Novy News | Winter 2014 | Vol 1 No 4 | Novy Unlimited

Novy Unlimited (site)
Welcome to the fourth edition of Novy News!

This is the most recent quarterly update from your groovy friends at Novy. As always, this little newsletter will give us an opportunity to . . . 
  • provide more background on who we are and what we do (and why you're reading this)
  • brag (ad nauseum) about recent projects from our clients 
  • let you in on a few game industry secrets
  • share some brutally honest advice
  • update you on what's been going on over here during the past three months -- and give you a preview (or just a whiff!) of what's on the horizon
This issue features: Novy team news, Celtic Heroes, Blob Climber, Agent, Run!, Highlands, Help Me Jack, The House on Usher, Necklace of Skulls, A-Maze-In, Bunnies' Empire, Governor of Poker 3, Vimala, I Love Pasta, Ascent: The Space Game, Momentum, Breach TD, Archmage Rises -- and a blog post from Blane Humphries. 

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Hope you enjoy the news!

- Jeannie Novak & Luis Levy (Co-Conspirators)
. . . and the Novy team
Novy PR (web site)
Bursting at the Seams: Now We Are Nine!
Since our last newsletter, Novy has undergone a second growth spurt (more like going supernova), and we've made quite a number of updates to our Novy PR site -- including client pages and blog posts. As always, we include links to pages on our site when appropriate throughout this newsletter -- so check them out!

Our marketing and consulting services have expanded to include ongoing playthroughs, community building . . . and even production (including music, voiceover, and trailer creation). Contact us if you want to browse through our new service menus :)

We also have some brand new additions to our growing team:

* Blane Humphries (Social Media Coordinator): Blane has a background in game journalism and professional communications. He began his gaming adventures in the mid ’90s with games such as Westwood’s Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. Since then, his preferences have ranged from Triple-A to the most obscure indies you can think of. After graduating with honors from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Public Relations, Blane became an active member of the game industry by writing about indie games professionally and freelancing as a PR professional.

* Stephen Vulpitta (Community Management Coordinator): Stephen is a “jack of all trades” when it comes to community management, social media, marketing strategies, and web development. Prior to Novy, Stephen volunteered his services to Kickstarter games to help develop  and manage their online presence --  including social media. He has worked in both PC gaming and mobile, and he's another Novy team member with a keen eye for bug finding! His game of choice is DotA2 :)

* Alan Katana (Production Coordinator): Alan started playing games in the early days of the Sega Master System with Alex Kidd . . . and has never stopped.  Now, more than 20 years and thousands of games later, he is ready to make his mark on the world of gaming through his other passion: art.  After graduating with a B.A. in Media Production and being somewhat unsure of what career path to pursue, Alan found the creative side of PR.  With some short films, tons of illustrations, a few websites and other creative projects under his belt, he's ready to break into the industry full force.  As for games, Alan can currently be found playing World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Terraria and Rogue Legacy.

We're pleased to welcome Blane, Stephen, and Alan to our team -- joining Drew Utterback (Account Coordinator), Cat Wendt (Marketing Coordinator), Grace Lim (PR Coordinator) and Aaron Goldman (Tech Coordinator)! For more info on our team, see our Meet the Team section on our site!
Celtic Heroes
Celebrating the Season . . . the Celtic Way!
Winter is here -- and One Thumb Mobile (OTM) really knows how to get the season in gear! The UK studio is currently running a Yule event and expansion (Into the Maelstrom) in its popular mobile MMO, Celtic Heroes. If that wasn't enough, there's a special "12 Days of Christmas" login rewards campaign starting on December 25th that will stuff players' stockings with daily presents -- including a  special gift on Dec 25 and Jan 1 that will give players a chance to win mount-type luxury wings and Yule instruments.

OTM has been busy during the past few months. In addition to releasing the festive Yule expansion, the studio also announced a Samhain (Web of Urchaid) event just in time for Halloween. OTM hasn't stopped there, however: The studio recently updated its iOS client with the "Destiny engine," a quantum leap in mobile MMO graphics that allows for dynamic lighting, improved shadows, and hundreds of new animations. Finally, Executive Producer Paul Simon was recently interviewed by James Brightman of
GamesIndustry International about free-to-play and other challenges faced by mobile games. He had this to say about it: "Discoverability is likely to remain the biggest challenge (for mobile developers). While it can be a curse, it can also be a blessing -- since an indie studio with a really great game can be just as successful as a massive publisher that has for the most part still only dipped their toes into the marketplace because the pace of change is so fast." Nice quote, Paul! 

