How to use airtable to develop a video game
In our last post in our BuiltOnAir Winter Series, we go back to St. Louis, Missouri and visit with Sam Coster, an indie game maker and co-founder of Butterscotch Shenanigans. Sam and his two brothers, Seth and Adam, own Butterscotch Shenanigans together. Through their brotherly love, they successfully run their independent video game store together.
The three brothers didn’t originally plan on getting into the gaming industry. Growing up screen time was limited using a good old fashioned egg timer. Sam has a degree in Psychology, Adam has a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and Seth obtained his MBA in Law School and is a certified financial analyst. While the brothers all wear multiple hats, in Sam’s day-to-day, he focuses on a combination of art, design, and marketing. He creates and updates pictures for their games, creates monsters, and designs levels and content.
Before Butterscotch Shenanigans opened,Sam and his brother Seth worked on an event called GameJam where they demoed a game they had created in St. Louis. The fun they had creating the game and the feedback they received from the crowd gave them the push to switch industries and enter the gaming world. They were both hired on at a company called the Parking Lot and worked for about 6-7 months building up their skills and then moved on to open Butterscotch Shenanigans. They developed 2 games in their first 6 months which earned mixed reviews. Their third game, CrashLands, launched in 2016 and preformed extremely well, even earning a few awards. Since then, the three brothers have been working to develop games and figure out how to run a successful business.
Their newest game release coming out is called Levelhead. It is a platform maker style game that allows users to create their own levels and share them with friends and players around the world. The game is about a delivery robot that you train up and deliver packages across the galaxy. They specifically love the concept of this game the most because it is what got them into loving games as well. You can play Levelhead available on Steam.
Sam and his brothers discovered airtable while they were conducting a tool sweep on their own business. During a tool sweep, they like to take a step back and see which products they are using, their purpose, if they are working they way they want them to, and they look for new tools that they can add to their arsenal. Through this process, they discovered airtable which they quickly realized was a tool they loved. They first used it as a contact management system as well as to organize information. They were able to track business contacts, articles written by certain journalists, and much more. Now, they use airtable mainly for tracking the content of design for the games they are developing. Airtable helps them plan out the game and all the components that go into it in a way that would make sense to the players. It works great for creating the foundational work before getting started creating the game.
Levelhead Campaign Levels Base:
- Two Tables, Levels & Badges
- The Levels are laid out in linear order and each level is introducing a new piece of content.
- Includes an option to choose a level type, zone, music playlist, when to unlock content and much more.
- The Badges table tracks what content will be unlocked when players reach certain levels.
- Personal base created by Sam after he purchased an item they already own.
- Decided to use Airtable to create a warehouse inventory
- Two tables, Basement and Upstairs
- Shows item, location, picture, and notes on each item
- Integrates a form and uses his phone to access this base and update the inventory
Play Levelhead on Steam
Sam and his brothers all use airtable for different reasons for their business but they can all agree that the functionality of the tool is like none other. The more they use and learn airtable, they are seeing more and more ways to incorporate it into their daily lives. We love seeing creative ways users are manipulating the powerful tool to work for their needs.
Here’s the video of the original podcast, including more of Sam’s story, and the live walkthrough of the bases described above: