Monday, October 24, 2016

Quick Update + Mixed Reality Photos!

Hi everyone!

Koriel here. Just a quick update since we have a lot we are trying to get done right now!


John has been off in music land these past few days (working on a bunch of sweet tracks for the game). The new music pouring in is getting us all pretty excited. :D

James is working on integration for VR platforms. There are still a lot of adjustments to be made to get everything feeling right on the Rift, the Vive and PSVR.

I've been mostly working on getting into better shape, improving and creating some art assets, and finishing up some in-game text.

Mixed Reality Photos

Some of you may have seen our fun Mixed Reality photo posts over the past weeks, so I thought it would be nice to put them all together in a post. In these photomanipulations, using both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, we try to capture the wonder and thrill of playing XING: The Land Beyond in Virtual Reality.

We still have more to come, but here are the newest two, plus all the other posted so far!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see the new releases each week :)


Photo 11: "Sakura"

Photo 12: "No Sunscreen Required"

The Rest:

Photo 1: " Lost in the Jungle"

Photo 2: " The Flaming Durian"

Photo 3: "Crouching Lilypad, Hidden Rainforest"

Photo 4: "Virtually Snowing"

Photo 5: "Tablet on the Beach"

Photo 6: "A Flurry of Petals"

Photo 7: "Moon Path"

Photo 8: "The Hungry Tadpole"

Photo 9: "Pinecone Pickup"

Photo 10: "Desert(ed) Towers"

More to come!

Thanks for reading, and as always, have a lovely week!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Music and Game Development

Welcome back to another XING Development experience. John here - it's been a while since I wrote on the blog, so I figure I'd update everyone on some of the work I've been up to. We are returning from a few XING related events this past week, namely the annual IndieCade (this year at USC) and the biennial Steam Dev Days in Seattle, so I'll give a quick recap of our travels as well.

Steam Dev Days

Going to events like Steam Dev Days feels like one of the most effective ways to refresh our development and keep us looking at the big picture. Despite our best efforts, we are still a relatively isolated company and can sometimes find ourselves working in a vacuum, so getting out and socializing with a ton of developers, seeing talks about gamedev, and having in-depth meetings with our partners can really help revitalize development.

Arriving in Seattle
Keynote about to start!
The Main Session Room
Lunch Day 1
After Party/Mixer hosted at the Convention Center by Valve
Staying until the very end. We made some friends :)
Unreal Slackers group photo!

IndieCade and PlayStation VR

Sony graciously hosted XING: The Land Beyond at IndieCade this year, and alongside their usual IndieCade setup they crafted an excellent PS VR demo station for us in the Steven Spielberg Building. This help was especially useful for us this year given the nearly overlapping dates between IndieCade and Dev Days this year! This was the first time we've shown XING on PS VR to the general public. Maintaining feature parity along all of our platforms has been a huge priority for all of us, so seeing people lining up to play our game on PS VR hopefully is a good sign for XING and the platform in general. Shout outs to the other PS VR games: GNOG, Psychonauts: In the Rhombus of Ruin and Headmaster for joining us this year!

And of course, happy PlayStation VR launch!

Koriel goes to IndieCade
People playing XING: The Land Beyond on the PS VR
More lovely games in the PS VR room :)


Last week we were able to make great strides on a number of important elements for the game. As Kori mentioned two posts ago, we have a "full" build of the game - meaning all of the levels are present in a single executable. What we don't have, and what we've been working on, are the transitional elements between content; things like a cohesive way to introduce new players to the game and letting them understand some of the core objectives they will want to accomplish during their stay. Some of this work is strictly polish, like refining level design, but much of it has to be treated like new content. We've added a new introduction sequence and area into our latest internal build, and will be looking for feedback this week.

Checking things in and out of  Perforce Source Control
Personally I always have 50+ tasks I could be doing at any moment, so I like to use some time at the beginning of each week to set some goals for production. Sometimes I'll need to prioritize tasks based on events, like getting the PS VR build prepared for IndieCade, but usually I'll try to group my work together based on what discipline it lies in. I tend to get into a "mode" of working on a particular type of task; last week it was mostly post-process and shader work, and before that was systemic programming. This week I'll be focusing on music.


Making music for a game I also need to be actively developing has proven to be a challenging mix, no pun intended. It's a catch 22 - on one hand, I need to make the game function before I can write the music; on the other hand, the game needs music to function. I often tell people I feel like I'm not spending enough time writing music for the game, but in reality it's going to take as long as anything else - we won't release until it all works.