Read more about One Thumb Mobile and Celtic Heroes (iOS/Android) 
Agent, Run!
"Shaken . . . Not Stirred"
Austrian "dynamic duo" Matthias Maschek (AgentDroid) and Wolfgang Knecht (pixelclash) have earned their "license to thrill" with the endless runner, Agent, Run! With plenty of nods to 007, the game features notorious villain Professor E. Vil and his (patent-pending!) "Doomsday Machine" -- along with a variety of obstacles that would tickle every Bond fan's funny bone (including shark tanks, irradiated rooms, mustachioed bad guys, menacing guard dogs, and falling logs).

Agent, Run! was named one of the top 10 Android games of the week by Android & Me -- and it received reviews from 
Arcade Sushi (8/10), 148 Apps (4/5), and Mac Sources (4/5). The game was also covered in
 Pocket Gamer, Android Rundown, Gaming Cypher and PadGadget. Read more about AgentDroid, pixelclash, and Agent, Run! (iOS/Android) here.
Strategic Warfare High in the Sky
Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky -- and with elements reminiscent of the classic strategy game, Risk -- Highlands is a turn-based strategy game that takes place on a group of islands floating high above the clouds.  The atmosphere may be breathtaking, but the setup involves a battle for survival: After a royal family is overthrown by an army of bots and mercenaries, the player must "reclaim the throne" by expertly managing resources, leveling up characters, and deploying units to build up the resistance. 

Developed by Canada's Burrito Studio, Highlands exceeded its $20,000 CAN Kickstarter goal and was covered in Indie Game Mag, The Gaming Ground, Gamers Hell, Gaming Cypher, MPOGD, and Girls on Games
Read more about Burrito Studio and Highlands (PC) here.
Help Me Jack: Atomic Adventure
Hacking & Slashing . . . with Science!
When the world is on the brink of destruction, who do you call? Security Manager JACK, of course. Help Me Jack: Atomic Adventure is all about cleanup -- nuclear cleanup, that is. With Jack's help, you have to rescue the scientists and clean up PEB radiation spewing from evil mutants roaming the nearly destroyed planet -- hacking and slashing until the cows come home. The console-like title delivers an incredibly polished action-adventure experience featuring AAA-like 3D graphics and hack-and-slash combat unlike anything else on mobile. Everything is top-notch -- including gameplay, graphics, music, sound effects, and story. 

Help Me Jack: Atomic Adventure received the prestigious 'Silver Award' and a score of 8 out of 10 from Pocket Gamer. Developed by Korea's NHN Entertainment (formerly Hangame) in cooperation with its US (Santa Monica) division, Help Me Jack also received
 4 out of 5 from Mac Sources
 and has been featured by Gaming Cypher, Android Guys, and Inside Mobile Apps. Read more about NHN Entertainment and Help Me Jack (iOS/Android) here.
The House on Usher
Adventures in Real Estate
If any of the teams on Flip this House tackled The House on Usher, they would meet the challenge . . . of their lives! So when noob realtor Agent Angie Dee is confronted with this ramshackle home during her first day on the job, the task seems downright impossible. The House on Usher's unique take on the hidden object genre features a house that is more than meets the eye. Frozen in time, the dilapidated abode is trapped in the '70s -- and the "groovy" soundtrack featuring a "wah wah" guitar pedal lends to the atmosphere. The abandoned residence also reeks of "impending doom" -- with cobwebs galore and mounds of discarded objects just waiting to crash down on bystanders. After some time, the interior begins to resemble a lost episode of A&E's Hoarders! Make no mistake about the Edgar Allan Poe title reference: This house is creepy :)

The House on Usher received high scores from Gaming Cypher (4.5/5) and Mac Sources (4/
5). The game has also been covered in Touch My Apps, Android Rundown, and Inside Mobile Apps. Read more about Red Aphid Games and The House on Usher (iOS/Android) here.
Blob Climber
Blob vs the Volcano (Lab)
Tap, swipe, and hold! Lone developer Bruce Fournier of Good Goblin Games has created a mobile game that incorporates all three touch-driven in-game actions in Blob Climber -- a game that centers around helping a sentient Blob escape from a volcano lab. Yes -- there will be lava! In addition to the challenging core gameplay, the game also ships with three alternative modes (bounceTASTIC, jetTASTIC, and ENDLESS) plus 60 random floors with more than 20 obstacles and traps.

