The Lodgge Podcast Episode 19

Antonio Miceli from Mega Power Games

Published On: 21 September 2023Categories: The Lodgge PodcastTags:

In this episode of The Lodgge Podcast meet Antonio Miceli, President of Mega Power Games! We discuss his career path to game design, The impact of showing games at live events, the release of DepowerBall, and much more!

Scott 0:00  

Hello everyone, and welcome to the lodge podcast episode 19. I’m your host Scott Millie, and joining me today is my uniquely talented guest, Antonio Miceli. How’re you doing today? Antonio?

Antonio 0:11  

I’m good. I’m good. How are you?

Scott  0:13  

I’m fantastic. Just glad to be back. We’ve been a couple of months hiatus. But we’re back today for episode 19. So Antonio was the president of mega power games, they recently released their highly anticipated competitive party platformer D power wall. Today, we’re going to be discussing the run up to release diving headfirst into the indie video game space, and all things the power wall. So without further ado, let’s get into the conversation.

Scott  0:51  

So even though this was a season two question, I thought that it would be perfectly relevant for your situation. What was it that got you into the gaming industry? Was it a title that you played when you were a kid? Was it a brand and experience that you you got to play with friends? Why are you now in the industry today?

Antonio  1:11  

It was based on a course that I took actually. Gs 2011 I think it was the year that I took it there. It was a course that u of t offered in video game design. It was the first year that they did this course in conjunction with OCAD. The art school here, Ontario, one of the largest art schools here in Ontario. And it was sort of a cross disciplinary course where you had the developers from U of T work with developers from OCAD. And I was, you know, coming up on sort of my fourth year set of courses, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do as a career. And this was just a solitary course that was offered that I figured you know, I wanted to take and run with. And I had a lot of fun doing it. The team that I worked with in the course was great. We produced a fun game over the course of three months, we took part in the first ever level up student game showcase. Wow, really, were the first one back when they were no sponsors. Yeah. And the first ever level up actually took place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox third floor and one of the smallest rooms at the very back, we probably had about 500 people come through that night. And it was all the U of T OCAD projects as well as the the formerly known as you owe it, I actually forget what they’re called now. But it was basically just those two, those two institutions just showing off games that night. And I had a lot of fun doing it. And that’s sort of, you know, I’m a, I’m a very performative person, in our conversations that we’ve had, where I enjoy showcasing stuff, and I enjoy creating an experience for people, when they come by and when they when they play the game. And part of that sort of drives the the things I sort of work on, because, you know, one of the questions I have to ask myself is, will this show well, in a live setting, the first game that we made did that and every subsequent prototype that I made after that over the last 10 years, just sort of, you know, that sort of that one main driving force is does it show? Well. Because if you can provide a good experience for people, and that’s something that they remember long after they’ve they’ve sort of played your game. Yeah.

Scott  3:44  

Wow. Okay, first of all, let’s unpack that a little bit. So the like, what level up has become now right and starting and being at the OG one, what is something that you feel? How has either been gained from growing to this size and you’re becoming such a staple in Ontario, or what is something that you feel like has been lost? This is not part of the script. I’m genuinely curious, because level up is such a big deal with what we do here in Ontario. If you aren’t familiar with level up, go check it out. It’s one of the biggest things we do every single year. And it’s always exciting to go and check out. It’s usually paired with XP Game Developer Summit. But yeah, please just to hear from someone that went to the first one, and I’m sure he’s gone to a number since I’m just curious.

Antonio 4:23  

I mean, I don’t think anything was really lost. I think that’s awesome. It was it was it was you know, it was a it was a concept that that we were searching for something and at the point when the first level up happened. I think it was the year later on that year. I think Ubisoft Toronto was about to open their studio. So game development in Toronto, let alone Ontario was still this sort of unproven commodity or unknown commodity I should say because there were still a lot of game studios in Ontario at that time, but Ubisoft was, I think the first sort of high profile

cup big AAA, the big multinational I’m now setting up shop in our, in our, in our glorious city of Toronto. And they and reps from Ubisoft Toronto were there that night, and I don’t remember what year they started sponsoring level up, it was either the subsequent year or either the second or the third edition, I honestly don’t remember, you’ll have to talk to the organizers to determine but but it’s blown up to, you know, incorporate schools from all over the province outside the province. You know, the biggest who’s who have sponsors now showing up to these events to, to to promote it, it is one of now the few opportunities where as a student, you can showcase a project potentially get a job immediately after, after graduation, I was not lucky enough to have that opportunity. Because when I took the course it was actually I still actually had a half a year left. So I wasn’t available for employment right now. Oh, just the unfortunate timing it Yeah, it was just bad timing, for me at the time. And also because we’d be thrown out they had opened their offices yet. So so it was sort of just sort of weird, bad timing, but But I I pride myself on, it was sort of the first of many instances of you know, me being a trailblazer or me trying to do something that, you know, that people haven’t done before. And it wasn’t the only time that that’s happened. And I’m sure it won’t be the only time that it will happen. Yeah,

