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Adapting Dreamsocket

As we head into the future, it always seems habit to reflect on the past. This year we silently redid our company site reflecting the past, showing the present, and opening up to the future. It was appropriate given so much has changed since our inception. What is even more interesting is that these dramatic shifts in our business happened almost overnight. However, it wasn’t that we just spun the wheel in a different direction and completely retooled and refocused when we woke up the next day. Luckily for us, we set ourselves up for a transition and it paid off.

What am I blabbering about? How does it apply to me? If you are reading this, then you have some level of interest in who we are and what we do. You either want to know how we tick or what prompts some of our success. The reason I’m blabbering is that to be successful in anything you have to be willing to adapt and either be smart enough or lucky enough to adapt to the things that will bring you the most success. We managed to do a little of both and land up in a really good position.

In our case, we originally found extreme success in fulfilling a very niche need. That need was building custom online Flash video products for large media organizations. Knowing their business, needs, systems, and being able to deliver on that has made us a valuable asset in that space. Over time that space has matured, slowed down, and shifted. As this was happening, we had already planted seeds as a company that grew more rapidly than we could ever have imagined.

The first seed was an internal project codenamed Poor Bear, which eventually became our first iOS game Bear on a Wire. It was our foray into a new language, platform, and online business. We viewed it as an awesome way to just play around with technology and see what we could learn from it. We didn’t hold it up as a golden egg or anything beyond that. iOS was an interesting platform and after a completely non technical friend called up raving about his iPhone and how incredible email was, we knew we had to do something with it. I mean if someone’s intro to email is thru an iPhone, then there is something to be said about that. So we poured our hearts into the game, working on it in spare moments and exclusively at others. A lot was learned, fun was had, and in the end we had something great.

The Bear wasn’t your runaway Angry Birds, the golden goose wasn’t sitting in our office, and we don’t have islands YET (emphasize, YET because one day we’ll be having pirate wars). An interesting thing happened though, clients were interested in what we did. You see, we weren’t the only ones wanting to build things for our pocket toys. The problem was budgets sometimes have to wait to follow interests. Everyone was becoming interested, but not everyone had shifted their dollars yet. So as the year closed out, with a few dollars left on the table we were given a few chances to play around for our clients. Even though the Bear only pulled in enough for a nice dinner every month if we were lucky, it was our key into the next room. Our game showed our clients that not only could we play in the space, but we were quite good at it.

With a key in hand, we first peeked thru the door, then someone swung it wide open. The budgets came in. We went from developing our first mobile app to dozens of iOS and Android apps overnight. As the online video space cooled, the mobile app space became red hot. That is great and all, but putting a chicken in an oven without knowing how to cook it, no one is going to want to eat it after you’ve burnt it 5 times in a row. The quality just isn’t there. No matter what we are working on, we CARE and we put 200% effort into it. Details matter. This was no exception and helped us really win a lot of trust from our clients in this space. We are viewed as partners rather than simply providers and continue to deliver new versions of flagship apps as time goes on. In addition, unsatisfied with original vendors, we’ve had a lot of clients bring us apps that we’ve been able to take over and really improve upon. Having a relationship like that is probably the best thing we could ask for, because it shows us that our work is really appreciated. We feel acknowledgement that our clients can see how much we care and put forth.

The moral to this story is that things are always changing and that you should always play it smart and look for new and interesting things to explore. If you play your cards right or just luck out (maybe a bit of both), new opportunities will come to you that are bigger and brighter than you would have ever imagined.

The new reflects this. It shows a little of what we’ve traditionally done, some newer things that we’ve gotten good at, and a glimpse of future things to come. We have had the great fortune of working on just about every digital medium that we could hope to. That is what turns work into FUN for us and keeps us coming in! We’ve been very lucky. Check out our portfolio to get a small glimpse into the fun times that our clients have given us.

Bear on a Wire (previously Poor Bear) IPhone game released

Bear on a Wire Trailer from bearzo on Vimeo.

