Our Blog.

~ Posts ~

A Little Bit More About Us

~ 4/2/16 ~

“Learning can be Problematic. For one thing, it’s kind of hard work.” -- Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun

I’ll just cut to the chase - this is more a formal introduction than an expression of ideas. Parable Game Studios is the culmination of three years of brainstorming, between three geeks, over a lifetime of knowing that they each love video games. Myself (Elliott Iannello speaking...well, writing) and Jesse Lewis decided to co-found the company after dabbling around with creating a handful of really small games for school projects and teaching a Middle-School Game Design Summer Camp. Jesse and I have known each other since high school, meeting on the track team, and didn’t really realize we shared a similar vision for storytelling until a few years down the line.

We both believe that the best stories always have something simple and profound to teach at their core - and when you can get someone to not only listen but participate in the telling of the tale, you leave an indelible mark. The fun in games is, as that famous nanny once said, “a spoonful of sugar” that helps the lesson within the game go down smooth and stay there. Games are the only medium of storytelling that give the audience agency: the ability to participate. So here we both are now, trying to make games that impart ideas.

Circa 2014, enter Brian Buffon. Brian has become a good friend of mine over the last few years and does phenomenal work over at GameChurch, a Ministry all about engaging gamer and geek culture. Brian’s talent and passion - as well as a pretty good idea for what has become our first game - made him an easy choice to bring under the fold. He is able to contribute in matters of programming as well as art and design, while Jesse spearheads the art and visual style of our games and I do all the technical mumbo jumbo. We still all hold to the belief that the best game designs and mechanics could come from anyone at anytime, so when it comes to the actual “engineering of fun,” if you will, we all contribute.

We’re a small but happy team on a mission to make small games (for now) that teach primarily ethical and philosophical ideas through fun experiences; hence the name, Parable. As any good group of storytellers, we are taking influence from our personal Faiths and Beliefs as well as looking to the great fables and myths handed down from culture to culture. All the world we each have seen is the muse and we hope to make new things out of the themes we deem constant - those “things” the three of us find most deeply human. And so goes our motto: Do Good. Be Good. Play On.

~ Peace ~ EVI

A Direction to Run

~ 5/12/16 ~

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the guy who'll decide where to go. ”
-- Dr. Suess

The endeavor of creating something that is meant to be shared is all at once as gratifying as it is terrifying. An artist does his or her best to put into form the idea they want to express and if done correctly the audience should come to know the creator through the craft. This inherently means the role of the creator is to be the defenseless initiator; and when you’re new to sharing your work one could equate the feeling to that of passing an awkward note - that may or may not be a poem - to your first high school crush. You’re filled with anxiety and fear at the thought of potential rejection all the while being exhilarated at the promise of acceptance. None of it would have been possible though without first peeling off the band-aid that covers the teenage ego - nothing personal is possible without first being brave enough to be vulnerable.

We are now living on the other side of PAX East 2016 which was a landmark show for our small and young studio. We announced officially our partnership with GameChurch and showed off a poster for our first game: Young Son. Being in the booth with the GameChurch Missionaries was an amazing experience and the response they helped generate for the game was stellar. A huge thanks to them and to all the attendees who came by to compliment and inquire; we’re working hard to make a game that will hopefully delight you.

And that’s the terrifying part - now that things are “for real”, the veil is off, there is expectation however small. Young Son is a fitting first project for us in the sense that the game is trying to tell a story about someone facing the fear of expectation in their youth (cheers Mr. Dickens). The game’s lead character - simply named The Boy - is on the run; maybe it is from something, maybe it is to something, or maybe it is to find something...or all of these things at once. Truth be told, we are not ready to delve too deep into the game’s narrative but what is evident is that running at all indicates some sort of change. Motion is change, change is growth, and growth can be for better or worse depending on the direction. The daunting part of game development that has now been cast upon Jesse, Brian, and I is trying to ensure that we are going in the right direction without the compass of experience. But this is the reality of the unworn path and the admission of uncertainty is our vulnerability.

We’d all be lying if we said there was no fear of failure; there is. Jesse and I tried to make sure when we started the studio that we created an environment conducive to failure. We tried to maximize the room for learning from it and minimize its effect on our wallets and egos. Even with the safety nets in place below there is still the looming cloud of expectation above. It supercedes any comfort the inceptive fiscal prudence could give; it is very much a spectre now that we are going to have to get use to and overcome. But there is a great irony in that the thing responsible for the fear is the fuel source to keep going and is the result of something positive: passion for what we do. We love games. We want to make games and we want them to be enjoyed - and that means we have to make them enjoyable. No amount of precaution can remedy the anxiety that comes with wanting to succeed at something just because you love it.

