Creative Interviews - Say Mistage

Say Mistage is a seasoned veteran in the indie games community. Her early entry was as the PR/Marketing Director at Phoenix Online Studios, back in 2000. Say's candor, humor, and professionalism is unmistakably unique and always a bright spot on Twitter. Multiple facets occupy her time as she wields the Marketing, business development, graphic design, technical art, and community management for Silverware Games, while freelancing as a business and marketing consultant.

Say Mistage and Micheal Silverman.
Let's start off with a bit about you and Silverware Games, Inc. How did you get your start there? How long have you been in involved in the indie game industry?

I started back in early 2000, I joined a fan game development team and at first I got started in the art department – digital coloring and all. Eventually I moved to community work because I love working with people, as I am a business major; and it was a natural transition to work with Marketing and PR in gaming.
A very cool logo design.
Fast forward to 2018, and I joined Silverware Games assisting publishing, production and game development. I also work with Phoenix Online Studios while supporting publishing and community efforts.

What message and direction of ideology does Silverware Games put out in their releases?
Silverware Games is a very small indie studio that believes in finding the fun in life. Focusing mostly in casual gaming, we aim to explore creativity and fun in hopes to help people reconnect with the joy in life.
Say's illustration style perfectly compliments the message and overall light hearted aspect of the Matchy Gotchy characters.
In fact, the direct quote would be “At Silverware Games, we make fun games to help people find fun in life.”

Doing social media marketing and PR work for many of the places you've worked, what sort of challenges have you worked with to stand out in a consistently more crowded arena on places like Twitter?

In a firm believer of community work, therefore engagement has always been important into what I do. Marketing to me is building a communication platform, meaning I have to listen in order for me to talk, it is fundamental that people engage with the content and also the studio because these indie developers have a passion for what they do – but they are also people just like everyone else.

Challenges I would counter in how social media platform works, first and foremost. We are talking about visibility range, and content approach; not every platform offers the same and they are all so diverse it’s kind of hard to keep up with algorithms and whatnot. Either way, the way to tackle these things is with an open mind, trial and error patience, and time to dedicate to get things done.

If you have a favorite social media platform, what would that be? And why?

Personally, Twitter is a platform I enjoy. It can be chaotic and all, but it’s succinct and considering my time limitations in terms of work, I appreciate I can get to interact without having to say much at once, haha.
If you need a bright spot of fun and positivity on Twitter, be sure to follow Say on there.
I also spend way too much time in YouTube, I have music playlists, podcasts – I love listening to content while I’m working on content.

What kinds of mistakes have you seen people make with social media, and how can people avoid those pitfalls?

It depends, as every platform is different. But I think the biggest pitfall people go for is taking for granted organic feeds, meaning, uploading video natively onto each platform is usually far more rewarding in terms of organic range than linking external sources like YouTube or Vimeo. Social media platforms, including YouTube, tend to ostracize content that will make you bounce off the platform – meaning that, if you provide content that will extend time of visibility in the platform, then they will reward you with more exposure (or chances to be suggested or seen). Algorithms change constantly, for example Facebook changes almost every other month, but it is a golden rule to learn how to utilize native tools in order to understand better how to break through visibility on each platform.

I love social media, I could talk about social media all day. I’m in love with analytics and people – maybe that’s part of my business nature, haha.

Kickstarter is littered with stories of success and failure in tandem. It's a platform engrossed in having the one two punch of powerful interaction and PR, with also delivering a great end product. What was your experience being involved with the successful Kickstarter for the game Asylum?

When it comes to crowdfunding, I was lucky enough to be part of the team for Asylum, which was a Kickstarter effort and also J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars which was an IndieGogo project. I had different roles for these, as with Asylum I was a support role in terms of community efforts, live streaming events, organizing and just helping around to get the traffic and community going. Then in J.U.L.I.A. I was a bit more hands on, I helped with the planning and logistics along everything else as well – that was my most successful crowdfunding experience considering we went over the goal and it helped the studio stay afloat.

