To those that know of Bon Ink Creations in it's current form as a video game development and publishing company, may not realize it started out as something entirely different. This concept and business model has seen many changes to reach it's current form and has been an ever growing effort for just over 5 years or so. I write this blog to share the early years of Bon Ink Creations, a look into myself as a person and explain where this idea came from and how everything lead to where it is today.
A Bit About Me (Jon Bon)
Having been born into commercial video games being common place I am proud to have caught the tail end of the first wave of born gamers. In 1984 on may 5th a young soon to be aspiring independent developer was born, me. From an early age I had my older brother (Born 1978) as a large influence in my life for video games. I can't remember a time before video games were common place to me, and I have been enjoying them ever since I was young.
As I grew up my interests broadened but stayed within media in general. I became a fan of movies, literature, comics, cartoons, theater plays, you name it. RPG's being my favorite category of game, I think the story of media has also drawn me the most, and in turn the intractability of a video game regarding it's story.
After reaching my 20's I begun to search for my place in life, find where to make my mark and what medium to best express myself. I tried voice acting, music composer, animation, television host, nothing seem to fit. I would gear up, get everything ready get started and lose interest or get swept up in excuses about why I was too busy. In short I had yet to find my passion.
At the age of 23 I decided to pursue a career in animation. Like all my skills I believe in self teaching. I began with some crude animations and ended up losing everything but my first piece of work (none of it was any good anyhow) which I later posted in 2006 (the video itself is so old my company was called Bonium Inc
.) You can see from this video also posted in 2006 I had my first logo ready and was working towards the BICs logo I have today.As before my life became hectic and excuses began to pile up for me not to pursue this any further.
It was then in 2007 I drew up my ~40+ page (original is long altered) business plan outlining my ideas for a Community Center under the name Bon Ink. The idea was a place for independent teachers of art, music and anything really to be able to have a place to host their own classes and charge admissions for a small fee. In other words a learning annex for my local area. I spent months outlining every aspect of the business, making a 5 year plan, canvassing the area for interest, pricing out costs the whole 9 yards. Just as my business plan was complete and I was set to approach NEKO a local funding organization, I again had life excuses and never followed through.
A Large Slump
At this time it saddens me to say I fell into a large depression. It was now 2008 and I was fearing I would never find my path in life. This was when I began to play video games heavy like in previous years. As time passed I began to think; "What's with commercial games nowadays?" needless to say I wasn't greatly impressed with a large majority of $60 titles standing next to games of the same price that were 4 times the caliber. That's when it hit me, I remember it clearly the first image that popped into my head was the interviews of the behind the scenes I had seen of all my favorite producers, writers, developers etc, they all said the same thing "You just know you'll make it.", it may sound cheesy but I knew at that moment I was supposed to make video games. An epiphany if you will.
I began to think about all the time I had spent in my youth and adolescents building fake levels for my favorite games, imagining what I would do differently and even outling entire rpg's on paper. I couldn't believe it had never occurred to me before then. Looking back on it now I was not as mentally ready to undergo the task I currently am, and I am glad that it took me as long to find my way as it did because now I feel I am fully ready to succeed.
Video Game Development
Thus in 2009 Bon Ink Creations in it's full name sake was born. It was at this point I made sure to spend every spare second researching and looking into the video game industry, as I still do to this day. This was when the first product registered to Bon Ink Creations was bought, a copy of RPG Maker XP. I then spent the next year developing a game which was no where near completion when a computer crash made me lose all of my progress.
Now it's 2010 and I have nothing to show for the years worth of hard work and knowledge I self taught myself. At this point I decided I would need to join a community I spent the next year working towards a fan made game of an excellent tv series called BBC's Merlin as well as scouting for a community to join. Once I had enough of my development efforts complete that I believe I had a solid enough proof of product to show a community upon first arriving I joined my first 'RM Communities' as they are affectionately known This was in 2011.
I begun to network and make contacts and tell people of what my future plans were for Bon Ink Creations and my intents with RM Communities. I wanted to recruit talented and passionate people, like myself, who wanted to make video games for real. In short I needed to build my own team in order to be able to make a quality product. for the most part things went great I made an excellent name for myself and was well received where ever I went.
Video Game Publishing Too
In my efforts to make contacts I made sure to inspire as many independent developers as I could about their respective designs, as I noticed many of these communities were harsh with or gave zero feedback. After some time had passed I realized that allot of independent developers had not gone through anywhere near the same years of research I had been maintaining. It was then that I realized I should help these individuals out with the knowledge I have learned. I couldn't believe independent developers were making the quality products they were without using what I considered standard tactics for creating a fan base, such as media marketing.
I realized that my community center business model could easily be changed and adapted to fit a video game company. So I worked on changing my model to fit publishing and providing services to help developers.
