Exciting News From Outhouse Games

2016 has been a big year so far for us here at Outhouse Games. Our team has grown, we have released new apps, and completed some really awesome projects. To continue the trend of making this year even bigger for our company, we are excited to announce our move into virtual reality gaming.

One of the most important things to us is keeping our fans and community involved in everything we do here in the studio. As we embark on this new adventure, we want you to join us from the very beginning. We will be switching over to story mode and sharing new content we are calling ‘Outhouse Games: Live Story’. We want you, our community, to take an active role in our story as we develop our first VR game. Through our ‘Live Story’ you will see what we are doing right now as we develop our newest title. ‘Live Story’ will give you a behind the scenes look at what our animators are working on, how we are tackling spatial sound in a VR setting, and how we use Unity to build our first VR game. Get up close and personal with our team as we share this hands on experience with you.

We will be sharing more information about our upcoming game, our process, and our team in the following weeks. We hope you will join us and take part in our newest chapter here at Outhouse Games.

What’s Next? Networking After the Con

(Image: Greentech Media)

Welcome back to the real would, GDC attendees. In our last post, we shared some tips on how to network more effectively while out and about at the conference. What about after? How do you follow up with all the connections you made? What do you even say? When should I do it? We’re here to help.

  1. Follow up now
    The conference is still fresh in the minds of everyone who attended. This week is the best time to reach out to those people you want to really make an impression on. Prioritize your list of contacts and reach out to the ones that are on the top and work your way down. You have about a 2 weeks window where you won’t look too aggressive contacting them now and not too lazy contacting them toward the end.
  2. Have something to actually say
    Sending an email saying “Hi there! We met at GDC!” isn’t something you want to send a potential contact in the industry. Send them something with value, something that will be useful to them. Did you talk about your portfolio and your work? Send them a link and thank them for their time. Did they share an exciting opportunity or news about something they are doing with their company? Ask them for more details and how that is going. Make it a conversation. If you don’t have something to talk about, consider reaching out when you do.
  3. They have a job to get back to
    Everyone is just getting back to work, or even still traveling after the conference. A lot of people might even take some time off to recoup. Be patient and respectful of their time. People are more likely to respond to someone who is understanding of the fact they might not get back quickly over someone who is pestering them every other day. If it is someone who you really want to connect with, give them a week before you follow up again.
  4. Follow them on social media
    This is a great way to stay in contact with people after the conference and also a good alternative to a direct contact like email or phone. This is also a good way to connect with those people you don’t really have something to say to, like we mentioned in our first point. Following someone on Twitter and sending a causal tweet about how it was nice to meet them is a fantastic way to keep in touch without the formality of an email.

    • Tip: Don’t add people to your LinkedIn contacts unless the topic has come up or it makes sense after meeting them.
  5. They might not get back to you
    This is the sad truth unfortunately, but just because you talked at GDC doesn’t mean they want to take that connection further. That is ok. If it is someone you want to stay connected with and you have genuine interest in what they do and their company, then step 3 is your best option. Otherwise, let it be. Be respectful and don’t take it personal. Who knows, you might run into them again when growing that relationship makes more sense for them and you’ll be ready.

Good luck making new connections and share any other tips fellow attendees might find helpful below!

5 Ways to Level Up Your Networking Skills for GDC

Many of us in the industry are making the trip to the one and only, GDC, Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, March 11-18. With so many awesome companies, studios, and people to meet, networking and making real connections can seem overwhelming. We at Outhouse wanted to share 5 quick tips to make the networking process a bit easier.

  1. Why are you going to GDC?
    Knowing why you are going and what your end goal is will help you network easier.

    • Looking for a job? Do research on who is hiring at the conference and have your resume on hand.
    • Education? Make sure you know your panel schedule and arrive early to be sure to get a seat.
    • Only in it to see the games? Check the exhibitor maps and locations for everything you want to see, so you can navigate the crowds better.
  2. Talk to Everyone
    This might seem like a no brainer, but we really mean everyone.

    • Don’t just start at the conference, start when you are traveling. So many people heading to the same location, you are bound to run into someone else who is heading to GDC.
    • In line for coffee, lunch, or even a panel? You have a captive audience surrounding you.
    • Chat it up at the expo. A lot of people are exploring what is going on at the expo, find a booth you like and strike up a conversation with someone checking it out as well.
    • Talk to the person presenting a panel you attend. Let them know what you got out of the panel and start a conversation. Most presenters want to hear from their audience and can lead to a great connection.
  3. Use Social Media
    You might not be able to connect in person, but you can sure make an impression online.

    • Follow the official GDC social media channels. They share great information and updates so you can be the first in the know.
    • Use the hashtags for the conference. Using #GDC16 doesn’t just allow you to find people who are attending, it helps people find you.
    • Follow people you would like to meet at the conference. Think of this as your first informal introduction before meeting in person.
    • Share, like, retweet content you like or that you saw. This establishes yourself in that area of interest and people can see what you are doing at GDC.
    • Keep it professional. Take a good look at your social accounts before going to make sure you are representing yourself the way you want to be seen by the people you want to network with.
  4. Be Friendly
    No one likes a grumpy gamer.

