Innovators of Tomorrow—Corey Warning & Will Lewis

Will Lewis and Corey Warning from Rose City Games in Portland, OR. talk about their new game in development, "The World Next Door", a narrative-driven, action-adventure game inspired by the emotional storytelling and thrilling action of both anime and indie games.

Innovators of Tomorrow is a monthly show focused on giving insight into the work and inspirations from developers in our Intel Software Innovator Program. Our Innovators are driving technologies that put computing power into new use cases and areas of work. And beyond the code, our innovators often have personal insights, and experiences that are focusing their work in ways that we find amazing and inspirational.

Rose City Games

The World Next Door


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Welcome to Innovators of Tomorrow, where we bring you the sights, sounds, and inspirational work from our developer community from around the globe. Today we talk with Will Lewis and Corey Warning of Rose City Games, based right here in Portland, Oregon. They are in the process of developing their first original title, The World Next Door, so let's get this started. 

Hey guys. Tell us about yourselves and what yoe've been up to lately. 

I'm Will Lewis. I'm a director of Rose City Games and founder and president of the Portland Indy Games Squad. 

And I'm Corey Warning and I am another director at Rose City Games and an organizer of the Portland Indy Game Squad as well. 

Yeah, we've just been working on our first original game project called The World Next Door. 

Awesome. So tell me more about Rose City Games and PIG Squad. These are two different things, right? 

Yeah, so Rose City Games is a studio that Will and I co-founded together. We met via the Portland Indy Game Squad, which is a nonprofit organization that supports the game dev community here in Portland. It's where Will and I started working together. It's where we meet a lot of people that we work with together. So it's all sort of run by a lot of the same people. So PIG Squad is creating events to support the community. And Rose City Games is our studio where we make our own original games. 

Awesome. So one of the newer developments out of what you've got going on at Rose City is a new game titled, The World Next Door. Can you tell us more about that? 

Yeah, so The World Next Door is a narrative-driven action adventure game where you play as a human girl named June who gets trapped in a monster planet full of all these magical creatures. It is a game that we are working on in partnership with Viz Media. We are collaborating with them on a few different game projects. And this is the first original title that we're working on with them. 

OK. So you said first game. First game out of Rose City games, correct? 

So before we started working on The World Next Door, Rose City Games was primarily a support studio. So we were working with other studios to help launch their games, doing small, three to six-month projects, work for hire kind of stuff. So when we partnered with Viz Media and started The World Next Door, this was sort of the kick-off for us making our own original titles, and the plan with us making about three games with them over the course of three years down the road. 

Great. So what is the publishing partners relationship in the game? Can you tell us more about how that happened? 

Yeah. Rose City Games is partnering with Viz Media to create original game titles. We're really excited to work with them because they have a lot of awesome intellectual property that we grew up loving. And it's awesome to be able to create some stuff that kind of fits in with what they do in addition to opening new doors for games to be experimented with in different ways. 

That is cool. So this is a pretty innovative narrative game. How did you come up with the concept? 

Yeah, Rose City Games actually got started by partnering with Cartoon Network and running the Cartoon Network Game Jam, which is kind of a play on what a lot of indie game groups are doing now. Game jams are condensed periods of time where people are challenged to create something out of nothing in a set amount of time. And for The World Next Door, we actually created the narrative, the art style, and a lot of the gameplay mechanics out of a game jam that we ran internally inside Rose City Games. 

So when we started making The World Next Door, it was sort of born out of a couple of different ideas mashed together. We were really interested in doing a narrative-heavy game with branching dialogue and different choices that you could have your character respond to different other characters with and have it change the story while you were playing. We also had this really fun idea for puzzle battles that were kind of brought about from game ideas like Tetris Attack and the Puzzle League series. We kind of wanted to mash those things together into its own original thing. 

And how are you building an audience for this game? 

So we believe the best way to get early feedback for the game and build an audience is to bring builds out and show people as much as possible. So we've been bringing in early versions of the game out to PIG Squad events here in town. We brought a build to GEC-- actually, with Intel-- to show the pre-alpha version to get as much feedback as we could. 

And we think that that not only supports us in getting as much feedback as possible and making the game better, but we really enjoy sharing the process of how we are making the game. We learned a lot about game development from other developers who've been really open and transparent about their process. And we want to kind of pay that forward. 

What's the plan for the next steps? 

Next steps for the game, we have a couple events slotted in where we're going to be showcasing it. And we have lots of announcements about what's happening next coming soon. 

That is awesome. Thanks so much for coming on and being on the show today, guys. We really appreciate it. You can connect with Will and Corey and follow along with their projects at the links provided. Also, we've included a link so that you can learn more about the Intel Software Innovator program. That wraps up this installment of the show. Be sure like this video and subscribe to the Intel Software YouTube channel to keep learning about the innovators of tomorrow. On behalf of an amazing video crew, thanks for tuning in, and we'll see you next time.