Scott  6:37  

we’re gonna get into that a little bit. But you so you’re saying you got into the industry by you know, one course and you found this, this passionate, this love for it, while you were taking and what you ended up doing with a lot of your career is software development. So you’ve been doing that for about over a decade now? Yes. What are some of the skills from software development that you think are like directly applicable to video game development? So obviously, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of crossover. But I’m curious, because there’s so many people that are looking to get into the games industry as a new career choice, do they necessarily need to go back to school for it, or people able to kind of pivot and you know, do what you do, I would just love to hear just some of the applications of those skills that you learned in school and kind of how they drove your news today,

Antonio  7:20  

I’ll actually tell you a real life story of that, that’s here. And my buddy will probably hate me for telling this but don’t have to drop names if you don’t want names, but very good. But a very good friend of mine, a very good friend of mine who currently works at a triple A studio now got into the industry without necessarily having the proper video game development experience outside of the stuff that he was working on. on his own. Okay, and so, you know, like him and I, we’ve been in each other’s orbits for the last, you know, 10 years or so basically, we actually took that course together, we were on different teams that we took that course together. But we made a lot of prototypes together, he’s made a lot of, you know, a lot of prototypes on his own. And he really wanted to get into the industry, but didn’t really necessarily have a way in because he, you know, he, he had, he had the experience, I knew he could do it. But the resume didn’t necessarily show like any sort of professional software development experience in general gaming, or otherwise. So it wasn’t until he got just some general software development experience to sort of learn the ins and outs of the software development process, you combine that with the portfolio that you have of all your prototypes and stuff, those two things combined, will likely be able to get you into the door. As a junior in a lot of game companies nowadays, you don’t necessarily need to be to have that formal education. And of course, because software development, regardless of whether you’re making video games or not, is a it’s a very universal process when it comes to iterating on releases, determining what tickets to work on, you know, anything that you would normally like any piece of software, mobile, web gaming, otherwise, there are a lot of those core tenets that you need in order to properly release a new version of software. And those things can carry over. And the only difference is, what language you use, what engine you work on. So as long as you just have a general software development background and have a basic understanding of that you combine that with just sort of a portfolio of general prototypes to show that you have that aptitude for making games. You don’t necessarily need that formal education anymore.

Scott  9:46  

I think it’s a fantastic fit. Yeah, of course. I think that’s a fantastic piece of advice, though, because I think that’s what would scare a lot of people off from getting into the gaming industry as maybe their second third or you know, maybe fourth career throughout their life and that’s something that it’s done. daunting task, especially, you know, in your late 20s, early 30s later when you’re thinking of, you know, having to go back to school and figure that out, instead of you know what, dude with my, like, I can moonlight as a game dev, right and I can I can get those skills, I can build that portfolio, even if it is just like you’re saying with prototypes and things like that, exactly. And that can get you in the door somewhere, rather than having to completely upend your life, the

Antonio  10:23  

Jam games that you can do over the course of exactly, you know, you can build up a portfolio of three or four smaller games very quickly. And, and as someone you know, as someone who’s looking to start out, that’s what you do, you do your Ludum, you Ludum jams you do your your your your game jams online, anywhere on, there’s a new game jam every week. And so being able to sort of turn out those prototypes to get to flex your muscles, get your reps in, essentially,

Unknown Speaker  10:55  

that’s a fantastic video game developer.

Antonio  10:57  

It’s like just like another muscle, you got to get your reps in, in order to, to really familiarize yourself with the process.

