Games Developed at Venan Entertainment, Inc
From 2007 to 2012, I served as a game designer and writer at mobile game developer Venan Entertainment, Inc. I returned again in 2014 to serve as a senior designer and lead writer. Unfortunately, the company was forced to shut its doors in 2016.
NINJATOWN (Nintendo DS, 2008)
Associate Designer & Writer
Before I even officially started work with Venan Entertainment in 2007, I was working on Ninjatown for the Nintendo DS. Based on the adorable Shawnimals toy and vinyl figurine line by ex-EGM writer Shawn Smith, our vision was to capture the hilarious energy and natural absurdity of the toys in an easily-accessible tower defense-style game on the then-king of family entertainment: the Nintendo DS.
I started the project helping mostly on design -- but soon found myself writing up storyline concepts and cutscene ideas, running them through Venan, Shawn Smith, and co-writer Robb Telfer. By the end of development, I'd had a hand in most of the game's cutscenes and dialog, along with numerous level layouts and core design mechanics.
When the App Store completely redefined independent mobile development, everybody switched over to iDevices as quickly as they could. We still did the occasional contract project (NBA Live and Monopoly being major iOS productions), but
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust (iOS, 2010)
Designer & Writer
For the first three years I worked with Venan, we were an independent contractor for major studios like EA, Sega, and THQ, working behind the scenes on major properties like NBA LIVE, Road Rash, Sonic the Hedgehog, and MONOPOLY (lots and lots of MONOPOLY).
After getting a feel for the App Store and iOS development, we decided it was time to take advantage of the incredible opportunity the new platform afforded. After throwing around a few "simple" ideas, we decided to craft the kind of game we wanted to play ourselves: a sci-fi action/RPG with fun moment-to-moment gameplay, a great story, and a progression system that made you always want to upgrade to the newest cool thing. That game was Space Miner: Space Ore Bust.
The entire game universe spun out a single moment when the CEO walked in one day with the following concept: "You're working for your crazy Uncle Jeb in an asteroid field, and the evil Mega Space Corporation is trying to put him out of business." That was it. But to be honest, that was all we needed.
In addition to helping out on most aspects of the game design, I also helped with the character creation process, fleshed out the overall storyline with the CEO, wrote all the cutscenes, integrated some punch-up lines from an external editor, and wrote all descriptions for the various ships, weapons, items, and sectors that populated the game world.
Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! (iOS, 2010)
Designer & Writer
An arcade-style endless runner (climber?), Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! was a fun Venan project that was comparatively small-scale when stacked against the likes of Space Miner: Space Ore Bust and Book of Heroes.
As the Wee Ninja, your goal is to climb/flip/launch/fly up the nefarious Trees of Doom to prove your ninja skills. In a world filled to the brim with runners and climbers, Trees of Doom! let players proceed up the trap-laden trees at their own pace (at least until we added an alternative time attack mode in a free DLC push).
It's still a fun game to this day, and the 2D vector art has aged exceptionally well, capturing the look of Shawn Smith's own artwork and bringing it to life in ways not seen since the animated trailers for the original Ninjatown on the Nintendo DS.
Book of Heroes (iOS/Android, 2011)
Designer & Writer
After releasing Space Miner: Space Ore Bust in 2010, Venan set its sights on crafting a mobile "MMO on the go". This core philosophy led to the studio's most successful independent game to date, Book of Heroes.
The idea was to take the core MMO experience of combat, leveling, getting rewards, gear-hunting, and crafting, and remove all the elements in between that would require things like a complex 3D world. The world of BoH, called Glenfort, exists as a large 2D map with nodes the player can visit to initiate combat encounters.
As Venan's resident writer, I was tasked with creating numerous quest lines for the initial launch in addition to helping with the core game design and content creation. I also named most of the weapons and pieces of armor in the game.
After temporarily leaving Venan in 2012, I continued to work with them on a freelance basis to write new quest lines for major story expansions until my return in 2014.
Space Miner Wars (iOS/Android, 2015)
Senior Designer & Writer
After returning to Venan Entertainment in the spring of 2014, I was quickly on-boarded onto a project I'd been dreaming about for over four years: Space Miner Wars.
Having served as designer and lead writer on the original Space Miner: Space Ore Bust, it was easy to get back into the swing of things with its sequel. Embracing the online "game as living world" concept we'd established with Book of Heroes, we approached the storyline to Space Miner Wars as an episodic adventure that could continue as long as civilization holds out.
The fun characters and genuinely bizarre universe we built in Space Ore Bust proved fertile ground for its sequel, and we launched with a full campaign's-worth of content that captures the spirit of the original award-winning title.
By the time the title was officially launched, I had scripted over 30 story missions, and written over a hundred unique cutscenes.