by Tiare Feuchtner
While the rest of the team is busy finalizing the user interface, cleaning up the story, designing collectibles and fine-tuning the soundtrack, I’m not slacking off either. Admittedly I’m not doing any work on the game, which is obviously the actual achievement.
But there is more to a product than the product itself. I’m referring to the product’s presentation – the Schein website. It has been long neglected and is far from what we want it to be. Now, I’m definitely not an expert in this area, but since there are no other resources we can resort to, the task has fallen to me to create a new website.
A while ago our former artist, Philipp, began designing a new website for Schein, and this design is now being completed by Flip. I am especially happy about the new graphics, which I think go so much better with the game.
To achieve a nicely responsive layout I have started rebuilding the site from scratch using Twitter Bootstrap. For those interested, I will be giving some details on the actual code setup in my next blog.
A major aspect we are going to change is, that we are turning it into a product website, instead of the homepage it has been until now. For instance we will be featuring our blog on the Zeppelin Studio page instead of on the Schein page.
In fact, I have been publishing all blog entries on both sites for a while now, but as of today the distributed link will be that of the Zeppelin Studio homepage. In the next couple of days, you will be seeing more of the content being shifted to that site and the old Schein page transforming. We will strip away all the superfluous pages and reduce the content to a minimum, which shall capture a players’ interest and arouse their curiosity.
I’m really excited for the new site to go live, and I’ll be keeping you up to date on the development. Keep in touch!
by Tiare Feuchtner
This year Zeppelin Studio is celebrating its first Christmas as a company. This also means, that all of us will be “out of office” over the holidays to celebrate with our families.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas!
by Tiare Feuchtner
Today I want to tell you about some of the things that are keeping us busy, apart from polishing and bug-fixing.
For a start, our team has undergone a significant change. Our Art Director Philipp Schürz has left us! While he went off to pursue greatness in his studies at the FH Hagenberg, we felt a little bit like fish out of the water. For what is a game without its graphics? How can a game studio thrive without an artist? And the long list of assets and textures still remains incomplete.
So we began the search for a talented individual, who would be able to fill Philipp’s shoes and is willing to take up that challenge. It was in a way a memorable moment: Zeppelin Studio was hiring for the very first time!
We received quite a considerable number of applications from incredibly talented people. Michael and Philipp were left with the terribly difficult task of selecting the one person, who would make our team complete again.
Their decision fell on someone who shows great promise, and I think we all couldn’t be happier about his work. But I will say no more than that, for he will personally be saying hello in his own first blog post quite soon.
We are also quite excited about the following upcoming events:
On Friday Nov. 22nd we will be at the Open Day at the FH Technikum Wien, which is the birthplace of Schein. Here we will give a short presentation about the course program of the Game Engineering and Simulation track and the creation of Schein. And of course you will be able to play the game too. So come by, we’d be glad to see you!
Then the following week we’re participating in the Microsoft Education and Innovation conference in Vienna. We feel honored to hold a keynote presentation on the first day and our lead programmer will be lecturing about programming for Windows 8 phone on day 2. If you happen to be there, we’d be thrilled to meet you there and are looking forward to interesting chats and drinks at the soiree.
by Tiare Feuchtner
Today was a very special day for Zeppelin Studio. After all it doesn’t happen every day that our every move is recorded and it might all be broadcast for the whole world to see. So you can probably imagine that the night was somewhat restless for all of us.
Shortly before 10am we met up with the ORF-team at the FH Technikum Wien, where it all began. (ORF = Austrian national TV) Vanessa, Flora and Martin arrived carrying a huge camera, tripod and large bags full of intimidating equipment. We said our hellos and were rushed into action, because the grey skies were already threatening to release a tempest upon us.
We were told to walk through the doors of the university building, behaving as naturally as possible. Have you ever concentrated on how to move when you walk naturally? How to survey your surroundings casually, without actually ever staring at the camera? Are you conscious about which hand you usually open a door with and what you do with your coat and bags meanwhile? It was unbelievably complicated! And worst of all was that we had to repeat it several times in exactly the same way: walk towards the doors in the same order, appear to be having a natural conversation and everyday thoughts meanwhile, then open the doors and file through one at a time, and take up positions again outside for the next shot.
