So based on my habits of writing blogs on here it usually goes; I upload a game then I write a blog about it. So I guess I will keep that trend going and talk about my latest upload Super Mario: Signal Flow.
The game was an idea I had that I quickly thrown together. I was sitting in class one day in 2009, listening to the teacher, you know college stuff. I was 17 when I started my first year of college so I was unable to visit the college pub before class unlike literally 95% of my other classmates (the other 5% of those people actually have jobs in TV today, I guess they had there priorities straight). My professor Tracy gave out a challenge to the class to create a slide show or some form of teachable material to teach to the class. It was her way of engaging the class. A few people put together some very fancy powerpoint slideshows and did a really good job. At that time I wanted to do something similar but different at the same time. I thought about it for a while and then I realized why not make a game to teach the class? Since I had knowledge on how to design games the ideas started flowing.
When I first went to my professor Tracy and showed her what I had created she was completely ecstatic and amazed with the what she saw and the idea as a whole. I think her reaction might have been effected by the fact that she had 8 coffees that day but I could also be wrong. Prior to showing her, I went in thinking other students probably have done more complex and better things then what I had to show but apparently I was wrong about that. She realized how great of an idea it was and she proceeded to send e-mail’s out to people who worked in the television department at my college proclaiming my amazing idea of studying by playing a Mario game. I remember her telling me how a simple idea can expand into something bigger. She suggested to me to sell the game on discs to my fellow students because I should make money back for my hard work on putting the game together. I sold the game for $2 each on discs and at the end of the day I probably made around $20 give or take from all the sales. I was completely aware that people were sharing the game with each other and copying the contents of the disc onto their computers. I just wanted people to play my game.
I wanted to keep selling the game, but without Mario assets. So in 2012 I asked my friend who was a graphic designer to help me remake the game with different assets so I could go ahead and resell the game and not have to worry about being sued. The game was going to be called “Super Signal Flow” and star a college kid who fell asleep in class, the entire game would be a dream. Unfortunately my friend didn’t have his priorities straight (or apparently his computer kept “breaking”) so he never got a single thing done. It is very unfortunate because I still believe that could have opened doors for both of us if that game was successful,
Going back to 2009; Tracy kept called me back to show the game off to her future students so I could and sell it so them also.. She would give me a few minutes to go up in front of her classes and demo the game. I was very terrible and awkward when it came to public speaking so I did my best to show them the game and talk about it. I can still remember many peoples reactions, the guys would think it was the sickest things they ever seen and the girls would think it was cute. I would play the first level and that’s all that was needed for people to throw there $2 at me.
I pitched the game as a study program disguised as a game, that is why the concept of the game is so basic. I had a lot of factors in mind when designing the game. I imagined people of all ages who were taking the class playing it and since everyone knew how to play a Mario game the idea would defiantly fly. I designed it so that people who had little to no video game experience could be able to play through it and learn the material in a fun way. I played on the idea of trial and error when it comes to playing video games. For example in Mega Man the player has to memorize the layout of a level to successfully beat the game, in Mario Signal Flow instead of memorizing level layouts you are actually being forced to learn the course material! GENIOUS!!
Things were really looking up for me at the time, doors were opening and more ideas kept popping up in my mind. I was known and respected as that guy who made that Mario game to help everyone pass a difficult midterm. I started working on two more games for harder classes since I realized I had a good thing going. One was Super Mario Signal Flow 2: Digital Master Control and Diddy Kong and The Light.
Mario Signal Flow 2 was for an even harder class than Signal Flow, digital master control. In stead of recreating Super Mario Bros 3 I used graphics from Super Mario World and put more television references in the game. For example, when Mario died the death sound would be cut off my bars and tone that cover the screen after he fell off screen. I found the unfinished project file a while ago, I wish I completed the game but I didn't because I guess I was lazy. I regret not finishing it to this day.
The second game; Diddy Kong and The Light was a game that the television department dean at the time told me I should do. After seeing my Mario he told me he wanted me to make a game with his favorite video game character Diddy Kong. My idea was a game starring Diddy trying to escape a dark mine cave. It was inspired by the mine levels from Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo. In those levels the area was barely lit by swinging lights. In my game the players would have to learn the lighting control board in order to light the proper path for Diddy to advance to the next level. Again, I wish I wasn't lazy and made this game! If I kept making these games it would have defiantly opened doors for me, but for some reason I stopped. I learned that if you have a good idea, do it! Other game ideas I had were ones for other classes such as Grand Theft Audio for our audio class and another game based off an older game I made as a kid for a class called “The Creative Team”.
Later on, Tracy would go out of her way to open up doors for me and give me opportunities because she knew I had a good idea going. She told me about this hatchery program my college was doing where they would fund $5,000 to students trying to start a business or company. I of course said yes to the opportunity and started a small software company with a group of programmers to keep making games like Super Mario Signal Flow. In order to us to get the money though I had to present the idea to a panel of college big wigs. If anyone as seen the show Shark Tank or Dragons Den, it was exactly like that. Amazingly out of a large group of competitors my idea was second! The first place winners were these two attractive blond chicks who wanted to start a insurance company (I personally I would have said yes to whatever they asked for also).
Now back then I was a very introverted person, I was one of those, won't speak unless spoken to kind of person. A few professors noticed I have great ideas and told me not to share them too often since people could and would they could take my ideas and run with them, a like of companies started this way (example; Facebook).
Unfortunately I didn’t listen to their advice at the time and made a lot of bad decisions after starting the company. I would like to talk about the details of what happened but because of possible lawsuits I can't. I still have piles of legal documents and paper trails filled with legal jargon that I have to hold on to in case those guys try to pin a lawsuit on me in the future. I will try to explain; basically the agreement goes something like: if I were to make money off any of the ideas I shared with these guys while the company was a thing then they would have the legal right to do everything in their legal power to stop me from being successful.. legally. Even though my intentions were good, it still hurts me to this day thinking about it and how I really screwed up by starting that company in the first place with a bunch of people who I wish to not speak about anymore.
If I could go back I would do a lot of things differently. I also made Tracy look bad with that whole situation that I can’t talk about which I also still feel terrible about.
Well there you go, that’s the story of how Super Mario Signal Flow came to be and all the lessons I learned just by creating it. I am sorry for ending this on a depressing note but hey, sometimes life gives you lemons. And when that happens you should make lemonade if you can legally.
In the end, follow your dreams and make good decisions kids!