… there is also love in the world. (Stephen Donaldson)
Well, we’ve been up on Kickstarter and Greenlight for two weeks now. Halfway there for Kickstarter anyway. We’re just a smidgen over 60 percent funded and just about 50 percent of the way to the top hundred on Greenlight!
We’re one hundred percent of the way to building a community. Which, whatever happens, is a wonderful and unexpected bonus to this crazy ride. I was overwhelmed by the love from our friends, family and the local games industry last week, but this week I’m blown away by the awesome folk from all over the world who’re supporting us and spreading the word!
Considering all the love and support that’s been flowing in, I’m kind of embarrassed about how nervous I was about putting Ninja Pizza Girl up on Greenlight. There was an article on Polygon this week about the harassment of women in the games industry. I love Polygon, and I love that they’re willing to talk about this stuff, because it happens and it shouldn’t. But it worries me. I’m scared that girls will read it and be scared away from the industry. I know this happens, because I was really nervous about putting the game on steam as a direct result of reading so many negative articles about women putting games on steam and being harassed. Instead I’ve found the Steam Community to be welcoming and friendly 🙂 Particularly other indies, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive. (By the way, I wholeheartedly recommend #indiedevhour to other indies. Its at 4 on Thursday mornings in Australia, which is a bit unfortunate, but well worth the lost sleep.)
I’m sure a lot of female developers have a positive experience with Greenlight, but we’re not hearing their stories. It can’t be right to focus solely on the negatives, can it? I’ve worked in the games industry for a long time now. I’ve got my fair share of horror stories, and I’m guilty as anyone of sharing them for shock value, or just because they make amusing anecdotes. (Did I tell you about the porn drive at my old workplace?) But they account for maybe 3 percent of my total experience in the games industry. Mostly it’s been about making games well, hanging out with people I really like and being able to wear comfortable shoes to work.
I’m often asked how I feel about our daughters potentially working in the games industry. Am I scared for them? Would I prefer they choose an easier life?
Let me tell you about Violet, our youngest. Violet never walks on footpaths. If there is a nice wide smooth path from A to B, surrounded by rocks and mud, or urban obstacles, Violet will be scrambling over the rocks, or leaping from ledge to ledge beside it. She’s not a gifted parkour-er either, she falls hard and often. She’s broken her arm twice already, once from tripping over an obstacle that was only 10 cm high.
When I first held my firstborn in my arms, I hoped with all my being that I could protect her from the all life’s hurts. I was crushed the first time she got sick, the first time she got a fright, the first time a playmate was mean to her. But my girls are strong willed, independent and ambitious young women. The easy paths don’t interest them. It’s not my job to chase them away from the rocks that make their hearts sing, to herd them into the well-trodden middle way. It’s my job to pick them up when they go splat, to be ready with Band-Aids and ice cream when things go wrong. And yes, to rush them to the hospital when bones break.
My eldest daughter works as a counsellor for a charity that helps people who have been sexually abused as children. Sometimes the job is too much for her, and she needs to take some time out, have a nice cup of tea and recover her strength. But she keeps on, just like she did when she was little, and had been sick, or scared, or sad.
Perhaps it would help the games industry move forward if we didn’t dwell on all the rocks in the way, but instead celebrated the strong, talented, tenacious people who are clambering over them.
But to get back to the Kickstarter, Sidekick now gives us a thumbs up, but Kicktraq is predicting that we won’t even hit $30 000 Y_Y
All going well, we’ll have some big announcements next week! Until then! xx Nicole
Its just closing in on one week since we launched Ninja Pizza Girl on Kickstarter and Greenlight. We’re just over 50 percent funded and closing in on 40 percent of the way to the top hundred on Greenlight.
It’s been a crazy week. It started with Ben Kuchera very kindly arranging for Jason to write a guest article on Polygon, to coincide with the launch. Apparently it was the most read article on the site that day! Thanks to the early press, we got most of our backers on the first three days. We were at 40 percent halfway through the third day, and have crawled the remaining ten ever so slowly since. Feminist/Geekery said that we were “the closest thing to a sure bet you can hope for on Kickstarter”. I wish I was as certain! Sidetrack still gives us a thumbsdown, and only a 37 percent chance of success. I genuinely wish I’d never found any kickstarter success predictors. My number one tip for future crowdfunders – back away from the refresh button!
I’ve heard that Steam can be nasty, but I’m not seeing it. We did see a small influx of no votes and negative comments after the game was included in a list of greenlight games with female protagonists. (How sad is that, honestly…) but overall the reception has been great and everyone has been very civil.
The big question is where to from here? We’ve had a lot of great press, a lot of love and support from local developers (the Aussie indie community is THE BEST). The Producer of Dragon-Age said nice things about NPG on twitter (squee!!!!) But we’ve still got a long way to go.
In a terrible day for the Aussie Games industry, the recent federal budget has cut the Screen Australia games fund.
According to the information we have, Ninja Pizza Girl is going to be okay but the damage done to the local industry is immense.
The Aussie games industry was just recovering from the body blows dealt to it by the GFC. Riding a wave of innovation and creativity, things were finally looking up. The dismantling of the IGF and the way in which it was done hurts the local industry more than financially, it is a clear message from the government that the Australian games industry is beneath their notice.
More than ever, this is a time for local devs to band together and invest in each other. We are going to do our damndest to make Ninja Pizza Girl successful and to channel that success back into the local industry. Government support might be lost to us, but the passion and spirit of the Aussie games industry won’t die as easily.