My Library
I think structurally XING's soundtrack it shaping up to be a somewhat unique experience. In an era of ambient, moody soundtracks that expertly combine descriptive soundscapes and lush atmosphere, I've decided to look to the past and tackle the soundtrack with a more thematic approach. Locations have their own recurring motifs and instrumentation, with persistent melodies tying the tracks together.

Deciding on the fidelity of the music was also an interesting choice. While there are obvious economic reasons why taking a 100% live audio approach may not be the most appropriate option, I'd argue that a MIDI centered soundtrack actually grounds the project closer to it's nostalgic first-person adventure roots. That's not so say that the entire soundtrack is programmed MIDI - many of the tracks feature a live instrument or two, or a live preformed midi instrument (for example a piano). Ultimately I would say I'm targeting a fidelity level similar to Donkey Kong Country Returns, Fire Emblem Awaking, and A Link Between Worlds - all do a great job feeling modern with their production while still retaining the "retro" vibe of their predecessors.

Making Music

As we get closer to release we'll start revealing more of the soundtrack, but for now you can listen to some of my work for the game in our various trailers and gameplay videos.

Until next time!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Thoughts on OC3 and Heading to IndieCade

James here for our weekly development post! This last week I was fortunate to attend Oculus Connect 3 at the San Jose Convention Center in the center of Silicon Valley. Having grown up in Santa Clara, a mere 15 minute drive from San Jose, I felt very much at home attending this conference. This meant that I knew to head to a Philz coffee before heading to the conference.

They must use magic beans to make coffee that good!

VR Software is Leading the Way

The underlying theme of the event seemed to be proving that great software experiences are eminently important to helping VR go mainstream. The hardware across many VR platforms is stupendous, and now it is up to us developers to make experiences which sing on those platforms. While improvements and optimizations on the computational and SDK side are going to allow developers to push more impressive graphics over time, we have only scratched the surface of what kinds of experiences are possible on existing hardware. 

In between talks and meetings I was able to try out some of the latest and greatest VR titles. Especially memorable was the multiplayer mode of Lone Echo, which I’ll describe as a cross between the epic zero-g combat of Ender’s Game combined with the Quidditch-esque goal of scoring by throwing a disc into a hoop. Another wonderful multiplayer experience I got to try was Eagle’s Flight, in which players warg into the perspective of the titular eagle and fly over Paris while playing capture the flag against other soaring eagles. 
Classic "VR face"
Most impressive to me were the improvements brought to Oculus Medium, a sculpting tool which demonstrates that 3D modeling can be accessible and fun with the right tools. The three founding members of White Lotus Interactive, myself included, first learned how to use 3D tools while attending Chapman University in Southern California. One of the skills that must be learned to make 3D art is how to move around and inspect your model or scene. So far, the tools typically used to do so include a mouse, keyboard, and a 2-dimensional monitor. Students must become adept at keyboard shortcuts and operations to even look at or edit their model. This is not the case in Oculus Medium. What VR headsets and hand controllers allow for is direct and lifelike inspection of a 3D model. Instead of rotating your viewport 180 degrees to look at the backside of your model, you just....move your head and look at the backside of your model! It’s seriously magical.

I made this dragon in just a couple minutes!
How does our game XING: The Land Beyond fit into the picture? By fully supporting motion controllers, offering multiple locomotion options, and supporting seated or room-scale play we are prepared to give players an excellent VR experience. We implemented these things so that players are comfortable in VR and hopefully able to forget about the hardware, and just become engrossed in the experience. Having now finished making most of the tough decisions on designing for VR, what remains is shipping a quality game that speaks for itself. 

Presenting at IndieCade on PSVR

This coming Friday gamers will be able to play XING: The Land Beyond at IndieCade in Culver City, which lasts October 14-16. Although XING can be played using a tracked DualShock controller on PlayStation VR, at IndieCade players will be able to use the Move controllers to engage with the world directly. 

Koriel will be heading to IndieCade on Saturday, so make sure to stop by and say hello if you’re attending! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Starting a Weekly Check-In Post!

Hi All!

So for those who have been following us, you may have noticed our dev blog update posts have become fewer and more far-between over the past year. This is partly because we were working so hard on development and trying to finish the game that we aren't scheduling time to make posts, and partly because as we get closer, we were worried about spoiling any parts of the game trying to look for things to post.