Scott  11:04  

There’s a lot of skills that you learned kind of doing things on your own, but you made the decision, the bold decision to start with your own studio. So you are the president of mega power games. And of course, we’re gonna get into the Powerball very, very shortly. But I wanted to touch on this, because this is something that I found very interesting. So you started the studio in 2020? When the world was on fire, surely, yeah. Officially, which is actually the first question I wanted to ask you. So did you was the studio started before COVID hit? Or was it something that kind of came from it,

Antonio  11:35  

it sort of came from it as a necessity. I, I had sort of made the decision to, to sort of moonlight as a as a game developer, probably around 2018. Maybe even a bit earlier than that. Maybe a year before that, I would say I was just like, building games, trying to sell it on my own learning the ins and outs, I never sort of officially incorporated as a company. Yeah, fair enough until until 2020. But there were sort of reasons around that. And we will sort of, we will probably touch on those later on. But, you know, like, part of the sort of motivation to go out on my own was because, you know, it’s the old adage of, if you want something done, do it yourself kind of thing. And there was a lot I knew I could do. And there was, you know, I sort of knew where the holes in my game were. And it was sort of a, you know, look at myself in, you know, looking internally and thinking, Okay, if I know that I could do all the development work. And then, you know, source out other artistic assets, music to other freelance folks around the area, could I make this work? The answer was, it turned out a resounding yes. And, and so what this gave was, you know, the opportunity for me to be able to build something and to know that I have this roster of, of freelance artists to go to anytime I need, assets created for any sort of project that I’m working on. It’s a model that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, because it gives me the ability to get the assets I need, it gives freelance artists who necessarily haven’t jumped into a full career, the ability to work on projects, and just sort of add that add another name to their portfolio, but it gives them the freedom to work on on other stuff, too. One of the artists that I am working with right now sought me out at an event about four years ago, and basically showed me his portfolio. I liked what I saw, I was looking for an artist at the time, I took him on as a freelance artist. And now he’s got a contract job making games for a company on the East Coast. I believe. He’s been working and he’s been working with them for about a year. But, you know, this, this game was part of that portfolio that he used to sort of get that job. And so you know, it it’s a good it’s a good starting point, because there’s a lot there’s a lot of untapped talent here.

Scott  14:34  

That’s yeah, that was a comment that I was gonna make is yeah, just like the the freelancing ecosystem, right in interior as a whole is is out of this world. And something like that is perfect because you have someone looking to get into the industry, that’s a great way to get their foot in, or someone’s looking to, especially with the you know, the tax credit cycles and just how long certain game development takes you don’t necessarily need to hire someone on for you know, the three year cycle of whatever games gonna be you need them for that chunk of time. And a lot of people thrive in that position that they love to be able to do that and work on this project for a bit work on that project work on their own time. Right. They just have their their deadlines and things like that with you, of course, but it’s a it’s a pretty elegant way to get done a small indie it’s not

Antonio  15:19  

it’s not something that works for everybody. Of course, yeah. I, I’m self publishing, which means the only deadlines I’m beholden to are my own. So if if life happens, or if I need, you know, I need something, I’m flexible in that way up until the point where I’ve, you know, realistically, I don’t necessarily operate on deadlines, unless it’s a deadline for a release date. Batches. That’s sort of the way that I that I do things right now, because I can, that’s, that’s, that is, and that’s something I pride myself on is sort of, you know, being able being able to do those kinds of things and offer up that kind of flexibility for anybody who wants to do that kind of work.

Scott  16:04  

So with, with the DepowerBall, obviously, that was in production, before mega power games was officially incorporated, was mega power games specifically incorporated for this game? Or did you have a vision No, for what we don’t need to get into it, of course. And the last thing we want to do is move over a game that you released less than a month ago, that’s the one I really want to talk about. But I’m just curious that the vision of the studio and kind of what you went into it thinking

Speaker 2  16:28  

it initially was for for the game itself. But as I was sort of going through the process, I realized that you know, like, with the Powerball specifically, I’m, I’m sort of acting as, like, full producer, I’m taking on the risk, you know, financially with, with everything that that I’m doing with it with, you know, with, with the input that I’m getting from some of the original folks that worked on the prototype with me, as well, as, you know, the other freelance artists that I’m working with, right, it does take a village. But in going through this process, I realized that, you know, this, this particular model could potentially work if you can build out a roster of, you know, a freelance artists where you can bring them aboard onto a project for maybe six months at a time, but then, you know, something like that, you know, like, initially, the incorporation was for the game, but as a studio, it’s something that with the situation that I’m in now is something that could really work, you know, the mega powers in wrestling were, you know, two of the biggest forces of wrestling that came together for a common cause. And so, you know, I, the name itself, you know, origin story, yeah. There’s always there’s an origin story with everything, but the name Blake, the name itself, you know, it dictates, you know, the ability to work with, with other people. Because it does take a village to make a game, unless your name is Toby Fox, but, you know, realistically, 99.9% of games that are made, it takes it takes a village. And so, you know, the Powerball wouldn’t have been released, if it wasn’t for everyone who, who, who provided their input directly, indirectly. You know, it’s, the credits list is about 1213 people. And wow, funny. It’s, it’s, it’s, I think it’s around there. Now, because we had five, we had five people who made the original prototype with me. And then when I took on the sort of producing role for the game, two of them departed for other projects. The other two, were basically stuck around all the way up until release. And then I brought on other artists animators along the way. So maybe maybe just under 12, maybe it’s like 10 people that had a heads. Yeah. So now

