• aoe
  • social media
    twitter
    facebook
  • aoe
  • aoe
Ben

Ben

Website URL:

Melbourne International Games Week, 2015

October 26th to November 1st was the Melbourne International Games Week, a big week of games and game development comprising of the Unite and GCAP game dev conferences, The Arcade open day showcasing the local Melbourne Indie Dev Scene, and culminating in the always spectacular PAX Australia. If updates surrounding The Eyes of Ara have been quiet of late, this is the reason. I attended the full week, saw a lot of great games, met a lot of wonderful people, and most of all learned a great deal.

Unite & GCAP

These two conferences were the primary reason for my visit. Both had a lot of great talks by some very talented developers, but GCAP was a standout experience. A number of local devs gave some very informative talks, in particular Katie Gall, Lauren Clinnick and Tara Brannigan who ran a packed-out session on games and Social Media, Steve Halliwell and Tony Parmenter on Core Mechanics, and the always entertaining Nicole and Jason Stark who ran a Narrative Vs. Game Design session that encouraged audience participation and on-stage rivalry.

International guests included Keynotes by Brie Code (Child of Light, Assassin's Creed series) and Martin Sahlin (Unravel), both of whom told powerful, personal stories about their life and career in the games industry.

There were many more great sessions than I can possibly list here, and I left with a notebook full of hastily scrawled notes, a pocket full of business cards, and a head full of inspiration.

PAX and the Indie Dev Scene

Thursday was The Arcade open day. The Arcade is a collaborative workspace housing a number of indie dev teams, including Tin Man Games (Gamebook Adventures), Three Phase Interactive (Defect), and Hipster Whale (Crossy Road) as well as a host of others. The sheer number and variety of games on display was inspiring, it was wonderful to see the aussie indie dev scene kicking along so strong.

Unfortunately I was only able to attend a few short hours of PAX on the Friday, but it was enough for a quick loop of the expo floor and an extended stay in the indie games section. There I was able to play games by many of the devs I had met, spoke too, or listen to speak during the conferences. Many of the teams from The Arcade were there too, busily trying to keep up with the thousands of expo attendees vying for a look at their games.

Back in Brisbane

With the week concluded, weary devs from around the country headed home. I’m back in Brisbane now and back to work on The Eyes of Ara. I can confidently say that the game will be a better experience as a direct result of the MIGW (in fact I have already implemented some of the advice I received while there), and I look forward to next year’s Games Week. Who knows, perhaps next year I’ll be the one on stage talking about my experience developing The Eyes of Ara.

But first I have to finish it. So until next time, it’s back to work for me!

Game On #GO423

This past weekend I attended Brisbane’s annual #GO423 symposium, also known as Game On.

Both days were packed full of talks, panels, and interviews with local and interstate developers. There were some wonderful stories to heard and great insights to be had from Brisbane’s (and by extension Australia’s) vibrant gave dev community, tackling everything from self publishing and changing tech to mental health and quality of life issues.

On the Sunday I was not able to attend any of the seminars as I was presenting a demo of The Eyes of Ara at the Locally Made Games Exhibition. It was wonderful to be able to show the game to the public and hear the feedback, which I’m pleased to say was extremely positive.

Witnessing how different players took to the game was incredibly valuable. Everyone from experienced developers to the general public had a go, ranging from veteran adventure game fans through to people who had never heard the term “point and click” before. From a design perspective, this is invaluable in understanding how players interact with your game. Watching this range of players I was able to glean a better understanding of how different people approach the game, how effective the design is in communicating important information to the player, and how intuitive the gameplay is to pick up with little explanation (I am pleased to report that even though most people skipped past the demo’s tutorial screen they had no trouble playing the game).

I admit I was a little bit concerned about how effectively the game would exhibit. It is after all a slower, more contemplative game that generally requires a bit of time (and quiet) to play. Vastly more difficult to experience at a noisy, crowded exhibition where people are darting from one game to another, than say a fast action game better suited to the quick, jump-in-and-play environment. Yet I was thrilled to see that The Eyes of Ara had no shortage of players lined up to have go.

I like to think that some of this had to do with the demo’s design. Knowing that exhibition environment would be fast and noisy, I tried to account for this. The demo consisted of three rooms and a small sample collection of simple puzzles from the second Chapter of the game, strung together in a custom sequence. The goal was to present a quick taste of what the final game would include in terms of atmosphere, level structure, storytelling, and puzzle design, but be easy and straightforward enough to get through in five to ten minutes.