A New Calendar for Posting Online

However, we recently hired a great guy to help us out with PR and Marketing named Alex Payne. He laid out a posting schedule and plan for us for the coming months to follow, so that we can be more transparent with our followers, and connect more with everyone who is interested in the game! He's given us a lot of suggestions about things that we can post that will be mainly spoiler-free: things like cool in-game assets we have made to display and showcase, holiday-themed posts, sharing images and technical achievements on Twitter, and a weekly blog update that will come out every Monday (starting today!).

Marketing an indie game is pretty tough, and we've read a lot of post-mortems on what other indie devs have tried. Some were successful, others were not. We hope to be in the "successful" list as we inch closer to our release. That means spending more time on engaging with you guys, our readers, while also maintaining a constant flow of energy and work on the actual game itself.


In the spirit of being transparent, here are some things we just want to say:

1. A Full Build!

    • We have recently made a full build of the game, which we have had close friends and family members play from beginning to end. This means that pretty soon (probably within the next 2 months) we will be going into our Private Beta phase, where we will have our Kickstarter backers who backed for the beta get to play the game and give us their feedback.
    • This is an exciting and scary time, since we will be allowing people we don't know at all, and can't watch over have access to the game in the state it is in. As a developer, it's a tough thing to trust in other people to not share your work on YouTube or anything else like that before it is completed, since there is always that risk, even with NDAs. We haven't spent all this time trying to make it amazing to then have it be shared before it's ready. However, the exciting part will be gaining new perspectives on the overall feel and structure of the game that are not friends or family, or people at conventions who we can meet and watch play. 

2. Polish

    • While having a full build of the game is super exciting, it doesn't at all mean that it's done. We have 4 sections of levels that still need quite a bit of work, including the final level, along with a bunch of polish work that needs to be done. 
    • This polish work includes things like making sure the materials on objects are seamless (so that unsightly seams don't break the immersion), adding sound effects for everything, general bug fixes, testing all of the collision, vertex painting models all over the levels to mask repetition in textures, adding particle effects to EVERYTHING BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME, and making sure that the story flows and makes sense now that the pieces are in place.


3. The Game Maker's Path

    • For us, making this game was never a perfectly set path with steps to follow to completion. 
    • We've learned and grown a ton as we've made more and more advancements in overall game design, as well as both visual and written narrative. Everything we do is basically learned from what we can find online - tutorials, picking apart how other people made things, and making our own tools to aid in development. 

4. Visual Look and Style

    • Our style has changed bit by bit over the past 3 years of development. I made a graphic showcasing this change about a year and a half  ago, and now I'll show you where we are today. 
August 2014
October 2016
    • This change has a lot to do with the new technologies for rendering things that are being made on a daily basis, as well as our own growth and knowledge. John is our main Tech Art guy, among many other things, and he is always trying to make sure the visual quality of the game is where we want it. Sometimes it's tough to keep up with the times, since the longer it has taken us to make this game, the better graphics have become. Our goal is to have XING be a beautiful, immersive and modern-looking game the day it comes out.

5. Company Face

    • Every company has a face that it shows to the world, and ours has been no different. Some people might be annoyed at the PR and Marketing agenda that lies behind the face of all these companies, because very few companies show "who" they really are. Of course, it makes sense not to give away everything you are doing at your company, as a lot of things are under contract not to talk about. However, we want to be different. 
    • The three of us - John, James and I - all want the world to know who we are and what we really think. The three of us make up White Lotus Interactive, and so far I don't think we've done the best job at showing our true characters. That's why each of us will take turns writing these dev blogs, in the hopes that you will see the different "faces" of us, and how we work together.

    • How do we work together? On Google Hangouts, 6 days a week. 11am to 11pm Pacific time. Some days with bigger deadlines run longer, of course, but we mainly stick to that schedule.
    • We try to examine all the possibilities and solutions to issues, especially when we don't all agree. Sometimes we have to just sit down and discuss what we each think are the most important things to be working on, and how we each think any part of the game feels at any given time. Since we are all equals in making this game, nothing big really gets decided on until the 3 of us can come to an agreement on it. This differentiates us from most studios, with a set structure for leaders. 
    • For us, we are all 3 leaders, and all 3 followers. In the hopes of making a better, more well-rounded game, we will hold discussions on issues ranging from color choice (mostly my area) to how we should best integrate Virtual Reality for motion controllers or locomotion. Yeah, that's been a big one. (We were glad our solutions we presented in our last post [link] pleased almost everyone who commented. That took a WHILE to decide on.)