Scott  19:10  

that we’ve we’ve given the given the groundwork, or do you want to get into the conversation about the game itself? We can so where, where did this come from? So with like competitive, you know, party platformers being all the rage, right? And of course, I’ve all my friends, I’m terrible at it all my friends love Smash. They always do they always get me to jump in there. And there’s a bunch of other great ones that have come out in recent years that I’m curious of, what was it for you out of all the prototypes and all the type of games that you’d worked on? That it was like, This is what I want to put the stake in the ground for like, this is what I want to

Antonio  19:43  

realistically that decision wasn’t made until a month after the initial prototype was done. It was I had a feeling and usually when I when I do game jams and stuff like that, I look at the game itself and I think okay, is this Something that can be like that has potential. Is it something that can be sold? Is it something that people would enjoy? Would it show well, and this nd Powerball when the initial prototype was made? I said, and the same buddy, you know, that I, that I mentioned earlier, I told him, Hey, I think this thing might have some legs. Do you want to come to Ottawa with me next month? Because there was a, I think I forget which Expo it was. But there was a gaming convention the following month, in June of 2018, I believe, and that they were still taking applications for for booths. So I said, Screw it, bought a booth, got on the road to Ottawa, it was myself, my wife, my buddy, and a friend of ours, who, who lived in Ottawa, and the four of us, ran the booth for our prototype the whole weekend. And it was the best showing game as janky as the prototype was, it was the game that best showed of all the prototypes I think I’ve ever done. And that and at that point I made, you know, I made a decision saying, Okay, I want to keep working

Scott  21:14  

on this. I feel like you’re probably just like sitting there at the booth and like watching people crowd around in play. Yeah. And just smiling, being like, ooh, this might this might be something and there

Antonio  21:22  

was actually, you know, there was another sort of moment that happened over the course of that weekend as well. There was a it is a now defunct arcade coffee bar that used to exist in Ottawa, the owners came by the booth. And they played. And they basically said, This is really fun. We would like to host a tournament, do we, you know, do we have your? Do we have your blessing? At that point? I’m like, Well, yeah, sure. I think they ended up getting around 16 competitors that they’re at, they’re at their place.

Scott  22:03  

It’s also driving me nuts in the name because I’m from Ottawa. So like, I know what bar you’re talking. Yeah, yeah, I know. Exactly. You’re talking about I can’t remember the name of it, please.

Antonio  22:11  

Okay, one up, it was called, they were called arcade one up, they no longer exist, but, but they were good folks. And they were like, Yeah, you know, Can we can we show it? And I was like, yeah, if you know, like, the, I think I think the prototype was on edge at the time still is on it at the time, as of this recording. And, you know, they ran the tournament, people had fun, I got some footage from that. Somewhere. I don’t know where it is now. But my friend who lived in Ottawa, went to the events. People were hype playing the game live in person. And, you know, that that just sort of were that was the first of like, over a dozen conventions over the next two years where we took this thing on the road. So yeah, that that was sort of when when it clicked for me to that, that this had some potential.

Scott  23:09  

And like it, like you had said, like, that’s something that you you take with you everywhere you go, is it going to show well, and you weren’t in person, they really got that proof, which is what a lot of people who didn’t get during COVID, right? Like back that you you guys made a point, you’re like No, the only way that we’re really going to know and the only way we’re really going to learn is by by being on the road and putting in those reps,

Antonio  23:30  

I was lucky that we were able to get in as many reps as we did before COVID hit and If COVID hadn’t hit, we would have still been on the road every year at three or four different conventions. Now with you know, the the sort of initial waves of COVID petering off and conventions opening back up again, that opened up opens up the opportunities again, you know, a couple of a couple of conventions I know of that actually, apparently were still running are happening later this year that were that I’m probably going to be at and so getting those reps in again you know, it’s just It’s the fun part of it. So

