Looking Glass Vet Joins Vyk Games

A big welcome to another foreigner in the big crazy pond that is China: Looking Glass Vet Joins Vyk Games | Edge Online
Tom Sperry, former director at revered (and now defunct) Thief developer Looking Glass Studios, has joined Shanghai, China-based outsourcing firm Vyk Games, the company said Wednesday. — We used Vyk to build 100% of the art assets that went into Grimm, and were always pleased with their quality output, reliability, and pricing. Now with special ingredient Tom – even better than ever!

Vykarian + Spicy Horse Team

Whew! That’s a lot of people. The Shanghai Vykarian/Spicy team has grown to over 120 people since the start of the year.

Vykarian (Spicy Horse) - June 2007

If you’re looking for a great photographer in Shanghai, be sure to check out Primo’s website or email him at primoyuan [at] 163.com – He took some great pictures of our office and staff and comes highly recommended.

Outsourcing in the Warzone

My business partner and friend Xin Chung was recently interviewed for an feature article over at China Economic Review. He talks about his company Vykarian and its place in the China outsource scene. Spicy Horse is using Vykarian to build all art assets for the Grimm project. It’s an interesting setup since we’re all in the same building – a sort of in-house outsourcing.

If weapons manufacturing is illegal in China, don’t tell Xin Chung. The American opened his first “munitions factory” in Shanghai last October and plans to open many more.

His company, Vykarian, is an outsourcing studio that builds labor-intensive artwork for game publishers in the US, supplying the ammunition for a global war in the video games industry.

“We provide the bullets” for the wars over market share for video game consoles, online-games and in-game advertising, he said.

Vykarian is one of many studios cropping up across China as rising costs push the industry to outsource.

You can read the full article here.

At some future date I hope to write more about the unique relationship that exists between Spicy and Vyk – and why we think this new model suits episodic game production.

Poke, Poke, Prod

Welcome to Shanghai, now bend over.

Yesterday we went to the doctor. But it was more like an assembly line of poking and prodding. A model of Chinese scale and efficiency. The goal: To be certified as healthy, happy, and sane before acquiring our China live/work visas.

Assessment QueueMatt and Xin

At the beginning things were pretty standard for a visit to the doctor’s office. Only the mass of confused looking foreigners gave any indication to the differentness of the situation. We filled out the obligatory yes/no medical questionnaires. Do you suffer from any of the following:

*Diabetes
*Colon Cancer
*Herpes/AIDS
*Plague
*Heart Disease
*Leprosy
*Psychotic Episodes
*Epilepsy

Etc, etc. Pretty standard stuff, but it left me wondering. Who still gets “plague”? I thought that was done away with around the time of Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”. Leprosy? Wouldn’t that be kinda obvious? “Sir, you dropped your finger.” And psychotic episodes? Apparently this is something they have a problem with in Shanghai, even the “passenger agreement” in the taxi admonishes against catching a ride if you happen to be a “psycho”. Do crazy people get in the cab, read that, and then say, “Oops, sorry mate. Let me out at the next corner. I’m crazy.”

Happily none of us suffer from any of these things. (At least we won’t publicly admit to being psychos.)

With forms finished your number is called and it’s into the breach. Clothes are exchanged for robes. You find yourself feeling a lot like cattle. People shuffle confusedly from room to room, examination station to doctor’s desk. Stamp, stamp, stamp go the forms. Doctors prod you. Nurses jab you. Blood squirts, xrays blast, and stethoscopes listen. At one point we even had sonograms. I tried to ask, “Boy or girl?” but the joke was lost on my non-English speaking medical inquisitor.

Suddenly, you’re done. You expect some sort of handshake and, “You won’t die soon.” from the nearest doctor, but no. Results will be mailed. Have a nice day. Get out.

Shanghai Health Assessment Office

All in all a throughly dehumanizing experience. All in the name of progress. At least we now know we won’t be giving colon cancer to China.

Call for Sponsors

My Shanghai-based game development studio and our sister game art-outsourcing company (Vykarian – www.vykarian.com) are running a video game art contest in China to spotlight the best and brightest game art talent in the country. We are working in partnership with a China’s most prominent gamer/IT magazine, “PopSoft” (www.popsoft.com.cn). In addition to their huge online presence, Popsoft has a print circulation of over 300,000 – distributed on a bi-weekly basis.

Our contest will be featured in the print/online pages of PopSoft over the course of 4 months (8 issues). Issue #1 will include a multi-page spread with interviews, images, and description of the contest and prizes. The contest will ask participants to download an art test package and create 3D models based on the latest “Twisted Tale” game development. Subsequent issues will continue to promote the contest, with a final issue announcing the winners. We expect to receive attention and entrants from all over China.

My request: We are looking for corporate prize sponsors willing to contribute products and branding for use in the competition. We are open to various prize concepts, but especially interested in hardware/software/merchandise fit for the “gamer artist” lifestyle.

The direct return to sponsors includes:
– 2.4mil print impressions in China’s biggest gaming magazine.
– Millions more online impressions.
– Positive association of sponsor branding with China’s core computer game community.
– Opportunity for “headline” sponsorship.

Our deadline for sponsorship participation is December 1st, 2006.

This is a unique opportunity for targeted exposure to China’s massive gaming community.

If you’re interested you can post your contact info in the comments. Comments are moderated, so private messages don’t post to the public. Or email me directly: amcgee (at) tmiec (dot) com.