Houston Game Dev

Foolish Aggro

September 27, 2012
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A company by the name of Foolish Aggro has a very unique strategy when it comes to getting started in the world of iOS development.  By releasing their early efforts for free they are out to build up a fan base while providing great ‘on the go’ entertainment.  Their game for iOS is Pyroclasm,


This endless runner features a wonderfully Gothic Fantasy art style by Matt Gomez as the player controls what appears to be a fiery magic spell in search of gems to keep its dragon soul charged.  Look out for obvious things that conflict with this burning mass such as water fountains and ice shards.

Hitting things like bookshelves of spell books appears to enhance the fiery spell to a degree.  Could be dragons breath, I don’t know.  All I know is that it is very awesome and original.  It seems to be programmed well and the controls are solid.

Did I mention that it is free?  You should only be reading this if you are waiting on it to download.  So go pick it up here in the iOS App Store.

Interesting maneuvering Foolish Aggro.   Adam Alexander of the company explained it to me this way,

The goal of the company is to eventually be able to do it for a living (we
all have day jobs) ... to continue to create games that we want to play
ourselves and keep us excited.  We aren't in this for a quick buck, we are
passionate gamers who want to craft unique experiences.  In our future
releases, we plan to have better storytelling, tighter mechanics, and
possibly asynchronous multiplayer.

You can visit Foolish Aggro at their blog website and even check out an early prototype for an online game that seems to show a lot of promise.  It was mentioned that it was released in an unfinished state to get feedback and share their work.  These unique transparent methods of introducing themselves is a very welcome tactic and will surely get people interested in their craft.

We are very happy to have stumbled upon more Houston area developers.  Much like the mighty Zeboyd Games, this small team is also a tale of two cities.  Split between Dallas and Houston they appear to function well and are off to a great start.  In the golden age of digital communication, we are very fortunate to have one half of this dragon here in Houston.

We will keep a close eye on them and we look very forward to their development efforts in the future as should you.

Pyroclasm website





Posted in Features

HGD NEWS: new Resources Section, Facebook Links, and 2nd meetup!

September 27, 2012


New Resources Section:

First off great job Amy on the excellent artwork and style you continue to deliver to our site!    We added a new Resources page to our website and we encourage our readers to contribute to it by adding links that you feel would benefit game developers in the comments section.  This is a chance for everyone to participate, even outside of Houston!  Share the knowledge!







Facebook Pages:

QuestLord Facebook Page

Zeboyd Games Facebook Page

Wing Whackers Facebook Page

Foolish Aggro Facebook Page

Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to cover ever single thing the local game companies might want to express, we only cover the major stories & announcements.  So therefore it is best to follow them yourselves!  The best way to do that is through their facebook pages!  Our facebook page will be coming next week, until then follow us on Twitter @HoustonGameDev

Meet Up:

Our first meetup wasn’t really announced, basically a few developers got together at a Technology Bytes’ GEEK GATHERING and therefore… Met Up!  But there were enough of us for it to feel legit and we plan on doing it again.  It is the first Friday of every month and is currently being held at KHON’s in downtown Houston.  More info can be found here http://www.facebook.com/events/318921498205122/ so, if you are going to this specifically for the Houston Game Developers, please respect that this is NOT technically our meet-up.  Most people there will not know what the heck you are talking about.  We don’t do anything formal, we just meet there. So here is the secret to hunting us out at this very casual thing:

Just send an email to contact at houstongamedev.org and we can CC you to arrange for you to find us.  – OR-  You ask for Jay who runs the Geek Gathering, then ask him if he knows any Houston Game Developers he will point you to us.

Sorry if that seems rather clandestine but that this is how we are doing it at the moment.  However it is actually perfect as we are not large and organized enough yet to have actual meetings and presentations.  But at the rate we are growing since we started with our first post, it looks like we are well on our way!  Eventually we plan on having our own meeting with presentations and discussions on topics.  At the rate we are growing since our first post it seems we are well on our way to that point.  Wouldn’t that be great?  So get involved and …

enjoy Houston Game Developing!



