Having contributed to Orange Bison for several months now, and being privileged enough to have the position before the website went live, I have always had a few questions about the company and the brains behind it. So, after doing reviews and most recently an article, I realised that we knew very little about the man behind all of this. I decided that I should pitch an idea (which was improvised in my YouTube video) to Andrew, to see if he would approve of the idea for the interview. As you have probably already guessed by now, he did approve! So here is the interview with the man who has given us many opportunities and many more to come.
1) I have been contributing for Orange Bison several months now, and one question has been on my mind, and I’m sure it entered everyone else’s mind, why pick the name Orange Bison?
I am asked this quite frequently and it’s a fair question. It sounds completely random. When I got to the stage of thinking about a business name I wanted something that didn’t necessarily say indie games. I didn’t want indie game reviews for example. I wanted a mascot for the brand and I wanted it to be something people could easily remember. I came up with various names before arriving at Orange Bison. I played around with various colours and animal combinations. No idea why I went down this route, it just sounded good to me and there are many other examples of businesses using this technique.
The other factor to consider was the availability of the name. Was the domain name free? Were the social media channels free? It took me quite some time but when I thought of Orange Bison and seen that it was not yet claimed I jumped on it! I found my business name and my mascot!
2) Have you personally ever had any involvement with games development, if so please explain further. But if not, has it ever been an interest for you?
I actually always wanted to be a game developer. However back in 2001 when I was choosing a college we had no game development courses in Northern Ireland and I was not in the position to go anywhere else. I couldn’t even choose a programming course. My only option was to choose A-Levels in ICT. Light-years away from what I really wanted to do. Back then I don’t recall any game studios either. Things have really changed in the last few years. In 2014 I decided to check colleges for programming classes and found my local college was offering a level 4 HNC qualification in computer systems with game and app development. I didn’t think I had anything to lose and so I signed up. I have now completed that course 2 years later. Part of the course included creating your own computer game from scratch and using a program called Game Maker to make it. I decided to push my limits and rather than just use the drag and drop game building element I decided to learn the game maker language and use that to create my game. I ended up with a platformer game that used art assets from Kenny Assets. It was a timed runner with lots of falls. The goal was to complete the entire game in the quickest time possible which only consisted of 4 levels. I had a lot of help from Heart Beast and Shaun Spalding with their Udemy courses and YouTube videos. I would love to create a new game but this requires a lot of time. Something I don’t have right now.
3) Here is something I like to know about every person, what game genre is your favourite (you can’t choose indie though) and why?
My favourite game genre has to be strategy. Any game where I can collect resources, build my base, my army, expand, evolve and conquer then I want it. This started back many years ago when my parents bought me Age of Empires Collectors Edition which contained:
– Age of Empires
– Age of Empires Expansion: The Rise of Rome
– Age of Empires 2
– Age of Empires 2 Expansion: The Conquerors
– Compilation Soundtrack
– Posters and Game Booklets
I still have this and from time to time fire the old bird up again. I also have all of Sid Meiers Civilization games and again another collection piece.
I also have Star Trek Armada 1 and 2. Armada 1 is still in its original PC cardboard box. Long before your time Cameron. 😉
4) What has gotten you into gaming in the past, were you introduced to it through your family or was there another way you were introduced into it?
My first console was a Sega Mega Drive. I absolutely loved that console. My Uncle ran a video and game rental shop at the time and I got games pretty cheap to rent. Yes, he still charged me. Trust me I still can’t believe it myself. 😉 I suppose the lesson was that things in life are not free.
I never had the games that everyone else played. I never played many sports games. I had Super Hang On which I played quite often along with Sonic and Jurassic Park. Naturally I still have all my Mega Drive Games. One of my favourites was Toejam & Earl. This was recently purchased as a gift for my birthday.
So, to answer your question, it was my parents that got me started with games. From the Sega Mega Drive I moved on to the original PlayStation. I still remember coming downstairs for Christmas and seeing it on the sofa. PaRappa the Rapper came with it along with Rapid Racer and Colony Wars!
5) Where do you see Orange Bison in the future, would you like it to go worldwide or stay as a smaller community?
I have lots of ideas for Orange Bison moving forward. I definitely want to see the brand expanding and going global. I want to be able to offer people opportunities that I never had.
