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TVGS, and Omiya Games

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Tech Valley Game Space applies successful procedures to help computer game Makers develop ideas into prototypes. There are several opportunities to meet and participate with these Makers without first joining TVGS. An international charity-raising event called Extra Life, happening November 5th, raises donations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of your choice, in exchange for you logging up to 24 hours playing your favorite computer games at TVGS. “Last year, Extra Life raised more than $8 million dollars.”

A monthly competitive, local SharkTank event, where you at least get professional feedback on your project pitch, happens the last Wednesday of each month. The winner gets to collaborate with TVGS members, for a month, free. SharkTank is open to all development levels, as members themselves span the spectrum from aspiring beginners to adept mentors

Watch techvalleygamespace.com for free trial memberships coming in 2017. Normal membership fees are $50/month. Also see their assortment of ongoing collaborative projects.

Here’s how collaboration looks at the administrative level. Speaking to a group of seven volunteers, Director Jamey Stevenson offered, “I’m wondering if someone would like to work with me on this [new task.] I haven’t got any experience with this. I know none of you do either; maybe we can try to figure this out together.”

This month, TVGS celebrates its third anniversary.

Taro Omiya is a top-notch computer programmer, who was employed by Boeing, Inc. until turning to computer game development full-time in 2013. Taro founded Omiya Games shortly after quitting Boeing. Working with like-minded Makers was more rewarding than working in the library, which he found unbearably lonely. To produce his most recent game, Taro collaborated with several people he met at TVGS: two artists, a writer, a programmer, a sound designer, and a music composer.

Omiya Games is an experimental indie game studio that aims to create weird and wacky games. Taro has explored unusual game mechanics extensively, releasing 31 titles in 7 years, including: Touch Yoga; String Theory; Suddenly Thousands; and most-recently, Not a Clone.

Taro’s personal goal in this field is “to make new and meaningful games that blew my young mind. I hope my games also inspire others to become game developers in the same way they have to me.” Taro’s secret motivation: “I’m very easily bored.”

“I’m excited by games that made me feel like I was gaining new perspectives. Like in the Mario-like platformer, Braid, where thanks to its time rewind mechanic, death doesn’t matter; if I don’t have to worry about my character dying I can concentrate on how to solve the puzzle at hand. The smallest change in a game mechanic can change the player’s experience. I also like to explore game designs that trigger different emotions in ways only video games can. Playing video games can be more personal than movies or music. Because it is interactive, the game’s direction becomes your own.”

Taro just concluded the post-mortem on recently released, Not a Clone. His two-year, full-time project cost $60,000. Although he reached out to web funding sites, he basically funded the whole project from personal savings.

After discovering Not a Clone sales fell short of covering his ongoing living expenses, Taro returned to funding his game development work on a part-time basis, by doing contract work as a programmer. He plans to maintain Not a Clone with parodies of up-and-coming popular game apps, and by adding more of his original mini-games. Now he is working to promote Not a Clone, targeting YouTube reviewers. Especially PewDiePie, who is responsible for exposing FlappyBird to the world. Flappy Bird endured a full year of obscurity, with no significant download activity, before PewDiePie reviewed it. Subsequently, Flappy Bird was downloaded so often that “the game was earning around $50,000 a day in revenue through its in-game advertising.” At its peak, me-too game developers were cloning Flappy titles at the rate of 60 clones per day; so many, Google and Apple decreed they would reject any game with the word “Flappy.”

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