Sunday, April 3, 2011
Oh hey! Where have I been? Playing Dungeon Blitz! Those of you who have been around a while and have some familiarity with the Matron family might know that Matt, my beloved husband, is a computer game developer. That's what took us out to live in California, eleven whole years ago, to work in a start-up with friends, and we were able to move back to the South when he got a job at another game studio here in Atlanta.
A while back he and our friend Lincoln started their own company, wanting to make some fun games that didn't take 200 guys and 50 million dollars to build. (Did you know that the game business was that big? It is.) Last weekend, their first game, Dungeon Blitz, went into open public beta. Beta means that there might be some kinks to work out that arise when lots of people are playing, and it is not totally finished, i.e., all of the story isn't complete. It is super fun, you should check it out, plus it's free and you can play right in your browser. Even if you're not a big gamer (I'm not), there is lots to run around and do, and lots of monsters to school, and you can chat with your friends while you do it. Keely is playing. So are Gretchen and Jenni. I think it hilarious that my mom blogger friends are into it. Hilarious awesome. You can play in ten minute increments, so it's very mom-friendly. Keely's character is named Stabitha, Jenni's is Violencia, and Gretchen's is a swarthy dude named Mo. Keely and I teamed up and brought the smack right down on a dragon the other day.
It could be that this game is helping us work out some of our aggression issues.
But my character's name is just Becky. Here I am!
See how cute my outfit is? You would think that furry skirt would make my hips look big, but with the chunky magic boots and the long staff, it somehow works. You can choose how you want your character to look, and then you find gear along the way. When this screenshot was taken, my butt-kicking Mage was enjoying a rare quiet moment, admiring the night sky. Sometimes after I have saved a village from a ravening goblin onslaught, I just like to look at the stars and think about how insignificant our goblin problems really are. You know, in the grand scheme of things.
Here we are down in a dungeon putting the hurt on some skeletons and their ghost overlord. The handsome fellow on the left, holding the stone mallet, is Matt. His character's name is Matt, if you happen to run across him. There's an emote that lets you do a little dance for him. He likes that.
One of the things I most enjoy about the game is the art style. It's fun, cartoony, and interesting, and I think the background art is beautiful. I like to just run around the different zones and look at all the scenes and creatures. (That character is Walpole, my young paladin. He is new but I think he's going to work out.)
Since they announced the open beta last weekend, 6,000 people have created accounts and played. It is so much fun watching it take off. What used to be this empty online world, that only we knew about, suddenly has a lot of people running around in it. If you've ever worked at a startup or made something for an audience, you know how exciting it is. It is a neat experience for Matt and Lincoln, and their artists, to watch people enjoying something they've worked on for so long. They both took a chance starting Blue Mammoth Games, leaving perfectly comfortable jobs to make Dungeon Blitz. I'm loving it and I'm proud of what they've done.
And for me, the whole cycle of making games is connected to the growth of our family. I was pregnant with Laura when we first moved to California. It seemed like a big leap: new job, new state, new baby. Then, when City of Heroes (the game they made out there) launched, Laura was three, and I would sit with her on my lap and let her play. When we moved to Atlanta, I was pregnant with Hank, and it felt like another momentous start. Now Hank is playing Dungeon Blitz, with great gusto, and part of the fun for both kids is that this is the game their daddy made.
Hank has characters named Sparky, Roguey, and Awesome at Fighting, if you happen to see him. He may behave erratically. Laura will mostly be changing different parts of her outfit.
If this game does well at launch, it will mean that we can keep the lights on and Hank won't have to be put out to work in an Alaskan salmon cannery. So go play around with it! And show it to your kids and your nerdy friends! Matt would love to hear your feedback, especially if you don't usually play these kinds of games. And look for me in there, I am the hot one.