6. Us

    • Since starting the game in college, the 3 of us have worked our butts off making this game. We pour our heart and souls into making it everything we envision.
    • We each still live at home with our parents, while most of our friends have already moved out and taken jobs at larger companies. Our situation has added some strain on our families. I'm currently 25 years old, and it's both wonderful and frustrating to be still living at home. Wonderful because my parents still take care of me, while I pay a small rent with my bills each month; frustrating because I really want to be out my own, with my own place, my own food and my own curfew ><. 
    • Money has been a challenge for us, but fortunately we were able to get 2 company loans earlier this year that are making it possible for us to continue working as we do. 

7. The Future After XING

    • It's hard to talk about the future, when we aren't sure what it will hold for us. Whether XING: The Land Beyond is successful or not is obviously a large factor for the 3 of us. And by "successful", I mean allows each of us some mobility after launch. We want to touch as many people as we can with our game, but I would also like to move out of my parent’s house and maybe even have an actual office instead of my bedroom. That would be nice. So while we plan to offer support in the form of patches and bug fixes post-launch, we can’t speak too much about our plans after XING releases.
    • If people end up liking, or even loving what we've done, and we can make a living on continuing to make games, that will be success. 
Hopefully, posting more often and being more transparent will help us connect to you guys better. More news to come. Feel free to leave us comments!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

XING: The Land Beyond coming to HTC Vive

The Big Announcement

Hello, world! My name is James Steininger, and primary VR developer at White Lotus Interactive. Our team is thrilled to announce HTC Vive support for our upcoming game, XING: The Land Beyond. In this blog post I will discuss the thought process behind integrating Vive, and perhaps discover the answer to the question: how many virtual coconuts does it take to make a Monty Python reference?

Mixed Media Photo #1 "Lost in the Jungle" in our VR Photoshoot Series. Be on the lookout for more to come! :D

First, check out this brand new gameplay video we made for Vive:

In case you are new to our development blog or had not heard of XING previously, let me introduce the game. XING: The Land Beyond is an immersive first-person, puzzle-adventure game set in the afterlife. Inspired by games like Myst, Portal, and The Legend of Zelda, XING presents players with a rich world to explore as they solve puzzles. XING may be enjoyed with or without a VR (virtual reality) headset, and has been carefully co-developed for both VR and non-VR.

Bringing XING to Vive has been challenging, but also insanely fun. Supporting both VR and non-VR styles of playing has offered an interesting design dilemma. It comes down to tackling these issues simultaneously:

  1. Making a game that speaks for itself regardless of the platform it is played on
  2. Making a game that feels natural and “made for” the platform it is played on

Deciding to Integrate Motion Controllers

HTC’s Vive includes a technology which is becoming increasingly important for VR: motion controllers. Like it seemed with VR headsets, XING naturally lends itself to VR motion controllers. Just as with the PlayStation VR version of Xing, the question arose: how should we integrate motion controllers?

XING has maintained a natural, “everything needs to be part of the environment” design language since its inception, which means motion controllers could add a lot to the experience and fit nicely into our existing game design. For example, when playing on the shoreline of Iztali Point, you can physically reach down to grab shells or swing your arm while tossing a coconut into the water!
Another bonus with motion controllers is that we can allow the player to hold one object in each hand, whereas on gamepad or on mouse and keyboard the player would only be able to hold one object at a time. So while learning to juggle durians may not be the best approach to solving puzzles, it is totally possible with motion controllers, and no, the game will not judge your juggling skills.
Mixed Media Photo #2 "The Flaming Durian"
Apart from objects that you can pick up and place, the majority of other game mechanics and powers are activated with buttons, pressure pads, or some other kind of simple action. For development, this means that motion controllers could be added into the game without much complexity. Actually, the toughest issue we have faced in VR has been hotly debated in the industry for the last few years: how do we move ourselves around in virtual reality? 

