Category Archives: Spicy Horse

Call for Sponsors

My Shanghai-based game development studio and our sister game art-outsourcing company (Vykarian – 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” ( 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.

A New World

For all my worries about her safety, the cat made it to Shanghai before me. I guess it helped that she had her visa in order. Star (that’s her name) is a surprisingly well adapted travel-cat. If you’re ever shipping a pet to or from Hong Kong/China and looking for a good service, I highly recommend Ferndale Kennels. They handled the delivery with a high level of care and professionalism.
Shanghaied Cat Ferndale Cat Delivery

My own (me being stupid) visa situation was resolved with a quick visit to the Chinese Consulate in Hong Kong. US$120 and 2 hours later, I was once again official and on my way to the PRC.

Saying goodbye to Hong Kong was not painless. As excited as I am about my future life and business in Shanghai, there are aspects of living in China that simply cannot compete with the civility and quality of life to be found in a world-class city like Hong Kong. But that’s in the past now…
Lamma - Last Look HKIA

Stepping off the plane at Pudong is like walking into a forest fire. The smoky haze that engulfs most of China can be quaint at times. With a mild winter chill in the air, the smoke takes me back to autumn in Texas, when the woodsy scent of burning leaves reminded you that Christmas is just around the corner. Except in China I think they’re burning tires.

First day on the ground was productive. We think we might have found our new office space already. Thanks to some advance scouting by Xin we now have our eyes on a beautiful creative space in a renovated building near to the current Vyk offices. If all goes well we could be moved in by early-December. Adjusting for mah-fahn (that’s Chinese for “hassle”, one of the first words you learn – exactly why, you are reminded of every day) – we can actually expect to be in by Christmas. But as Xin likes to say, “There is no Christmas in China.” We’ll see.

Spicy Exterior 3 Spicy mid-office


Once again I am compressing my life into a few boxes and making a major move. This time the destination is Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China. I’m leaving behind Hong Kong, which has been my home for the past 2 years. Looking back, I feel like I’ve only been here a few weeks. Hong Kong is easily one of the most interesting and wonderful cities I’ve ever visited. I feel like I’m walking out of a dream. The richness and diversity of culture, people, cuisine, nature, and life has to be lived to be understood… I feel very lucky for the friends and the experiences that filled my life here.

Hong Kong SkylineLast Supper

This morning I wished Ken Wong farewell as he headed to Australia for some time with his family. I travel to Shanghai ahead of him to secure living arrangements and office space. Together, we managed to squish our collected possessions into ~10 boxes, weighing a total of 140kg. We’re feeling there’s a 50/50 chance that any individual box will actually make it to us in Shanghai – or at least make it semi-intact. Chinese post offices do not fill one with confidence. But then, what post offices do?
Life CompressedLamma Ferry

My cat is traveling to Shanghai by a combination of boat, subway, train, and domestic flight. By the time she gets there her trip will have cost more than the combined total of mine and Ken’s airfare and moving costs. Seriously, moving a cat from country to country is neither easy or cheap. At least she’s not going by post.

Once in Shanghai I’ll start reporting on the establishment of the new development studio there. Our trials and tribulations should be interesting and amusing – at least to the outside observer. Expect more details on our first production soon.

Shanghai, here we come!

Should video games be more like TV shows?

Luke O’Brian over at Slate talks about episodic gaming:

Should video games be more like TV shows?
I’m old now, and I’ve got to work and pay bills. I’m not alone. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer is now 33 years old, an age at which marathon gaming sessions are (usually) impossible. But today’s games are deeper and more complex than ever. Some can take 40So, how should game companies appeal to older players? And what should aging gamers do to get their fix without having to play 40 hours a week? One possible answer is episodic gaming.

The idea behind episodic games is to release content in small batches, like episodes of a TV show. This concept has been around for a decade, but every attempt so far has flopped.

I hear you Luke. We’re all getting old! It is my old-person opinion that most new games these days tend to narrow the market, focusing on more and more hard-core dynamics and game players. It’s a sort of tail-eating conundrum for game publishers and developers. They’ve created a customer who is forever seeking a more powerful drug – a continuation of game concepts that further distill, streamline, and improve on the original high. Eventually Namco will have to release “Ridge Racer” in an intravenous drip.

While this is a good thing for the core gamer, I feel this narrowing of focus works to limit the growth of the gamer demographic as a whole. Bill Gates was once quoted as saying, “If General Motors had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.” I’d say that if GM had “kept up” with technology like the gaming industry has, we would all be driving $60 cars that exploded the moment you got behind the wheel – unless of course you were “hard core”.

But you can’t really blame publishers. Budgets increase. Schedules grow longer. The stakes get higher. In a difficult market you can lose it all trying to invent “New Coke”, but sticking with “Classic” is a pretty safe bet. What’s an industry to do?

Enter episodic gaming. Smaller games, shorter productions, and lower budgets. Possibly the solution aging gamers have been looking for?

If developers want to win big with episodic gaming, they need to do more than merely dice up pre-existing genres. They need to think episodically from the start. In short, they need to become more like TV producers.

Recent big-budget stabs at episodic games have met with so-so success. Both Valve’s “Half-Life Episode 1” and Ritual’s “Sin – Episodes” both tried to bridge the gap between a full-blown “feature” (to borrow a film term) game and a television-style episodic game. From what I understand, in both cases, the teams simply built “too much”. Ritual’s production lasted 12+ months, yielding 5+ hours of game play. Consumers will have to wait another 6+ months before a new episode is released.

To me, these early attempts look like they tried, but didn’t go far enough to embrace the true nature of episodic. I sense that for consumers to really connect with episodic game content the game size, price, and frequency of release will all have to come down to an equivalent of grabbing an episode of “South Park” from iTunes at 1.99 every week.

Such as…

October 17th release of Sam & Max: Season 1 on GameTap
The first episode of Sam & Max, the episodic adventure game, will debut on GameTap on October 17th, followed by the international release on November 1st. After the initial episode, Telltale will release one new episode per month for five months, starting in December and running through April. More details on the game’s release and price structure can be found in our recent news item.

Cool! Will be interesting to see where this one goes.


wouldn’t you like to know what this is about?

-Update, October 12th 2006
Just a little FYI: “Red” as a project is something that I’ve been working on for the better part of a year. It’s envisioned as a full-blown entertainment property with game, film, and other components. Development on Red is, for the time being, on the back burner. This will likely be the 2nd project I run through the new Shanghai studio, so expect to see more on it around mid-2007.