The Game

Our first IPhone game, previously code named Poor Bear is officially available in the app store today under the name Bear on a Wire. For those of you who followed the progression of the game on our site (1, 2, 3, 4) know that this game didn’t start with designs, requirements, deadlines, or the promise of gold bars. Instead it was built on the premise that we could make something fun that we molded just how we wanted it. That mold shifted and turned over time. Even at the starting gate, we didn’t even know what type of game we were making. The game really grew organically and took on a life of its own. I’m personally blown away with the outcome, especially considering this was Chad’s (the developer) first game and he went into it not knowing Objective C. The design is a work of art as well. However, for those of you know Trevor (the designer), know that you could expect nothing less. Words can’t do justice to what 1 designer and 1 developer have done with this game. It is simply amazing and even though it is our own game, none of us can stop playing. That was the point though. We built something we loved. We hope you will too!

Support Us

We appreciate any support you can give us. For those with an IPhone grab the game now, rate it, and review it!

For those wanting to get the word out. Here are some links to blog, twitter, AIM, tell someone on a subway, etc. We will have flyers too that you can print and post on bathroom walls, telephone polls, and anywhere in eyes view.


Press Release

Dreamsocket & TVM Studio are excited to announce they have just released Bear On A Wire.


Apple app store link:

About the game:
Our green hero, Bearzo, has had it! No more performing for “THE MAN” day in and day out. What! Do you think he is some kind of dancing bear? NO… he is a high wire bear, and it’s time for him to make his great escape from the Big Top. He loves his fans and his work, but he just wants to be free and feel his scarf blow in the wind as he shreds wire with the most insane moves ever attempted … on a Moped… on top of high voltage power lines. Get ready to feel the power of the 49cc, two stroke, and single cylinder stallion!

As you tear off on the wire, try to balance Bearzo and keep him from fallingdown into the 1.21 gigawatts that alternate through the wires below him (Ah, the smell of burnt bear hair). While balancing on the wire, acquire crazy mad points by using the different stunt key combinations to generate some MOPED MAYHEM ( Bearzo’s stunts include no hands, half twist, full twist, bear buck, back roll, front roll, jump roll, grinder, spin roll, spin buck, spin buck grinder, coat tail, coat tail kick, and the next to impossible coat tail kick spin grinder. Combine these stunts with full flips, double flips… triple flips…? Now you are just being crazy! Collect coins and rack up even more points. I know…you never saw collectable coins coming. Don’t get caught hibernating b/c it’s about to get all GRIZZLY up in here!

Get pumped for BEAR ON A WIRE.

Kenny Speaking at NAB2009 on Games and TV Collaborations.

I was asked, agreed, and received confirmation that I will be speaking at the NAB conference in Vegas this month. The presentation/panel is titled “Game & TV Collaborations” and is focused on solutions that integrate games with video based entertainment. I will be showing off the Playstation Megasode that we built a few years back and participating in the subject discussion.

The presentation is slated for Thursday April 23 at 10:15.
You can find all the details here.

It should be quite interesting presenting at NAB, since the crowd is so different than a lot of the places I speak. It also marks my first attendance to the event, so I’d love to hear feedback from others that have attended in years past.

Annoucing Project Codename: Poor Bear

The iPhone bug bit and we have started working on a side project code named POOR BEAR. The project is a small iPhone game collaboration between the folks at Dreamsocket and <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Trevor Van Meter</a>, who we consider friend of the family. For those who aren’t familiar with Trevor, you may remember his game <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Fly Guy</a> that garnered a lot of praise. Trev and I (Kenny) actually went to school together and were part of the same crew of friends, so we have roots. Personally, I look at him like a renaissance guy when it comes to illustration work. He literally does it all: cartoons, toys, comics, games, you name it. Needless to say, we are excited to be working together. Right Trev 😉


Trevor is working out the dynamics of POOR BEAR’s story line and it will evolve as we progress. Nothing is nailed in stone, but we have our basics. Our main character is a circus bear who rides bikes on tight ropes. Pretty hype already, huh? Who doesn’t love bears on bikes??? The game starts with our fearless character blasting out of a circus tent and landing on some power lines. He has some where he has to go, and he has to get there fast, so it is up to you to help him get there. A side scrolling bearrific race against time!