Moving Around the World of XING

There are two primary ways of moving around in XING: The Land Beyond. These include:
  1. Free Movement
  2. Teleportation
While I could easily write ten thousand or more words on the topic of locomotion in VR, in this post I am only going to cover what we believe are good defaults and options for XING. Teleportation is becoming a popular default movement option in many new Vive games and experiences, as it tends to be easy to learn and minimizes nausea. In order to Teleport in XING, you hold your thumb down, point at any location to which you want to travel, release your thumb, and voila! You teleport! For even greater control while teleporting, you can rotate your wrist to alter the exact direction you’ll be facing after the teleport.
Our Free Movement design has been tweaked and adjusted since the beginning of our VR development, but some of the older options like “Tank Mode” or “Click Turn Amount” are still supported on gamepad.

Free Movement is analogous to the FPS (first person shooter) controls used for PC or console monitor experiences like Bioshock or Portal, in which the user controls where they are facing and where they are moving by using a joystick, mouse, or keyboard button. The way you move in XING on Vive is simple: hold the touchpad down and you will move in the direction you are holding that controller. You can slow down by pulling up on the controller, so pointing directly up at the ceiling means you stop moving completely and pointing straight ahead is full walk speed.
Mixed Media Photo #3 "Crouching Lilypad, Hidden Rainforest"

We sometimes call Free Movement “reins” movement because it feels somewhat like controlling the reins of a horse. The other motion controller can be used to reorient the direction you are facing, which is especially useful when playing sitting down. While on gamepad the player can reorient themselves by clicking bumpers or pressing left and right on a joystick; on motion controllers you point and click in the direction to which you want to reorient yourself.
Free Movement is available for players who wish to use it. Teleportation can minimize nausea for those who are prone to it in VR. Both are great ways to play XING.

Final Thoughts

In regard to VR and XING: The Land Beyond in general, we have tried to be both pioneering and responsible. While wanting to put out a game and experience that inspires a new generation of VR gamers, we also want to put out a game that is true to our original mission. By pouring our souls into working on XING, we celebrate the fortunate lives we’ve been given and the awesome video games that inspired us to make ours.
Recent playthroughs of the game run around 7-12 hours, so get ready for a lengthy VR adventure with lots of puzzle solving, exploration, and the joy of lighting durians on fire (without the smell). There may also be some extra secrets to be found for especially adventurous players.

What are the next steps for White Lotus Interactive? We are fixing bugs, optimizing, working on marketing, and working as hard as ever to launch. The three of us cannot wait to show XING to the world!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Gameplay Video, E3 2016, and Release Moved to Fall 2016

Pushing Back Release Plans

I've heard that when it's time, it's best to just rip the Band-Aid off. That being said, unfortunately we must announce that our plans to release this spring were set back due to various circumstances, including that the game had just grown in scope and detail over the past 3 years, as well as grown in platform support. So, in short, we have moved our release plans to the Fall of 2016.

E3 2016 + PlayStation

Now for the good news! We will be heading to E3 this year and demoing at the PlayStation booth! We're grateful to Sony for giving us this opportunity to show off some of our latest improvements in gameplay and story to the press. Hopefully with this we can get XING a good amount of attention, and continue to build the hype as we move towards launch.

New Gameplay Footage 

We know that you have been eager to see new footage of the game since our last trailer so now we're happy to be able to release a gameplay video of what we will be showing at E3 this year!

Be sure to stay tuned too our Twitter for updates from E3, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Catching Up On The Last Two Months: New VR Platform, Development News, and The Trip to GDC

Uh, hello. So it's been a little longer than normal since our last post.

There are lots of fun things to go over, but first, a little side-note about our posts lately.

I've thought about it here and there, wondering what I should write to keep you all informed, while not giving surprises away. For everyone who has continued to be supportive and send us good thoughts, we are deeply appreciative. It means so much to us, as we read every comment. 

Now, back to the news!


PlayStation VR Support

So last week we went to GDC, where we announced at a Sony media event on Tuesday that we will be supporting the PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset. You can check out our write-up on the official PlayStation Blog for more information as to why we made the choice and how we think it will benefit more players. 

We are also excited about supporting the PlayStation Move controllers as an optional way of playing through the game. We think that this will be a great option for VR, because you can move your hands around more freely, closer to how you would normally. I had a ton of fun trying out the latest PSVR headset last week, and at the recently announced price of USD $399, I think it will be a great option for people who already own PS4s and want to get into VR.

 Me playing around with the PSVR and Move controllers in the
XING: The Land Beyond demo booth at the PSVR media event, GDC 2016 


On the content side of things, we have been making lots of progress - trying to finish chunks of levels and then testing them out.

