Making awesome games is our passion, plain and simple.
Let’s start a conversation that’ll last a long, long time.
This Friday, March 7, our own Jordan Mallory will man the helm of Minicore Studios' first-ever marathon livestream event: “24 Hours of Death!!” As the name implies, Jordan will spend a solid 24 hours playing Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition live on the official Minicore Twitch channel, breaking only to use the...more
Happy Valentine's Day, Cosmodogs!
It’s been a little over a week since The Sun at Night launched on the Humble Store and GamersGate, but it feels like a lifetime. We’ve devoted our lives to this little dog for so long now, releasing her out into the world has been an emotional, transformative experience. We can’t even begin to express how thankful we are for...more
In the beginning, there were really just two of us. Peter and I stood in the kitchen of an apartment I was paying way too much for and we decided what the little games company I incorporated three years ago today should make.
We knew we wanted to be genre agnostic. We knew we wanted something different. We knew about the endless ocean of design ideas we batted around at 3:12am in dorm rooms years before.
So, the concept for The...more
When we drew up the original design document for The Sun at Night, we knew we wanted to focus on the action/exploration gameplay loop that defines Metroidvania-style platformers. We didn’t want to rely entirely on classic genre tropes, however, so we designed a combat system that forces the player to actively choose between offense and defense.
The Sun at Night is, in no uncertain terms, an extremely challenging game. While navigating...more
When conceptualizing the narrative hook of The Sun at Night (outside of the robot space dog, of course), we knew there had to be a force fighting against this universe’s new Soviet Empire. Although the “rebel alliance” trope is tough to avoid, we wanted to present a faction that represented the myriad ways ideal-based organizations can find conflict among their ranks. Maybe not everyone has the same idea of what happens if and when their...more
Hello again Kosmodogs!
One of the things we wanted to address in the lead up to release is a design philosophy that permeates many of the decisions we’ve made with The Sun at Night. The Deus Ex series helped bring the idea of a tailored player experience to a narrative-heavy experience and we’re following in that tradition.
One of the major (and sole) complaints with Human Revolution was the fact that boss fights and certain...more
Hello fellow Kosmodogs,
Wrapping up work on The Sun at Night is going super well. So well, in fact, that we wanted to give you a look at the levels you’ll be exploring in The Sun at Night on February 4.
We’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible, of course.more
Hi Friends of Minicore Studios!
Today’s a big day for us. We’re finally lifting a veil we’ve had up for a couple of months (more on this in a second) and giving you tons of info about our current project, The Sun at Night.
The Sun at Night is the game formerly known as Laika Believes: The Sun at Night. Laika LLC, the animation studio responsible for the criminally underrated Coraline, felt there was enough confusion by use of the...more
**Note: the following is a cross-post from Jenny Haniver of NotintheKitchenAnymore.com. We're housing this while she gets her website issues taken care of. Important issue!**
On July 26th, I was playing Black Ops 2 on my Xbox 360. Another player in the lobby took issue with me being there, and basically started attacking me over my gender. He kept asking if I was on my period, implying that I was fat or a lesbian, and making jokes like...more
Happy Friday! Today's video gives you a brief overview of the rebel camp you visit at the start of the game. Here, you'll meet a lot of important characters and run errands that only a special robot dog could run.
One mission, which you'll see briefly in the game, involves ridding a supply tower of its feral, mutant bird population.
We'll update again this weekend!
The MInicore Crewmore
The Minicore Team
Laika Believes is a story taking place in a fictionalized world based on specific and limited historical facts.
On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched a dog named Laika into space. Due to the limitations of space travel at the time and the perceived exigencies of the space race, the mission was not designed for her recovery. Laika died in space.
As many have pointed out, this is very far from the only time in history that an...more
Over the coming weeks, we will be posting mini-featurettes that will focus on different gameplay mechanics and in game features. We will post these videos here on our blog, as well as on our Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight pages. We hope these videos will give you a better idea of what you can expect from Laika Believes and we're excited to share these details with you!
Here’s what else you can expect:
Laika Believes is so very close to being released. We need your help to get over that final hump and get the game in your hands! You can support us through Kickstarter and earn some sweet rewards or, if you have a Steam account, you can support us on Steam Greenlight.