The next scene was recorded in the Game Lab, where we were supposed to pretend to be at work. This turned out to be incredibly easy – we simply began to work in earnest, discussing the redesign of the website, design of the boss arenas and project management. We were happy with the work we got done and the TV crew seemed satisfied as well.
After a quick interview with both Zeppelin Studio founders Philipp and Michael, we transferred from the university to our “office”. Quite frankly it’s our Artist’s beautiful apartment, where we usually get together to work.
The afternoon rushed by with lots of fun takes including recorded Skype sessions and two more interviews. In between we completely forgot that we were being watched by that monstrous camera and it almost felt like a regular work day. Almost.
The thought that our faces will be on TV screens all over Austria is still absolutely surreal. In a way we’re dreading the moment – it’s terrible to see oneself walking and talking. But on the other hand we can’t wait for it to happen (we’ll let you know, as soon as the airing date is known!). It’s an amazing opportunity for Schein and Zeppelin Studio and we want to thank our awesome ORF TV crew for making this happen!
by Tiare Feuchtner
For all of you who might have missed it: Last week we were in St. Petersburg for the Worldwide Finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup! And… we won!!
Here’s an account of the events. I’ve honestly tried to keep it as brief as possible.
After some serious sightseeing on Saturday and Sunday, we moved from our cozy downtown hostel, to the huge Park Inn hotel, which was the venue for the Microsoft Imagine Cup. It was unbelievably exciting to check in alongside all the other teams from all over the world. We felt really special and important at being treated so attentively by the staff. All this is an unknown and strange world for humble students and “nobodies”such as us.
After a quick briefing by Andrew Parsons, we were all herded out in front of the hotel for a massive group photo. The confusion and chaos caused by hundreds of young, overexcited people, who in part have a limited understanding of the English language, and the feeble attempt at organization of a woman using a megaphone that was simply not loud enough, was marvelous.
Then we finally our mentor Rainer Stropek who joined us at the special welcome dinner for Western Europe. Together with a handful of teams from the “smaller” European countries (such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Belgium), we were all led into the dining hall and due to a lack of speeches or introduction, we began to awkwardly mingle and tentatively nibble at the food. Overall this event consisted of a huge buffet and a lack of alcoholic beverages, which was immediately pointed out by the Irish mentor. However we soon hurried off to our speaker coaching session, leaving the roast pork leg completely untasted. While awaiting our turn, we met Jan and the German team metappolic, who have become good friends during this week. After Michael gave a great presentation and the coach provided us with lots of great feedback, we got a whole lot of valuable ideas by Rainer too. We spent half the night adapting and rehearsing our presentation.
On Tuesday we were the last team to present in the Games category, which luckily gave us some more time to prepare. Nevertheless, we didn’t feel ready and the lack of sleep made it even worse. At 2:40 pm it was time to meet our judges: Larry Hryb, Adam Sessler, Laura Parker, Kevin Dent, Alexey Pajitnov (the maker of TETRIS). All of them looked tired, as can be expected after such a long day of judging (and presumably long night at the bar) – except for Alexey, who was smiling and waving at us, which really helped cheer us up! Michael breezed through the presentation and it seemed like the rest of the team was way more nervous than he was. And then came the questions. Brutally honest questions. We had prepared so well and had even anticipated some of them, but nothing went as it had been rehearsed. In retrospective I believe we gave some good answers, but at the time it seemed like we were doomed.
We walked out and got busy setting up our booth for the showcase later on. In the meantime we had a nice chat and interview with Claudia and Rudi, the Austrians who accompanied us.
After a short, well-deserved nap we trudged down to the Women’s Innovation Dinner, where we were delighted to find a delicious meal and even wine! Strengthened and refreshed we set off for the press showcase. It was a real pleasure to be at our booth and present our game to all who wished to see it. Most of all we enjoyed the company of our fellow competitors around us and soon became friends with the teams from Puerto Rico, Czech Republic and Turkey. The showcase continued until late into the evening and left us tired but quite cheerful.
