Oklahoma Christian University Rated One Of The Top Game SchoolsI am a month late to the party, but this is news that is too big to miss out on. Last month, the Princeton Review in conjunction with PC Gamer put together a list of what they deemed the best schools in the nation when it comes to their game design programs. Of the 25 ranked schools on that list, only one school from Oklahoma made it, Oklahoma Christian University.

Coming in at number 14, Oklahoma Christians program in Game Design and Animation shows the great state of Oklahoma to be a growing source of quality and talented game designers and artists. According to the methodology on the award, Oklahoma Christian University beat well over 100 schools in the US and around the world for its spot on the list.

In a press release published in announcement of this award, Jeff Price, associate professor of art and design, had this to say:

Being selected as one of the top 30 schools in the country for game design education is a great honor for Oklahoma Christian. We not only train our students to think creatively, but give them the technical skills to be highly sought-after recruits in the professional game development industry. We are fortunate to have such a supportive administration and talented gaming and animation students.

While OC is not the only school in Oklahoma offering game related courses and degrees, it is something special to have a top ranked school in the state. This is in spite of having merely a fledgling industry presence. With the knowledge of this school’s performance, we hope to see a coming surge of talented developers and studios coming to light in the coming years.

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Casino RPG Launches TodayCasino RPG has finally made it out of beta and has released its full version to the public. Developed by Goldfire Studios, Casino RPG is the first gaming Kickstarter success from Oklahoma.

We have followed development on Casino RPG since its Kickstarter and are excited that it has reached this point. Now it is up to Goldfire to maintain the success they have had so far.

Now it is time for you to check it out and play it. It is free to play, just set up an account on the Goldfire Network and get started.

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Easy and Affordable Custom DiceOne of the latest Oklahoma Kickstarter surprises happened this past week. After publishing our April 7th crowdfunding report, a new campaign popped up, one for a service that creates custom six-sided game dice. Within days, this campaign was well on its way to success. By the end of its first week, it was completely funded.

What really got my attention with this campaign was its relationship to games I have worked on recently. As a developer under Divine Knight Gaming, my March One Game A Month project was a computerized board game. This game, if made physical, could really benefit from a set of custom dice. Another game I am working on, Demon’s Hex, also uses a set of custom game dice or more accurately a spinner for many of its features.

While those are both video games, the very thought of making dice based games had me excited to see this project. Now that it has already been successful at reaching its goal, the creators are already thinking about where to take it next via stretch goals. Even without the stretch goals, the campaign is already a great success. There are already a wide variety of designs shown off on the campaign page and in updates. It is well worth checking out and supporting. For only $12 you can get 6 custom dice, a great deal.

We are very excited by this latest crowdfunding success and look forward to seeing how it inspires the tabletop and board game communities locally and around the world.

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crowdfunding Indiegogo Kickstarter

Every Monday, We link to the crowdfunding pages of games from Oklahoma developers and other interesting crowdfunding projects from Oklahomans. Music, comics, table-top games and more. If it might be of interest to gamers and game developers we will show them off.

Here is the primary list of crowdfunding campaigns:

Currently Funding:

Duel of Heroes by Totally Awesome Games. A fantasy trading card MMO with RPG elements blended in. TAG moved the game to IndieGogo and has adjusted the amount they are seeking. They are seeking $10,000 and have raised $182 with 23 days left. This game really needs your support to happen.

AIM 8bit Playing Cards by Kamau Exom. This playing card deck takes on an “8bit” theme. The images on them are a 2d/3d hybrid style. They are seeking $8,000 and have raised $2,911 with 13 days left.

New Campaign:

Custom Game Dice by Custom Game Lab. This project allows backers to design their own six-sided dice for anything they want. This campaign will allow the creator to continue offering custom dice in the future. They are seeking $20,000 and have raised $17,379 with 27 days left.

That’s it for this week. I will be sure to keep you posted on the progress of these and any new ones that pop up.

