hiv awareness, interview, Jessie Schell, Puzzle clubhouse, Tunnel Tail, video games, yale university

Schell Game interview with CEO Jessie Schell

Schell games is designing some of the most innovative and fun games for tablets and mobile devices. Tunnel Tail has been out for a few months and is a lush RPG with deep mechanics and rewarding game play.  There’s no reason not to get your hands on Tunnel Tail, its completely free with no strings attached. Go download it now from the iOS App store and Google play for Android devices. Another innovative and fresh Idea from Schell Games is Puzzle Club House (www.puzzleclubhouse.com)
 where you can pitch your game ideas and see them made. So many fresh and different game designs are in the works and I can’t wait to see the future of Schell Games. I had a chance to talk with the CEO of Schell Games Jessie Schell and here’s the man himself…

BBM: What was your first major experience with gaming and how did you know it was for you?
I started making video games in 1982. I was 12 years old and the first video game I played was a text based fishing game. It was one of these games that weren’t very complicated and people really got into it. I was hooked on making games after that and I didn’t really look at it as a really job possibility until right after I got out of college.

BBM: Tell our readers about Tunnel Tail:
It’s been an amazing project for us. We were approached by the folks at the BEST Foundation and I was immediately intrigued! I’ve always been very big on transformational games. Which are games that are designed to help change you, hopefully for the better. These guy’s where very passionate about transformational games and didn’t want too take a heavy handed approach like some people do. They really wanted to make something that was great and a change but also a really health oriented project.

BBM: I really love the art style and story for the game. Everyone at Boogie Bot Monthly has really been enjoying the game so far. I know it’s been out for a little bit now how have fans been reacting to Tunnel Tail?
People have been very positive and enthusiastic about it. People love the look of it and even though it’s a simple game they have been getting hooked on Tunnel Tail. It’s all been very positive!

BBM: What’s one of your favorite aspects of Tunnel Tail?
I love the new battle mechanics and the pressure mechanic! I think it’s something totally new and innovative that we came up with. The way you have to match your attack to the intensity of the situation.  It’s a new way to play strategic turn based combat.


BBM: Three words that describe Tunnel Tail:
Gorgeous, Positive, and engaging

BBM: Lets talk more about the technical side of the art style:
Sure there’s two parts too it. From the technical point it was developed with a Schell games technology called the BeanStalk Engine. It was designed to give rich 2D games and cool looking character animation. So part the art comes from the engine and a big part is we have some great animators who fought through a lot and put a lot of time and energy into Tunnel Tail.


BBM: It really does come through each character has their own distinct design and feel. What are some other projects Schell Games is working on?
Transformational and Educational games are the fastest growing part of the industry and where very focused on that. A big part of our plans is mobile and tablet gaming.  That’s where we see the most growth. As far as the types of games where working on right now I can’ talk about them all. One of the project’s I can talk about is Puzzle Clubhouse I’m very excited about it. If you have an idea for a game you can submit to the site and the community is going to vote on it. Schell games will help make them into real games and ship them

BBM: That’s an amazing idea who came up with that idea and when does it launch?
Puzzle Clubhouse is an idea we have been playing with for a couple years now. We did a kickstarter back in January and it was successful we got funded. We launched it in September 1stin a beta phase we have a few different games out now. 

BBM: I can’t believe I heard about this sooner.
Yeah not a lot of people have heard about it. Where trying to keep it quiet while where working out all the kinks. Get the design and color just right, another game I wanted to mention we are doing with Yale University. It’s an anti HIV game designed for inner city students what’s interesting is theirs going to be a tremendous amount of Scientific study on the game. The goal of the research is to see if it makes a different for the kid. So there’s a lot of interesting stuff where doing.

BBM: Wow that’s very cool. A lot of different projects that are so different from each other great things being produced at Schell Games! I did want to touch back on what you were saying about tablets. There’s so much debate about the future of gaming.
I think where going to see continued huge growth from tablet gaming for a number of reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised 5 years from now every 1stgrader ends up with a tablet. It’s. It’ just a more convenient way to get your textbooks and do your homework it’s going to be very cheap and affordable. There a lot more convenient then laptops for many people and tablets are always evolving. Look at the new Microsoft tablet that has a keyboard like a laptop. I also think tablets will make its way in the living room and counsels may be in big trouble. Once you have a tablet that you can hook up to the TV and use it to either drive the TV or play it independently. Why would you ever want to play a game counsel?


BBM: For our readers who are not familiar with your work tell us about The Art of Video Game Design:
I published it about 5 years ago.  It’s similar to Puzzle club house in the entire notion that anyone who wants to be a game designer can do it. Anybody can do it if they want to. It’s designed to be very approachable and teach you what game designers do. Not a technical book at all it’s all about its very much about what are the decisions one make to make good game play. The same principles that make for good Board, Card, and athletic games are all the same principles that make for good video games. The notion is good game design happens when you look at the game from many points of view. The subtitle of the book is the Book of Lenses it breaks it down to 100 different ways to look at your game.

BBM: What are some upcoming titles your excited about?
I have such a hard time keeping up with what’s going on. I’m really interested in the Wii U and what titles launch with it. I’m always interested in anything new and different there’s an indie title called Way. It’s being developed by Chris Bell a former student of mine. It’s a really interesting game I’m excited to see it released. I got to play the Beta of Little inferno that was great.


BBM: What are some of your Hobbies besides gaming?
Well I certainly spend as much time with my family as I can. Also when I was younger I used to be a Circus Performer. It was something I started doing as a hobby in Jr. high and then I got an opportunity to perform at a local theme park. Then one thing led to another and I worked with a few different Circus troops and traveled around. I certainly learned stuff that I use every day as a game designer. Working with a live audience like that and responding to their reactions and your responding to them. With gamers you can see when there excited you can see when there board. Is my game working is my game not working.

BBM: What are some words of wisdom you would give a youth wanting to be a game designer?
First of all I would tell them to try out Puzzle Clubhouse you can get feedback from professionals including myself. Where here to help you get feedback about how to make your ideas better and make them reality. The main thing is too just start designing stuff you don’t have to be an programmer or designer. It certainly helps if you have that stuff but it’s not necessary. Also get started by trying to make a new card game, dice game, or board game. If you want to get more ambitious you can easily get into the world of computer game design. So many tools now out there to design games, the main thing is dive and do it.

BBM: Any Last words anything you want to add on?
What a pleasure it was for the entire team working on Tunnel Tail. It was excited to make it and see what we could do with BeanStalk and the iOS platform. It’s just been great

Click the link to go to the official site of Tunnel Tail


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