Soon however we remembered all those difficult questions and huddled together to prepare for the following day, when the judges would test our game in a 15 minute hands-on session. We worked until late in the night, polishing our game and rehearsing better replies and explanations to the difficult subjects they had breached.
On Wednesday we woke early, feeling beat and battered and hurried to our 8am hands-on judging session. It began with Laura Parker, who greeted us cheerfully and seemed delighted with our game. Second up was Kevin Dent, who surprisingly did not follow up his questions from the previous day. He overwhelmed us with lots of great advice and encouragement, taking a ton of weight off our minds. Then Larry Hryb came to give Schein a try, and he too had positive feedback for us. Adam Sessler had made us somewhat nervous the previous day, but when it was his turn he actually got so engrossed with one of our puzzles, he was cursing and stomping and quite clearly having a great time. And so did we! Finally our booth was visited by the maker of Tetris himself, Alexey Pajitnov, an unbelievably kind man. Our experiences from this day were so contrary to the one before and left us confused but unspeakably relieved.
In the afternoon Microsoft had organized a cultural day for us, and it felt absolutely like a school trip. We spent a couple of sunny hours lazily strolling through a “traditional” Russian village (which was apparently constructed with the sole purpose of entertaining a crowd of students once a year). There were games and strangely dressed Russians and a couple of farm animals in very small cages, which we gawked at like aliens – surely a result of sleep deprivation. We dwelled in childhood memories while we crafted traditional Russian dolls and painted wall decorations. We also engaged in some manly activities like spear throwing, forging and sawing.
Later the buses took us to Peterhof, a huge palace where Peter the Great used to stop for a break on his journey to the St. Peter and Paul Fortress, which guards the city. This is also where Empress Elizabeth resided until she came to power. Enough history lessons… We gathered for one more chaotic group photo, to which we once more failed to bring our flag. Then we ambled through the beautiful park admiring the multitude of fountains and gleaming gold statues and simply had fun. The pressure was finally gone and it felt so good to be able to relax and let our hair down!
Upon returning to the hotel the sun was setting and it was nearly midnight – that’s what they call white nights. We headed out to the minimarket, stocked up on beer, wine and vodka and had a lovely late night picnic of Mannerschnitten and Mozartkugeln together with German, Russian and Belgian friends.
Needless to say we slightly regretted these actions the next morning, and only half our team actually attended the learning sessions. They were very interesting though – or so I’ve heard. In the early afternoon we returned to our booths for the final showcase, which was open to the public. Our booth was strongly frequented and Schein received lots of attention. Then it was time to pack our stuff and get ready for the award ceremony! We felt terribly tired, nauseous, our heads were throbbing, and the mounting excitement did not make it any better. Surprisingly our smiles reveal quite little of our suffering.
We took our seats in the magnificent Alexandrinsky Theatre and admired the richly adorned interior that was glistening with gold. Matt Smith (you might know him from Doctor Who) took the stage and the ceremony began. Lots of speeches by important people followed, which are now all a blur in my mind. In between we were entertained by skilled Russian dancers in colorful attire. The first sponsor prizes were awarded and the Indian group, which Rainer was mentoring as well, won. It was awesome to see how happy they were! Then time seemed to slow, suspense became unbearable and breathing got quite difficult too. For once we had brought the Austrian flag with us and the thought crossed my mind that I had no idea if the eagle should actually look left or right – how embarrassing it would be to hold the flag the wrong way. Gladly there was Wi-Fi and we quickly looked it up – thank you Google! When Alexey took the stage and it was time for the Games category, reality seemed to fade. The third place went to France with their game Seed. We were really hoping to be among the top 3, so when second place was called, my reflexes almost made me get up. But somehow I became aware that the Hamster game won that prize. That was it then… it was going to be all or nothing. I think we all held our breaths and when Alexey called for Zeppelin Studio it took a long while for our brains to tell us that he meant us. We won! WE WON!!
Standing on stage was incredibly difficult with knees shaking wildly and when we got back down it was a real challenge to hold back the tears. We did it! We watched in a daze as the rest of the ceremony passed. Then we were hurried back onto the stage for a photo of the champions. Backstage we got to meet Matt Smith and shake hands, and then we were told to position ourselves in a separate hall, for the press to take pictures. Our arms were slowly growing tired – those trophies are incredibly heavy! (2.5 kilos… um, that’s about 5 pounds?)
