Closure of Shanghai Studio, Start of New Adventures

10 years, 10 games, tons of wonderful memories. The Shanghai studio of Spicy Horse Games is closing its doors. The company itself will remain intact, and we’ll continue to operate existing games online. At our peak, during development of Alice: Madness Returns, the studio contained 85+ people. These days we’re down to just 6, and it feels like a good time for a radical shift.

I’m going to turn my focus to indie development and will continue to publish small titles under the Spicy Horse brand. Much of this work will be done in a challenging new environment – aboard my sailboat, bobbing around the S.E. Asia region. This is also where I’ll bring to life Pirate Jam – the game jam on a flotilla of sailboats. I plan to document this new adventure online and in video. If you want to support these new creations, check out my Patreon page.

The past 12 years in China have been incredible. I owe so much to the people who helped build Spicy Horse into a happy place to explore and create. To the hundreds of developers who called Spicy Horse home over the years, Thank You. And to the fans and supporters who enjoyed our efforts, Thank You.

Now, to the next adventure! I hope you’ll all join me along the way 🙂

Comment on this announcement on my Facebook page.

Dev Armada – A Proposal

UPDATE: This post has turned into an actual event: www.pirate-jam.com

Seeking feedback on an idea I’m brainstorming: Hackathon + Sailing + YouTube

A rough draft PDF overview can be found here: Pirate GamesV2 (Updated Mar 10, 2015)

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Here’s the request for feedback I’m posting to Reddit’s /r/gamedev

Seeking Feedback: Hackathon/Jam + Sailboats + Reality Show

tl;dr: Game dev wants your feedback on “sailboat-based hackathon + video series” concept.

For the last 23 years I’ve been making games with non-traditional themes, in unusual development environments, and with interesting financial/legal structures. For instance, 9 years ago I started a studio in China which went on to make the first AAA Western console game 100% developed by a China-based team. Spicy Horse continues making games to this day, but with a focus on F2P mobile games.

Always seeking a new challenge, I’ve been brainstorming a way to combine some of my favorite pastimes: game development, sailing, and YouTube content (creation and consumption).

I’m here today seeking feedback and advice on what’s tentatively called “Dev Armada” AKA “Pirate Games” AKA “Will it Float?”

The idea:

Create a 10-day hackathon/game-jam; put it aboard sailing vessels in the Andaman Sea (Thailand’s most beautiful place to sail); insert competing teams of 3 devs per boat; allow for 7AM-12PM development; fill the remaining day with “pirate games,” sailing, diving, and fishing; film the whole thing; and release 30 minute episodes to promote the brand and finished apps. Finally, release the apps for free and generate revenue via YouTube, ads, Patreon, branded merchandise, sponsors, and other sources. Participants share in the financial success of each adventure. Repeat this 6 times per year.

Thematically, the video series explores a “fish out of water” narrative as participants overcome various challenges related to life at sea and development in remote locations.

The pilot episode will feature two sailboats (one mine, one belonging to and captain’d by friends who are sailing couple). Two teams of 3 devs will be flown to Thailand to participate in 10 days of development and fun. The resulting media content (video, apps) will be used to verify the concept and pitch the idea to potential sponsors, financiers, and future participants.

I’m looking for feedback in general. I have some specific questions in mind, but will wait to see the general feedback before posting those.

So, what’s wrong with the idea? What’s great about it? Why would you participate (or not)? Would you watch the videos? What’s your pirate name?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Change Log
Updated the PDF. Adjusted goals related to content type and theme. Old version of the PDF can be found here: Pirate GamesV1

Disappearance of my Sister, Mercy Covington

On November 10th, 2015 my sister went missing. Mercy Covington is a mother of three living in Dallas, Texas. Dallas PD believe Mercy may be in severe danger or has been a victim of foul play.

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Our family is asking for your help.

Funds are being raised to hire a private investigator. Dallas PD are overloaded and understaffed, so their assistance can only go so far.

A GoFundMe page has been put in place where you can lend your support.

Thank you for your support.

Critter Academy – Android Launch

Spicy Horse is proud to announce the launch of “Critter Academy” for Android devices.

Tower Defense meets RPG meets Deck Building Action with beautiful 3D art. Collect and train Critters. Battle in real time against friends from around the world. Establish a Guild and challenge others in the Tournaments. Defend and rule the Critterdom!

Critter Academy is the most prestigious university in the Critterdom. Students from around the realm travel here to learn the skills and magic necessary to compete in Critter battles.

As your battle skills improve, you’ll travel to new parts of the Critterdom, making friends and battling ever more powerful Critters.

Prepare to be pulled into a story spanning the history of the realm and the origin of the Critters. From the Critter miners in the lowest caverns to the royal family in the highest castles, this tale will take you on an epic journey of power and deceit.

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As we enter the 2nd week of 2016, Critter Academy marks the 7th release of a F2P mobile game from the development team at Spicy Horse Games in Shanghai. After 9 years in business, with the last 5 years focused on the development of F2P mobile games. We’ve launched some good games, made a lot of mistakes, learned many valuable lessons. Critter Academy is the distillation of all the learning – and I believe it’s the best mobile game we’ve made to date.

Grab Critter Academy for Android via the Google Play Store.

iOS version is scheduled for launch late January 2016.