“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” -Thomas Jefferson
It’s no easy task creating a video game. It requires a vast amount of time, dedication and resources. Even understanding where to start is quite a challenge. For us, Whispering Willows started with an opportunity. That opportunity was OUYA.
There was almost an immediate interest on my end when the OUYA launched their Kickstarter. It was a brand new console, affordable even, looking for a chance to revolutionize the game industry. I was enticed by both their business platform and, even more so, the opportunities that could be had for indie developers around the world. I appreciated their goal to provide a supportive network for the ever expanding indie game industry.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was jumping into when I purchased my exclusive backer tier on their Kickstarter campaign. But, I knew it was going to be a life changing moment.
However to make my vision come to life, I needed to put together a team. I reached out to friends/school mates (Fun Fact: A good majority of the core team went to college together!) and industry contacts, I’ve met over the year. We started small and quickly grew in numbers — though the core team sat comfortably at around 10 people.
After discovering we could submit a prototype for the OUYA CREATE contest sponsored by Killscreen Daily, we launched into development . The game jam focused on developing games specifically for the OUYA console and it was a fantastic chance for us to put our game concept, at the time named Bidwell, to the test. By the end of 10 tireless days of work, we had completed our first prototype. We excitedly submitted to the contest and struggled to maintain our composure as we waited for them to announce the winners.
Several agonizing weeks later, we were informed that our prototype had achieved first place for the “Most Immersive” category and was a runner-up for “Best Visuals” and for the Grand Prize.
Talk about mind-blowing– this was huge! The contest left us feeling confident in our core gameplay mechanics and we were thrilled to discover that people really enjoyed the game and wanted to play more. Thus, Bidwell became Whispering Willows and I co-founded our current studio, Night Light Interactive.
Feeling awesome with the wins from the contest, we delved right back into development for the next couple of months. But, we needed funding to sustain our efforts. Following OUYA successful campaign, we launched a Kickstarter of our own.
And we were successful. We overshot our initial goal of $15,000 and reached and astonishing $21,000 in funding. Our Kickstarter gave us the opportunity to talk directly to our potentially audience and showcase the vision of Whispering Willows.
With the successful Kickstarter under our belts we charged forward with production. Daily, we were receiving inquiries from all disciplines of the game industry (Artists, composers, translators and more!) to see if they could help participate in the development of the game. For me, personally, it was an awe-inspiring moment.
Production continued on swimmingly and sufficiently proud of our game, we submitted it to a multitude of contests. We won both the Seattle Indie Gaming Competition and the Cerebral Indie Developer Grant and in addition were a finalist in the Captivate Conference.
As production continued on, we recognized the disheartening fact that our resources were rapidly depleting. To our amazement, OUYA offered to partner with us for the game release. This fantastic new partnership provided us with a marketing campaign, increased press exposure and more importantly the ability to finish our game.
As the release date rolled closer and closer, we wanted to make sure everyone knew about the game. So, we released our launch trailer a bit early to get everyone pumped.
And then it was game time.
Our game has officially been on the OUYA console since Tuesday, May 27. It felt a bit surreal seeing the purchase banner for Whispering Willows on the store.
That being said,
We are deeply indebted to the OUYA team and can’t really describe how thankful we are for their support. Developing Whispering Willows was an amazing opportunity and it provided me with a chance to grow not only as a developer but as a person, as well. I’ve made some incredible friends and colleagues, along the way, and I truly feel as though the Night Light Interactive team has bonded and learned so much from this wonderful experience. It was a fantastic way to spend the last 1.5 years of my life and I’m incredibly proud knowing that I helped release a game that exceeded my expectations.
Night Light Interactive’s Top 10 OUYA Games
- DUCK GAME
- Amazing Frog?
- Hidden in Plain Sight
- Knightmare Tower
- LAZA KNITEZ!!
- Potato Man Seeks the Troof
- Mirrormoon EP