Novy is proud to announce that the trailer for Blob Climber (which has been shared by GoCaliber Gaming, Capsule Computers and Game Mob) was developed internally -- with the help of Tom Chang. The final edit and soundtrack to the initial story portion were created by Jeannie Novak -- and some additional tweaks were made by Novy's newest team member, Alan Katana. Blob Climber received a score of 4 out of 5 from Gaming Cypher and has been covered in Indie Game News, Mac Sources, Gamers Intuition and MPOGD.

Read more about Good Goblin Games and Blob Climber (iOS/Android) here.
Necklace of Skulls
Sitting Down with a Good (Game)book
"Play a book; read a game." That's the intriguing proposition from Barcelona's Cubus Games, a developer that specializes in the fascinating world of digital gamebooks -- a hybrid of non-linear gameplay and storytelling that provides players (or readers) with a new twist on two distinct media. Inspired by the "choose your own adventure" gamebooks from the 1980s, Cubus has created quite a line-up. . . and the studio's Mayan horror fantasy, Necklace of Skulls, is no exception. Based on Dave Morris' analog gamebook of the same name, Necklace of Skulls takes the player/reader on a wild ride into the depths of Mayan civilization -- incorporating sophisticated strategy elements rather than dice throws. 

Necklace of Skulls received Pocket Gamer's 'Bronze Award' and was named  one of the best Android games of the month by Pocket Meta. The gamebook was also reviewed in Touch Arcade (4/5) and App Apes (9.5/10) -- and it was covered in Pocket Tactics, Game Mob, Inside Mobile Apps, Mac Hash, The Gaming Ground, Hardcore Gamer, Indie Game News and Gaming Cypher. Read more about Cubus Games and Necklace of Skulls (iOS/Android) 
The Kraken Gets Released (Along with Some Noxious Gas)
Mythology has never been this fun! Canada's Marobi Entertainment (Manu Boulay and Rob Pitman) have created A-Maze-In -- a whimsical mix of Pac-Man, Gauntlet, and creatures from Greek mythology. Mino the Minotaur (our hero) must rescue his other half, Mina, from the clutches of a villainous (and less-progressive) Minotaur. To do this, Mino must run through a series of mazes and use his supreme farting and belching powers to fight off evil creatures such as Hydra, Medusa, Cerberus the Hellhound . . . and of course, fan favorite (and end-level boss) the Kraken!

Would you like to wake up to see a 
Mino plushie under your tree? Well, it won't happen this year -- but if you like what you see, feel free to convince the team to move forward with a run. Novy is more than ready to put down a few bucks for some plushie collectibles (as long as there aren't any "smell effects" involved)!  A-Maze-In has received high review scoress from Gaming Cypher (4.5/5) and Mac Sources (4/5) -- and it has been covered in App Advice, Inside Mobile Apps and BioGamer GirlRead more about Marobi Entertainment and A-Maze-In (iOS) here.
Bunnies' Empire
Outfoxing the Fox Clan
Canadian developer Dominic Hamelin-Blais single-handedly created Bunnies' Empire -- a frantic horticultural war zone complete with greedy foxes and heavily-armed bunnies. This is hardcore, cutthroat bunny action this side of Watership Down! An homage to Plants vs. ZombiesBunnies' Empire brings a refreshing twist to the tower defense genre. This fast-paced, beautifully drawn tower defense game has 12 upgradable units and more than 90 levels spread across 4 distinct environments. Relying heavily on strategy and resource management, players assemble teams of highly skilled bunny operatives to defend their gardens from wave after wave of enemies. 

Bunnies' Empire received a score of 4 out of 5 from Mac Sources and has been covered in MPOGD, Inside Mobile Apps, The Gaming Ground, Mac Hash, and BioGamer Girl
Read more about Dominic Hamelin-Blais Games and Bunnies' Empire (iOS/Android) 
Governor of Poker 3
Put on Your Poker Face
There's a new player in town: Governor of Poker 3 - Multiplayer. You guessed it: This is the third installment in the Governor of Poker franchise . . . and it offers a much-anticipated multiplayer component! Netherlands studio Youdagames has outdone itself with a fun and engaging game that breathes new life into the mobile poker scene. Player choice is mind-blowing, with every table setup imaginable: 5-hands, 8-hands, turbo, heads-up . . . and royal poker, push or fold. Try 'em all -- and put your poker skills to the test. Governor of Poker 3 - Multiplayer has avatar customization, clever achievements -- and even a welcome package with chips, gold and hats. 