Art imitating life is very much the case if you’ve glanced at the Young Son poster. We are now on the run, vulnerable and learning from each stride. Which brings us back to PAX East this year. Everyone we met at the booth made us realize that we have a community of gamers in GameChurch that share our passion and want us to genuinely take the steps to succeed. So all that is left to say is thank you - your enthusiasm is our purpose. Young Son is a small game in scope, but if this industry has taught us anything it is the cliche: big things can come in small packages. Until next time ;).

~ Peace ~ EVI

Far Too Long a Silence

~ 3/9/17 ~

“Music is the silence between the notes.”
-- Claude Debussy

It is snowing outside. The street lamps that illuminate the road into my apartment complex give dots of yellow hue in the night - spots of clarity when trying to judge the pace and type of the winter storm. Will it be the thick packed powder or more treacherous wet and icy flakes we are accustomed to in this part of the world? Either way, there is a constant; the snow brings with it silence. But as we all know, in time it must melt.

The neglect the blog has seen is due to a cocktail of life’s challenges - both good and bad. For me, it has been much to do with trying maintain a full-time job while finishing my Masters Degree...which finally was completed back in December of 2016. When I did get free time to work I tried to dedicate it toward the most important thing we do at Parable - develop games (no brainer). Jesse, Brian, and the few others we have on the team have been in similar boats as of late. We all really wish to be working full-time on Young Son, but right now that just isn’t reality.

A lot still has happened since the last blog post. The Academy 2016 in Ventura was a big event for Young Son, Parable, and GameChurch. We showed off the first bit of gameplay and gave attendees an idea of what to expect from the game narratively and mechanically. We also recorded Episode 66 of the official GameChurch Podcast (click here to listen) which unpacked a lot about some of thematic elements at work in Young Son. Although since then a few things have changed, but that is the natural cycle of iteration taking its course. And for the better.

The winter brings snow and silence, Spring comes and melts it all away and the flowers bloom. Nature has its process; so do we. We are excited about the direction Young Son is growing toward and look forward to showing off a lot more at the inaugural Academy East 2017 in early June. In the interim, Jesse and I promise to do a little better about keeping up with the Blog and sharing our thoughts on everything from our favorite games, personal game dev heroes, and of course a few insights into our own process for developing (perhaps a whole post on the importance of “silence” in our games). Until next time ;).

~ Peace ~ EVI


~ 12/30/17 ~

“The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.”
-- John Hartford

And so it ends. Another year of development - of progresses and stresses, of triumph and doubt. Each step forward showing more and more of the sculpture inside the rock all the while the hand that chizels hoping not to stray its creation into blemish. The eye guides the hand; the eye sees what it wants the rock to be, the hand listens the best it can. In the space between the eye and the hand the mind plays its most natural and eternal of games: creating.

Truly, 2017 has been a year of iteration and improvement for us. Jesse and I gained a lot of insight into what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong, and ways we could do better. As you may have gleaned from the somewhat pretentious opening, Young Son has changed a lot this year but its proper form is beginning to show and that is thanks to everyone who has participated in our Closed Test. We began letting some of our close peers within the GameChurch community play test what we’ve made so far and the feedback has paid dividends. The game has undergone several major overhauls (visually and mechanically) and we are really pleased with the direction it is headed. It finally feels right.

To everyone who helped us test Young Son this year, we owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you so much for taking time to play the builds we send you, put up with the rough edges, and submit constructive feedback. Also, thank you for being patient with us; we know that we’ve been bad about keeping up a regular release cycle for these test builds. We aim to do better down the home stretch. In 2018, anyone who wants to play Young Son will be able. There is still a lot of work to do but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's faint, we hope it isn’t a dragon, but it is there all the same. Jesse and I are excited to unveil more soon and we are excited for what 2018 and beyond holds.

We fear the frustration of circles. Repetition can be painful because it masks progress; but the reality is that conscious iteration isn’t a circle but a spiral that focuses inward until it reaches a point. The point at which the vision of our efforts are realized and the creating game can start all over. And so it begins.

~ Peace ~ EVI