The first thing I do when people follow me on twitter is grow very self aware.
Will they like my tweets? Will they think I’m humorous? Will they find out the truth about the Arc of the Covenant in my basement? Such things crossed my mind when Kenny Huang, head of the independent game company BlueBat Games, began his (possibly misguided) quest to make sense of my twitter ramblings.
I followed back — it’s what I do — and I found him entertaining. I dug a little further, and found that BlueBat has some games lined up for release.
Boy, I thought to myself, I wish someone would interview them so I knew more about their impending games. Then I realized that this was a great opportunity to “be the change I wanted to see” (I’m like a Ghandi who enjoys wading in blood!)
So, kick your feet up and enjoy as Kenny Huang tells us about
DNF: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.
Kenny Huang: Thank you, the pleasure is all mine!
DNF: BlueBat Games is an interesting name. Where did it come from?
Kenny Huang: We each came up with a list of names that we thought had pop and can convey
fun, we had names such as “Ten Penny Games”, “Pocket Whale Games” and my
favorite “Laser Shark Games”. Later on, we went to our demographic,
collected votes and then picked the name based on that. Some of our names
kind of eliminated themselves when we did a Google search, you wouldn’t
believe some of the stuff that Google search places on its front page. Let’s
just say it’s not suitable for our target audience. Although now that we’ve
associated ourselves with BlueBat Games, we can’t imagine being any other
DNF: How many team members strong are you, and what kind of combined gaming
background do you have?
Kenny Huang: We have 4 core members of production and 2 others on the boring
We come from a console gaming background with 30+ years of combined
experience in the game industry and 20+ AAA console titles to our credit.
We also have a couple of advisors that play in the social gaming space,
because we learned very quickly that social/casual gaming is very different
from the console gaming world.
DNF: You have two upcoming games — can you tell us about iBatu?
Kenny Huang: Technically we have more than 2 upcoming games, there are some games we are
publishing and gamifying for social networks. There’s actually quite a bit
of a difference in social games vs games that go on social networks. The
game mechanics needs to change and that’s where we come in.
iBatU is not really a game as we think of it, it’s a social app played on
the fact that people make friendly bets with each other all the time. We
just wanted to do something that is fun and we get to enjoy using with each
other. Myself and our game designer have 2 bets that are “open” right now
and we’re waiting for the app to be completed so we can track the winner of
those bets. And no, there will be no money involved. If we look at the
classification of these under Facebook directory, it would be “just for fun”
rather than games.
DNF: and MvC?
Kenny Huang: MvC is a play on the tower defense genre. Rather than focusing on the 3D
isometric view collection or building games that have proliferated Facebook,
we wanted a throw back game that looks and feels like a cartoon, especially
the cell-shaded style that we loved when we were kids. We decided to go 2D
cartoon rather than 3D isometric because of market saturation. We combined
the trading cards genre in Pokemon with the tower defense genre and it
really is something that we think will be fun. When we were kids, we used to
love to collect physical trading cards. And now it’s virtual cards that can
be customized, that can be used inside the games to affect game play.
DNF: You list social networks as the platform for both your games. Do you
feel this is a great place to start compared to iOS/Android?
Kenny Huang: Yes. Although in my opinion every developer should be on mobile at some
point. As a starting point though, it is too difficult to compete. I’ve read
somewhere that there are roughly 2K games launched on iOS. And any new indie
game quickly becomes lost in the shuffle. It used to be the case where the
mobile games can get on certain lists easily, but nowadays the big
developers in gaming have essentially bought themselves into those lists.
It’s too hard to compete with the marketing dollars and really kind of
depends on luck. Console development is what we know and what we’re good at,
but as a startup, it’s really not viable for the spend $10M to make $15M
console game production business model. What social networks gives us that
mobile/console cannot is the ability to target certain demographics with
advertisement and a relatively low CAC. More importantly, the network itself
allows and encourages the participation/invitation of new players, which
gives us a little bit more control at monitoring our k-factor and user
incubation time while tweaking game mechanics.
Definitely as a startup, the odds are always stacked against us, but we
feel that social games at least gives us a slightly higher odds at the
DNF: The game market is fierce. What do you feel sets BlueBat Games apart
from what’s out there now?
Kenny Huang: The game industry is fierce for sure. What sets us apart is our industry
experience as we have seen and have been involved in so many hits and
misses. There are also some tenants in game design that we feel some of the
lesser experienced don’t understand. In general, game developers want to
innovate, as do we, but in a controlled type of calculated innovation. For
example, we are bringing a different type of game play and genre into social
gaming, but not an outright nobody has seen this before in games type of
innovation. Our artwork is a throwback and different than what’s currently
out in social gaming, but again, not something that nobody has done in
gaming. There is a triad of game design and we understand it well enough to
not break out of it too much.
DNF: Do you think that the gaming industry is balanced to accommodate the
ever-growing society of independent developers?
Kenny Huang: I think the game industry is dominated by big bullies, lol. I think the
problem with independent developers is that it’s too hard to market their
games as they just don’t have enough resources. As well, a quality game
needs a group of talents in different facets and again, it’s very hard for
the indies to have enough resources to acquire the talent they need. I’d
love for the indies to thrive, as a lot of us veterans are definitely tired
of what goes on in the bigger studio. I think a way for the indies to
compete more effectively is to collaborate more. Instead of everyone doing
their own ideas and their own games, they should collaborate in a way so
that they have a slightly bigger team with more variety and the necessary
talents. It requires someone to delay their idea a little while for the good
of the team, but I think it would benefit the quality of the games. The
other facets is funding, we’re in a fund raising round at the moment and
we’ve been working really hard at finding enough funding for us to have a
viable chance at competing. It is very tough as investors sees games as
something very binary, either a hit or a miss. I’d love to see a sort of
fund, incubator, accelerator type program for indie developers that can help
put together the talents and provide some support.
DNF: What games are in the future from BlueBat Games?
Kenny Huang: Well, we’ve got a few small games that we will be publishing. MvC is in
full production. We do have another game in very early concepts that we
think would be crazy fun! The scope is bigger and it’s not something we want
to tackle right away as it is too risky to pump that much resources into it.
Let’s just say we almost named the company “Laser Shark” because of the
DNF: Recently there was a riot in Vancouver. Why did you start it?
Kenny Huang: Oh what shame, was I caught on camera? I wasn’t anywhere near the riot when
it happened. I was so embarrassed by it, but I’m really glad they were able
to catch some of the perpetrators through social media. Vancouver is really
a beautiful place and a great place, honest.
DNF: Thank you for your time today.
Kenny Huang: Thank you Donald! Again, the pleasure is all mine!
And people who really want to be “in the know” when it comes to all things BlueBat should like them on Facebook — that site looks like it’s going places — and always be sure to visit their website. Thanks again to Kenny and all the members of BlueBat games!Tweet