I am pleased to say that all but one person who sat down to play the demo saw it through to the end, and a few obsessive gamers even managed to find all 10 hidden coins scattered through the rooms.

So thank you to everyone that came along, played the demo, and commented on the game. The feedback was wonderful to hear and I was up early this morning excited to jump straight back into development.

I’m looking forward to next year’s symposium already!

Continue Support via the Web Store

The Store page on the 100 Stones Interactive website is now live. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can use the Store to pledge for many of the same rewards that were available during the Kickstarter.

Find it via the link on the top menu bar or at this link: http://www.100stonesinteractive.com/store

The Store lists information about the various rewards available and links to the purchase page. The actual purchasing is handled via Backerkit. Click for a direct link.

If you or anyone you know is interested in The Eyes of Ara but may have missed out on the Kickstarter, please share the link with them. All money raised via the Store will go towards the Stretch Goals.

Thanks everyone, with the Forums and Store now online it's back to full time development on The Eyes of Ara! Updates from now on will be less frequent, but I hope to be able to post something at least once per month. Whether that be a new Dev Diary or some other form of update. Otherwise, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter, where I continue to post smaller, more frequent updates like Screenshot Saturday images. And don't forget to check in with the game's Forums as well.

The Forums Are Now Online

The 100 Stones Interactive Forums are now online! You can access them via the link on the top menu bar, or directly here. You will find a general discussion area as well as space to talk about the game. More sections will be added over time as the discussion evolves.

Kickstarter Backers

If you pledged AU$10 (“The Game” tier) or more to the Eyes of Ara Kickstarter there is no need to register an account - you should soon receive an email (if you have not already) with a user name and password. If you don't see the email, give it a few hours to come through or check your spam folder. The email will come from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject heading New User Details.

Upon login in you change change your display name to whatever you wish, as well as edit other details of your account.

You should also see the exclusive Backer's Forum under The Eyes of Ara section.

Alpha/Beta Testers Forum

This sub forum will be added once the game enters Alpha, more details on that when the time comes.

Store and Backerkit

Now that the forum is online the Store/Backerkit setup is my next priority. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, you will be able to use the Store to pledge for many of the same rewards as during the Kickstarter. The plan is for the Store to accept both credit card and PayPal payments. Expect more details when it launches.

Thanks everyone, and please enjoy the discussion!

The Eyes of Ara Successfully Funded!

The Eyes of Ara Kickstarter has finished successfully, achieving 114% of its goal at $17170 with 508 backers. I would like to send out a big thank you to all of my supporters. The response has been both amazing and humbling. I am inspired by your confidence in the game, and I will not rest until I have produced a game worthy of the trust you have shown me (well, maybe I’ll rest a little, I have to sleep occasionally).

Now that the Kickstarter is over, the next phases begins. The first job is to get the forums up and running. The website has already had a little bit of a makeover (the initial launch was a bit of a rush job due to a tight deadline) and the forums are the next thing on the list. I will be posting weekly screenshots and regular updates during production of the game, and the forums will be the ideal place to discuss them.

I’m also working on getting a store set up so that latecomers and those wishing to pledge via PayPal will be able to do so. I’m aiming to use Backerkit for this, as it will allow me to integrate it into the Kickstarter pledge data and keep everything neat and tidy in one place. It will take a few weeks to go through the setup process, and I will post an announcement when it’s ready to go. When it is complete you will be able to access it from the link on the top menu bar.

And of course, it’s back to full time production on The Eyes of Ara. After more than two solid months preparing for and running the Kickstarter, it will be nice to get back into full time game development again.

Thank you all once again for your amazing support, it's time to celebrate! Cheers!

Store

The Eyes of Ara Kickstarter has concluded, but it's not too late to support the game!

 

Visit https://the-eyes-of-ara.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders or click the image below to pledge for many of the same rewards that were available during the Kickstarter.

 

 

The Backer's Gallery Secret Room

A special, hidden room located somewhere in the castle, this room is a special acknowledgement to all the backers for making this game possible, allowing you to leave a lasting impression in the game that you helped to create. 

Inside you will find extra bonus puzzles, hidden pickups, commentary from the developer, and special backer recognition: a Portrait Gallery displaying the pictures of backers who pledge to the Beta Tester's Pack or above, with large scale portraits of the Top-tier backers alongside details of the art and puzzles they designed for the game. 

Add-ons

Physical Copy of the Game
Inside this two-disk set you will find a copy of the game on DVD and the Soundtrack on audio CD.
Physical Copies are available both individually and as part of various reward tiers.