Any support you could give would be so greatly appreciated beyond words!
Thanks so much, everyone! We can't wait for you to play Laika Beleives!more
We’re happy to announce that the new and improved version of Tumblewords is now live!
If you already have Tumblewords on your device, you'll be seeing the update soon, if you haven't already. For new Tumbleworders, you can download the game through the app store for $2.99.
Here's a quick reminder of all the new awesomeness in the latest...more
We’re happy to announce that a big Tumblewords update in June will include new art and a new game mode!
Endless Mode changes the structure of the Classic single-player mode already in the game. Instead of taking 15 turns to get the best score possible, the goal in Endless mode is to make sure the board doesn’t fill up completely. To do this, you’ll have to consistently create longer words to offset the tiles...more
On the left: An image I, the non artist, pieced together in photoshop from existing art assets/google image search. For the record, I was pretty proud of this.
On the right: Actual, bona fide and beautiful, Art by the great Devin Lawson.
We are incredibly proud of all the artists we have for Laika Believes. The majority of the assets are painstakingly hand rendered and we are really thrilled...more
On Sunday we’ll be headed to our second Game Developers Conference and are happy to be exhibiting at GDC Play again. We will be at Kiosk K2 in the South Hall, Gateway Ballroom, at Moscone Convention Center.
We are happy to announce that we will have two, yes TWO, demos of Laika Believes for you to play. The first demo is the same one some of...more
The last and final day of SXSW Gaming had a lot to offer. Inside the Palmer we had live music, cosplay, meet ups, and - of course - more fantastic sessions. I want to highlight two different sessions that touched on different aspects of the same thing: creation.
Session One: Designing Games for Realism: What’s Real Enough?
This session was beautifully lead by Bob De Schutter with Richard Van Eck (...more
The second day of SXSW Gaming was even better than the first. The event is just HUGE this year and we were absolutely slammed at our booth all day - which is exactly what we love to see! We can’t get enough of meeting our community and getting feedback on our games! The Gaming Sessions were all excellent yesterday as well.
The stand out session for me was ‘Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Tips from the Pros’. The description for this...more
Day one of SXSWi was an absolute blast. We chatted with a ton of interesting folks at our booth in the SXSW Gaming Expo and we got a bunch of great feedback on Tumblewords as well as Laika. The stand out for me, though, was the session ‘Games R Art’.
Presented by Amy Barbee (Texas Cultural Trust) the session revolved around the idea that digital games require skills in math, science, art,...more
It’s here! It’s upon us! It’s that beautifully hectic time of year: SXSW! This year, SXSW Gaming (previously Screenburn) is bigger and better than ever. We'll be at booth 413 all weekend. The expo hours are:
Stop by and chat with the team, play Tumblewords, and - super exciting - get your hands on the...more
We’re about an afternoon’s worth of work away from submitting our first Tumblewords patch to Apple for approval. Here’s what you can expect:
Shelley is out of town and the rest of the art team is building Laika Believes, so that left the job of creating a Valentine Minicorebot to me.
I'm very pleased with myself.
Anyway, share today with someone or something you love! I'll be spending mine with my wife, dog, cats, and Fire Emblem: Awakening just as soon as I get off work.
We hope your day is fun and pressure-free! Valentine's Day may be commercialized to heck,...more
Hey hey hey! It's our 2nd birthday as a developer! That's really, really cool. We have a ton of people to thank so it would take way too long to mention all of them here, but suffice it to say that we've had a so many amazing supporters since the beginning and we are humbled to have so many friends and peers both locally and nationally.
We've got two mobile games under our belt so far (play Tumblewords!) and later this year we'll be...more
Since releasing Tumblewords for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch last week, we’ve gotten some awesome feedback about the game. The reception so far has been encouraging, and Tumblewords is the newest game in the top 25 Paid Word Games. We’ve been there since last Thursday, thanks to y’all.
We’ve been listening closely to player feedback, and a few things are very, very clear.
