screen, then it should be on a touch screen.
- Games are not tech demoes, they are games.
- Games can be toys too. Due to the ease of hands-on exploration with Blinks, some of the games benefit greatly by allowing lots of free-play (this is currently an internal debate that perhaps deep strategy games should not have to abide by this… I see the value in that statement and think we’ll continue to see more deep strategy in the mix)
Before publishing, it is incredibly important that games communicate clearly (there is a lot that can be communicated through our simply 6-segment display) if the player is easily confused, it simply needs to be iterated and refined.
I think that defines the kinds of games we are not interested in as well, but to be honest rules were meant to be broken, we don’t want to put up more limitations (6 RGB LEDs felt like enough )
These are the questions professional designers want to see addressed, to know that Move38 is serious about partnering with them, and worth the risk. Thanks.
I hope my response covers most of this, but in all honesty, we are a small company with big ambition and growing together with a community. We have a guiding compass that we are transparent about, and we welcome feedback on every step we take. I look forward to you receiving your developer kit and supporting you in making something that puts a smile on peoples faces and creating a sustainable ecosystem as well.
all my best,