This fall, Brunette Games reached an exciting milestone of 35 released games featuring our narrative work. Read on for insights from all five of our full-time employees and two of our contract voice-over actors on what accomplishments stand out to them and how story can make a difference in mobile games!
First, let’s check in with Lisa Brunette, owner and chief creative officer.
What key differences have you noticed in the mobile game space since the inception of Brunette Games in 2016?
Lisa Brunette: It’s a radically different landscape here in 2022 compared to six years ago! My first project as an indie back then was Matchington Mansion, and the folks at Magic Tavern and I were basically teaching puzzle players how to enjoy a story along with their gameplay. What I brought to that project––a strong storyline, a relatable lead character, a diverse character cast overall, and puzzle pieces thematically tied to the storyline––these elements are commonplace now, but they were huge innovations in 2016, innovations that paid off.
How have these affected the way you and your team approach your work?
Lisa Brunette: We evolve as the industry evolves, and that’s the key to our success. While we carved out a niche for ourselves with story-driven games in the match-3/decorating genre, our expertise also encompasses interactive novels, idle battle games, city builders, jigsaw, solitaire, merge, of course, and more. Right now we’re deep into NFT/blockchain, web3, and the subscription model.
If you could give mobile game developers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Lisa Brunette: Taking a cue from the success of my own studio, I would say innovation and change are two things to always embrace. We’re constantly approached by studios who see a new hit on the scene and want to copy it. But that hit didn’t become a hit by copying something else! It’s a hit due to its own innovation, the change of pace it gave players.
And now, a word from our VP:
What would you like to see more of in mobile games?
Anthony Valterra: Lately I’ve been enjoying quieter games. I think the frenetic pace of many games has become tiring. I am enjoying the relaxed pace of Jigsaw Puzzle Villa and would like to see more games with that sort of tone.
What’s a stand-out moment in your time spent as part of Brunette Games?
Anthony Valterra: One moment I will always remember was getting to insert a cartoon version of my grandfather in a game. His odd accent and speech mannerisms were hilarious and perfect for a quirky side character.
Let’s see what our Writer | Designer team has to say:
What do you enjoy most about writing for games?
Dexter Woltman: I enjoy creating original characters. Whether they’re the relatable heroine, scheming villain, or comedic best friend, it’s always fun to craft a new personality from the ground up. Between writing their backstories, deciding their relationships, and giving them a unique voice, there’s a lot of ways to make each character feel special.
Jenna Hume: Integrating story and gameplay. This is always a challenge, but one that’s fun to take on. From creating tutorials to consulting on artwork, it’s exciting to see the story and gameplay come together in ways that are unique to each game.
Sara Hardin: I like the challenge of crafting an impactful story within a mobile game’s limited space for text. I often find myself thinking from the players’ perspective when I’m drafting a game script, considering what would be the most satisfying development for players who are invested in the game’s narrative. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m a gamer who’s a sucker for a game with a good story!
What do you enjoy most as a player?
Dexter Woltman: Is winning too basic of an answer? I enjoy achieving my gameplay goals and reaching the end of a level or game. When I see “level cleared” flash across the screen, it fills me with pride and excitement. I’m also very structured and organized in my own life, so crossing a finished game off my list—or crossing a task off a literal in-game list—is always satisfying.
Jenna Hume: I’ve always loved puzzles, so my favorite games are those that make me think just a little bit. Recently, I’ve enjoyed merge games a lot. Trying to figure out which items to merge to get the items you need is always a fun, rewarding challenge.
Sara Hardin: Aside from story, I live for the unique satisfaction of winning something I’ve been working toward for countless hours. Whether it’s a particularly difficult level in a mobile game or the final boss in my favorite rougelike (Supergiant’s Hades, by the way), nothing beats the euphoria of chipping away at a goal until I’m finally victorious. I named my betta fish Zagreus after the PC in Hades, if that’s any indication.
And last but not least, some insight from two of our über-talented voice-over actors:
Imagine you've been cast to record voice-over for your dream role in a mobile game. Who's the character?
Andy Mack: If I could record for a "dream" mobile game, it would probably be for either something like Disney Mirrorverse/Sorcerer's Arena or Marvel Strike Force. Having family ties to Disney and being a former cast member, the brand and characters are near and dear to me. The Mad Hatter is my favorite character and I've been lucky enough to do him for the DL Weekly (Disneyland podcast) promos, but it would be awesome to do it in an actual game format. As for MSF, that is my long-running mobile addiction, so it would be great to be a part of that cast and pretend I have superpowers or muscles, ha, ha.
Nicole Perez: My dream role in a mobile game is a hammy, witchy villain! A role I can really sink my teeth into—perhaps a villain with a “soft side,” someone that we eventually sympathize with, who never felt quite “understood.” This villain cackles, hollers, and has a sarcastic flair.
Can you share a fond memory you have of recording VO for Brunette Games?
Andy Mack: I've had many fond memories over the years with doing VO for Brunette Games. The one that makes me laugh the most was doing the dog, Marlowe, for Ava's Manor. It was a challenge trying to convey various types of emotions nonverbally while trying to remain lovable/sympathetic for players. However, I knew I was on the right track when my own dog started barking at what I was recording. If I could fool him, I was doing something right!
Nicole Perez: I loved recording Lucy Hill [from an in-development game by Uken Games] because she is this over-the-top, ooey-gooey-sweet neighborly woman with this peculiar country charm and sweet Southern drawl. The process is to record three takes per line. I enjoyed this process because it allowed me to explore the character deeply; I made three distinctly different possible acting choices for how this character would come alive.