Michelle Oglesby Cunningham
So, I’m gonna say this and try not to get upset at me. I don’t play a lot of video games. I never really have. I mean, I’ve owned various consoles over the years and I’ve played games on them, but it’s never really been very many. I usually have more fun watching someone else play games, to be honest. But there is an exception to this. There is a game series I’ve played over the years with such fervor that it’s bordered on obsessive. I’m...more
We have officially submitted Tumblewords to Apple and are awaiting approval! We can’t tell you how stoked we are about this, but it’s somewhere between “a lot” and “EXTREMELY.” While we play the waiting game with the approval process, we’re using our time wisely! We’re working on tutorial videos for Tumblewords that will give new players a nice intro to the strategy behind the gameplay. We can’t wait for all of you to play it! Seriously....more
A HUGE thanks to everyone who came out on Wednesday night for our little holiday celebration and Tumblewords sneak peak. We had a blast and it was great to finally get to share Tumblewords with our local friends and supporters. Don't worry, rest of the world, you'll get your chance to play soon! We are putting the finishing touches on the game as I type and will be submitting to Apple just after the holidays.
You can learn more about...more
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to Turkey, Prime Rib, Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, pie... OH GOD THE PIE... but before we close up the office and head home to stuff our faces to the point of regret, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for this year. You know, as if that’s the point of the holiday or something.
Shelley: I am thankful to have a job. (John told...more
Since November 2011, Austin has experienced well over 1,000 layoffs in the games industry alone. Lots of industry experts might sit back and claim that they called this -- that games are in decline, so layoffs are to be expected. Let’s back up one second and clear something up.
Games are not in decline. Retail is in decline.
Physical formats are in decline. When people say layoffs are cyclical and also part of a larger decline in...more
The game development spirit is alive in Austin, TX. You may not know it unless you live here and talk with devs with some frequency, mainly because most stories coming out of Austin this year have been of the massive layoff variety.
Depending on which reports you read or numbers you trust, Austin has seen around 1,000 games industry workers laid off since January 2012. This is a staggering number and a complicated issue all...more
There has been a lot going on in the Austin Game Industry this year. A lot of bad stuff. 1200 people losing their jobs. Studios closing down. This post is not about any of that. (That post will be thoughtfully written by John for next week). This post is about a great thing that happens in Austin. The...more
I met Jared for the first time at a Crescent City Beignets in Houston, where I probably dumped powdered sugar all over myself at some point. All I really knew about him is that he loved punk, ska, ninjas, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors -- all info from my wife, who knew Jared from high school. I also knew he was an already accomplished chiptunes musician, which was the reason for the meeting.
I knew Laika Believes had to have an awesome...more
Well when I think back to my childhood… *wavy lines* *flashback music* *wavy lines* the game I remember with the most fondness and nostalgia is Zeus: Master of Olympus. Zeus was the third(ish) game in Sierra's city building series, preceded by Caesar, Pharaoh, and a few of their expansion packs. Zeus captured my attention in a way that even Banjo Kazooie and Spyro had been unable to do. I spent hours at the computer, watching my little people...more
I played Jetfighter II so long ago I can't even remember precisely how old I was. I'm going to say (based on other hazy memories) that I was 8, though, which would date my memories of playing it on a daily basis to around 1993. I was surprised, when I thought to look it up a few years ago, to see that the game was actually released in 1990. It's so old that it not only marketed itself based on its depiction of the then-in-process Advanced...more
I’ll never beat you in a footrace, throw you an 80-yard touchdown pass, posterize you on the basketball court, or hit the winning home run off an outside slider. It’s not that I’m a clumsy doof in the classic “teen movie nerd can’t play sportz” way, but rather I have a neuromuscular disease that renders a lot of pretty “normal” muscle movements extremely difficult. I’m a healthy person aside...more
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first game in a long while that I really got into and lost a lot of sleep on. I got lost in the idea of having an entire virtual open world in front me ready to be explored and experienced.
After emerging from the sewers as a lowly newbie, I started on my epic journey. I avoided finishing the main quest for as long as possible just so I could close every single oblivion gate and clear every...more
We have been working hard on all the different aspects of our next game, Laika Believes. Recently, I have been spending most of my time on the various weapons and I thought it might be fun to talk about them; give everyone a bit of a preview, as it were.
