PROJECT NAME: Grave Mania: Undead Fever
ROLE: Producer
DOWNLOAD FROM: PC, Mac
COMING SOON: iPad, iPhone, Android
AVAILABLE IN: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch
FIRST RELEASE: March 6, 2012 on PC
AWARD: Philippine Game Development Festival 2012 Best PC/Mac Game

DESCRIPTION (from Big Fish Games):

After the dead start to rise, Funeraria Loca sees their funeral parlor business go down the tubes! Find a new way to put them to rest in Grave Mania: Undead Fever, an incredible Time Management game. After the people of Pastryport are turned into zombies, it’s up to you to put them underground! Fix up the undead and put them back in their graves to collect big bucks and upgrade the parlor in Grave Mania: Undead Fever!

 

Poster for Grave Mania: Undead Fever

 

Where do I begin?

Getting back into the game industry, by entering Anino Games, Inc., was actually part of the immersive research I had to do for my PhD dissertation.  And while I had been part of Level Up, Inc.’s Product Development Department as a Gameplay Specialist (this translates to Designer/QA Lead in Anino) before I became an academic Director, it was my first time to work as a Producer.

Looking back, I was very fortunate to have been given an original intellectual property for my first project as a Producer.  Grave Mania, whose working title was originally Funeraria Loca, allowed me to be creative, to work as a part of a team and not above it, quite unlike what is normally expected of producers in any industry.  (I realized that this kind of knowledge management style is something that I picked up from my former Level Up bosses: Jojo Angeles and Marc Pozon Reyes.) I was also fortunate to be working with the highly talented Team Loca, who designed the game, and was given a Lead Software Engineer that did not mind strategizing nonstop with me over breakfast. And I am truly thankful that I have artists, engineers and a QA team that would go on overtime on their own (sometimes voluntarily without extra pay) because they wanted to do something great and not because it was work. (In case it isn’t obvious, I am anti-overtime.)

The team synergy was just…WOW.  All the leads were fast and communication was a breeze despite all the hurdles we had to face.

 

Screenshot of the puppet show cut scene

Screenshot of the puppet show cut scene

 

It was a difficult road and I felt that it was one of the most challenging projects I have ever done in my entire life.  It’s funny now how we would read player comments about why we had not released this zombie game during Halloween.  Well, see, we did target Halloween but there were several forces at work and we would rather compromise deadline than come up with a half-baked output.   (I suppose, in hindsight, this would only work on original IP projects and not with client-based ones.)  Team Loca had an original but highly controversial vision for the game — and I totally believed in it — but we had to adjust because we realized that there was a genre-demographic-theme mismatch that only appeared when we gathered qualitative data from casual gamers.  We worried about the results, but at the end of the day, we were generally happy with what we have released.  Of course, we promised ourselves that we would outdo Grave Mania if (when?) we ever come up with a sequel.

Grave Mania came out at #19 and peaked at #14 at the Big Fish Games (BFG) top downloads chart. It also entered #3 and peaked at #1 at BFG’s Time Management downloads chart.  Other languages:

    • Japanese – peaked at #5
    • Italian – Made it to #14 of TM games
    • German – No reviews below 3, #10 in TM in the first 2 weeks of release
    • Spanish released this week – #5 in TM
    • Dutch – #15 in TM
    • Portuguese
    • French