Published by Mytopia, the game has received a score of 4 out of 5 from Mac Sources and has been covered in Gaming Cypher, Gamers FTW, MPOGD, Pocket, and Inside Mobile Apps. 
Read more about Youdagames, Mytopia, and Governor of Poker 3 (iOS/Android) here.
The Swapper
'Tis the Season for Sharing . . . 
Novy is excited about working with Space Rhino Games -- which exceeded its $35,000 Kickstarter goal this past summer. The studio's upcoming game, Breach TD, is a mix of tower defense, MOBA and real-time strategy -- and it's based on the popular StarCraft II mod (Squad TD) designed by Tyler Johnson . . . who just happens to be Breach TD's lead designer! This past week marked the beginning of an ongoing Breach TD sharing campaign -- featuring concept art, trailers, animated GIFs, gameplay footage, blog posts, and more. (BTW - The friendly guy above is Orsus, who has been known to proclaim: "I am Orsus, the cold wind harbinger -- and I will end you!") 
Space Rhino is the first game development studio to receive tax incentives from the Puerto Rican Film Commission -- the studio was recently featured in a GamesIndustry International piece. Congratulations to the Space Rhino team! 

Read more about Space Rhino Games and Breach TD here
Vimala: Defense Warlords
Cloudy with a Chance of Acid Rain
Inspired by classic PlayStation-era strategy game, BrigandineVimala: Defense Warlords (from Indonesia's MassHive Media) offers a brand new take on the tower defense genre -- combining resource management, combat, items, strategy . . . and  a weather system that alerts players to oncoming acid rain, snowstorms, volcanic rain, and even miasma! The art style skews toward the anime spectrum, with bright colors and lots of attention to detail. The music score is epic in scope and rather catchy: Expect to have it stuck in your head for days on end! 

Vimala: Defense Warlords has been named one of the year's best mobile games out of Asia by Tech in Asia -- and the game  received a perfect 5 out of 5 from Gaming Cypher and a 4 out of 5 from Mac Sources. The game has also been covered in Technology Tell, Inside Mobile Apps, The Gaming Ground, Game Revolution, and AppSpy. Read more about MassHive Media and Vimala: Defense Warlords (iOS) here.
I Love Pasta
Kitchen Nightmares into Dreams
The sequel to the highly successful I Love Coffee (LINE), Korean developer PATI Games' I Love Pasta takes players out of the coffeehouse and into an authentic Italian ristorante . . . complete with the romantic gondolas of Venice, cranky customers, and ingredients that look -- well, let's just say uber-realistic! Customers ingest oodles of noodles in record time, as players exercise their restaurant management skills to keep up with mounting orders. Lucy and Ethel thought it was difficult to keep up with the conveyor belt during their stint at the candy factory -- but that episode of I Love Lucy has nothing on I Love Pasta!

PATI Games' restaurant simulation game received a score of 4/5 from Mac Sources and has been covered in Gaming Cypher, Inside Mobile Apps, Gamer Girls Unite . . . and yes, even Hardcore Gamer -- which proclaimed "I Love Pasta is a thing"! The studio also ran a login rewards and social sharing giveaway during launch -- with ILP-branded USB sticks, an iPhone 6 and even a Prada wallet as prizes :) 
Read more about PATI Games and I Love Pasta (iOS/Android) here.
Your Moment of Zen
Salt Lake City students Kelly Harper and Isaac Harper teamed up to form Projectile Entertainment. Their first effort, Momentum, is a solid 3D physics platformer that involves manipulating a series of labyrinths to guide a sphere toward its destination. Artist/programmer Kelly and composer Isaac do an amazing job of creating just the right ambience -- putting players into a 'flow' state. But there's a paradox in motion: Just as the relaxation sets in, it becomes clear that gravity must be mastered . . . or the sphere could fall off its tracks. Throw in a quirky hamster ball, and it becomes clear that there's more at play here. 