Starting out, we knew Laika needed a potent arsenal to help her deal with the number of nasty bad guys we were going to throw at her. Since we're not working in a 3D space, we needed to...more
John challenged us to think about the games we’ve played throughout our lives and to come up with a game that “fed directly to the pleasure centers of the brain”. Why? Because these are the things we talk about in the office. Also, it probably has something to do with his B.S. in Psychology.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have very fond memories of Goldeneye for 64. It was the only game I could beat my brother at and one of the only...more
PAX has come a long way since 2004 , with both Prime and East selling out to crowds in excess of 70,000 and huge exhibition spaces showcasing highly anticipated releases from some of the biggest developers in the industry. However, despite all of this, PAX has maintained it’s original roots and personality. PAX is a celebration of gaming culture with a very For the Gamer, By the Gamer attitude.
As part of that great attitude, we get...more
When we announced that Laika Believes would be a three part episodic adventure, we knew we had our work cut out for us. It's less that we were splitting one game in three parts, but rather admitting that we had three pretty major installments on our hands.
We're excited to announce that the first episode will be called Laika Believes: The Sun at Night.
It definitely refers to something, but we can't tell you what. That'd ruin the...more
John Warren & Peter Odom
Laika Believes is the first game we started working on at Minicore Studios. Development was interrupted by work on Tanks for the Memories, but Laika was our first concept conceived as a company.
The game and the story around it is, of course, influenced by the experiences of the real Soviet space dog of the same name. Though fictionalized accounts of Laika’s story have popped up before, we had an idea for a game that would be heavily...more
We’ve been to a lot of conferences this year. In earnest, we’ve been most excited about attending PAX Prime at the end of the month. Most of us haven’t been to Seattle, which sounds really nice right now sitting in the August Texas heat.
So we registered and began preparing for the show -- getting a Laika Believes demo ready.
Now, when you register for a conference, a few things happen. You get charged for your space, but there’s...more
Brandon Wiley has been kind enough to put together some tutorial docs for using Freefall. There is a usage tutorial that describes all of the different commands you can use with the command line tool. There is also an app development tutorial which walks you through developing a simple leaderboard service. By the end of the tutorial you should have a leaderboard up and running...more
Recently, and I mean very recently, the people at Cosmosaur succeeded in raising more than their goal of $30,000 on Kickstarter to make Moon Intern, a charming 2D sidescrolling adventure/action/puzzle/thing.
I’ll start by saying that even though they’ve reached their goal, you can still give to their campaign and participate in the many rewards they’re providing. I...more
We’ve got some pretty big news on the Laika Believes front. First off, the engine is built, the art assets are coming together, and we’re moving into phase one of playtesting. What does this mean for you? Well, without making too grand of a promise, you should be seeing and playing a demo of Laika Believes at PAX Prime.
It won’t be perfect, but our goal is to get you something playable that will be indicative of final gameplay. It’s...more
This past weekend, Minicore Studios had the opportunity to attend Rooster Teeth Expo, or RTX. It’s the second year the good people at Rooster Teeth have done RTX, but they grew from around 500 attendees last year to around 4,000 attendees this year.
We had a great spot on the show floor near the Penny Arcade booth, where they were not accepting donations to keep their booth ad-free, but rather selling their popular...more
On his blog, Step Three: Profit!, scalability consultant extraordinaire and current Minicore intern, Brandon Wiley, discusses his current projects.
Excerpt and links to full articles below!
Unlike most databases, you do not run Freefall on your own servers. It runs as a Google App Engine app. You run your own instance and you pay Google for the bandwidth and computation time. The reason that you need to run your own instance is...more
People often ask me – Peter, what are some good writing tips? How can I be a good writer? And I say, the first thing to remember is, if you get started, if you just get started on whatever it is you need to write, like a blog post even, then you can have a drink. Everything after that will either solve itself or it won’t, much like the entirety of life, vitiating the need for questions and clearing the way for a drink.
Once you’ve had a...more
Normally, we here at Minicore Studios strive to create weekly blog posts that offer some kind of insight into the video game industry or development cycle of a small studio. This week, we just couldn’t do it. Why? Quite simply: meat coma.
The Minicore Team took a field trip to Franklin BBQ this morning - you know, for team building and such. Some say it’s crazy to wait in line from 9:30am to...more
Whew! What an adventure E3 was! It was such a whirl of excitement I hardly know where to start, so I suppose I’ll just leap in!