I get asked this a lot by students and people I meet at comic conventions, and now I have you to ask and get the real scoop on this. Would you consider working in indie game development as a normal 9-5 sort of job? This is sincerely something that I believe a lot of people are not aware of.

I am working full time in this nowadays. I work part time with Silverware Games and Phoenix, to add more chaos to this I also take freelancing jobs to make ends meet: legal translations, business / trade consulting, artwork commissions. It isn’t easy, as working in the gaming industry isn’t exactly luxurious, and I have to randomly take in extra gigs to be able to financially survive – keep in mind I live with chronic pain, which is why it’s kind of expensive with medical bills and all.

Your art has a definite kawaii aesthetic to it, what other inspirations play into the process of your art creation?

A lot of derp, haha.

It’s been a long way for me, oh my goodness. I went to Business school, but I tried my best to invest myself in a minor in Marketing as well, so I’m personally drawn to creative things. I learned a lot of useful skills for Marketing and Advertisement like CSS/PHP basic coding, photoshop, video / audio editing and all that – but illustration has always been a very personal thing for me.
Finished in game character art, and more character doodles.
I was self-taught, and I continue to be to some extent as I do what I do with nothing but just hardcore practice. I don’t think I’m good at all! Haha, but I love it and I keep practicing.

After my injuries a few years ago, I had to stop doodling. That broke my heart. But after rehabilitation I could pick it up again, and in fact, the whole “personality” some people describe they notice in my doodles it’s just hand tremors from nerve pain.
One of the things I would love to see would be some animated cut scenes done in this illustration style for one of the future Matchyverse games.
Sometimes I have the patience to do it over and over again until I am ok with it, some other times I just leave that wiggly wonky dumb line in there and call it good, haha.

Since you started working in the indie game world, what are some of the most important things you’ve learned? 

That I don’t know a damn thing! Haha, I come from a corporate career, I deal with numbers and logic and lots of serious business and legal woes. Now it’s about colors, and cuteness, and fun – it is like I’m learning everything all over again. Words that come to mind is patience, passion and determination. I have to like what I do because it is hard enough to survive in an industry like this, and you have to go at it until you get it right.

My experience helps me ground myself, but when it comes to what you think and what you do, it’s a world of difference. Ideas without action are often abstract thoughts, once you have a plan to get things done you still have to brace yourself to get the thing done as it is. And trust me, it does take time and effort to make things possible – specially in a difficult (to survive) industry like gaming.

Do you have a creation or project of yours that identifies as your favorite, or one that you are most proud of?

MatchyGotchy. I still look back at this game and I go, did I do that? Haha, I love it. It’s my first whole enchilada!
Matchygotchy promotional artwork.
I helped design, develop and publish it and there is no feeling like that. I love MatchyGotchy Z too of course, but it’s kicking my butt. Early Access is no joke.

You've attended shows aimed at gaming. What have you thought of the large growth of shows like PAX/GDC/E3 over the last decade?

I haven’t been able to participate on these things as I wish I could, due to health reasons. Living with pain is so expensive and soul consuming, I have to prioritize as best as I can. But I do admit that if I could I would love to participate more and be part of these events.

I love these things, it is like experiencing everything you love at once. The games, the people, the lovely things that come out of creative studios – it’s things like that that add to the whole experience.

For people aspiring to work in the indie game field, what sort of advice would you give? It appears that anyone wanting to get in, needs to be a willing jack of all trades to some extent, correct?

If you are entirely new to the industry, ask around first. Research studios, jobs, meet people that actually work in the industry already and find out if that’s something that would suit you first. I think people get all these ideas of what it is like, and they don’t have a real perspective of what it actually is like in practice.