Post Pax Press
Here’s the round-up of all the great press Ninja Pizza Girl and Disparity Games received after PAX Aus. Thanks to all the journalists involved. From the biggest publication to the smallest, you were all super-friendly and great to work with.
Penny Arcade Report: The Family that’s making a game and the 16-year-old artist who will never get “good enough”
Ben Kuchera talks to us about Ninja Pizza Girl and what it’s like to be a games developer at 16.
Rock Paper Shotgun: Early Delivery – A look at Ninja Pizza Girl
Cara Ellison plays Ninja Pizza Girl, much to the delight of her sixteen-year-old self.
IGX Pro: Indie Spotlight – Disparity Games
An in-depth look at who were are, what we do and how we do it. By the incredibly friendly Mister Vincent Parisi.
Another Castle: PAX Aus 2013 – Platforming for iOS with Ninja Pizza Girl and the Family
A live interview with Jason at PAXAus 2013 by Kaes Cillessen and his extremely professional crew from Another Castle
Save Game Online: PAX Indie Games Highlights
Ninja Pizza Girl appears in this round-up of awesome Indie titles from PAX Aus
Barrel Roll Gaming: PAX Aus Disparity Interview
A live audio interview at PAX Aus with Jason by the young but awesome Jake “Stevo” Stevens.
Gamefront: Ninja Pizza Girl Preview – Family Values
Stephen Heller “stealth” interviews us during PAX Aus and likes what he sees.
Ninja Pizza Girl at PAX Aus
On the 19th July 2013, with much trepidation we unveiled Ninja Pizza Girl to the world at PAX Aus and it was…
We met so many incredible people at PAX whose positivity buoyed the entire family. Their feedback and advice will prove invaluable as we continue making Ninja Pizza Girl.
Our T-shirt competitions were a hit. The ladies sizes in particular were hotly contested. Our badges were seen being worn all over the show floor with the ever-popular, “No Pants, No Pizza” badge running out half way through day 3.
We talked to quite a few very nice journalists who were keen to hear about our little family team and the game we’re making. We ended up getting some really good write-ups so thanks to all the press who stopped by to chat.
The little kids had a great time and are already looking forward to the next one. Everything going to plan, we’ll be back to release Ninja Pizza Girl at Pax Aus 2014.
Come play Ninja Pizza Girl at PAX aus
After working very busily for many months we are very happy to offer this first peak at our up and coming new game. Feel free to pop on over to the new Ninja Pizza Girl section here to find some background info, screenshots and the teaser trailer. Keep in mind that these are early days yet and the finished product is guaranteed to contain at least 95% more awesome than what you see here.
And for the very lucky people going to Pax aus in Melbourne, we’ll have a playable demo at Disparity’s own Pax booth.
There is a signed Penny Arcade poster on our wall. Our bosses brought it back for us from San Diego ComicCon in 2001 (most awesome work present ever). We had it framed and hung on the wall as fair warning to all visiting non-geeks. Our second daughter, Raven was 4 at the time. I’m pretty sure she was too young to remember getting it and as far as she knows we’ve always had it. It’s moved house five times. Each time its been carefully re-hung to stand watch over the family.
It’s gotten pretty faded. These days we no longer work for our old company, having joined the growing ranks of indie game devs in 2011. Under Gabe and Tycho’s watchful eye Raven has grown from a shy little girl struggling at school into an increasingly capable artist whose work has been seen by tens of thousands of people. Our eldest has left home to attend Uni. We’ve had two whole other children. We’ve even made our very own video game.
We were just getting a handle on this indie game dev thing, working from home, living at the beach when our world suddenly shifted. We were starting the day browsing the internet when staring innocuously at us from our facebook feed was the most unexpected and wonderful of news – the Penny Arcade Expo was coming to Australia.
Immediately upon reading Nicole and I shared a moment of pure telepathy as we were struck by the same instantaneous sequence of thoughts.
“Oh my god. We’re going to PAX!”
“We’re going to PAX and we’re taking the kids.”
We’re going to PAX, we’re taking the kids and we’re GETTING A BOOTH AT PAX OMG!!”
However, there was a lot to consider before rushing off and committing our fledgling studio to an international public display. This was a huge decision. We’d never put together a booth before, our funds were tight and time even tighter. So we took a deep breath, stepped calmly back from the situation to weigh the pros and cons and precisely 47 seconds later rang the PAXAus people to book our booth.
While we were at it we grabbed tickets for our four daughters, our good friend Bruno and my eldest daughter’s boyfriend, just to be on the safe side. Her boyfriend’s tall and she met him at a D&D game, and I think we figured his height and/or DMing ability might come in handy somehow… maybe. In any case we had a booth booked at the first international Penny Arcade Expo. We were going to show off our little family-made game to the world and our kids were going to be right there with us.
We danced. We cavorted. We ran around with underpants on our heads secure in the absolute knowledge that we had made the most awesome business decision ever. We basked in a happy glow that lasted for about an hour. And then the panic set in. What had we done? What kind of crazy people take a four year old to a massive con while trying to run a booth? What was our booth going to be? Would we have a demo ready in time? Was this even possible? (Its still anybody’s guess.)
We made plans, did our budget, designed our booth and in time the blind panic subsided to a constant level of stage fright that I’m sure will be with us until the 19th July.
But no matter how bad the jitters get, no matter how wracked our nerves become, the wonder of it stays with us still – we’re going to have a booth at PAX. I’m not sure I can convey how amazing and impossible that seems but looking up at our old framed poster of Gabe and Tycho I somehow feel we’ve kept a promise that we never knew we’d made.
Buckle up Stark family, Disparity Games is going to PAX.