When you think about having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend, do those crazy anime/manga stories that you watch and/or read about make you think, “only in Japan”? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own virtual gf/bf here in the USA?
Well, now you can!
Pop GO is happy to introduce you to Mike Amerson, Co-founder of WET Productions Inc., and the creative direction behind the 3D dating simulation games, My Virtual Girlfriend, and My Virtual Boyfriend for iPhone and iPad.
Read on as we Hi 5 Mike Amerson of Wet Productions and see what it takes to create successful mobile games!
1) Looking back to when you first started working within the game industry, what can you say was the defining moment that hooked you forever?
My defining moment was actually prior to working in the gaming industry. I owned a carpet cleaning business and just did art as a hobby. I got a call from a potential new customer by the name of Joe Black. He had just moved here to Las Vegas, NV, and wanted to get his new home’s carpet cleaned. When I went into his house to have a look around and give the estimate, I noticed he had 3D artwork from Final Fantasy 7 (PS1) on some of his walls. I commented that FF7 was my favorite all-time game, and he said they were his artwork, and that he worked on it. My jaw nearly hit the floor, as little bells went off in my head telling me I am in the presence of greatness. I was star-struck.
We got to talking - He just got hired on at Westwood. I offered to do his carpets for free if he could help teach me some things about 3D art (this was back in 1998, when 3D art was a fairly new concept). He agreed, and the story goes on from there, but the moment he told me he worked on FF7, that was a defining moment for me.
2) What is a common misconception that new designers might face when entering the industry, and what were some of your challenges when you first started?
I’ve seen a lot of new designers come into the industry and nearly all of them make the same mistake. They come in with an “elitist” approach toward design, and apply it to a game that’s intended to hit a wide demographic. They’re gamers themselves, really good ones too. They compete ferociously, understand design and player psychology well; but the problem lies in that having a big gamer ego leads them to create something too difficult for the “Average” player to overcome. This stems from the desire to be challenged themselves, so they seek to make something that they consider challenging.
Unfortunately, what this means is that only the top-level gamers will enjoy this game and most everyone else just find it frustrating. While this may be a testament to how genius they are, it’s not commercially viable. The optimal thing here is for designers to understand who they are making the game for first, then make the game for that audience, not for themselves.
3) When trying to create something for people to enjoy, was there ever a moment where you thought, “What the heck am I doing?” What kept you motivated to keep pushing yourself forward?
I think that moment occurs for everyone on some level. It’s a confidence issue really. It can come from low morale, working excessively long hours or not being able to envision the end result. There are ways to combat each of these things mentioned, but the one thing to remember is to always give 100%, and to trust your co-workers, and that they are giving 100%. It’s an iterative process and things will evolve. So as long as you stay focused and keep moving forward, you’ll get to where you need to be.
4) Super duper fun time! You just moved into a neighborhood inhabited by a bunch of fictional characters (anime, manga, comics, games, tv, film, etc.)…
a. Who would you borrow sugar from?
Not Super Meat Boy- that’s for sure.
b. Who would you ask to baby sit the kids?
c. Whose wi-fi do you steal?
Neighbors, but only on rare occasions that my own is down. :)
d. Who’s your BFF?
My Wife - We’ve been together for 19 years.
e. Whose Facebook invite do you not accept?
Chucky from Child’s play
5) What advice can you give to those aspiring to be successful video game designers?
Keep an open mind and expect changes. Things seldom go as planned so keep that in mind. Tame your egos and get to know your audience first and foremost. Make the game for them. It may not feel as gratifying as creating your own masterpiece the way you intended it, but the majority will enjoy it, and for that, you would have made a successful game.
WET Productions Inc. is an independent micro-studio focused on iOS and mobile devices. You can follow Mike Amerson on Twitter @polygrafix. Also check out the following links below for more updates and reviews about the featured games!
My Virtual Girlfriend has been featured on Kotaku, MSNBC and Lopez Tonight!
My Virtual Boyfriend has been featured on TechCrunch and CrazyMikesApps.