Posted in HGD News

Bill Stiernberg of Zeybod Games

September 7, 2012
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Zeboyd Games has emerged in the RPG space as one of the top RPG game creators around.  Their game announcements have been nothing short of exciting, generating buzz and creating fans all over the world. Zeboyd Games has had great coverage and rave reviews from sites such as PC Gamer, Joystiq, and  EuroGames.  We are lucky to have 50% of Zeboyd, right here developing in Houston.  Let us all recognize and enjoy the fantastic work of Bill Steinberg shall we?

HGD:Have you always wanted to get into game development on a professional level, or just a hobby level?

Bill Stiernberg: It’s always been kind of a dream of mine to work in game development. However, I wasn’t sure what avenue would be the best route for me to take. Ultimately I figured I’d start out getting an engineering degree and then decide where to go from there, since a B.S. in engineering is always a good thing. I tried making a few indie games/mods and working with a number of teams over the internet during college, but nothing really came out. It did, however, give me a lot of perspective and experience in working with people over the net, and was informative about what does and doesn’t work. Anyway, I decided to go to law school in hopes of pursuing a career in IP law, and perhaps entering the games industry by that route (copyright, trademark, patent law, licensing, etc.). I focused my time in law school on these subjects, however my interest in the indie game industry actually grew once I had heard about the increasing opportunities for small teams (iOS, XBLIG, Steam, XBLA, etc etc). I created a few games in my spare time, and fortunately around that time Robert Boyd had obtained some experience with Xbox Live Indie Games. We’d known each other through the Penny Arcade web forums, and he’s seen some of my work and I’d seen his, so we decided to work together to make an RPG for the platform – Breath of Death VII. Ultimately I finished law school (was working on CSTW while studying for the Bar Exam), passed it and got licensed, started as an attorney, and finally once we were able to get our games on Steam, our little 2-man company had been doing well enough that I decided I could finally pursue this dream. Thus I left my job as a lawyer and started working on our games full time. I guess you could say it’s one of those things I always wanted to do full time as a career, but was always worried that it could do no better than a hobbyist activity. Thanks to digital distribution, I’ve found that it’s quite possible to become successful and support a business and family with income generated through successful indie development.

HGD: Your games have a traditional JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) look and style. Was this your inspiration and/or favorite game genre to play?

Bill Stiernberg I’ve always been a fan of RPGs from the 16-bit era, and Robert is a hardcore RPG fan. Some of my favorite RPGs are from the 16-bit era, among them Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, Illusion of Gaia, as well as games like Lunar and Phantasy Star. You could definitely say that these games, among others, have inspired us quite a bit in our games’ look and designs, although we have applied our own design mentality to the basic systems. We’re a two-person team and our games are still fairly modest, but we’re constantly trying to take steps to push ourselves with each new release both on a visual, (game) mechanical, and engine standpoint.

HGD: Your team-mate at Zeboyd Games lives in California. How is it working online from a distance?

Bill Stiernberg Working on projects such as these over the internet has a lot of positives and a lot of drawbacks. However, I’ve found that if you can become accustomed to working this way, there are a number of good advantages of working through the internet. In the past, I had noticed that most indie dev projects that operated entirely over the ‘net had fallen apart mostly due to a lack of communication between team members, and a misunderstanding over how much work was involved. What I’d usually see is that as soon as the project became tedious, team members would slowly start dropping their communication as they prioritized other things in their lives (understandably), until one day they realize that they had kind of stopped working on the project all together and then called it quits. If you have the determination, enthusiasm, and dedication to build a game from start to finish, it can be extremely rewarding regardless of how the task was accomplished. In our case, Robert and I work extremely well together, and we have discovered many ways that the web actually helps us stay in touch and on top of tasks, and keep each other motivated. We’re both online, on gchat, pretty much all day during our “working hours” (so to speak) and we constantly share progress with one another. That’s great for motivation and keeps the ball rolling. It’s also nice that as a side effect of working over the web, everything you do is essentially “backed up” on the web every time you share it, be it via email or dropbox or other means. It’s rather nice knowing that if my PC crashes, I have my data backed up on DropBox or in my Gmail’s sent box such that I can pick back up from where I left off if anything gets lost or destroyed. It also helps keeping track of things. So I guess these are the benefits generally.. it’s also nice not having to pay a great deal in office rent and electricity too, hahah.



HGD: And of course, how do you like working on games in Houston?