We still have a few more puzzles to implement into the remaining levels. One of these levels in particular is our desert level, which we have been pretty quiet about :) You can see a new screenshot from it below:

As I look back through some of the screenshots from previous posts, I think, stylistically, the game is getting brighter and more saturated. This has been a gradual effort to make the game more set in a style which we find more appealing to explore (especially in VR). Overall, XING is now much more friendly looking; however, these changes don't stop many of the puzzles and themes from continuing to be deeper and more complex than perhaps their outward appearance.

Here are some more recent screenshots for your viewing pleasure:

Check out those sweet Mangrove trees!
Morning on the beach. Notice the wet-tech that John implemented for this area, which makes it so that the sand and rocks that are touching the ocean always have a wet ring around them. 
This area is so detailed and packed with plants, rocks and architecture,
but all of that will make it more of a challenge when we start getting deeper into optimizing it for VR...
Recently, we also created a new and better way to have more content available to unlock for players who like to go the extra mile and 100%-ers. Below is a screenshot from an area that will only be available when you unlock it!

In our next post, John promises to take a more in-depth look into what this game is all about.

Trip to GDC

As usual, we like to let you guys in on all of the events that we go to for promoting XING. 

Events always take a chunk of time out of our work schedule, but they're almost always worth it. There's always someone or some company to meet, or some interview to do, or X number of people to talk to about the game, and together those things usually make these trips productive. 

For this trip, not only did we participate in and demo at the Sony Media event for PSVR on Tuesday, but we also got a few meetings done during the rest of the week too. In between those more business-oriented meetings and promotions, we like to take photos of the fun stuff, so here's a little glimpse of the trip! Enjoy :)

Monday: Travel Day

I drove up from LA with my brother (James K) and 2 fellow game developers (Jason and Robby) on Tuesday afternoon, and John and his buddy/our mascot (Speedo) flew in from AZ. We all met up at James' house around 10 pm like we have done for the past 3 years, and talked for a while before heading to bed. 

Oh, I also tried out XING for the first time on the PSVR with move controllers - since James had a kit (and I needed to know exactly what we would be demoing the next day!) I usually only see and play the game on a standard monitor, since we all work from home and John and James are the ones with all the VR equipment set up in their work spaces. I'll just say, it was a blast.

John helping me get set up with PSVR.

Tuesday: PSVR Media Event

The next morning we woke up and got ready for the hour drive into the city. There were 7 of us total, so I was grateful to my parents that they let me borrow their new van for the week (thanks mom and dad!). The "space van" also came with 2 fold-down TV screens, so the group took full advantage of those throughout the long drives by watching DVDs I brought, including: The Road to El Dorado, Galaxy Quest, Starship Troopers, The Incredibles and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. 

When we got to the Moscone Center, we 3 members of White Lotus took off to prep for the media event. The rest of the guys split off to go grab their badges and then sat around having, what I assume to be, long and meaningful conversations. 

When the 3 of us arrived at the event, we were immediately impressed with the setup. People were pretty relaxed and everything seemed to be running smoothly. When we got to our demo station, I got excited about the giant banner they printed for us! It was glorious:

We tried out the XING: The Land Beyond demo (which was already installed on the PS4 there) to make sure there were no hiccups. Thankfully it was all working as planned!

After the big announcement of the October release and price of the PSVR, we had 3 hours to demo to press.

We took turns giving demos and talking to media.  
At the end we each decided to take a photo with the signs around the event.

Koriel (me)

That night we went out to dinner at a great sushi place in the city, then drove back to James' house to rest and recover. I brought out my N64 and we played some Mario Party 2 that night. Awwww yeah.

Wednesday: Mostly Meetings + Afterparty

The next morning we left the house around 11:30am to make our first meeting of the day at 1pm. 

This year I decided to get a little more creative with my title on my badge. The fact that this was approved made me quite happy: 

Later, while walking through the show floor, we found people we knew:

Hanging out with Ryan Warzecha and the team from Cyan They were showing off Obduction at the Epic Games booth!

Hopping around with Palmer Luckey!
(Left to  Right) James Kruer, John Torkington, Palmer Luckey, Koriel Kruer (me) and Speedo
We ran into our friends from Serenity Forge :)
In the last hour we ended up having some time to try out different games at the GDC Play area.

James and I tried out a cool paragliding simulator in the GDC Play are, where the mission was to blow up as many tanks and other vehicles as possible before the time ran out. There was even a fan blowing air at us, to make it feel more like wind!