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Digital TutorsToday we learned that Oklahoma City based multimedia training company Digital Tutors has been acquired by Utah based PluralSight for $45 million. This acquisition is the latest in a string of purchases made by PluralSight to expand its training program.

According to the TechCrunch report on the acquisition:

With the Digital-Tutors purchase, PluralSight adds a suite of 1,500 courses focused on media and design to its already formidable array of online training tools for professional developers. The company now boasts over 3,000 training modules in its catalog.

It’s the latest shot in the battle for dominance in the market for software training content – a sector that is increasingly consolidating around larger, better-funded companies.

Along with the acquisition, Digital-Tutors chief executive and founder Piyush Patel will join PluralSight as senior vice president of creative operations.

This is great news for Digital Tutors as they have created a wonderful product and this will allow them to continue doing so for many long years to come.

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Blue Beacon by Adam MoweryAbout two weeks ago, Adam Mowery launched his latest XBLIG game Blue Beacon. This latest game is a side scrolling platformer featuring a protagonist going up against an army of bugs. The game features a variety of bug themed powerups to aid you in your quest.

The game is available for purchase now for $1 on the XBox 360 Indie Game Marketplace and also for Windows PCs. Adam is currently working on a PSVita build of the game as well. Continue Reading

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I was unable to attend the first ever Super! Bitcon recently. I really wanted to go but just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Thankfully, the great guys with Retro Gamers Society filmed and published the highlight, at least for me, the Game Development Panel. In this panel we had James Simpson and Luke Simkins of Goldfire Studios and Matt Harmon of Bonozo Apps answering questions and discussing a number of topics revolving around game development.

Starting off the discussion, Luke and James spoke about their efforts to unify the game industry in the state. They have worked to create a game developers group found at OKGD.org. This is the group that holds the Monthly Meetups. They have been doing this because there is no big game development scene in the state. Those interested in game development are scattered across the state and it is necessary for us to have regular networking meetups.

As for what the best path is for getting into gaming, the panelists agree that the best way to start is to just make games. Matt expressed that you have to have a passion too. You can’t just approach it casually and hope to be successful. They also name drop Oklahoma Christian University, one of the top rated schools in the US for game development programs.

Super! BitCon Game Development Panelists: James Simpson, Luke Simkins, Matt HarmonThey have also expressed support for several do-it-yourself style learning opportunities such as Digital Tutors and Code Academy. You can also begin with plug and play game engines such as Unity to help you get started.

They next went into a discussion of what it takes, emotionally, to work in games. Luke and James told of their experiences trying to promote their game Casino RPG and being faced with vitriol from people who hate free to play games with a passion.

The conversation then went to Kickstarter and running a crowdfunding campaign. James and Luke both successfully funded Casino RPG through Kickstarter. In this portion, the conversation was around how you will need to really work on your marketing skills to succeed.

When it comes to game ideas, you really have to put some work into making sure it is the right one. James suggested putting your idea on the back burner for while and then revisiting it months or so later and checking if you are still excited about it. If you are, then you should go with it. Matt responded about how you shouldn’t be ambitious with your idea. You should scale back on some of the extraneous stuff and bringing it back down to something feasible.

On the topic of polish and releasing games, Matt and James had a bit of a disagreement. James is an advocate for releasing early to win fans while Matt expressed the idea that you should wait until your game is ready and perfect. This was a very interesting part of the conversation. There are certainly pros and cons to both sides of the debate.

Finally, the conversation closed with a question about building a team and how such a team should find a leader. When it comes to finding team members, it is a matter of connecting with other like minded game developers. When it comes to leading, Matt expressed a need to have a clear leader. Without one, he feels that a team might not make it. Luke on the other hand talks about how a creative process needs mutual respect among the team and that a single person or group of persons who try to build themselves up could be detrimental to the creative process.

All and all, it was a great panel and well worth watching. These are the kinds of events that are great for building the games industry in Oklahoma. We hope to see more of these panels in the future.