This was when I begin to approach developers of what I believe to be promising free release games and offer my support to them for free. I offer a quid pro quo system, where I help free games create a marketing campaign, manage their websites, and social networking sites, so they can continue production and development with no hassle. In short, it takes twice as much work for a developer to try and build and maintain a fan base at the same time as development and design. I lighten that load by allowing the creative minds of independent developers freedom to focus on what they are best at, in turn I received credit for publishing their work, while they retain full credit for creation and development.
So here we are August 2012 and im 28 years young, and I couldn't be any happier with where we are and how things have progressed.
We have one game currently in it's first month of promotional campaign (Grave Prosperity)
which has Part 1 of Volume 1 complete and set to release Oct 26th.We have another game currently complete in it's entirety and having a promotional and marketing campaign design as we speak (Felix's Nightmare)
The Dark Matter
guys are hard at work on their game as always, made entirely from stories written and published by the two lead developers.Our first Conceptual Design is making it's way from paper to interactive media, by Agent Paper of Paper Studios, no link yet!These don't include the other studios who have agreed to work with us that are simply working on teams, designs, or wrapping up past projects.
Our Twitter account has some excellent prospective followers, such as @Gam3Newz, @YouTubePlaza, and @recruitmentjob.Our main website get's a steady steam of half a dozen to a dozen so daily unique visitors, with our advertised games (Grave Prosperity) reaching the 20's in unique traffic daily.Our interest is growing and for only being 3 months live, with no official grand opening or real advertising at all, it's a great showing thus far!So needless to say things are growing great. For the the most part the response to what I am doing had been great. But don't kid yourself my company design is new
and innovative. No one to the best of my knowledge is openly signing independent groups for free in order to publish their material. Additionally I don't retain any creative rights, or distribution rights to the product itself. I only ask that those that publish through us add our splash screen to their game stating that "Published by Bon Ink Creations", simply and just enough. For that I handle as much or as little of a developers campaign as they want, I work with them or for them, whatever they prefer. Sounds to good to be true? Well many things do, but it's the hidden value I seek, not the straight monetary gain as some may think. I value the knowledge and experience I am gaining daily from helping these developers with the publishing aspects of their game. They get free work, and I get free experience. I then share that knowledge with them so they can break out on their own if they desire when the time comes to release a pay game.
Welcome to an 'Open Source' company, where we freely share our methods and knowledge, no industry secrets here that we won't give away.
Ah, what will the future hold for Bon Ink Creations? Many good things, especially for those current signed with us. Development is currently going towards outlining exactly what a 'free plan' with Bon Ink Creations entails. Nothing will change for our current signed development teams, and likely more benefits will be added.
With dedicated Quality Assurance testers banging on my email door, independent musicians and voice actors excited to work with us, the plans for the future are big indeed.
In short I plan to be offering as much exclusive quality content to those who have been with us this far and have been hanging on through the tough start up period of our company.
New changes will be starting in September and out official Grand Opening is planned for October. So stay tuned and I hope everyone is as excited for the future of Bon Ink Creations as I am.
I want to show that indie developers can make quality products too, that people won't only work for money or to sell their art, that the true artistic and innovative nature of video games isn't dead, that the $60 flat rate commercial sticker price isn't justified. Every developer signed with us as of this post was working to release a free product before signing with us, on their own time with no one forcing them to. That's the kind of passion and dedication I look for and the kind of people I am willing to lend my free time towards.
I hope anyone who read this enjoyed the read and can see and relate to where I am coming from. Bon Ink Creations is my baby, at this point more than just my future depends on it, the futures of those I have signed and hired and agreed to work with also depend on it. Everything in my life is focused towards this succeeding, and for that reason I feel confident I will. I thank those that have entrusted their creative designs with me, and in turn their futures in this industry. I promise to do as good as I would for my own projects, as I have been thus far! For the fans we hope to release some heart warming classic games, and some true innovative designs as well. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.
IntroWe have been hard at work over the past few weeks getting a launch campaign ready for LDC Studios upcoming October 2012 release of Grave Prosperity. Additionally Black City Studios has their release of Felix's Nightmare ready for a launch campaign and date to be set. Furthermore Agent Paper from Paper Studios has gained more direction and inspiration for his story related efforts and makes leaps and bounds in his conceptual design. Finally Bon Ink's creation staff is working towards settling on it's game design for the in house first build and launch. All this and more covered in this blog.
Justabox (the owner of LDC Studios) has been hard at work adding the final and minor tweeks to the release candidate of Grave Prosperity Volume 1 Part 1 set to launch on Oct 26.
