hollywood insider

Hollywood U Reflections

Inside Choices is a weekly behind-the-scenes blog from the Pixelberry team. This week, we took the chance to reflect on our Hollywood U journey. 

Not long ago, we released the final quest of Hollywood U (Pixelberry’s 2nd of 3 games), something I’d been a writer, story lead, and producer on. This big moment caused me to take a step back and remember the long journey we’ve made together.

We launched Hollywood U two-plus years ago in December of 2014. What’s crazy is that we did so in a matter of months. The energy in the office then was electric, with everyone scrambling around trying to hit their impossible deadlines.

We seem calm here, but the excitement on launch day was through-the-roof…

After our launch, we celebrated with an on-theme film festival. Several brave souls dug up embarrassing videos of themselves for everyone to watch.

The team has always been passionate about whatever it works on. And that passion comes through in cosplay… Recognize these characters?

…in dedication. Many of our writers wrote quests week in and week out. But we still managed to have fun together in our writing and in our brainstorms.

…and in collaboration. Here we are blitz-writing hundreds of dates for HWU’s Couple’s Corner. It was a very busy lunch.

The best part of Hollywood U was, well, all of you. Your creativity and enthusiasm – expressed through fanart, headcanons, ships, and messages – was what drove us to keep writing and doing our best. Eddie, who you might know from our livestreams, had this to say:

“To all the HWU players, thank you for all the love you’ve given us, thank you for the hours of livestreaming, and thank you for this adventure that was a big part of my life.” -Edward

Some of you have already played the Hollywood U finale and even reached out to us about how the game has influenced you. That means the world to us. The next game update for Hollywood U will be its last, and weekly quests will no longer be released… but the spirit of Hollywood U continues to burn bright.

And for those Choices players who have no idea what I’m talking about… I hope you’ll take a minute to check out Hollywood U and see this awesome game now that the story is complete. There’s literally hundreds of hours of romance, adventure, and Hollywood excitement that we’ve poured our hearts into bringing to life.

When I look around our office, I see the Choices team dedicating the same hard work, creativity, and love that they put into Hollywood U. As we shift focus to Choices, the team will grow and evolve, but our love for storytelling remains the same.

It’s been a long journey, but we’re glad we made it with you.

-Eric

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Inside Choices: Teaming Up

For the past year, we’ve been trying to grow Pixelberry as fast as we can while improving the quality of our storytelling. But by putting new stories first, there are a lot of things we want to do that we haven’t gotten to yet, like sequels to some of our one-book series, more ways to earn diamonds, or trying new genres.

While we’ve been growing, we’ve had a lot of different companies approach us about partnering. But we’ve wanted to make sure that if we did join with someone, it would be with a company who shared our long term vision for making Choices a long-lasting home for mobile fiction. We think we’ve found that partner. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be teaming up with Nexon.

They will provide us with additional resources to help us grow faster. Although not everyone is familiar with Nexon yet, we have a ton of fans of their game, MapleStory. In fact one of the things that really impressed us about Nexon is that MapleStory is still successful 12 years after it was launched in 2005. That’s also the same year in which our team launched our first story game, Surviving High School. We love that Nexon is serious about a long lasting approach to their games, and that they want to help us grow Choices into a long term app.

At the same time, Nexon realizes that no team has as much experience writing mobile story games as we do, so they will let us run independently and still be Pixelberry. We’ll be the same wacky, nerdy, and occasionally hip team, with the same writers, artists, engineers, QA, marketing, data, and player specialists, all making sure we continue to tell the stories of intriguing characters.

The biggest change from teaming up will be that we’ll have more resources to expand faster. And over time, we hope to leverage Nexon’s global experience to spread our games to more people around the world.

We hope you are as excited as we are to partner with a company that wants to help us grow for the long term.

The one other change we’d like to announce today is a new Pixelberry logo. It’s based off our old logo, but adds in some more Pixelberry personality. Sharp eyed players might have seen early versions of this on the Pixelbaby onesies we give out to the youngest members of our Pixelberry family.

With Nexon’s support, we look forward to giving out many more of these onesies far into the future.

With Pixelberry love,
Oliver
CEO, Pixelberry Studios

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Hollywood Insider: Robin Lord Taylor

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On this day in music history: June 27, 1966 - “Freak Out!”, the debut album by The Mothers Of Invention is released. Produced by Tom Wilson, it is recorded at Sunset-Highland Studios of TTG from March 9 - 12, 1966. Signed to MGM distributed Verve Records in early 1966 by producer/A&R man Tom Wilson (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Velvet Underground), Wilson signs the band believing them to be a white blues band akin to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, not realizing how musically varied and idiosyncratic they actually are. One of the first double LP sets ever by a rock band, the album is recorded in just four days worth of studio time. Clocking in at nearly sixty one minutes, the fourteen track two LP set is a concept album satirizing rock music and America. The entire fourth side of the album is taken up by the experimental and abstract “The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet (Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux)”. The twelve minute plus avant-garde instrumental featuring Dr. John on piano (credited under his real name Mac Rebennack). The track appears on the album in its unfinished state after the label cuts off the recording budget for the album after Zappa spends over $12,000 renting percussion instruments to use on the track. In all, producer Tom Wilson spends nearly $35,000 of MGM Records money by the time editing and mixing is completed. Before it’s released, label executives insist that two lines from the third movement of “Help, I’m A Rock” (“It Can’t Happen Here”) be removed, believing them to be references to drugs. Though a section of “Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet” with Zappa dropping the “F” bomb is left intact. The original mono and stereo releases of the album vary not only in their mixes but include edits that differ noticeably from each other. Original pressings also feature a map of Hollywood printed inside the LP gatefold titled “Freak Out Hot Spots!”, along with an offer to send in for a copy of the map. The map is removed from subsequent reissues, but reprinted as part of “The MOFO Project/Object” set in 2006, featuring the original stereo mix of the album, alternate takes, unused mixes and live recordings. It quickly establishes Frank Zappa’s reputation for the social commentary and satire that is constant throughout his career. “Freak Out!” peaks at number one hundred thirty on the Billboard Top 200, earning the band a loyal cult following. Going out of print in the early 70’s, Zappa is first reissues the album (after purchasing his master tapes back from Verve) in April of 1985 as part of a boxed set titled “The Old Masters - Box One”. The album is remastered and reissued in 2012, with a double 180 gram vinyl LP set following in 2013. “Freak Out!” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.