Fingle, Bam fu, Friendstrap, and Bounden were built with an uncompromised creative vision. With Fingle, we wanted people to touch each other and feel awkward about it, so we invented mechanics, carefully picked a visual style, exaggerated with the music, and made people do nothing else than that: touch each other and feel awkward about it. Bam fu, Friendstrap, and Bounden followed, all with a vision of their own: to make people fight, talk about awkward stuff, or dance together. For each vision, we invented the mechanics, carefully picked a visual style, exaggerated with the music, and tried to make people do nothing else than our vision intended.
For Game Oven, the artistic freedom that allowed us to follow this process was getting harder and harder to maintain. All of us felt the financial pressure of three full time people, an office, and a whole bunch of contractors for 2D art, 3D art, music, sounds, and trailers. This pressure removed much of the creative downtime we needed and gave us less and less time to think about new games or to make new prototypes. This ultimately left us where we are today, at a point where we are in need of another vision for a beautiful game, but where we don’t have one, and don’t have the financial resources to find one and make one.
“But hey, weren’t you still making Jelly Reef?” For sure! Bojan and Eline had been working on getting funding by AppCampus during the development of Bounden, as well as going through the tough process of transferring the IP from the original Jelly Reef student developers (which Bojan and Adriaan were part of) to Game Oven. Bounden’s development, however, didn’t allow us to do enough prototyping for Jelly Reef. So when Bounden’s development had mentally drained us and was finally finished, Jelly Reef was waiting for us to get creative once again. Three very rough months passed before we could start production on Jelly Reef. With two and a half months before the AppCampus deadline, we cut much of the game and made many compromises to its vision. This was exactly the process that we had been trying to avoid.
Regardless of the short production time and the fact that this was our first Windows Phone game, we are still proud of what we pulled together. In March, when we plan to release Jelly Reef on iOS and Android, we will have reworked much of the game to align more with our vision: a roguelike underwater world in which you explore the depths of the ocean and save jellyfish. It’s not anything like previous Game Oven games, but we are excited nonetheless!
Three and a half years of Game Oven.
- We introduced ourselves with a silly video showing Fingle to the IGF Judges, having no idea the video would go public as well…
- We received many heart-warming stories of Fingle relationships, Fingle sex, Fingle babies, and Fingle break-ups for other Fingle relationships.
- We made Planet Challenge for the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy, a game about the planets in our solar system.
- We did a 24 hour livestream of Friendstrap. (Washing each others hands is the most awkward thing.)
- We watched The View (with Whoopi Goldberg) where Fingle had it’s debuting 30 seconds of fame on US national television. Similarly, Adriaan was on the Dutch equivalent of The View: Koffietijd.
- We have been interviewed by many amazing journalists whose articles we still read today, including Leigh Alexander, Cara Ellison, Chris Plante, Carter Dotson, and Jessica Conditt. (And John Polson, but he does other things these days.)
- We worked together with the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet.
- We went through the tough shit of buying IP from friends.
- We hired our first employee, Eline!
- Bojan had a baby! woohoo
- We have had the pleasure of being in the Dutch Game Garden for its best three years.
- We did a live performance in the Apple Store in Amsterdam.
- We went to GDC San Francisco, PAX East in Boston, Gamescom and GDC Europe in Cologne, A MAZE in Berlin, Control Conference in Amsterdam, and made many friends all over the world.
- We gave a talk at the Experimental Gameplay Workshop and at GDC Europe.
- We won three Dutch Game Awards and a Cinekid award.
- We have been nominated for the IGF Nuovo award. Twice.
- Our games have been covered by the New York Times, The Guardian, BBC (reporters in tights = priceless), The LA Times, The Verge, Mashable, Polygon, Giant Bomb, Kotaku, Destructoid, Joystiq, TouchArcade, and all major Dutch newspapers.
- Our games have been prominently featured in App Stores and Google Play stores all over the world.
- Our games have been downloaded more than two-and-a-half million times and, considering they are all 2+ player games, have been played by over five million people!!!
We are not planning to take Fingle, Bam fu, Bounden and Jelly Reef off the stores, and will continue to do any necessary maintenance to keep them running well on everyone’s devices. We hope that the finger rubbing, pushing each other away, dancing, and swiping jellyfish away from harm made you experience something new, and would love our games to continue to do so for other people (fingles crossed!). However, we are removing Friendstrap from all stores end of this month. Friendstrap was built entirely by an intern and even though it ‘sort of’ works, there are a couple of nasty structural problems with the game’s code that have made us decide to not make any further updates. On February 1st, Friendstrap will be removed from the store. So… get it here while you still can.
So what’s the plan? Fingle gets a nice Valentine’s Day update end of January. End of February, we move out of our office in the Dutch Game Garden, and Eline, Bojan and Adriaan fly out to GDC San Francisco and SXSW to show you Bounden and Jelly Reef. March is when Jelly Reef comes out on iOS and Android. And then in April, we strip the company of its costs, transfer the ownership of all our games to Bojan and Adriaan, and disband the company… yikes. But no worries about our website, email addresses and twitter account – they will remain intact for as long as our games are on the stores.
There have been a lot of people that have been a major, major support to us. We won’t list them here – they know who they are – but they must know that we are eternally grateful for helping us with all the difficult questions and scenarios we’ve laid out before them.
And thank you, player, for buying our games. You have made Game Oven possible.
We hope you’ll continue to follow our adventures on twitter, say hi, and see you at GDC and SXSW!!
Adriaan, Bojan, and Eline