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Digital Alberta is featuring a Digital Creator Spotlight every month and this month we are pleased to highlight Red Iron Lab’s Muffin Fight game. We dig deep with a Q & A sit down with creator Rosalinda Hernandez, Cofounder and CEO at Red Iron Labs, to talk about the game.
1) Where did the idea for muffin fight come from?
The honest answer is: A game jam that didn’t jam.
March 9, 2020, we had planned a game jam against another local studio—a friendly studio vs studio kind of a thing—cuz that’s how we roll in the Alberta indie game community.
They were no longer able to attend, and the jam was never rescheduled because not one week later… well—you know what happened (whispers: “covid”). But at that time, we decided to still get our team together to plan and develop a game—a nice reward from our regular day-to-day work. We didn’t complete it, but the name and concept of throwing muffins was founded.
FFW to September 2020, we had 3 new members on our team but were losing client projects due to the pandemic. With no project to put them on we gave them Muffin Fight.
It went something like this: Here. Take the name, take the concept. Make it happen.
And they did.
And you know what? I’m really proud of what they accomplished. A simple straight-forward fun game for all ages that will take your breath away (you get a good workout out of it) and is easy to play and spend hours in. They did an amazing job considering they were given 12 weeks to complete it end-to-end. Incredible.
2) What does the development process look like for a game like this?
The team chimed in on this one!
“Since we were given creative freedom for this project, we had a brainstorm session to go over everyone’s ideas. From there we collaborated / Ideated on the ideas that stood out to us and determined the scope of the project.
From there we delegated tasks based on each other’s strengths.
Even though we are a remote team, collaboration was a vital key in our development process. We’d often hop on voice calls for pair programming sessions and assist each other when needed. Without the constant communication between the team members, Muffin Fight wouldn’t exist, period.”
—Matthew Schreiner, Creative Software Developer, Red Iron Labs
“With full creative freedom for developing the visuals of Muffin Fight, the only guideline was our deadline for release. Muffin Fight’s visuals were established and built within 2 weeks.
We knew we wanted the game to feel ‘hectic’ so we approached the environment as if it were some sort of gameshow. We wanted loud colours and lots of contrasts to help things visually pop.
The Chef avatar was created to be as gender neutral as possible. This was so we could make one avatar model with simple colour swaps, and people wouldn’t feel alienated by playing as a character they couldn’t identify with.
It was fun creating a modular model system for our muffins. I created basic muffin models, basic ingredient models, and basic / chocolate textures, and then those models are toggled on/off depending on what sort of ingredients you put into your muffin!”
—Brady Hardy, 3D Artist, Red Iron Labs
3) Tell us more about the team members who worked on this.
Matthew Schreiner joined our team March 2020.
He came to us as a Jr with a mix of formal education and self-learning, which is something we value at Red Iron. His brilliance shines in level design, and I am always excited to see how much thought he puts into the player’s experience.
Brady Hardy interned with us back in 2018 when he was a student, and we hired him FT in September 2020 because he’s just so gifted and passionate about what he does. So, we do go a bit back, and just love that I/we can attest to his growth as an artist.
OMG, I can’t believe it’s been 2.5 years!!
Time, where did you go? Wait! Don’t go so fast… (read: crying emoji)
4) How long did this take to build?
The initial version of Muffin Fight was released in February 2021 and took about 3 months. Since then, we’ve done minor updates here and there.
But a couple weeks ago we initiated #Project9Weeks and Strategy #1K10K (1K new Discord members and 10K daily players) is in full swing.
Basically, we are releasing an update to the game, which we are calling “Muffin Fight Christmas Edition”, on December 16th, so stay tuned and be ready to get your BAKE ON at the BAKE OFF.
The biggest update to the Christmas Edition will be the social space that allows participants/players/bakers/MuffinToppers to hang out in the lobby and socialize with one another AND allows players to have a “sneak peak” to upcoming game additions. We will also be implementing different game modes including quick, custom, and single-player modes allowing a more diverse game experience than the current battle mode. And finally, the most requested internal update we get to fulfill will be adding the game to the Quest and Pico storefronts. Muffin Fight is currently available on Steam and itch.io.
5) What’s next for Red Iron labs? Are you working on anything exciting?
Ummmmm…. Like always.
We’ve been experimenting with mass multiplayer environments for several years now but have never gotten around to publishing the concepts for a beta release and user testing. This is going to change in 2023. We’ve spent years perfecting our art, and now it’s time we put it out into the world: we’re going to be putting a lot of energy and focus on our products.
Aside from this, what you can expect from us in 2023 are beta/user testing releases for Cultivate and Social VR. Both are mass multiplayer “metaverse” concepts, where one focuses on creation and the other on socialization.
We have also recently acquired the IP for a new game, Code Name: Battle Birds, which some people may recognize as we were doing some user testing a few weeks back. We have been visionizing (that’s not a typo, I make up words in my pastime) future features and we anticipate “Battle Birds” will be another high-octane game for all ages. And as mentioned above, we will be releasing new features to Muffin Fight throughout 2023.
So, the short and long of it is that 2023 is going to be a super exciting and busy year for us and our products!!
The best way to keep up is to follow our socials and (((join our Discord))) <- those are sonic vibes convincing you to join our Discord server. Did you go and do it? Awesome, thank you.
7) If others are interested in getting started in building VR games, where should they start?
Another great question I asked the tech team, and this is what they said:
“Interestingly, I’ve linked some of these on our website www.redironlabs.com:
Wanting to join a creative studio? These resources can help you get started!
- Join the Calgary Game Developers Association
- Lethbridge College Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Developers Certificate
- Attend events from Calgary Society for Equity in Technology
- U of C – Computer Game Design
- Udemy or other online courses
- Join our Virtual Reality MeetUP Group!
- Join our Discord server, we connect with a lot of VR gamers on there…
I’d also recommend they try Unity Learn (it is free and a good place to get started with VR development) and of course exploring game jams!”
—Lloyd Summers, CTO and Dev Team Lead
That is the end of the interview questions. Thank you, Digital Alberta, for giving us the spotlight today. It was really nice to have the opportunity to share about our Muffin Fight game, our process and advice. Though at times extremely challenging, starting a game studio in Alberta and navigating the ups and downs has been the greatest adventure of all. Thank you to Red Iron’s Co-Founder, Lloyd Summers who is always down to try crazy ideas, as well as to our supporters and our team for believing in us (a million heart emojis to you all, and to all a good night).
Want to be featured in Digital Alberta’s Local Creator Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org