It is fundamental you don’t romanticize studios or projects if you are looking to build a career in the industry. Try to go into the job field with an open mind, be sure what you are getting yourself into – and the most crucial piece of advice: always get your legal stuff in order. Read contracts, ask if you don’t understand, and make sure you completely know what you are getting yourself into in terms of the amount of work done and what’s being paid. 

In terms of what you need, it is up to you what you bring to the table. It doesn’t hurt to be a jack of all trades, but understand you shouldn’t do it all though – it’s just not healthy (take it from someone who has experienced crunch burn out before). Specializing in fields is a positive thing to get started, being open to challenges is something that will allow you to grow in your career though – take it one step at a time.

As a woman working in what for many years prior was a predominately male driven industry, do you feel that the industry is beginning to better understand the importance of roles that female creators can play in the game industry?

I grew up playing Sierra games, and I played the work of Roberta Williams, Lori Cole, Jane Jensen (who I had the amazing opportunity to work with on Moebius and Gabriel Knight remake). I love seeing wonderful women take over the spotlight, I personally adore Brenda Romero because she not only has built an impressive career over the years –and- continues to do so working with John Romero, but she is an all around lovely person that inspires me to no end. She teaches gaming, she champions indie studios, she is quite present in the community and has her own voice, things which inspire me to do more and hopefully be more in the industry.

Representation inspires, it motivate us all to participate and create more. It also provides for a sense of belonging which I’m highly fond of – I strongly support women’s individuality, along with the idea of celebrating minorities. I am a Latina, so I’m both and I wish to see more of that too.

We live in a time where the advent of an immense amount of creative people now have virtually unlimited reach via social media networks from Twitter and YouTube, to the just now emerging Instagram TV. Some artists believe that we live in a time of overexposure, that a lot of the curtain to the creative process has been pulled back to an almost detrimental effect. Do you feel that it's been more of a positive or negative change to have that sort of access for the general public to encounter exposure of an artist and their works with?

I think it’s positive. It certainly gives you a lot of perspective, and makes learning much more accessible for everyone.

Rarely ever we used to know what it takes to make games, now you can probably go to YouTube and check out devs vlogs and listen up about their struggles and joys of their work. You can also keep up on a day to day basis of how things get done just by following content creators, you get to share their ups and downs as it comes. In a way, it makes us much more human.

Keep in mind that sharing how many times you go to the bathroom might not be meaningful, however, sharing your struggles to publish content might be relatable moment that will allow you to connect with others that might feel the same way. So I guess my take would be, we need to utilize these tools to reach out to others, not to make a fool of ourselves.

If you had to pick your favorite two movies, what would they be, and why?

I *LOVE* stop motion and animation.

If I have to choose only two, I would pick Coraline first because I love Laika Studios! Based on Neil Gaiman’s book, it’s this cute spoopy story about this curious girl that finds the meaning of family, as you get to appreciate it – with all the good and the bad that comes with it. As someone who thinks family comes first, it’s a lovely story that was beautifully put together in stop motion.

My other choice would be Up, by Disney. It’s this story about love and loss, and how to tackle expectations in life. Just because you don’t get what you want exactly how you want it, doesn’t mean that you won’t get what you want. Life has a wonky way of keeping us on our toes and keeping us wondering as it goes, and he found the love of his life, only to teach him how to love so he could find the family he never thought he would have.

Mac or PC preference? And why?

I had to learn both, because I had to work with Mac while working with Publishing / Advertisement firms. However, I prefer PC because it’s somewhat more resourceful in terms of personal expenses and software.

When you're in the zone creatively, do you enjoy working with music or any kind of background noise going on, silence, or are you indifferent to the outside surrounding ambiance? Do any of those sorts of things  come into play for you in your studio/workday?

It depends. I normally love playing music, but if I’m in pain or I have a hard time concentrating (because I’m in pain) I prefer to listen to my doggos play, and my birb sing. Yes, I have a bunch of lovely spoiled animals around, lol.

What music drives your daily work and creative flow?

