Stone age gamer

Stephen McCallum is hard at work creating what he hopes will become his second social game hit.

  • Mar. 16, 2013 1:00 p.m.

Steve McCallum

New characters could be making their way to Facebook thanks to an Oak Bay-based video game developer.

Stephen McCallum is hard at work creating what he hopes will become his second social game hit.

“I’m trying to take a lot of the things that worked with the first game and appeal to a broader audience,” McCallum said.

His first Facebook success came with Pot Farm, a game he co-produced with East Side Games in Vancouver.

Pot Farm was created following the popularity of Zynga’s FarmVille.

“I had been working a lot with Flash at that time and all of these social games are Flash,” McCallum said. “I looked at FarmVille and thought, ‘I could make a game like that.’ The first idea that came to mind was to make a parody of it and make something called Pot Farm, where you don’t necessarily grow tomatoes.”

McCallum approached East Side Games, where friends of his from the early days of his career were working, with the idea to improve the art of the game they were already working on by integrating it with the existing game.

“We put it together and launched it in 2009 and (got) 1.5 million users in the first month,” he said. “We struggled because the game was launched kind of haphazardly and we weren’t really ready for that type of success, but we kind of made it up as we went along.”

Pot Farm has continued to average about one million users a month, and in 2010 McCallum decided to sell his share of the game to pursue a new project.

The concept for McCallum’s new game is an online version of the week-long experiment in community, art, self expression and self -reliance known as Burning Man.

“The idea behind Burning Man is you get a primitive society for a week where you go to the desert with a bunch of strangers and cast off the rules of society for a little while and build an experimental society,” he said.

Because the games McCallum builds are based on social media, the event seemed a good fit and he began creating his concept.

Instead of developing a direct replication of Burning Man, McCallum expanded on the primitive part of the event and made OOG! Clan of the Caveman.

“It’s a chance for people to live out the Burning Man experience and get primal in a harmless way online – and be caveman and have fun,” he said.

To try and engage fans early on, McCallum decided to use a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money.

“Crowd funding has been in the air for game developers,” he said. “A lot of them have success with it and I thought I’d give it a try. I think it’s kind of an interesting idea for funding because it kind of democratizes the whole fundraising process.”

Unlike going to one venture capitalist and asking them to invest in exchange for a portion of the company or concept, with Indiegogo, many people invest and the risk is spread around.

“I think it’s also a good way to build your fan base early on,” he said. “Those people have been involved from the beginning and have watched the whole process, so they feel more invested in the final product.”

McCallum tried to raise $50,000 via Indiegogo, but fell well short of his goal, raising just under $5,000. He said the larger amount would go far to creating the final product.

“With that money we wanted to build a prototype,” he said. “Every investor said they wanted to see a prototype.”

In addition to creating the prototype, McCallum said he would need to hire a team including tech people.

“The fundraising isn’t going to stop,” he said.

For a sneak peak of OOG! Clan of the Caveman visit facebook.com/OOGINC.

 

 

 

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