We were guided to the First Place Winner’s Dinner. The food was incredibly delicious and eating was only made difficult by the fact that we were accompanied by press, who wanted to talk to us meanwhile. Soon we were rushed out again and a bus took us to the party, where we finally meet up with our fellow competitors. It was good to be out of the spotlight and just spend some time chatting and drinking with friends. It was truly heartbreaking to see the disappointed faces of friends who hadn’t won, and it made the congratulations we received bittersweet. But there’s still another chance next year, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of you again in Seattle!
by Tiare Feuchtner
What has unfortunately become quite apparent this last week, has now happened. Our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo has failed. Since we did not manage to reach our funding goal of €20.000 all the money will be returned to the funders and we will be back at where we started from.
Well actually, that’s not quite true. We’ve won many things through this campaign – except for money.
We got tons of love and encouragement, good advice and great feedback. We have a super awesome crowd of funders who have kept our spirits high this past month. And so many kind people who helped us promote our campaign end urged us on. For all that we thank you!
And there’s really no reason to be sad – Schein WILL be published. We will find a way! It might not end up being as gloriously beautiful as we would wish it to be, and it might take us a little longer than expected to get all those licenses paid, but we will do our utmost to stay as close to our original goal as possible.
Now what actually went wrong? We are aware of some shortcomings which have crippled our campaign right from the beginning.
For one there is the fact, that neither of us has a reputation. We have no published reference projects to brag with and no long years of experience to reassure people of our abilities. In short, we don’t have much to guarantee that what we’re doing will be truly awesome. This is a downside of being young and being a start-up. A click for a like is quickly given, but when it comes to giving money people become weary.
Secondly we had no funds at all to get us started. To imagine what possibilities we would have had if we could afford a proper marketing campaign and a professional video … This shall be different with all our future projects.
A third issue was pricing. We tried as best we could to find realistic prices for our perks, adding production and shipping costs to required revenue. But it turns out we have little idea of the actual market value of our game and everything else. Unfortunately the goal we set is really what we require, because after taxes, fees and perk fulfillment, not that much is left. We could have made our perks cheaper, but we’re not sure if that would really have made the difference. It seems we will never know.
At this point we failed most clearly though: It is general knowledge in crowdfunding circles, that the first 25%-30% of funding need to come from friends and family. That’s necessary to start off with some momentum and get the ball rolling. After all it feels so much better to back something that appears to be successful – everybody wants to be on the winning side! It’s not like our friends and family weren’t generous. On the contrary! But asking for money doesn’t come lightly and raising €5000 from your dear ones is no easy task. Certainly this is something that will need to be strongly improved in our next campaign.
But overall, the good thing is that since we have little, we also have little to lose. We have no great responsibility, do not need to care for families, and the risks we take are solely our own. We simply had to give crowdfunding a try, and did so knowing that it is not our only chance. The next month will be a very busy one in preparation for the Imagine Cup Finals, but we will also be working on our new funding plan.
Today our crowdfunding campaign ended with a great missed opportunity, but tomorrow is a new day, a new dawn - a new beginning with a new plan!
Stay tuned for further adventures of Zeppelin Studio.
by Tiare Feuchtner
With a father figure as our main character, we feel compelled to honor Father’s Day. Depending on culture and country, father’s day is celebrated on the second or third Sunday in June. So either way, it is fast approaching! Have you found a gift yet for your daddy? We have one for you!
Your dear father surely enjoys unwinding with a tricky little platformer – we all know that every man is actually a child at heart. But he might be rather the old-fashioned type, regarding all those downloadable games with a certain degree of contempt. After all, a game has so much more substance if you can unpack it, feel it, relish the act of placing the disc in your pc, and later put it on a shelf to look at. It’s just physically there.
by Michael Benda
Now it’s getting serious – it’s either all or nothing.
Crowdfunding history teaches us that the last week is the most important time for any project. And here we are – we’ve made a good start, but there still remains much to be done. We have created a great, artful game that is ready to be released this summer, but it won’t happen without YOUR help! Instead of counting on a single publisher to fund our cause and to alter the game to their whim, we want you people to publish this game with us and to shape it according to your personal wishes and ideas.