He has also been kind as to work in conjunction with Bon Ink to create an impactful short but sweet teaser trailer, posted today. Here
.Grave Prosperity will also start it's own blog out yesterday with information regarding August's promotional release dates. Justabox will be writing some blogs detailing the work leading up to now, our recent work together, and plans for the future so keep an eye out!Felix's NightmareBlack City Will of Black City Studios has reached a complete release candidate for his game and work has begun on outlining a marketing plan and getting promotional material made up.
A long worked on first release for Black City Studios the game was an enjoyment to play. More information and links to follow as the weeks progress.
ForumsAs an internet based company Bon Ink primarily works through the use of a website forum. The forum is open to the public but non staff and development teams are limited to what they can see and interact with. We recently had a new staff member join by the name of Shingamix who has agreed to administrate the forums. Although this may seem like small news this is actually quite big. A large majority of time is spent on the administrative duties of the forum, and with someone dedicated to the job it frees up much more time for other work. Additionally Shingamix has proven to be quite an asset at creating a more graphically dynamic and appealing forum which is serving to function better when using it for work.Welcome aboard Shingamix, and thanks again for all your recent work!In House Development
Inspiration has struck and of the roughly half a dozen designs kicking around internally at Bon Ink we believe to have settled on one. Work is being done to create a basic model and test out some of the game dynamics and ideas. It will be a multi-player side scrolling adventure game with heavy rpg elements, that's all we can say for now. A development blog is planned for this project and more news will follow as it developers.Special Surprise Project
In a previous blog there was slight mention to a new member by the name of Moonpearl having an awesome project planned. Well, Moonpearl contacted me this past week and asked for the proper forum permissions and basic outline setup for his area to launch the starting works for the project. Oh super secret! We can't make an official announcement just yet, as we are waiting on his word, but there should be talk of his excellent open source design idea set to launch through Bon Ink. The future is that much brighter with Moonpearl around. Official announcement likely in the next blog post!ConclusionUnfortunately this blog did not follow the near bi-weekly posting of other blogs (which was coincidence not planned) but that just goes to show how busy we are. Expect at least one blog a month regarding general
progress and new ventures etc. Thanks for reading!
IntroI can't begin to express how productive things have been.
Work with the developers signed with us has been going excellent. People who have agreed to come on board are freeing up their time and finishing up old projects, and the future is looking up. Hope everyone enjoys.New MemberThe innovative and inventive ever so talented Moonpearl has finally freed up his time and will be settling in over the next few weeks with us at Bon Ink as a staff member. He is an author of many excellent and extremely impressive scripts for the RMXP engine and posts them on his blog page.
http://moonpearl-gm.blogspot.ca/He has some amazing things in store for us, and as much as I wanted to I will have to save details for a later date. Welcome aboard mate!Social NetworkingWith the social networking of Twitter and Facebook linked together, I went one step further and found a website to automate the process. I can now plan and schedule project updates
for developers and so they can keep their fan base interested while they keep working.I am roughly have way complete the guide for easy step by step setup of this system and hope to post it very soon.Development/Publishing Updates
The following covers the different development teams signed with us and their respective progress.LDC Studios -> Grave Prosperity
Justabox, the amazing developer behind Grave Prosperity has been making some excellent progress behind the game. With part 1 and the basis for parts 2-4 is complete he is now working to finish the entire volume for our scheduled launch dates. Announcements regarding launch dates will like happen a month and a few week from now, and promotional advertising will begin in a week or two. Additionally the voice casting call for Grave Prosperity went amazing, all roles are filled and most actors have emailed back accepting their cast. We were even luck enough to have a very talented artist known as Mary Morgan
who graciously offered her professional services for free. She will be voicing the Supporting Lead Role of Miki Ridge, sister to the lead Amber Ridge. Mary Morgan not only has the perfect voice, both in her audition tape and the dozens of variations she showed us on her portfolio, but has the kindness to work with us indie developers. She is an inspiration to use all.Not to say Mary wasn't an asset but the other Voice Actors(ress') that auditioned and were cast were also quite compelling and we never expected such an excellent and talented turn out.
The handles of the cast have accepted role are as follows;
Miguel "Draginite" Moran
We are still waiting to hear back from a few other actors, all indie and some quite exceptional. We had to turn no one away and again I want to thank everyone that applied.Paper Studios -> N/A Working Title
Agent Paper, the development head for Paper Studios, is in conceptual design for his first release with Bon Ink. We are in the process of going over his story and pitching ideas for game concepts and what would fit well to bring his world to life. I have read through what he has already and I enjoyed it quite thoroughly, this will be something we can look forward to likely into 2013, but great none the less. More word as it develops.Conclusion
well that about wraps it up. like always I will remember something later, and add it next week. But thanks to the one person who read this! Keep tuned in, same .com, same random time.
Things are going Great for Bon Ink, we have some excellent stuff in works for the future and I(Jon Bon) couldn't be any happier.