I spent the Monday before the expo hall opened watching press conferences and really getting in the mood of the conference, and I thought there were some really interesting looking games. Beyond: Two Souls caught...more
Shelley Smith, Peter Odom, John Warren, Patrick Cunningham
There’s this little thing that happens in Los Angeles every year. You may or may not have heard of it. It’s called the Electronic Entertainment Expo or, sometimes, E3.
The last three days have been chock full of announcements, world premiere trailers, exclusive gameplay footage, and all things gaming. Minicore’s own Elizabeth Salazar was lucky enough to attend - she’s been posting her thoughts and photos to her twitter account...more
Being asked to animate a character seems like it should be a fairly straightforward task. You’ve got a character design drawn on a piece of paper, and you just need to figure out how that design is going to be blessed with movement. After deciding what technically needs to be done with the character, you can generally expect to spend a week sketching the character, sketching the movement that the character is supposed to perform,...more
Michelle Oglesby Cunningham
I remember being in school like it was yesterday. The anticipation of spending a summer lounging around, hanging out with friends, playing games…
Those days are over for us here at Minicore Studios. Instead, we sit for hours making those games we want to play whilst developing hahaha a drinking problem hahahaha. It’s a cool gig, though! We’re pretty excited about everything in our summer pipeline, so we want to share those things with...more
A few weeks back, we decided that it would be fun if we could share more about the main character of Tanks for the Memories, our first game. Dr. Phineas Phraud is such a quirky and interesting character, but you only get a little taste of his wackiness in the game. We had been discussing a webcomic that revolved around the daily grind at a little start-up indie game dev studio, but what about a webcomic tie-in with our newly released game...more
With the recent release of our first game, “Tanks for the Memories”, Shelley asked me to talk about some of the things we learned throughout the process. So after some long and serious debate (note: it was neither long nor serious), I decided to talk about playtesting.
Now we are quite a small studio and are still learning how to do this whole game dev thing. We’re picking it up quickly, but there were three main challenges we ran into...more
Tanks for the Memories – Now Available on Google Play!
Our Dev Team was here until 3:00am last night, but we did it. Our very first game is now live on Google Play – and people have already been downloading it! If you’d like to check it out, you can download Tanks for the Memories – for only $1! – to your Android Device here.
We are in the...more
To give credence to the old saying “better late than never” we are finally getting around to our Post PAX Update. Please forgive us! We’ve been pedal to the metal, all hands on deck, crunching it out, etc, etc ever since our return from Boston. It’s worth it though as you’ll be seeing Tanks for the Memories on Google Play (formerly known as the Android Marketplace) very soon. Like, April 25th, soon.
But back to PAXeast. What an...more
We’re still hard at work at Laika Believes, a fascinating and narrative-rich downloadable PC/console experience. However, our little hands just weren’t busy enough, which is why we’re close to releasing our first mobile outing, Tanks for the Memories.
Tanks casts you as an eccentric psychologist who employs a highly unusual method of treatment. Instead of insightful analysis...more
It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks here at Minicore Studios and it’s only getting busier. We started March with two birthdays (Shelley and Avery have made it another year!) and then we were promptly off to GDC in San Francisco.
Exhibiting at GDC Play and SXSWi Screenburn was not only a blast, but the feedback and conversation was invaluable. We debuted a demo of Tanks for the Memories and couldn’t believe how much fun it was to...more
Between Ocarina, Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Pushmo, the 3DS is looking pretty great right now. Not sure I can vouch for its future in the face of iOS and Android (not to mention the PS Vita once it hits), but it’s a neat little resurrection for the time being. I’m starting to take it with me when I can remember it.
Speaking of things to take with me, anyone looking at the Asus Transformer Prime coming out later this month? My...more
Any season is great for gaming, but the period from mid-November to the beginning of January has always been a quasi-magical gaming stretch for me.
There are just so many great winter-based gaming memories for me. Feeding my Mega Man obsession. Blasting through Shenmue in one weekend with one of my best friends over winter break. My seemingly annual playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. Losing days on end adjusting rosters and gameplans...more
Thanks for visiting our official site! Eventually, the blog will feature information on Minicore’s current and future projects, where and when we’ll appear at conferences around the world, and general observations about the most exciting industry in the world!
Making awesome games is our passion, plain and simple. Let’s start a conversation that’ll last a long, long time.