Now is the time to show us your support. Visit our campaign on Indiegogo, purchase the game, get yourself Beta access or claim a specially dedicated copy for your friend!
With your help and your feedback, together we will create the trickiest, gloomiest and at the same time brightest platformer that the gaming world has ever seen.
Someone we’ve surely all heard of achieved great things in only seven days without any help – imagine what we can achieve in seven days with the help of the whole world!
by Tiare Feuchtner
We wish to bring you even closer to Schein: We want to show you where it was created!
During the development of Schein three exciting cities played a major role: Vienna is where it all began, Leipzig is the base of our sound team Leed:Audio, and Berlin is where our near future will lie.
We would like to invite you to visit us in one of these cities. And we promise to spend a whole day with you showing you our workplace, the cities sights, our favorite parks, cafes, bars,..
We’ve made a perk just for that purpose: Visit Schein’s Birthplace!
But since there are not that many weekends we can spend, we’ve had to limit this perk to 4.
So claim your-perk on Indiegogo quickly! We can’t wait to meet you this summer!
(Accomodation for 2 nights and entry fees included. Airfare not included.)
by Tiare Feuchtner
The last week provided a little more excitement than usual – even apart from the constant thrill of running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which regularly makes us wake an hour early, heads full of new ideas, challenges, solutions and worries. The reason was the upcoming GameStage in Linz. We were invited to show off our game alongside the other fellow game-devs from Austria.
Even after we’ve been at it for more than a year now and after several presentations at more or less formal occasions, we still have no routine in preparing for such an event. So much needs to be planned and considered, posters and flyers need to be designed in time to be printed, hardware needs to be packed, means of transportation and the overnight stay need to be organized. And perhaps the most difficult thing was planning for 4 team members to be physically present at the same location. Miraculously everything worked out perfectly – like always. And at very last minute we even managed to borrow a car, so off we went to Linz!
When we arrived the guys from Radiated Pixel, who brought the GameStage to life in the first place, gave us a very warm welcome. Our colleagues from Missing Kangaroo Productions, Pro 3 Games, Broken Rules, Andranik Ghalustians, gLab Hagenberg, and Ananasblau Games were attending as well. We quickly set up our gaming station, had a first beer with our comrades-in-arms and happily chatted about the pleasures and troubles of game development. With all teams struggling with similar problems of designing, developing, and now presenting the result of our hard work, learning to organize our young teams and managing our very limited resources, we had a lot in common. Never before, since I joined the Schein team, have I felt so understood. ;)
Then the doors were opened for the public and curious newcomers lingered in front of the screens considering picking up the controllers and getting a taste of one of these new, Austrian creations. We watched with fascination, as the players tackled the challenges of our game, sometimes struggling at unexpected places or breezing through puzzle sections which we found most difficult. We gained many valuable insights and it gave us great satisfaction to receive all that awesome feedback! There really is something very special about watching someone play your own game: Every daring jump makes you draw in your breath, you feel deep pride at every well working puzzle and exasperation at discovering overlooked bugs. It is also terribly difficult to refrain from giving instructions all the time, while still providing needed explanations and last but not least pointing out our Indiegogo campaign and dire need of support.
Apart from attending the gamers, we also played each other’s games to get to know each other a little better. It was a great experience! We also enjoyed the series of presentations held by game devs, and when we surprisingly got the opportunity as well, we dug out some old slides and Philipp took the stage. It’s a pity that we were so unprepared, but Philipp did an amazing job of the spontaneous presentation.
After an evening that seemed like no more than an hour and at the same time felt like it lasted a week, the visitors left and we started packing. But that’s not where our evening ended. Together with a number of newly found friends we headed out into Linz in pursuit of a rewarding pint of beer.
Small though it was, this event was amazing, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it! Not only did we get a chance to watch our players in action and learn through this observation, we also received valuable advice, found new friends and enjoyed a wonderful team excursion to Linz. And of course we hope to have gained lots of new Schein fans and supporters for our Indiegogo campaign too!