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Retro Gamers Society Presents: Super! BitConBefore the convention was even halfway over attendees already anticipated returning next year to SUPER! BitCon held in Oklahoma City, OK. Organized by the Retro Gamers Society, SUPER! BitCon served as fundraiser, meetup, flea market, and festival to the gaming public. And though centered on classic gaming, and video gaming in particular, the event was no less welcoming to gaming of all varieties at the event.

Show FloorHeld at the Oklahoma State Fair Park’s Hobbies, Arts and Crafts Building, nearly the entire floor space was populated by numerous vendors and exhibitors displaying a plethora of games, consoles, accessories, memorabilia, art, and crafts for browsing and purchase while attendees mingled, shared, and played throughout the day.

Bands on StageAlong the outskirts of the central exhibit floor was a side stage where bands played throughout the morning and afternoon, a room hosting panels and presentations throughout the entire event, and another room serving as an arcade for attendees to play pinball, arcade games, or a few current generation fighting games all for free.

Salamander GamesYet not to be overshadowed in such a digital gaming environment was a curtained portion of the hall devoted to tabletop gaming inhabited by the local gaming shop Game HQ, Inc., the Oklahoma Go Players Association, and the Oklahoma Tabletop Gamers Society encouraging and helping attendees to play various tabletop games from their library as local tabletop gaming company Salamander Games introduced passersbys to their latest projects.

Table Top GamingWith so much ongoing activity occurring one could easily lose track of time, perhaps missing out on a few panels such as the game development panel hosted by the team-up of James Simpson and Luke Simkins from Goldfire Studios with Matt Harmon of Bonzo Apps to share their experiences, advice, and speculations on game development and the gaming industry. Yet the Retro Gamers Society has thankfully posted their recording of these panels on their Youtube page.

Nintendo OkieAnd even as traffic wound down and exhibitors were slowly packing away their wares as the sun began to set, festivities continued into the night as further panels continued such as the Nintendo Okie podcast hosting a game centric quiz show, musical group Tip Top Secrets serenading the evening attendees, and both the free play arcade and tabletop gaming room still open for play before the bittersweet closing comments ending the convention.

And whether an attendee remained til the end of the convention or left early, many of them had already decided to return next year. Until then, the staff of Oklahoma Game Development hopes to catch up with the RGS at a later date for a post con interview and plans they have for next year.

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crowdfunding Indiegogo Kickstarter

Every Monday, We link to the crowdfunding pages of games from Oklahoma developers and other interesting crowdfunding projects from Oklahomans. Music, comics, table-top games and more. If it might be of interest to gamers and game developers we will show them off.

Here is the primary list of crowdfunding campaigns:

Funding Cancelled:

Kingdoms of Erden Playing Cards by Timothy Olinger. Timothy has returned to the world of Erden, this time with a custom deck of playing cards. Timothy is seeking $6,000 and raised $1,980 before cancelling the campaign. He plans on relaunching the campaign at some point.

Currently Funding:

Duel of Heroes by Totally Awesome Games. A fantasy trading card MMO with RPG elements blended in. TAG moved the game to IndieGogo and has adjusted the amount they are seeking. They are seeking $10,000 and have raised $181 with 30 days left. This game really needs your support to happen.

AIM 8bit Playing Cards by Kamau Exom. This playing card deck takes on an “8bit” theme. The images on them are a 2d/3d hybrid style. They are seeking $8,000 and have raised $2,814 with 19 days left.

That’s it for this week. I will be sure to keep you posted on the progress of these and any new ones that pop up.

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Casino RPG by Goldfire StudiosCasino RPG is coming. Goldfire Studios has announced that Casino RPG will be exiting Beta and making its full debut on April 16. This is just two weeks away. This is the capstone of the significant progress the game has made over the last couple of years.

In February 2013, Goldfire successfully finished the Casino RPG Kickstarter. Since then, the game has been in active development. In September of 2013, they launched the official Beta for the game. During that time, they regularly provided new updates, features and bug fixes. Now they are ready to pull it out of that development phase and focus on what is next. Continue Reading

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