One Blaze Studio’s Nedrick Mclaren on networking as a black game developer

Official key art for Patrollin W.T.H
Image: One Blaze Studio

Patrollin W.T.H is an arcade mobile game on the Google Play Store that sees players navigating through space, fighting off dangerous extraterrestrial threats. It was developed by One Blaze Studio, a passionate group of creatives. We spoke with Nedrick Mclaren, the Game Director on Patrollin W.T.H, to learn more about his team’s experience with the game, and his personal journey as a black game dev.

  • LoopBreak: Patrollin W.T.H was in development for years, what were some of the biggest obstacles that you faced while working on the game, and how did you overcome them?

Mclaren: The development time for Patrollin W.T.H was 2 years give or take due to every day life, A little tidbit regarding information to know is that Patrollin W.T.H was actually a test mold in the main game, and several testers liked that mini section, which led to the development of the stand-alone version.

As for the rest of the question, there were many hurdles. One was learning the game engine, which was Game Maker Studio 1.4 then later Game Maker Studio 2. Game Maker 2 studio had many game-breaking updates that caused a three-month downtime as there was a bug that almost led to the rebuilding of the game. Another was implementing the game for mobile platforms. Android had its hurdles but IOS was and is still more of a headache, mostly due to not fully understanding enough about CocoaPods. If you are not aware of CocoaPods, simply note if you are planning to make your game free but will include ads, this is an added bonus you must understand.

The last hurdle was having to make the toughest but most significant decision to split the game into two molds. Patrollin W.T.H being the survival version and more of a light version to get players interested in the game, while the kinks and additional content are reworked in the main game which was at the time 70% complete.

  • LoopBreak: What were some of your biggest inspirations when creating Patrollin W.T.H? Are there any games/shows/movies that you had in mind while coming up with the idea?

Mclaren: Funny enough, Patrollin was originally inspired by HyperZone and not space invaders, which many thought. Due to many changes and adjustments during development, Patrollin W.T.H is what you see. Patrollin W.T.H is actually an extension to the animated series Patrollin, which is on Youtube and also listed on the website. The animated series is a homage to many mecha animes like Gundam, Robotech, Guyver, and Tekkaman Blade.

A combat gameplay screenshot in Patrollin W.T.H

  • LoopBreak: Can you speak to the importance of networking, building relationships, and establishing a community, especially as a black developer?

Mclaren: Never did I think or consider the term black developer until I went to GDC (Game Developer Conference) and met other black game developers. I simply wanted to make games almost in the same vein as the games I played. I never knew any black developers growing up but I knew several black artists and animators. As a game developer, or better yet, as a creative in general, it is very important to network as you are limited by the circle you keep. The bigger the circle the more input, ideas, and feedback you will receive. I am a big believer in both positive and negative criticism, many I have met are more interested in receiving positive feedback and forget sometimes those negative critics are just as important and you may see something you may not have noticed in your build, this helped tremendously for Patrollin.

Going to GDC back in 2010 was one of the biggest eye-openers. At the time, another Oneblaze game was being shown, “Born-Fighters.” From that experience, I found out about “Blacks in Gaming” which lead to great feedback, ideas, and now lifelong friends in the gaming industry who are also black developers. One of my closest friends from college, Eric Roman, is the writer for the main Patrollin game which is currently delayed as another project is being concluded, my brother Jermain Fraser is the writer for the animated series, and Joel Steudler, a composer I met online, is credited for the music in the game. So I would have to say networking is extremely critical.

  • LoopBreak: I know that One Blaze does more than game development. Are there any plans to expand upon the world of Patrollin W.T.H, perhaps in another medium?

Mclaren: One Blaze Studio is an independent media production studio. We focus on in-house animation and game development. Sadly, at the moment, no commercial properties. The Patrollin brand is a four-part web series on YouTube and may extend to more in the future depending on the ongoing projects. We once created websites and other design mediums but the focus has now remained on animation and game development.

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