    • Smile at people. You aren’t going to look like a creeper, you are going to look approachable and someone easy to talk to.
    • Be the first to introduce yourself. We all have our awkward moments, taking the initiative to introduce yourself and taking the pressure off of someone else is always a plus.
    • Make small talk. Are they wearing a shirt of a game you love? Are they playing on their 3DS? Break the ice with something on their person that you can talk about to start a conversation.
    • Look nice. Someone who is well groomed and is dressed appropriately for each event is more likely to be chatted with than someone who isn’t prepared.
  5. Take Photos of Everything
    We aren’t just talking about selfies.

    • A lot of presenters show great information and tips while talking. Save yourself some time, instead of writing it all down, take a quick picture with your phone of the presentation. This way you have more time to listen.
    • Business cards are small and can get lost easily. Take a photo of them when you get them, this way you always have them and they will be time and date stamped in your phone for easy reference later.
    • People are going to be handing out a lot of flyers and materials. Not sure if you want to lug it around with you? Take a quick picture and move along with out tons of papers weighing you down.

Stay tuned after the conference where will will share with you ways to keep those connections you worked so hard to get at GDC!

Girl Power in Games!

I am proud to be a female game developer and “gamer”! I don’t define myself by my gender, but there’s no hiding it either, especially when working in the video game industry.   I was flattered and humbled to participate on a panel called “Girls that Game” at Otronicon, Orlando’s annual interactive tech expo at the Orlando Science Center.

The panel turned out to be a highlight of Otronicon for me. It was fun to be able to share some of my knowledge and experience alongside of other females in the game industry, especially seeing several young girls in the audience.  The other panelists were insightful and inspirational, and I came home with a lot of valuable information for anyone, regardless of gender.

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Here are some of my key takeaways from the discussion:

What do you think is the future of gaming and where would you like it to go? 

  • Necole shared her thoughts that mixed reality games and Google Cardboard were going to be in the future of gaming.
  • Erica would like to see new IP (intellectual property) and less sequels!
  • As for me, I personally can’t wait to see virtual reality take games and social experiences to the next level, but I also enjoy the throwback I’ve been seeing to retro arcade/pinball games.

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Have you experienced any pushback in the game industry due to being female?

  • Necole made a very good point that a lot of times it’s more about culture than gender in social and professional settings. To counter this, she says to help break down social barriers by being honest about who you are and build relationships so people know who you are and what knowledge and expertise you bring to the table, regardless of your gender.  
  • Erica is worried about girls not being encouraged to pursue science and math as they go through school, but she was encouraged to see a lot of girls playing her game and being excited about science and space here at Otronicon. Many girls were excited to build an all girl team of colonists on Mars in TBA Games’ Periareion!
  • Coming from education to a technical field myself, I have definitely needed to adjust to the culture of the game industry, but I haven’t felt any push back specifically from being a woman. In this industry, everyone has to constantly be learning and growing with the technology.  It is fun to develop games, but it is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If you know what you’re talking about and good at what you do, man or woman, that is what people generally respect!

Based on the audience response to some of the players you mentioned on youtube, who are some of your favorite “Let’s Players” to watch or recommend to others?

We had a great time talking to the audience about our love of games and our roles in the current game development industry. Many thanks to Erin, who came down from UF to facilitate the panel! We hope to continue to inspire women to be empowered in whatever they do, and to game with no regrets!  Please feel free to contact any of us if you have further questions or comments.

 

Panelist Information:

Click here to view the entire “Girls in Game” panel from Otronicon.

Why are there so many MEN in the video game industry?!

When I was in elementary school, I played a LOT of video games on our Nintendo Entertainment System. They helped me escape from the tough things in life- like divorce, and bullies, and boredom in a small town. (For all the young people reading this, the internet didn’t exist back then…or DVRs….or Cartoon Network!) They also gave my younger sister and I something to do together. That is a big deal for siblings who fight constantly. We were able to unite by finding common enemies- like Bowser!

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I also realize now that a couple of my closest girl friends in elementary school were fellow gamers. One friend, Abby, had way better games than I did, so I’d stay the night at her house and we’d stay up until all hours playing Burger Time, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Our claim to fame was beating Rad Racer!

power padI had another friend, Elizabeth, who had an older brother that loved video games, which was a total bonus! They had the Track and Field game with the power pad, Excitebike, and one of my all-time favorites, Ducktales! We’d also go up to the local video rental store  and rent games to play for the weekend. One that I distinctly remember beating with her was The Adventures of the Magic Kingdom!  She was a popular girl whereas I was a straight A nerd type, but she was a neighbor, and video games were our common bond. Being a child of divorce in the 90’s, video games played a key role in our family setting as well. Video games gave my sister and I something fun to play with my dad when we visited him.

 

 

Adventure Island          Video games were also a great ice-breaker when my mom remarried the first time.  My first stepsisters, my sister and I spent many hours playing Adventure Island and other games on the NES! After the death of my first stepfather, my mom remarried again (you can see how video games could be something consistent in my early life), and we lived on a farm out in the country with only 3 channels on the TV and an old Sega Genesis for entertainment. We also only had 2 games- Sonic the Hedgehog and NBA Jam.  I got REALLY good at Sonic, even though I never could manage to beat it! Our stepbrother, my sister, and I bonded over these games even though we didn’t have much else in common.