Kelly participated in a funny-strange interview/Let's Play combo with Action Soup Studios (yes - there's an acronym!). The game was covered in Worth Playing, Hardcore Gamer, Gamers Hell, GamersFTW, MPOGD, GameTrailers, Indie Game Mag, Dark Side of Gaming, BioGamer Girl, The Gaming Ground, and Game Revolution. Momentum is currently on 
Steam Greenlight, so mosey on over and cast your vote! A playable demo is available if you're interested in checking it out. Read more about Projectile Entertainment and Momentum (PC) here.
Ascent: The Space Game
Space Gets a Whole New Look
In our Fall 2014 newsletter, we brought you up to speed on Ascent: The Space Game -- an ambitious MMO developed by Australia's Fluffy Kitten Studios (solo programmer James Hicks and business partner Chris Mitchell). At that time, the studio's Kickstarter campaign was well underway and had already met more than half of its funding goal after just seven days. We're happy to report that Ascent: The Space Game exceeded its $35,000 AUD Kickstarter goal -- and the team is now hard at work bringing the new and improved game (with the help of a new artist and UI designer) to its 2,000+ player base. 

During the Kickstarter campaign, James Hicks of Fluffy Kitten was interviewed in Cliqist -- and the game was covered in Massively/Joystiq, OnRPG, GameTrailers, Indie Game News, MMOhuts, Gamers Hell, MPOGD, Gaming Cypher, Space Game Junkie, The Gaming Ground, Gamers Sphere, The Bit Pulse, GamersFTW, and Hardcore Gamer
Ascent is currently on Steam Greenlight, so check it out and lend your support! Browser-based and time-limited PC versions are available for free. Read more about Fluffy Kitten Studios and Ascent: The Space Game (PC) here.
Archmage Rises
Blogging Has Its Rewards
In our Fall 2014 newsletter, we introduced you to developer Thomas Henshell of Defiance Game Studio -- who successfully kicked off his own community-building campaign through a series of thoughtful and insightful Gamasutra blog posts. We mentioned that his first post -- about why he decided to abandon mobile development in favor of PC -- received more than 200 comments and resulted in more than 700 views of his mobile game's trailer, 1,000 views of his new PC game's teaser, 200 sessions on his web site, 100 new subscribers to his newsletter, and a slew of Facebook likes and Twitter followers. We also revealed that this same blog post caught the attention of a "major PC manufacturer who is interested in supporting the development of Thomas' upcoming game, Archmage Rises." Now we can spill the beans, so to speak -- and let you know that it was Michael Dell whose interest was "piqued" by Thomas' blog! After sharing it with the folks at Alienware, the manufacturer contacted Thomas -- who is now getting free equipment and promotional support from the company. Since then, things have been moving quickly for Thomas -- and he's been sharing the news all the way. For a while, Thomas maintained a weekly Gamasutra ritual that contained words of wisdom -- along with updates on the development of Archmage Rises, and thoughts about development in general. (He's even brought in guest bloggers -- including artist Rogier van de Beek and composer James Marantette.) Topics have included everything from game design inspiration (Sid Meier's Pirates!), sales tips from his "previous life" as a sale professional, setting realistic deadlines, balancing game development with family . . . oh, and making butternut squash soup (recipe included).

To read more of Thomas Henshell's updates, check out his Gamasutra blog
Novy Blog
Novy Know-How
We're proud to announce that Blane Humphries, one of the newest additions to our team, has written an in-depth article for the Novy blog focusing on six important things he learned as a video game journalist. Here's just a taste of Blane's informative (and very entertaining) blog post:

Imagine you started to push your game on November 11, 2014. This is a bad idea for anyone—not just an indie developer.


Halo: The Master Chief Collection just launched, and it’s taking up a good chunk of the gaming community’s time.

Knowing when to push your game is just as important as planning the actual release. You don’t want to be overshadowed because you launched on the same day as one of the most anticipated games of the year.

Drew Utterback has also posted Part 4 of his series on how to build your own game marketing plan. This installment focuses on how to create multiple revenue streams based on key indicators.

Check out the 
Novy blog for these and other tasty treats!
What's Next? We've got some exciting social media, community management, launches, Steam Greenlight, Kickstarter and some cool cross-platform campaigns on the horizon -- along with our annual "report from the trenches" from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Brace yourself for more juicy news from Novy. Enjoy your winter hibernation . . . and we'll see you again after spring has sprung :)
 Novy Unlimited, Inc. and its divisions (including Novy PR) is a product of jeannie NOvak and luis leVY, its co-conspirators. Launched in 2011, Novy PR is the first marketing and public relations firm to focus exclusively on indie game projects. Novy News is written and edited by Jeannie Novak. Thanks for reading :)

Oh -- and in case you missed it: Our Fall 2014 issue (featuring Etherlords, The Great Prank War, Speedy Pups, Letter Hero, Battle for the Galaxy, Iconic, and The Swapper) is available for your perusal! 
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