As it stands at the moment we have 9 contributors for Orange Bison including yourself.
In the future I want to have our own local studio. I want to hire people that are passionate about indie games and gaming in general. I want people to walk in the doors of Orange Bison and feel at home and I would banish the word work. At Orange Bison it is not work it is just fun. 😉
I will be announcing Orange Bison’s first ever online games jam creatively called Orange Jam in the new year! Basically the idea is that people from around the world will create their own game over a weekend based on a theme supplied. I plan to have good prizes for the winners and if I get my way I would love to have some local game developers get involved in choosing who the winners are.
Hopefully every July Orange Bison will also be holding an indie game showcase. This will take place locally in Northern Ireland in July 2017 if all goes well. I aim to take this across the UK and across the World in the years to come. Local game studios can get involved to see what the indie’s are producing, choose winners and offer some great prizes and could even result in employment.
Long term plans include the creation of Orange Bison’s very own Video Game Creation series. This will effectively be a comprehensive course on how to create your own computer game and will require bringing in some experts and again this will generate some fantastic opportunities.
Over the coming weeks I am due to launch Orange Bisons own premium t-shirt gaming brand. The brand helps support indie game developers by licensing their game graphics, promoting their game and in return the developers get a commission of each sale. Basically the developers will have no work to do except provide the graphics for the t-shirts and we take care of the rest. I am very excited for this and already have several developers onboard for launch.
You can find out more about my future plans for Orange Bison on the Patreon page.
6) If you see Orange Bison going worldwide, would you want us having our own booths at gaming expos around the world (and would you need anyone called Cameron to run them)?
I plan on having Orange Bison booths at gaming expos before launching Worldwide. I never mentioned previously that I am also launching an online store. The store will initially stock t-shirts that will primarily be a marketing tool for indie developers. Basically they provide us with the graphics for their games and we promote them, create t-shirts and eventually other merchandise and take care of all the shipping etc.
These t-shirts can be taken with us around the Country and eventually around the World. I might indeed need someone named Cameron to run these booths so you better stick around.
7) Where did the idea for Orange Bison come from? What made you want to create a website based around indie games, rather than have a website based around AAA games or maybe a mix of both?
Essentially it came down to two things. I wanted to be able to offer people opportunities in game development and games journalism that I never had and also be able to promote indie games. Indie developers do not get the credit or attention they deserve. AAA games have huge budgets, over inflated budgets with crazy amounts of money to spend on advertising, marketing etc. To be blunt they do not need any investment in my time to help promote them. Indie’s on the other hand could literally be a one person team. It is hard to get your voice heard especially with all the hype and constant live plays of AAA titles that are played to death. Indie’s find it very hard to get noticed and most of them have no idea how to market or advertise, not to mention they have no money to put into these areas either.
The money indies make literally feed them so it was about time someone stood up and shouted HEY!! PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE THAT NEED IT!!!! That’s what Orange Bison was created for.
Coming towards the end of the interview I have two vital questions to ask you, which personally, I would love to know.
8) Have you ever actually been parachuting from a hot air balloon or parachuting?
I have never launched myself off any height more than perhaps a kurb. I would love to parachute from a hot air balloon. Just recently I got talking to a friend of mine (and you know who you are) about actually doing this but do it for charity. I think we have settled on the Charity Special Effect, which helps level the playing field for gamers with disabilities. Nothing at this point is in concrete but I would love to do this especially for such a good cause!
9) This is the most important question on the list in my opinion, if you could be any superhero or villain who would you be and why?
You stole this question directly from me, how dare you! 😉 If I had to choose a Superhero it would have to be Iron Man. I mean who doesn’t want to be protected by Iron, fly into space and shoot beams from your chest and hands? Right?! Don’t even start me on how soothing Jarvis’s voice is!
– The End
So there you go ladies and gentlemen, an interview with Andrew McMaster. Now we have more of an understanding of why Orange Bison was created, an insight into the future of Orange Bison and more of a personal insight into the creator of Orange Bison. Also, for the end of this interview, I would like to add a reply onto my final question, I call dibs on that question now Andrew (Sorry!). Maybe one day in the future, when Orange Bison is worldwide, we’ll do another interview with Andrew and see if he has parachuted from a hot air balloon yet.