Local Game Developer Showcases Work at Key American Conference
Michael Long and his company Foolish Mortals are no strangers to game development, but when it came time to showcase his work to a broader audience—in his case, travelling to a conference called PAX West in Seattle—he was successful in securing a Creative Saskatchewan Market Travel Grant to get there. Long says that, despite the fact that the video game industry is (not surprisingly) very digital-focused, speaking to industry players in person is crucial for businesses like his to grow.
“Getting to be able to talk to people in person and seeing their face makes a much stronger connection that if … in future want to talk to a publisher, it really helps if you say ‘Oh, hey, we met at PAX a year ago, do you want to hear about our new game?’ That’s a much easier ‘in’ than just doing a cold call email and then they’ll just delete it without even looking at it.”
PAX West is one of the largest video game conferences in the world and Long was able to secure a coveted spot as part of the PAX Rising showcase. This opportunity meant that he didn’t have to pay for a booth, which can run into the thousands of dollars. Still, he says that funding like the Market Travel and Digital Game Development grants prevented him from having to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“I was very, very, seriously considering moving to Quebec, where they actually pay for 35% of your Quebec studio salaries, which is just huge. So it’s very cool that Saskatchewan is putting more and more attention towards funding video games, because it is big business, but it’s a very hard business to break into.”
As for the game that Long showcased south of the border, it’s called Kaiju Wars, and is a 2D turn-based game where you’re defending the world against giant Godzilla-like monsters. While a mythical beast didn’t attack the convention centre during the event, Long says he learned a lot about how to market his work in-person versus online (such as using discount codes and consumer behaviour to boost sales).
“Always bring like 5000 business cards, that’s for sure. We only brought one laptop, since we actually had to travel there. It’s much better if you can bring multiple computers so you can have multiple people trying out your game. It’s good to always have people at your booth because people attract people.”
Since 2017, Foolish Mortals has expanded their Saskatoon operations from just a solo venture with a few contractors to three full-time and three-part time staff. The team is in the midst of their newest project, a real-time war simulation game, and Long says that his advice to anyone looking to emulate his success is to build community with other creators. “I run the Saskatoon Game Design Group. It’s a monthly meetup, where we meet in person or virtually each month and people in Saskatchewan come to show off games that they’re making. So, if you’re interested in starting game development, you should definitely come to these events where we’ll show games made in Saskatchewan and talk to you and give you advice on how you could get started trying to do this as a career.”
By John Loeppky
Interested in Godzilla-like monsters, war simulation games, or any of the other products produced by Michael Long and his team? You can check out their website or their Steam page.