I listen to the radio, and I listen to podcasts. When I get tired of the radio, I just tailor my playlists and live in my own bubble world for a while haha.
A glimpse of Say's desktop work area.
I normally listen to pretty much anything but I prefer indie / vocal kind of artists though – I don’t listen to get creative, I listen to keep myself some company while I work.

What artists, current or historical, had profound influences on you? 

Even though I have this artsy fartsy thing going on, my inspirations come from my logical side. I read a lot of technical books, and one of the biggest inspiration in my life is Seth Godin – he makes business human. Also Simon Sinek, he also joins in the idea that people matter, and without people we have no business and no industries.

Although, I must say that the people that inspire me the most these days are people I know and I get to interact with almost every day. We tend to romanticize big names and big fandoms, but truth is, we meet such wonderful people with the most fascinating stories and lives and we can learn so much just by listening.

If you had the chance to work on a dream project, what would that be?

More than dream projects I have dream milestones - I hope to do more.

I am working with Phoenix again, which is the studio that I loved for so many years and got me started in this industry. And now also working with Silverware Games, which gives me the opportunity to even venture through game development doing all these cute and wonderful projects. I love these studios and I love these people, I am very happy as it is.

If you are a fan of sci-fi/fantasy, do you prefer Star Trek or Star Wars?

I am a fan of Isaac Asimov books! Haha, but if I have to choose I would say Star Wars. I am open to learn more about Star Trek though!

This is my own curiosity question I like to ask of people in general, and have brought into my interviews. What is your favorite dinosaur, and why?

Derpsoaurus! Because it only exists in my derpy world. It tries to be spoopy but it’s cute as heck, and wants to hug all.

The world of MatchyGotchy is one that is emerging and developing from SIlverware games. How did this all come about?

When I got started working with Silverware Games, the pipeline was Matchy Star. It was this cute and hecking adorable game that got such hardcore rejection, I believe was somewhat uncalled for – and that’s one of the reasons why I joined. Michael Silverman runs the studio by himself, and self-publishing can be quite daunting to do alone. I was like “Let’s do this” and so far we have been trying to build the Matchyverse together.
Matchygotchy promotional artwork.
MatchyGotchy came up as an individual idea to open up people to the Matchyverse. It was this cute game that would open the IP, free, short and cute! It got a positive feedback, and now we’re working on MatchyGotchy Z which is twice as much content as MatchyGotchy ever was.

I downloaded the additional content from MatchyGotchy recently that included a cool bit of papercrafting in it. I think I was somewhat successful in putting it together. :D Are you a big papercraft aficionado, or was this something borne of working on MatchyGotchy?

I’m a BIG papercraft fan. That was something I picked up during my university years, I loved building these paper models and they would help me cope with stress and sadness. Eventually, I took this love into my corporate years as well! Haha, I had my graduation ring stolen from one of my jobs at the time (which was a gift from my brother and it totally broke my heart) and ever since I promised myself I would –never- let that happen again so I would decorate all of my offices during the period of a decade with paper stuff, haha.
Example of the DLC that Silverware games released. I downloaded this myself and it was a wonderfully designed papercraft kit and a pretty unique bit of game promotion.
You can imagine, a corporate manager sitting in this glass fishtank of an office right in the middle of the floor with like Domo-kun paper models and all sort of derpy cute paper things like that.

The one thing I did start doing once I got into gaming, and kept bringing papercraft love with me, was creating paper models myself. I created original paper designs for Silverware Game and other indie studios.

Was the interaction/gameplay of MatchyGotchy something that came about from an appreciation of the original Tamagotchie games? 

It was inspired in the original one, yeah. I loved tamagotchies, and I am so happy Michael (Silverware Games) decided to take on the project. It fit perfectly into the idea of a casual and laid back kind of cute relaxing game to open up the Matchyverse.

Most creative people I know appreciate and enjoy museums, looking to them for inspiration. Do you have any would you recommend or that are your favorites?

