Alan Wagner – Co-Creator of Cole: A Game About Coal
Filmmaker, game-maker, writer and comedian, Alan Wagner is a jack of all trades and master of all of them. After growing up in a small farming town in rural Michigan, Alan moved to Los Angeles to follow his dreams of becoming a creative genius billionaire, also to attend USC, where he double-majored in filmmaking and game design. He has recently launched a Kickstarter for his dark-comedy adventure game Cole: A Game About Coal.
Why did you decide to build Cole the Game?
Coal has always been my favorite energy source. It’s gotten a bad rap because of its effects on the environment, but climate change is just a hoax dreamt up by Barrack Hussein Obama because he’s in bed with Big Air Conditioning. Don’t believe the hype!
But actually, ever since I played my first videogame, Cole is the game I’ve always wanted to see—one that combines dark humor, adventure, and a memorable story, tied together with a singular spirit and personal vision.
What are your 3 favorite online tools that you cannot live without?
What are your favorite 3 games right now?
As a young recent college grad chasing his dreams, I don’t often get the chance to relax and play some games these days. But I actually found this really intuitive, sharply designed iOS game called Kiwanuka the other day. I jumped on the Gone Home bandwagon far too late but that game has some of the best writing I’ve seen in a videogame, period. And I’m sure if I had the money to afford a 3DS I’d be playing the heck out of the new Smash Bros.
How do you market your game?
Right now we’re on our social media game. We have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram we update regularly to engage with our fanbase. We’ll break out the big guns when we have an actual game to sell.
Do you work out of an office or do you collaborate virtually?
When we were a USC game, we worked in their game development labs. Since beginning work on the Kickstarter, we’ve been working remotely. If we reach our goal, we’ll set up some office space in the spare room of my house.
How do you keep your team members on the same page? (if you work virtually)
Weekly Skype meetings are a big help. It’s easy to lose awareness of the fact that the person on the other end of your email is a living, breathing, complex human being with their own wants, needs and goals, but having everyone see everyone else’s actual physical faces each week helps everyone keep everything in perspective.
What are the biggest challenges to creating a game on iOS and Android?
One thing you don’t think about is build times. It’s gonna take a couple minutes to build the game on your Android, even longer on iPhone. You can’t just tweak a few things, then boot up the game and see how it plays, like you can with PC game development. This is annoying!
Even more annoying is the fact that every model of Android phone has its own completely unique specs and screen dimensions, and this issue is starting to become relevant as Apple begins to offer more options with the iPhone/iPad as well. The sad truth is we can’t test how the game will play on every single model of phone. Some people will purchase our game only to find that it runs slowly or not at all on their device. To these people we can only say sorry! Our game is processor-intensive and isn’t going to run on everything.
What are your goals for Cole the Game and for your team?
Raise funding, build a fun, hilarious, thematically nuanced game about shoveling coal, then release it!
Who are 3 people we should follow on Twitter?
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
Anyone who knows me knows of my deep-rooted and profound appreciation for Kanye West. He’s a spectacular human being! Like any genius, he’s a slightly socially retarded and doesn’t come across great in interviews. But when you break down his message, what is he about? Self-empowerment, passion, bringing cultures together, respect, brotherhood, love, and contributing to the world at your highest level. Not to mention he’s released, what, six consecutive albums of uncompromising vision and unparalleled quality? Just because he brags about being the voice of a generation doesn’t mean he isn’t.
How has your life been different than you would have imagined?
I try not to think too far ahead and always keep myself working on one or two creative projects. So far I think this has been working out for me! But honestly as a kid, I had absolutely no idea what college or adulthood would be like. Even going into USC, I was probably lucky that I had next to no preconception of what to expect. I think I’ve had extraordinary good fortune to meet a whole swath of supportive, creative individuals I can call my buds.
How would you like to be remembered?
“He had really good hair. I think he made videogames?”
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