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Gamasutra blogger profile: Howard Tsao

Gamasutra blogger profile: Howard Tsao

August 14, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

Gamasutra's blog platform is an open and vibrant space to discuss game development. Every day, developers share practical and thought-provoking posts. Some developers have shared so much with the community, in fact, that we're going to begin highlighting their contributions.

The first blogger we've chosen to profile is Howard Tsao of New York City indie studio Muse Games, developers of Guns of Icarus Online.

For the last three years, Tsao has posted updates on the his studio's progress and its games; that recently culminated in a comprehensive, multi-part look back at the development of Guns of Icarus Online. His posts took us from initial publisher troubles, through two Kickstarter campaigns, launching the game right as Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, and the impact of YouTubers on Guns of Icarus Online's success -- which taught us all what that kind of exposure can be worth.

"I wanted to share these experiences we had so that hopefully others can find something useful out of them," Tsao told Gamasutra. "Overall, if I could contribute a little bit to this industry I love, it's really rewarding and humbling to me."

Tsao sees value in documenting the ups and downs of game development: "Somehow, we made a few games that people actually wanted to play. Along the way, we learned lessons by overcoming rough circumstances -- from publisher nightmare, a room catching fire, to launching an online game in a hurricane. So the reason why I blog is in part cathartic, helping me remember and distill the experiences."

He also loves to interact with Gamasutra's community, he said. "Some of the experiences are pretty close to us and sometimes raw, so it's hard for me to put them out there and share with the entire community on Gamasutra. But most of the time people are really supportive, and even when they are not, it's interesting to see different perspectives and spark debates."

A selection of Tsao's best posts:

Postmortem: Muse Games' Guns of Icarus
Before Guns of Icarus Online came this game. Tsao shares a look back at Muse Games' first big project.

Spreading the Word via Kickstarter - Lessons from Two Successful Campaigns
Kickstarter Swag, Pain or Gain?

A two-part look back at Guns of Icarus' Kickstarter campaign, with stats and learnings; the second part focuses, in particular, on the impact of physical reward fulfillment.

Thinking through Publishing Contracts: Tips and Lessons Learned
Tsao signed a bad publisher contract for Guns of Icarus Online, and he shares tips "learned from some pretty horrific situations" here.

And the five-part Guns of Icarus Online postmortem:

Part I: Publisher Nightmare
Part II: Starting Over
Part III: Lessons from Two Kickstarters
Part IV: Through the Storm
Epilogue: How YouTube, Steam, and Our Players Got Us This Far

You can find all of Tsao's blogs here.

Blogging on Gamasutra

If you're interested in contributing to Gamasutra's blog section -- and seeing your posts on the front page of the site and in our popular Twitter feed -- check out our blogging guidelines, or email blog director Christian Nutt.

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