Current State

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You can see from the video above, our development started by just getting basic mechanics working in the game along with a few art elements and menu screens. Some how the luck of the Irish hit, and we already have our fearless hero iPhone ready and controllable via the accelormeter and screen interaction. Tilting the phone to either side controls balance, touching the front of the phone speeds him up, and touching the back slows him down. Although some of the game elements are limited now, they along with the terrain are getting generated from a custom level editor we built in AIR. This gives us the ability to really map out and throw things in pretty rapidly. Expect good things 😉


Moving forward, there are many hours of work left at this point. We still need to settle on layouts for all the menus and screens, get art for them, add sound effects, add background music, and create levels for the game. Perhaps one of the most important tasks left is to implement a scoring system. We have not ironed out the details yet but are considering making the levels time-limited and scoring based on quickness of MR BEAR. If we go this route, things like power-ups via time bonuses and speed boosts come to mind. Finally but not least, our bear FLIPS, yes he FLIPS while jumping his bike! Obviously, we might have to take that into account too!

All that said, welcome to PROJECT POOR BEAR. Expect us to post our process and progress here, so you can follow along and add your 2 cents into the game. Help us shape it into something great. We want POOR BEAR to pull you into the bears shoes and have you craving to play!

Teams, Chad Fuller, and Business Investments

Owning and running a business, the most important elements to your company are your image and the people working with you. This is even more important when you are a smaller business. If you are surrounding by the best of the best, that becomes the perception of what your company is. A small agile company composed of experts is a lot different than a large company with a few experts and a lot of worker bees. Both are valid models and neither is right or wrong. I opt for the quality over quantity approach, regardless of the income difference.

Therefore, when looking for folks to work on projects or to join the team, I look for people that are:

  • a) smarter than I am
  • b) completely devoted
  • c) care

It’s a decision that I don’t take lightly since I’m essentially asking someone to join a “family of friends”. That’s how I view work. It is part of your life, the people around you are part of your life, and you should surround yourself with those that bring out the best in you and themselves.

Chad Fuller

Last June, Mr. Chad Fuller sent me a note mentioning that he was moving to Atlanta. I knew Chad well, knew how smart he was, but also knew that he didn’t have any work experience. Point blank, experience is huge for us. Due to the positioning of Dreamsocket, we typically receive jobs I would refer to as high experience work. Thus, we can’t have people work on the projects who don’t know the technologies better than they know their own name. It is our position and what we’ve built the business on it. So Chad was in a way a gamble. Obviously there is risk with any gamble. You either win or lose. However, I took a pretty calculated gamble and came out ahead…. way ahead. If I were in Vegas, I would probably be the owner of the Wynn right now ;).

How did I win? Instead of throwing projects at Chad he would tear his hair out with, I decided to invest in him and the company. Chad’s first project was If you haven’t looked at the site yet I highly advise that you do. Not out of self promotion, but to see what he accomplished. Before the project, Chad had never touched HTML or built a website. After the project he could boast a site that included a store front, live docs, bug tracker, and more all under one dynamic system. Needless to say, I’m more than impressed. Being able to own and shape it himself, Chad really was able to take value in his creation and learn a lot (at least I think he did ;)).


Since the site was an internal project, it was an investment. We invested in defining our image more concretely, creating a way to extend our business, and developing ole Chad. Personally, I know what its like to run in his shoes. Developers that care want to learn as much as they possibly can, to work on great things, and just enjoy what they do. It felt really good to give him a project that he could call his own, mold it, and learn from. That is really what being a business owner can do for you, it can help you help others.

As much as the business will let me, that is what I intend to do. Invest in the folks around me. If your folks have passion, let them run with it as much as you are able to afford. Your workers will grow in strength, which will in turn mean that you get an experience level you couldn’t get any other way. On that note, Chad got the IPhone bug and I’m letting him get all over it. It means diversification and it means he continues dealing with things he is really excited about. Wait and see what he’s got running ;).

Look for big things on Chad’s blog and our site