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Interview #007: Tom Eastman - Trinket Studios

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

Calling all chefs! I sat down with Trinket Studio's co-founder and president, Tom Eastman, to discuss his passion in gaming, formation of Trinket Studios, Battle Chef Brigade, and more.

Thank you Tom for taking the time to speak with me. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure thing! I've always wanted to be a game developer and basically seized every passing opportunity that seemed to be going in that direction. I'm a programmer by schooling, but Trinket has forced/encouraged me to grow into all sorts of other areas.

What was the first game/console you ever played?

I started with lots of bad DOS games and eventually Warcraft 2. Between Blizzard games and a couple iterations of Game Boy, I played a lot of different kinds of games. The first Warcraft is probably most responsible for me wanting to become a game developer.

What is your fondest video game memory growing up?

Playing Halo over a LAN throughout high school was a core experience for me. Games are almost always social in some way, but those parties really embodied that.

Prior to forming Trinket Studios, you were a Software Engineer for The Walt Disney Company. During your time there, what were some of the projects you worked on?

I worked on Texas Cheat 'Em, Guilty Party, and Avengers Initiative: Hulk. More importantly, we made a ton of prototypes that never made it into players' hands.

Shortly after leaving The Walt Disney Company, you co-formed Trinket Studios with two other fellow colleagues, Eric Huang and Ben Perez. What inspired you three to join forces to create your own company? At a core level, we felt that we could make fun games. We had the technical and artistic skills to make games, but we felt creatively restrained working at Disney.

What are some of the rewarding aspects and challenges of running your own video game company?

Responsibility is double-edged. It's great having control, but it also means that we have to tackle things that aren't enjoyable at all, like taxes! I do really enjoy being involved in many different things each day instead of being limited to just one task or goal.

Before we discuss Battle Chef Brigade, there were two other mobile titles that Trinket Studios developed: Color Sheep and Orion's Forge. Would you mind sharing how these games came to fruition?

Coming out of Disney, we wanted to quickly get our creative and design juices flowing. Making two mobile games was the perfect way to experiment and gel as a team. I think most game developers have a backlog of ideas sitting around, and those two games evolved from there.

With Color Sheep receiving recognition in major publications and Orion's Forge being featured in the Pax East Indie Showcase 2013, there appears to be a formula working for your releases. How does it feel to know your work is being received so favorably?

I think all that marketing and PR success can be attributed to Eric's phenomenal art. He does a great job with characters, color, and quality.

Let's talk about Battle Chef Brigade. On September 24, 2014, the Kickstarter campaign opened up with a goal of $38,000. The campaign finished at $100,344 and was a Kickstarter Staff Pick! Needless to say, it was a rousing success, but why go this route?

We'd basically run out of money and we didn't think BCB was far enough along to approach publishers. Kickstarter is also a great way to build awareness, so it was a great decision back then, despite being a ton of work.

Battle Chef Brigade was finally released on November 17, 2017 to Steam and Switch. How did it feel to see your title available on two giant platforms?

It felt great! We were especially pleased to be able to pivot in 2017 to target the new Switch. BCB looks and runs great on that beautiful screen.

What would you say to someone who has yet to experience this side scrolling, monster hunting and cooking competition title?

Give it a taste! It can be hard to explain hybrid genre games to players, but we love that moment when players run from the kitchen into the backyard and suddenly realize that they need to hunt their ingredients.

As a physical Switch collector, I have to ask - any plans for a physical?

We're still working on that! We sure hope to :)

What can your followers expect to see from Trinket Studios next?

We've got a lot of team meetings before we can answer that. We're just as curious as you!

Wrapping up, what games are you currently playing and looking forward to?

I've mostly been playing unreleased games from developer friends lately, in order to give feedback. I'm tempted to give Destiny a try, though, given my Halo history. We'll see!

Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share?

Viva la Brigade!

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