Can you believe I have never been to a museum? Secretly, I’m an uncultured dork! But shh, don’t tell anyone kplz!

Do you have a favorite video game/series and/or creator?

I love Nintendo. I love their concept of family friendly, their IP development, the worlds they create – you get to play Super Mario World again as an adult, and it’s just about as fun as it was when you were younger. That kind of magic is timeless and deeply inspiring.
More papercrafting goodness!
Are there other indie game companies out there that have games out, or in development that you are looking forward to playing?

So many! My Steam library is like 80% indie games and I freaking love it. If I had to name a few on the top of my head, I would say Mineko's Night Market – I love kukubee’s work and I am rooting for her 120%. Also looking forward so bad to Darkside Detective Season 2, I freaking LOVE Spooky Doorway. I can’t help but fangirl for these bunch of lovely people, I played the first season and I love it and I can’t wait for Season 2. Also, I look forward to Ooblets, but I think everyone and their mom are, it looks impossibly cute and fun.
Okay, so into the realm of books, is there a book or series that inspired you or recommend?

I think anything Seth Godin - works, writes, publishes - you can bet I will buy. It is refreshing for me to read up on people who thinks of businesses as people, not figureless numbers, and I hope that more people would think the same way.

Regardless of gaming and publishing being my main job these days, I am crazy passionate for business and marketing. Which is the reason why I still mostly read technical books, it’s very rare when I venture through authors like Isaac Asimov or Stephen King.

This is something that I know a lot of people working in the creative industry deal with. Do you have a method to balancing life between your career and down time for yourself?

I am still trying to figure that out, as I am a workaholic who now lives with chronic pain. I think considering nerve pain is so unforgiving, I try to set limits in the amount of time I work so I avoid hospitalization – it’s a fair compromise. I have no method, unless you call fear of intense pain a method, haha.

I downloaded the Dino Riders podcast which you co-hosted with Robert Allen, and it was hilarious, (your thoughts on Bendy and the Ink Machine made my day, and I love that game). What do you think of podcasting as a medium? I am a huge fan of old timey radio plays and programs, and I've always viewed Podcasting as the natural evolution of the early days of radio. Are you a huge Podcast listener in general?

Thank you for listening! I miss IndieOutlook, it’s a project I was very fond of, giving indies a platform to be known and all that.

Personally, I love podcasts. I love listening to them and recording them. Just like books, I tend to gravitate more towards business ones, I’m fascinated with intelligent discourse in terms of management, leadership, analytics. I’m fond of experiential marketing as well, listening through deep analysis of industries – I learn a lot from it that I find useful to apply to my work. We tend to become self-consumed in our own problems when we don’t realize they can become opportunities, it’s just that change is often scary and never a first choice.

I should probably do podcasting again, I miss it greatly.

After your hilarious (but very on point) review of the indie game, Mystery Mine, on that same podcast, what sort of things would you tell up and coming game developers to avoid in games they create?

Haha, I was super grumpy that day. Looking back into that, I probably would word my disappointment somewhat differently – as I do game development now too. The problem wasn’t whether I liked the gameplay or not, but that some of the bugs wouldn’t let me play it at all. I bought the game and I was so mad it played so wonky, it wasn’t fun at all. I could have asked for a refund, but instead I chose to support the developer and just leave it at that.

Never launch a game without having players have a take at it, that’s all I can say from it. Every single studio I ever worked with, I’ve been such a nag with that one thing – we think we know what we’re doing, but we don’t really know until you get feedback on it. It might make sense to us as developers, doesn’t mean that gamers would see it that way.

Thanks so much for taking the time to be part of my interview series Say! If people want to follow you or SIlverware Games, where could they find more information?

You can reach me out via twitter and you can find my work via  

If you do the discord thing, you are more than welcome to join and chat with us!

Thank you so much for thinking of me and including me on this! ♡  

No comments:

Post a Comment