(Left to right) Speedo, John, James and Robby, playing Auto Age Standoff
That night we ended up splitting up for dinner. I went out to eat with some fellow game dev friends at a nearby Sushi Boat, and later joined back up with the rest of the group. 

Around 8pm we went out to the Epic Games party and waited in line to get in. After the doors opened, the guys ended up talking to other devs and people that we knew there, while I got my groove on. After the party we headed back to James' place around 12am (and arrived at 1am). It was definitely bed time. 

Thursday: 2 Meetings + Lots of walking

The next morning we left a little later than the previous morning, since we were all interested in sleeping in. When we arrived on the show floor again, we ended up noticing something interesting on the giant overhead displays in the halls:

Yep. That's a photo from our booth for XING exactly 2 years ago!
James is even in the corner talking to someone. This was on a 2ish minute loop.
At one point, we ran into Jason again (our friend and the fourth rider up in the "space van" from LA). He was in front of a large TV with some facial expression tracking software going on. It recognized me as a female, and also recognized "joy" whenever I smiled. Here's a photo of some of the guys trying out different expressions:

(Left to right) James Kruer, James Steininger, Jason, Robby and Speedo.
It was pretty amusing. This went on for about 3 minutes, before we had to split off again for meetings. Unfortunately, we ended up having 2 meetings scheduled at the same time (though one was significantly longer). John went to the more technical one, and James and I went to the other one. An hour and a half later we sat in a circle on the side of the expo floor and shared notes. 

John sharing notes from his meeting.
James decided to take a picture of our little discussion circle, and we each had different reactions to that. 
After our little chat, we went over to the Epic Games booth to visit some of our friends there. I think it's safe to say that everyone we have met who works there is extremely nice, helpful and awesome - which is great for us as developers because we love using their Unreal Engine 4!

The Expo Floor ended at 6pm that day, and we debated whether to do parties again or go back to James' house and relax. 

We ended up deciding to leave the city and drive back. That way we would be able to get to the Moscone Center much earlier the following morning for some talks. 

On the way back the guys were hungry, so we stopped at In-N-Out.

I think Speedo wins this picture.
Friday: The Last Day (And Also James' Birthday)

The next morning we got to the Moscone earlier than all the previous days (we were quite proud considering the hour drive there). The guys in back watched the first half of The Incredibles on the way there.

We dropped James K off at the front of the center to run to a talk, while the rest of us went to park the Space Van. 

Walking to the Center.
John, James and I had a lunch date with a friend. Later the 6 of us met back up to tour the expo floor one last time before James' and John's last meeting. While they were in their technical meeting, I was doing something far more productive:

Thinking lofty thoughts....
The show closed at 3pm, so we called Jason and drove back to James' place to celebrate his birthday. Naturally we hit a little more traffic going back, but it was nice to finally be done being "on", and also to have the full group of 7 back in the van. Our plans for that evening were simple: Eat delicious food made by James' mom and then go out for Laser Tag. 

It was 2 free-for-all/death match games, and our group hit every spectrum of the score board. 

John and Speedo teamed up during both games and just shouted out lines from Starship Troopers. 

Speedo was clearly taking this seriously.
(Left to right) Speedo, John, James, James K, Jason and Koriel
It was a great way to end a fun and productive trip to GDC! Huzzah!


Working on XING: The Land Beyond is a wonderful and challenging experience - and I think it's a good sign that each of us to continues to invest so much time into it, because it means we are still passionate about it, and more importantly, we all believe in the project.

It's sad, but I've seen lots of projects slowly die and never get made, because people lose interest, or life gets in the way, or maybe they just stop believing it will work out. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't. For us, there has never been any question that this is what we want to be doing.

Here's a little poem I wrote for you guys:

Making a game is a lot of hard work,
Especially when in a team of just three,
But we find challenges oh so much fun,
And there is no place that we'd rather be.

Yes, there are times our projections are off,
In game dev it seems a regular thing,
To wait for a wonderful game to be made,
And this time, it happens to be our game, XING.

But please do not fret, for we work night and day,
Pouring into it our hearts and our souls,
To make a great game that soon you will play,
While trying to ignore the cynics and trolls.

We're grateful to all who are reading this page,
And yes, that means I am talking to you,
Our wonderful fans, I must bid thee farewell,
For now there is still so much we must do!

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave us any comments or questions. You can also contact us at

Till next time! Squadala, we're off!