Backer's T-shirts
Exclusive Eyes of Ara T-shirt in mens and womens sizes, only available to backers!
T-shirts are available both individually and as part of various reward tiers.



All images above are examples only and do not represent the final designs.
All rewards that involve a contribution to the game (including names, photos, art, and design) are subject to approval by 100 Stones Interactive.
Transport and lodging for the Launch Party not provided.

For further information about pledging support for The Eyes of Ara or the Reward Tiers, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ask your question on the forums.

The Eyes of Ara Is Live On Kickstarter!

Freeplay

It’s been a lot of work and a long time coming, but I’m pleased to announce that The Eyes of Ara Kickstarter campaign is now live!

When I started work on this game back in late 2013 it was not only with the dream of forming my own games studio, but also of delivering a game that I could be proud of. A game worth playing. From the video and screenshots released so far I hope you will agree that I’m on track to meeting that goal, but in order to compete it I’m going to need your support.

My ambition for The Eyes of Ara is large, and with your help we can make it a reality. So if you like what you have seen here so far, and you are a fan of puzzle-adventure games, please consider clicking through and backing The Eyes of Ara.

Freeplay Independent Games Festival

Freeplay

 

If you happen to be in Melbourne this week, be sure to check out the Freeplay Independent Games Festival. They’re hosting a range of events over the ten days of the festival (for the full program click the image above). There are a lot of cool events to attend or watch online, and it’s sure to be a lot of fun.

 

And while you’re there, perhaps you’ll run into 100 Stones Interactive. I will be in Melbourne from April 15-20 and will be attending various Freeplay events during that time, including the Symposium and Awards ceremony. Feel free to come up and chat about the studio, The Eyes of Ara, the festival, our shared love of games, or just to enjoy a beer or two. Want to track me down specifically? I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact 100 Stones through Facebook or Twitter.

The Eyes of Ara in action

100 Stones Interactive is proud to present the first video for The Eyes of Ara! You can watch right now on our brand new YouTube Channel (while you are there, be sure to follow us for future videos), or even better watch it below!

 

A more detailed video with story excerpts and gameplay examples is currently in the works, but in the mean time I hope you enjoy seeing this short sneak peek of The Eyes of Ara in action.

 

Want more content? The Eyes of Ara gallery has also been updated with some new screenshots in addition to the sneak peek video. So head on over and check it out!

 

About 100 Stones Interactive

 

Hi there, I’m Ben Droste, founder of 100 Stones Interactive. I founded this studio with the aim of making great games that deliver new and interesting experiences. I consider people’s time to be precious, and if you are going to do me the honor of spending that time playing my game, then I owe it to you to make damn sure it’s a great experience.

 

This means every moment of the game needs to be special. It should be a unique and memorable experience, complete and satisfying in its own right without the need for filler content.

 

The Eyes of Ara is the first game in this journey. It is an intricately designed experience where every puzzle is unique, nothing is included simply to extend the playtime, and the storytelling seeks to subvert your expectations.

 

Future titles from 100 Stones Interactive will strive for this ideal as well, I hope you will do me the honour of playing them too!

 


 

About 100 Stones Interactive

At 100 Stones Interactive I believe that the best games are those that explore new ideas, provide memorable experiences, and challenge our preconceptions. Games should be more than just passing entertainment, indeed games represent a powerful interactive medium through which to communicate ideas and explore the human condition.

At 100 Stones Interactive, I strive to create games that live up to this potential.

Founded in 2015, 100 Stones Interactive is a games studio based in Brisbane, Australia.

 

 

Ben Droste

  

Ben is a veteran of the Australian Games industry. He worked with well-known properties such as Star Wars, Viva Piñata, Spyro the Dragon, and Mickey Mouse. Most recently, he contracted as a Level Designer for 5Lives Studios on their successful Kickstarter title Satellite Reign.

He has shipped nine titles across a range of platforms including PS2, original Xbox, GameCube, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, iOS and Android. Originally an Environment Artist, Ben has expanded his skill set to include Game Design, Programming, and Project Management.

In the past, Ben has worked for multiple studios, including Krome Studios, KMM Games, and SEGA Studios Australia. After the closure of SEGA Studios Australia he went solo to work on his own game prototypes, including what would eventually become The Eyes of Ara.

In 2015 he founded 100 Stones Interactive with the goal of completing The Eyes of Ara and establishing himself as an independent developer, and as he says: “work on my own games rather than somebody else’s”.

 

 

Contact

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Press Kit

 

Find me on Social Media:

     

 

 

Terms of Service

Subscribe to this RSS feed