Scott  24:10  

and it was fantastic we had it at for those who don’t know I feel like I say this in every podcast the lodge is in partly run by interactive Ontario and we host i o connects a few times a year which is our big you know, industry networking mixers. And the Powerball was a hell of a time at our last event. We had a couple of our staff and we had some other great people around you had the metal running around definitely you I at least cuz I grew up with it as well. I can see the wrestling inspired charisma that comes from you with things like that and I think it just it is what’s the word for it like not inviting but like there’s a gravity to it right like you you can’t help but kind of be sucked into like what’s going on around this booth what people are talking about what people are doing. And just the you know, the trash talking and stuff is just so much so much fun. Such a good like positive have energy think

Antonio  25:00  

yeah, the game itself lends to that? Oh, yeah. Real oh my god, yeah, it could be a Barbie simulator and I would still be bringing the same charisma of whatever the game is. Because, you know, part of part of what makes a game memorable is that journey, that journey that sticks with you, when you’re playing with it, when when you’re done playing, and you having those moments, those memories to be able to tell your friends oh, man, you won’t believe what I just play it or whatever. And, and I wanted to take that and sort of put that in sort of the sort of live experience when people are coming by and sort of demoing, demoing with us. And it

Scott  25:43  

shows very well. And one thing I didn’t want to bring up is you guys have a challenge that, that a lot of studios do. But it’s very unique to these type of multiplayer games, the challenge of balance. So what what can you tell me a little bit about that journey of just rely even, you know, doing all these internal tests, and you know, doing tests with friends and family and stuff, and then going to something like this and realizing something is just way too Opie or you know, you nerf something too hard? What was that journey, like,

Antonio  26:09  

it’s stuck it like, it all started back when the prototype was made, you know, the theme of the jam was winning is for losers. And the decision was made to take that term, literally, the concept of losing a power every time you went around, making it forcing you to adapt on the fly. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s inspired by Ultimate Chicken Horse in in some ways. But but the theme itself, you know, heavily lent to that, that sort of style of gameplay and and we were just looking for something, you know, what could people be doing? In between those rounds between losing their powers and, you know, delivering treats to a dragon? And sort of, I think, I think I think I initially suggested robots or something like that. And then somebody was like, what if we just do like more adorable characters? I was like, okay, yeah, that that works way better. And, and so, but, you know, the journey with balance the journey with iteration, the initial prototype had four powers. And I think I’m, and I throw this number out a lot, but I’m fairly certain it’s accurate, but my memory could could, could be last year, but it was somewhere around six, six months or so where where I like, we just worked on the balance of the four powers, to make sure that nobody was taking away one power too much. And there was sort of that healthy balance of okay, it is dependent on the situation is dependent on the round, people are not gravitating immediate, like, like one of the powers that you can take away is somebody’s speed, where if you take away their speed, then their speed is slowed down to a point where it becomes very difficult to move, left and right, because you’re moving so slow, you have to jump in and do all this stuff. And initially, it was really slow. The when we took away someone’s speed, it reduced that person to such a crawl that it became very difficult unless you were and I mean, it became very difficult for someone who was playing the first time to to reconcile this fact that oh, crap, I’m so so slow, right now, what do I do?

Unknown Speaker  28:23  

What are you doing? What’s the strategy? Yeah.

Antonio  28:25  

And so I tweaked it in that, you know, we I increased the speed, a little bit there with that, but, you know, that’s just one example. You know, how how, you know, the, the, the, the frequency of the laser fire is too fast is too slow. How long can the shield stay up for you know, how long should the cooldown last tinkering with all of these different knobs to get that right balance. And once we got that balance, once we got that right gameplay balance, for those initial four powers, it was practically untouched for the majority of the rest of development, because we had the cord, we had the core loop down already. Then it became okay, what do we what do we layer on top of this? levels with hazards? Great, you know, different game modes. Great.

Scott  29:19  

But we knew that those stayed Yeah. So you spent you spent the time knowing that everything else can be built upon this is going to be the foundation of what is going to make this game? Yeah, we thought we had

Antonio  29:27  

Yeah, so we had four powers, one for each slot. Then we added a new power for each slot somewhere down the line, and then spent the time tinkering with those combinations of stuff. I think the four new powers we added were sort of later. Like I know what I mean by later as I mean, like when COVID started, so we didn’t have the luxury of doing the same type of testing that we did in person. Yeah, because of the previous experience we had. It was a lot easier to to look at something and go okay. The frequencies a little too much we can we can dial that back. little bit or, you know,

Scott  30:00  

you were looking for, you know what the flags were it wasn’t just starting from scratch of like, how do we do this.

