Blurst is the work of Flashbang Studios, a deliberately small independent video game developer. Flashbang itself has been around for six years; we've done casual games, contract work for big brands, and training games for the corporate world.
Creating Blurst represents our dream. For us, it's the answer to the old guidance counselor's question about what you would do if you won a million dollars*: Make sweet games about dinosaurs and minotaurs and stuff.
(* we do not, in fact, have a million dollars - please contact us if you have a spare million just lying around)
Flashbang was founded in 2003 by Matthew Wegner, Mike Kime, Sean Weilage and Shane Wegner. We've grown and changed over the years; we're currently 4 people full-time with an office in Tempe, Arizona.
Special thanks to Michael Heald/Fully Illustrated for creating the Blurst logo, initial site design, and awesome logos for so many of our games. You rock!
We are actively involved in a number of other projects on the ol' intertubes, including:
Before Blurst, Flashbang was involved in a wide variety of projects. In the early years our big concern was staying alive. We were either doing straight contract work, hand-to-mouth, or working on games specifically intended to make us lots of money (which turns out to be rather unsurprisingly difficult).
Of course, the vision of every designer is to make their own games. Few people really like designing games for pet owners or chewing their way free from debt with tiny, contract work-shaped teeth. We did make several of our own self-funded games, but we tried too hard to make the games palatable to large, money-laden markets. That shines through.
In the fall of 2007 we finally had enough. We had enough of designing games that we didn't really like to play, but we also had enough money saved up to take some risks. It was time for something new.
Creating a full-scope game is dangerous, even if you're building a smaller downloadable. What happens if you spend a year or two on a game, only to discover that it isn't that fun? You can only say "oops" to so many multi-year projects before you one day look in the mirror to discover an out-of-shape 40-something staring back with listless, sunken eyes, the spark of youth long replaced by an unconscious twitch.
Our initial instinct was to use the playing public as a sounding board. The Internet is certainly a reasonable interlocutor for planning your company's future, right? Right?? Anyway, the plan was this: Release our game ideas in glorified prototype form; the games themselves would be playable, although somewhat minimal. The game with the best reception would be developed into a full-size game.
Our second game in this model, Raptor Safari, was something of a hit. We had significant mentions throughout the gaming press, saw a lot of traffic, and our experiments with achievements and leaderboards turned out quite well. At this point we realized two things:
1. We didn't actually want to make bigger games.
We were having a lot of fun with smaller projects! The thought of working for a year or more on a single project seemed like some sort of terrible hell. We'd rather keep making small projects, which would let us try out different ideas in a fun, fast-paced way. If "Katapult Kitty" flopped we could always do another project.
2. We'd need a single destination.
If we were going to make a bunch of games as a part of some larger plan, we might actually want a plan. Up until this point we had been launching games on their own domain names without much interconnectivity. As we embraced achievements and leaderboards, though, it became clear we needed to unify their presentation. A single website was in order.
Work began on Blurst.com itself over the summer of 2008. Our game development efforts had slowed at this point, partly due to distractions of contract work, in order to make this "money" we've heard so much about, but also because new games themselves were beginning to enlarge. Jetpack Brontosaurus was a monstrous, loping project. When Blurst went live on September, 2008, we decided on two things:
1. 8-week games.
The development timeframe for any one project would be fixed to a rigid eight weeks. This would solve the problem of feature creep and force us to change creative gears frequently enough to keep the projects interesting. It wasn't too hot or too cold, like so much fairy-tale porridge.
2. We had to stop doing contract work.
To really give the Blurst vision a fair chance of success, we would have to cease all contract work. Although it paid our salaries, it was too distracting and would seriously get in the way of our 8-week schedule. We'd worry about the money part later. Maybe we could sell our e-bodies in Second Life to pay the bills or something.
We're proud to say that we've met both of these goals in 2009! We have released a game every 8 weeks this year and ceased contract work. It feels great to have the whole company working on making sweet games all day, every day. Of course, we're burning money like it's some kind of flammable substance, maybe marshmallows, but that'll eventually take care of itself. We saw a movie about that once, with ghosts and cornfields and stuff.
It's amazing how far Blurst has come in just a year! Mentally we've transitioned it from this nebulous, hey-that-would-be-neat sort of idea into a clear, tangible thing. We have a lot of stuff planned for the site, and we can't wait to discover where this is all going to lead...
If you're reading this it means we've already begun to push some of our community features live. We'll be honest: Part of Blurst functions as a creative outlet for us as game developers. We've been around for years, and during that time we've had to work on some projects that didn't interest us as players. Blurst is our chance to change that and work on games that we also like to play.
But another huge part of Blurst will be connecting with you guys. We really and truly want to talk with you. Why do you like our games? What don't you like about our games? To support this dialogue we'll be building out community features like Facebook/Twitter connectivity, discussion forums, and a powerful friends system to enable communities to grow inside of our community.
To date we have kept Blurst entirely and completely free. If you have paid for a game like Raptor Safari, or seen ads next to it, you've been hoodwinked by rogue Internet e-smugglers.
Of course, this isn't sustainable for us in the long run. We employ a couple of dudes, and those dudes need to pay rent and buy groceries and beer and things. Very soon we'll begin to ask for money for some things--downloadable versions of our games, subscriptions that enable elite community features, and so on. At the end of the day it's pretty simple: You should pay us because we need money to make games.
Our dream is to have Blurst begin to pay for itself, so we can focus on it full time for the rest of our lives, launching Raptor Safari 14: The Raptoring sometime in our mid-to-late 50s. It will be awesome when we can stop funneling contract job money into Blurst and simply let Blurst funnel money into itself, like so much oh-god-don't-watch-this-video Japanese porn star.