By high school, my days and nights were spent at school learning, at my job as a pizza maker, at marching band and show choir practice, and playing softball. I didn’t have time for video games anymore, and none of the people I hung out with played them. There is a big gap of time where I missed XBox and Play Station. It wasn’t until I met my husband and friend Phil that I had friends to play video games with again. We spent a lot of time playing a variety of different games, which allowed me to improve my lost skills. Getting used to that XBox 360 controller was no easy task for this NES and Sega girl! Because I was in a comfortable environment to practice , and because these guys are two of the best gamers I’ve met yet in life, I got to reignite my passion for video games. Basically, I am establishing that my core love for video games, the amount of time I spent playing them as a kid, and the way games connected me with people I may have never interacted with is not an uncommon story for many other girls and boys, men and women.  In my opinion, I don’t think boys are more encouraged than girls to play video games or go into game development, just like I don’t think girls are discouraged from it. I think circumstances determine whether a person has the opportunity to play video games and/or if they meet someone who tells them or shows them that making video games (through programming, art, music, or management) is a career option.

Bill CLinton NBA Jam

 

I am a video game lover and musician who happened to reconnect with my love of video games through my husband Chris and friend Phil (my current team at Outhouse Games). I have these two men in my life who discovered that learning to make games doesn’t require going back to school.  Phil went from doing 3-D graphics and animation for another company to learning how to program his own games to incorporate his artwork into.  Chris went from being an IT guy working on other companies’ computers and systems to learning how to program and using his business and management experience for his own business. I went from being a classically trained musician and music teacher to learning how to program music so I could implement it into and enhance games with it. We all discovered this avenue after we’d studied, gotten “real jobs” and had enough life experience to realize that we don’t want to spend this gift we’ve been given, life, working for someone else and helping them make their dreams come true. We figured out a way to make our own dreams come true!

                  I gave a somewhat misleading title to this article, because it seems to be a topic that is currently trending- women in tech. Specifically women in the video game industry. My personal conclusion is that I think if anyone, man or woman, puts in the time and hard work it takes to master their craft, has a great attitude, continues to learn and grow, is passionate about what they are doing, and lines themselves up with the right people, they can be successful and respected in any industry. My goal isn’t to just be a woman in the games industry for the sake of being a woman here. I want to show people that I can make quality music and sound effects that will connect people to a game and make it the best, most complete package it can be. I just happened to have been born a girl!

Outhouse Games: A Family Affair!

An artist, a programmer, a musician, (and a tester): This is the tale of the Outhouse Games team and how friends became family.  It all started way back in 2001, when Chris packed everything he owned into a U-Haul and moved to Orlando on a whim.  From Michigan!  He applied to work security at Universal Studios. He kind of got the job- he got assigned to work at Men in Black at Universal Studios Orlando!

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This is where he met a young Phil Bias, who was working at Men in Black before attending D.A.V.E. School. These two seemed like opposites, but after getting assigned to work parades together, they gained a mutual appreciation for each other’s work ethic, sense of humor, and love of movies. Within a year, the two became roommates and continued to work together.

In the summer of 2005, Chris, Phil, and Bethany separately attended the same System of a Down concert in downtown Orlando. This is not where the three met.  Bethany was in her 2nd year of teaching middle school chorus. By this time, Chris was a manager at Smarte Carte and maintained the touch screen lockers at both Universal theme parks. Phil was working in the Computer Graphics industry at Wolfhound Inc.  in Longwood, FL. A week after the concert, Chris was browsing in Myspace (haha) and stumbled on Bethany’s profile. He was drawn to her love of music, something which had always been a big part of his life. Bethany was skeptical about meeting people online. However, she gave this guy a chance seeing how he had just attended the System of a Down concert. Music connects people! Bethany and Chris had their first date at Pat O’ Brien’s in City Walk (ask Chris about that sometime…), and from that night forward, they spent most of their time together.  Bethany quickly became the third amigo when the three of them stayed overnight outside of Best Buy waiting to buy XBox 360s!!

Through a marriage, the birth of Chris and Bethany’s child “G”, the death of family members, and a couple of career changes, the 3 ½ (the ½ being “G”) have stuck together! They’ve been navigating through life in a very unique way- as 3 best friends supporting each other. At this point, all three have left their previous jobs and careers and are working full time for Outhouse Games studio.

Now that the trio is working at the studio full time, the programmer, the artist, the musician, (and sometimes the tester) can sit side by side as their concepts come to life. Each person brings their creativity to the table for the upcoming title, Damsel in Distress. Keeping the levels  interesting, the obstacles challenging, and the storyline engaging and relatable are not easy tasks, but the saying “2 heads are better than 1” is true.  Even though the amount of time this trio spends together causes them to “occasionally” fight like siblings (and then there’s the married couple working together…), at the end of the day, their passion for games, hard work, and creativity make them Outhouse Games.