Antonio  30:05  

And I think the first event back and I don’t remember when it was where we were showing those new powers. Normally, like when we were when, when, when, when it was in the early days, and we were sort of iterating over over those initial powers, we got a lot of comments saying, Oh, you need to do this, you need to do that. And the other thing, and then when we were demoing the new powers and stuff like that, we didn’t get any of that. Which means that we were probably doing something right. Because people weren’t necessarily complaining about one power being more Opie than the other and this, that and the other thing, and so it just sort of worked out that way.

Scott  30:41  

It’s all to preference, which is exactly what you hope for is like, some people will gravitate towards this, because that’s their playstyle right, some people go more tanky some people going for DPS and you can do it that way, rather than this one is clearly the favorite

Antonio  30:54  

people come into people come into playing the Powerball with a particular play style. And then when that play style is no longer available to them that shows a person’s true metal, can you really adapt? Because your play style gets thrown out the window, the moment that first power is taken away from you. And you need to figure out now okay, What level am I dealing with? Who are the people that I’m dealing with? What are their tendencies? What am I going to eventually take away from them. So I have the advantage. There’s all this thinking that gets triggered the moment you lose your first power, which is something that I can safely say a lot of a lot of these types of games don’t have,

Scott  31:33  

I can definitely agree with you on Alan to came up with everything before COVID started. And then you got to do you know all of this prototyping and this kind of run up to when you finally decided to officially launch the game this past August. Yeah. So the one thing I did want to ask you about was that run up to launch Fan Expo. So you’d be talked a little bit beforehand about how how much and how big of a deal you wanted to make at Fan Expo and just really kind of all the eggs in one basket. And let’s let’s do something big for this for this launch. Yeah. How do you feel about it? Now, now that it’s over now that a Fan Expo specifically we’ll get to the release date, but that event itself? And you know, kind of all of that passion and love and drive that you put into that? How do you feel coming out of that event?

Antonio  32:20  

While it may not necessarily translate into sales, I still felt great. And, you know, I think the I knew going into Fan Expo that, you know, it’s not the same types of crowds that you’ll get at like a pax east or PAX West, people are not necessarily going to be there. You know, a lot of people that go to Fan Expo likely didn’t know who we were or why we were there. But we were one of you know, if we were we were lucky enough to sort of be placed in the center of, of the chaos that

Scott  32:56  

was a location like that. Yeah. Wow. That was we

Antonio  33:01  

like so to sort of draw a map for everyone visually here. If you if you’re looking, you know, at a top down view. To the north of us, we had an Xbox and I think BMO level up to the east of us was AMDs giant booth where they had all their free play to the west of us was PlayStation, which they weren’t even demoing any games, they just had a showcase for some of the new products for spider man too. And then to the south of us, in sort of a call back to our previous EGL X event, we had the bell stage right next to us, which sort of gave us free rein to make as much noise as we wanted. And it was a lot of fun. We had, you know, it was sort of the first it was the first major convention that that we came back to. And a lot of people came out of the woodwork who saw the game four years ago, and came back saw us immediately remembered us jump back into things as if, you know, they haven’t forgotten. And so it was it was it was nice to see that that people still remembered us from from our time that we put in years ago. You know, sort of sort of paying those dues on the on the proverbial circuit, but now we were sort of on the bigger stage. And yeah, I think it was the most traffic we’d ever seen. at our booth. Probably got over I would say you know, non unique players somewhere around like 1200 over the course of the weekend, Saturday, Sunday, Saturday, Sunday was nonstop. It was legit nonstop, people coming through. I think

Scott  34:54  

Tony free clearly feeds off energy human that wants to vote great

Antonio  34:59  

for me II it was at a time where, unfortunately, I was dealing with a lot of stuff personally. In fact, my mom had passed away two weeks prior to FanExpo. Wow, I’m so sorry. And they Yeah, it was. So my head was sort of in a weird state. I knew that I wanted to get that out. But yeah, that weekend was a blur. And I’m thankful that everyone who helped at the booth was able to bring the energy that was needed to bring that was needed. And I still had the energy to it. For me, though, it was just more in bursts.

Scott  35:47  

Yeah, but that must that must, that must have been a nice thing to see is like everyone’s so used to you bringing that energy, and they’re like, Oh, well, we’re gonna pick it up. And they’ll match that level for you, which

Antonio  35:57  

every single person is at that damn Bucha team. The energy brought the ruckus, and I could not have done it without them. So that’s amazing. Oh, there’s my public. Thank you. Even though I privately thank them all. There’s my public. Thank you as well, to everyone who came out. So

Scott  36:14  

Wow. So you guys, yeah, that whole run up to launch? And then the release date finally came? Yep. And now we’re looking back on it a few weeks later? How do we feel? How does how does post like live launch the world having access to the title? And what are some of the future plans for the app?