Specifically we recently added two new staff members, and a past recruited staff has finally finished up their work and is ready to come on to the Bon Ink Creations team.
We would like to officially welcome Heretic86 to our Bon Ink Creations staff. He was originally recruited a few months ago, but has been hard at work on a 'scripting'(programming) system for the engine we use for his own independent release desires. Now that he was finished that release we are glad to have him on board and ready to get some in house indie development underway.
We recently were blessed with the talent of the person who goes by the gamer handle 'RPG' to join our team. He will be leaving soon rather than later as he has life obligations that will take him away from us, but he will be sharing as much of his knowledge with us while he is here, and we will always have a place open for him in the future.
Last but far from worst, we have recruited a developer for our in house team who is ready and willing to learn our engine and start from the ground up. Widowmaker55 is a long time acquiantance of mine(Jon Bon) and he has agreed to come on board and help us where we need it and develop his individual talents in the process. This is a huge and important step for us because we need more like minded people who really want to make games, and know there is some hard work to be had before hand. Welcome aboard!
I am equally glad to have each of our 3 new additions to our in house development team, and I look forward to working with them and developing games together.
We never like to announce anything before it's official, so there won't be any of that rule breaking today, but we would like to say something special and awesome is planned, that should hopefully get the people involved here really excited about our future work to come.
Happy Canada Day!IntroThings are going great. And to keep everyone in the loop, both staff, development teams, and the public, I write these blogs.
To keep in constant touch with us you can follow us on Twitter. But for those that like all the details you can simply read the blogs. But don't worry staff and development teams I write an on forum only newsletter I both send out privately and post for everyone to see, this is how you can stay informed with little to no effort.Social NetworkingThe social network tie in is nearly complete. I am still having trouble getting Twitter to post to Facebook, but once that is done the inter connectivity will have been established, and through one twitter post everything official with a Bon Ink name will show those words. For that reason Twitter has been chosen as our main site for social networking and will be where we post our daily status updates on whatever is going on directly related to the games being developed. Facebook will house our promotional material for public use and where we post trailers and such for games (other than youtube).Once this is all completely connected a guide will be written for all members to use and easily setup similar systems for extreme ease in reaching their intended audience.Bon Ink Twitter
Development/Publishing InfoGrave ProsperityGrave Prosperity is making excellent progress, and a launch date has been established, but is yet to be publicly announced. Voice acting is one of few parts needed to finish up what is necessary for it's planned up coming launch, and there for a audition process has been started for voice actors using independent voice acting websites. More information on that can be found on their official website.Official Website
Dark MatterThe Dark Matter guys are hard at work as always, and the way they see they are going to need some cash infusion to help this project out. So they have started a funding campaign through a website called indiegogo.com and if you want to check their progress and outline out and shell some coin to help see it a reality, I know they would appreciate it.Official WebsiteFunding PostConclusionWe have lots of other stuff in the works, but I never like to talk about it unless I know for sure, so if you're interested than keep tuned to our 'weekly' bloh.
I would like to welcome the new production and development staff member who goes by the gamer handle 'RPG'. He will be joining our main development team for our current and active projects. I would also like to welcome AgentPaper to our publishing side of things, where we will be helping him develop and produce where necessary to aid in the creation of his independent game project.
Work is still on going to proper link together all of the social networking aspects of Bon Ink, but it is near completion. Our official website had 79 individual hits without any effort, which of course is not many, but a good sign to interest, and visitors remains around 10 a day so far.
The Bon Ink Twitter account has been gaining followers as well, with a modest 5 followers in less than a week. Of course this means nothing yet, but progress is progress, and the more people interested in Bon Ink means the more people who will hear about our development teams game releases, and info relating to them.
Development has begun into our first official release, and other stuff has been put on hold for now, but more detail will put said about this in another blog report.
Today was the official day our website 2.0 went live to match our forums 2.0 that went live last month. What had happened is the host of our forums from a few years ago stopped hosting forums all together, and although it was largely inactive there was information on there, and when they stopped hosting forums and became one themselves instead, we lost all our info. Flash forward to a month ago, and it had become necessary to have a forum again to coordinate efforts with the different teams signed to publish with Bon Ink.
What does this mean exactly? This mean that the networking process has begun, and Bon Ink has started to look into marketing and getting a fan base for the games being developed with us. Social networking is a beatiful thing and the next step is to get all hooked into facebook, twitter, etc, and start to create game awareness for the different teams.
The site itself has an area for games we are currently developing, and a section for each development group agreed to publish with us. These pages are to show our fan base what we are all about as individual developers and as our respective teams. So now is the time to get posting your conceptual ideas on the forums, start making those games, and signing up to the social networking sites.
Have fun developing and playing!