Gamer Entrepreneur: Conlan Rios
By: Vaughn Reynolds
Gaming is about the awesome connections and friendships we build with others; at least in my humble opinion. The age of the internet has allowed us to be ‘connected’ to far more people than we would be able to find face-to-face in our local community… but it also created an enormous physical barrier.
Around the globe people host game nights, weekly, monthly and even nightly. Some of us do it for the joy of competition, some for the joy of new games, but deep down all of us go out to be a part of a community. We love being gamers, and we love being around gamers, because they understand the ‘weird’ behaviors and preferences we have.
I had the amazing opportunity to chat with Conlan Rios, CEO of Offworld Games. They have developed a number of mobile adaptations of traditional board games. Their current project is an adaptation of Reiner Knizia’s title The Confrontation, which won a number of awards in it’s hay day.
This adaptation will be available on the PC, Mac and iPad and is, as of this article, nearly funded on Kickstarter. You should check it out and hop on if you’re interested, especially if you want to get in on the beta!
And now, without more babble from me, here’s what Conlan has to say!
How long have you been developing electronic games?
I started developing electronic games when I was 16 after I discovered a tool called Game Maker. I started full time work as a mobile developer at a photo sharing network and continued developing games in Java, Objective-C, and Unity C#.
How many times a week do you play tabletop or electronic games?
I’ll normally play for an hour or two on my PC or PS3 to unwind after work. We usually host a tabletop game night with friends about once a week.
Does Offworld Games host or attend any regular game nights?
We’d love to do that when we get more established.
Will Offworld Games be attending any upcoming conventions or public events?
We’ll likely be attending KublaCon in May (we’ve gone a few times in the past).
How did Offworld Games get connected with Reiner Knizia, one of, if not the, most prolific board game designer in the world? Do you get to work with him directly?
Back around 2009 when the App Store was still fairly new, it became known that Knizia was looking for developers to adapt some of his titles for the iPhone (The iPad had yet to be announced) We reached out to him and began working on some of his smaller titles such as Knights of Charlemagne and Robot Master. From there we worked on an original designed-for-mobile project of his (Monumental) until finally embarking on a complete adaptation of Samurai; shortly after this we officially formed Offworld Games, LLC.
How involved is he in the design process?
For games such as The Confrontation we do an exact port of the game rules consulting him only for exact interpretations of the when necessary. The most challenging aspect of bring these games to platforms like the iPhone, iPad, and now desktop, is getting the UI to work smoothly and provide the player with the best experience possible.
How did developing and releasing Samurai help you in the design process for The Confrontation?
We learned a lot during the development of Samurai. Asynchronous turn-based games were few and far between at the time and we’re really proud to be among the initial developers to get it right. We learned early on how important it was to provide in-depth tutorials and to really adapt the game flow to the platform.
Your first Kickstarter is going very well, how much of your time has been focused on it, versus game development, since the campaign was launched?
We prepared for quite a while before launching our Kickstarter and it still doesn’t feel like we prepped enough; between community outreach, marketing promotion, and campaign planning we’ve definitely been a little squeezed on time since we started;overall, I think we’re managing it well for our first try.
Do you have any special events or tactics planned for the critical final 3 days of the campaign?
Heh, besides staying awake for 72 hours straight? Well, we plan on introducing another pledge add-on soon for the 3D printed models. We’ve been doing some research and shapeways.com is looking pretty good for our requirements. We’re also planning to do Twitch.tv streaming at some point but we really want to add as much polish as we can before playing it live before an audience.
Did you take any crowdfunding ideas from another campaign you followed or backed yourself?
Nothing from any one specific campaign but we’re trying to update often. I know I personally feel better with regular updates from a project’s creator. We’re also trying to respond quickly and to be flexible with our backer’s questions and interests. We created additional reward tiers after receiving multiple requests for a desktop plus tablet combo. I think it’s good to remain fluid and iterate quickly.
Would you advise other game designers attempting to use Kickstarter to keep it primarily for expanded content?
We think it really depends on the existing audience for the content itself as opposed to whether it’s an expansion or not. Projects with original IP seem to be much harder to fund over ones with a pre-existing audience who know the game already.
Based on the comments, it looks like fans are ready and waiting for your game port to release on Steam Greenlight; congrats! But for those who don’t know what Steam Greenlight is, how would you describe it, and its benefit to your game publishing process?
This is our first game for Steam Greenlight and it’s really exciting. Our understanding is that Greenlight helps keep the quality high for titles in the Steam store but that it can take a lot longer than say the App Store where any game gets approved and goes live in two weeks. In theory, with Greenlight, only games that have proven themselves are allowed onboard. While this is a tougher hurdle it also means that when you launch you’re guaranteed some splash since you have to do significant marketing up front. We’re definitely going to celebrate when we’re finally greenlit 🙂
Do you plan to ever port The Confrontation to Android?
Since we develop with Unity this is possible with a relatively manageable amount of development and art rework. However, it really depends on how well the iPad version is received: we can’t emphasize enough how disciplined we have to be in choosing projects.
What’s the best method to follow your companies progress and game releases?
The best way is to follow us is on Twitter (twitter.com/offworldgames) since it’s easy to update; we’re almost always able to respond within 24 hours. Facebook (facebook.com/offworldgames) is also an option but now that pages have to boost their posts for their followers to see them fans are not guaranteed to receive each of our updates. We also just put our profile up on Instagram (instagram.com/offworldgames) and we are hoping that will offer an alternative “behind the scenes” look at our day to day development progress.
Who is your favorite game designer, besides Reiner Knizia, and which title of theirs is your favorite?
Oh, too many to name! Of course, Eric Lang and Christian Petersen with many of our favorite titles between them including Warhammer 40k: Conquest and Game of Thrones.
We also really like Mage Knight: The Board Game, designed by Vlaada Chvátil; we’re really in awe of how much sheer depth the game offers while keeping the system contained and manageable. In the 4X genre we love both Eclipse by Touko Tahkokallio and Exodus from NSKN Games.
Richard Garfield for Netrunner (both original and LCG versions) and Magic: The Gathering.