Antonio  36:33  

I think, you know, there was a lot more I wish could have been done. But didn’t I feel

Scott  36:37  

like that’s every dev I’ve ever talked to? Yeah,

Antonio  36:41  

I think for me with the extenuating personal circumstances. Now, of course, of course, there was a lot more that I wanted to do. That just, I had to scale back for my own sanity, basically. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  36:54  

I think you made the right call.

Antonio  36:55  

So and so, you know, because of that. I’m not. You know, for for a game like this. It’s all about the journey, and not necessarily the destination 100% steam is only the first phase.

Scott  37:10  

That’s what I wanted to hear. That’s what I was curious about is what’s

Antonio  37:14  

the next phase? And so right now, there’s a couple things I’m sort of waiting to hear back on. But, you know, prior to everything happening to me personally, initially, this launch was actually going to be multi-platform. Oh, wow. And I had to scale back scale that back to steam, because I just I didn’t have the time or the energy to get it done. So, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things now where I can look at what we’ve done so far. Make the necessary fixes that I need to make make the necessary changes that I wanted to make, that I couldn’t necessarily make prior to launch. And then 2024 2024 We’re gonna come to consoles. I don’t know which ones. It’s gonna depend on a lot of different factors. Both both depend on a lot of different factors from a personal standpoint, a game engine standpoint.

Unknown Speaker  38:16  

Yeah. Yeah.

Antonio  38:20  

You know, you know, and yeah, so, realistically, right now, I have about a year or so to play with before I have to make a call. But I’m not I’m not I’m not overly worried about that. Like the initial second platform we were going to release on, I would say it was about 75%. done anyway. Okay, that I’ve been able to sort of net now that I had to cut that back. There might be some other opportunities to open up now that I’ve decided to wait. We’ll see. There’s no, that’s good to know, though. We’ve got Yeah, we got there’s, there’s so much content in the can that we just haven’t released yet. That, you know, I’m just sort of right now. I’m just focusing on the the main bug fixes. Oh, of course, I’m running. I’m running weekly streams with folks that you know, want to get together and play because there’s a glut of video games out there. So part of the onslaught. This Yeah. So part of the strategy is providing that sort of dedicated time for people to just get together and play. You know, come out, come out two hours every Thursday night, come play with us. You know, that’s, that’s that’s the goal, to try and foster that sort of grassroots community so that way, you know, if it if it does blow up great. And if it doesn’t, we have a nice healthy community of people that want to continue to play at a specific time every week. That’s sort of the strategy that I’m working with right now. Working for this particular title.

Scott  40:00  

Oh, of course, I think it’s like like for me Luckily being able to like talk to devs every day is one of the major things I always hear, especially from smaller indie studios is everyone always wants to release multi-platform. But it also gives you a an opportunity for that second, you know, marketing PR cycle, right? That second wind out those more stories, there’s more information, more content, like you’re talking about. So sometimes it can work in your benefit. If it’s Oh, now I was coming to switch. Oh, now it’s going to play. It’s another headline. Yeah. Right. Which is always always good to kind of turn the conference. Yeah,

Antonio  40:32  

there was always gonna be that second wave. It was just a man, exactly that second wave looks like. And I still don’t know what that second wave looks like, I have got one platform that, you know, it’s practically ready to, like almost ready to go. But if opportunities come up with other platforms, then I may hold off, try and get it working on the other platforms try and release all at once, maybe, maybe make something work. I’ve got you know, I’ve got some, you know, next year, I think, you know, I was at a potentially doing Fan Expo again, I may end up doing something like an Anime North. I think they’re, they’re expanding their gaming content. And I think it would make sense for us to sort of get in with that crowd. And if we have something ready to go by enemy north. You know, may Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker  41:21  

can’t I can’t argue with that.

Unknown Speaker  41:23  

That’s a good, that’s a good time to launch.

Antonio  41:26  

Sound to launch. And that’s a good, that’s a good demographic to aim for to kind of expand your reach. That’s awesome. Yeah. So 2024 is looking looking bright for Powerball.

Unknown Speaker  41:36  

I hope so. That’s amazing.