Bill Stiernberg: Working in Houston is great. It’s a large city and there’s plenty of options as far as where to live, depending on your style. There’s the bustling city, there’s midtown which is kind of a younger crowd, there’s the Heights and places where young professionals are starting to move, there’s certain suburbs which are kinda the nice but more expensive suburb type places that are still sort of close to the busy parts of the city, and then as you get further out you can get some great homes at seriously reasonable prices.. So there’s lots of options. For me as an indie dev who works entirely via the internet, my physical location is not restricted by an office, so I can kind of choose where to live to an extent. Right now I’m living in Bellaire which is not in the midst of downtown but is still located around a lot of great stuff in Houston. What I’ve found when talking to people / devs from other cities is that despite the sweltering heat (who goes outside anyway?) Houston is pretty good for cost of living. Unlike some areas on the West coast, for example, we don’t have any city or state income taxes, which is great for indie devs (often formed in partnership arrangements) because it means less taxes / more to save or spend on your quality of life. That’s something I’ve really come to appreciate about Texas and Houston.


Otherwise in general it’s just nice that I live in a city that is fairly modern, I can go to the latest movies or the Galleria and it has a lot of the great tech stores (like three locations of Fry’s Electronics, or MicroCenter) as well as wholesalers (Directron), so that’s great for me as a game dev / tech guy / gamer. Food is great; it’s one of the best cities in the USA to find any type of food or place to hang out.Coffee and/or Tea houses are everywhere for devs who like to sit in such places and write code / docs / artwork / etc while maintaining a precise level of caffeination. So yeah I think it’s great being in a large, modern city with plenty of stuff to do while not (at least in my case) necessarily being tied to a specific location to have to physically drive to for work every day!


HGD:Can you explain how Penny Arcade Precipice of Darkness Episode 3 came about?

Bill Stiernberg 

Well, like I mentioned earlier, Robert and I got to know each other via the Penny Arcade web forums, and we still use them regularly. So after the Rainslick series had been officially canceled, and around the time we were working on Cthulhu Saves the World, a Rainslick fan put up a post on the Penny Arcade forums suggesting to PA that maybe they could continue the series in the form of a retro-RPG if they brought Zeboyd in to work with. We thought it was a great idea, so Robert replied and said yeah we’d be interested, but we weren’t expecting PA to contact us about it or anything, plus we had CSTW to finish. Sure enough, however, a few weeks later Robert Khoo (from PA) contacted us to talk about bringing the Rainslick series back from the dead! We were extremely excited, of course, to work with PA and work on their game series. We also discovered later that the PA guys are big fans of the 16-bit era of RPGs and had been considering doing the Rainslick series in 8 or 16-bit for a while, they were just looking for a team to work with them on it!


HGD: What do you consider your proudest accomplishment in the area of game development?

Bill Stiernberg: That’s a tough question to answer. It’s a broad question. I guess generally every game release is my proudest accomplishment, because we work so hard to improve our skills and games and putting it all together into a final product each time is usually the proudest moment; and each game eclipses the last. I guess that means working with Penny Arcade and launching Precipice 3 and getting great reviews is currently my proudest moment. I’d also say that being able to go and meet other developers in the industry and talk about games and the fact that they have sometimes heard of Cthulhu or Rainslick3 or Zeboyd is always a proud moment (and surreal). I guess more generally just meeting people and other developers and members of the gaming press, it’s just an incredible feeling because I know I’m *in* the industry now, I’m involved in it, and it’s an excellent and invigorating feeling.


HGD:Can you tell us about what you guys have planned next for Zeboyd games? Any hints, clues or links to follow for more news?

Bill Stiernberg: Heheh, well for one we’re working on some final bonus (free) DLC content for Rainslick3. The next bonus pack will be a new and interesting dungeon, and the final DLC pack will add quite a lot of new content and some story bits not seen until then. So that’s been fun, and afterwards, we’ll begin full time work on Rainslick4. We’ve done some preliminary planning to that end, but the real work on RS4 will begin after we finish the Rainslick3 bonus content. As far as what we do *after* Rainslick4, well, we have about a trillion different ideas that we’ve batted around and we’re pretty enthusiastic about all of them. But since it’s all still in the sort of brainstorming phase, that’s about all I can say!


Posted in Features, Interviews