Scott  41:39  

So the fact that this is the last podcast, the fact that we are so focused on you know, Ontario video games and interactive entertainment news, I always have to ask, what is it like for you working here in Ontario, so you, you went to school here you do software development here, mega power games, a lot of the conferences that you go to are in Ontario? Is it something that you’re you’re staying close to home? It’s something that you love being here? Or is it the ecosystem? Or is it kind of a hodgepodge of things,

Antonio 42:08  

I would say it’s a hodgepodge. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know of sort of all the opportunities that were available here. You know, now that sort of events are opening up again, I’m fully expecting to see those types of events begin to surface again, which is always good. I’ve, you know, I have people ask me a lot, you know, like, what, how do I get, like, talking about, like, what kind of events there are, you know, back back before COVID? You know, we were doing events everywhere, you know, like big conventions like EGL x, we did showcases at the Microsoft Store. Mississauga library, you know,

Unknown Speaker  42:56  

no, I’m, yeah, no, that weren’t opportunity,

Antonio  42:58  

if they’re at, you know, to showcase your stuff. I’m there. Because, yeah, because it’s, it’s more, it’s more of that ability to showcase my stuff to have the do the fun part of, of, of game development. And, you know, sort of combine that with, you know, the, the programs that were available. You know, the part of the reason that I incorporated was because I was a recipient of an Ontario grant, back in 2020. And that grant allowed me to take the prototype that that we already had, and, and really put it into a a, a release candidate state at the time. The only reason I didn’t pull the trigger back in 2020 was because COVID hit, nobody was in person anymore. The Powerball didn’t have online multiplayer, and I was like, crap, I’m gonna have to I’m gonna have to add online multiplayer to this thing. And I did that now. And now we have it

Unknown Speaker  44:12  

got a forester and a bit, but it works. It forced my hand.

Antonio  44:15  

But you know, it, it was there’s so much opportunity here in the province for people to get started to work with each other with the with the programs that are provided, you know, between Ontario creates CMF everything in between doing doing something, you know, doing doing the Fan Expo thing was more of a statement piece in that. So yeah, we, we we made a statement in that. Even though people didn’t know who we were, they damn sure knew who we were the moment they left the booth. And, and people will remember that experience because we put on To show the likes of which no one’s ever seen before, because we can. And that’s, and that’s, and that’s something I pride myself on anytime, anytime I do any sort of convention or any or anything like that. And so, you know, we had a lot of game devs come by the booth at Fan Expo that didn’t realize that, you know, there was that sort of indie presence and, hopefully, you know, our presence there. Hopefully people take notice of our presence there. And, you know, we start to bring back, you know, start to bring, bring back those dream packs to Canada start bring up, bring up, bring up packs to somewhere in Canada, you know, the demand was there is there, we proved that, I think, in what we were able to do and what we were able to pull off. Because we’ve looked as like, we fit right in. And that’s, and that’s cool to see. So,

Scott  46:05  

I think that’s a fantastic way to wrap up the episode because that that really does speak to a lot of the amazing things going on here in Ontario. And the fact that I didn’t just do it like that, can you guys can make such a big impact and have have all these people that didn’t know you before, but it sure as hell no, you know. So yeah, I think that’ll about do it for episode 19 of the Lord podcast, Antonio. Any final words before we sign off for the day.

Antonio  46:32  

I’m just gonna, I’m gonna straight up, shill Depowerball available on Steam now, or go pick it up. You won’t regret it. And stay tuned for a bunch of different things that we have coming up later this year. A couple of things I can’t say right now. But we we’ve got some stuff coming up this year that people might be surprised with. And then stay tuned 2024 We’re coming to consoles. So get ready for that

Scott  47:03  

little tease at the end. I love that. So again, thank you everyone for joining us. Thank you to all Tara crates for your continued support of the And a special thank you to Natalie, our producer who depending on scheduling, this may be her last episode with us. So everyone you know, reach out, give Natalie a shout out. She’s been nothing but amazing, making us look and sound great. We appreciate you every day. And also the most important one big thank you to you, Antonio for taking the time I was scheduling was difficult for us. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come and talk to us give your expertise, give your advice, share some of those experiences. There’s a lot of people that are either looking to get into the industry, or have been in it for years. And I think that they both get a ton of value from a lot of the candidness and openness of the stuff that you’ve gone through and the stuff that you’re dealing with. And then the project you’ve been able to put together and to see the reception of it being able to like get texts from friends that went to Fan Expo saying have you heard of this studio is really fun for me to be able to see that and go oh hell yeah, I know that I’m talking to him next week. That that’s always fun to see. So again, thank you for for taking the time to join us. We will be back next month with a brand new episode of the lodge podcast. Until then, make sure to check out the website for all things going on in the Ontario video game and interactive digital media industry. And until then, everybody take care


Antonio Miceli

Antonio Miceli

Antonio is the President and Founder of Mega Power Games

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