How Is the Indie Scene Embracing the Fighting Game Community?

Kah interviews The Mix founder Justin Woodward in this Spawn on Me EVO 2022 Special podcast transcript!

In this special EVO 2022 episode of Spawn On Me, host Kahlief Adams talks to The Mix founder Justin Woodward about their presence at this year’s tournament, how they’re helping to grow the indie fighting game scene, and how fans are finding great games through their work.

(You can also listen on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!)


Transcribed by E. Powers

Kahlief: What’s good, everybody? This is Kahlief here. We have a ton of interviews that’s coming your way from my time at EVO. We’ll put all of those together and put those out on the feed, and I’ll put together a conversation and a video about my full time at the show, blog style. We’ll have a whole bunch of B-roll, a whole bunch of things we got a chance to check out. But for both the audio feeds and our YouTube channel, I wanted to chunk those pieces out, put those individual interviews out, and give those for you to all kind of digest and pull in. They’re pretty short. We didn’t want to hold up everyone, ’cause they were all super busy. People were performing. People were competing. People were doing commentary.

But it was a blast to be able to go get all of this dope, dope footage and great conversations. And our first interview for all of our EVO content that we’ll be putting out on our feeds is with Justin Woodward from The Mix. He’s a fantastic brother. He’s been doing a lot of great work in the space for a long time, and it was really interesting to go see him at a fighting game convention, because The Mix does so much great stuff across the indie space. It was a place that I didn’t expect to go see him and the work that they had been doing over at The Mix. So we have a lot of cool stuff to talk about in that interview. I wanted to share that with you. Here we go.

Kahlief: What up, everybody? We’re here at EVO 2022. We’re here rocking with the man, the myth, the legend: Justin Woodward from The Mix. Fam, how you doing? How’s everything holding?

Justin Woodward: What is popping? [laughs]

Kahlief: You, fam! You! You popping! You popping, fam. Again, we’re at The Mix. Again, I think all the work that you’ve done in this space to kind of support indies and make sure that they have a real great presence in this space has been well known, but it’s really interesting to see you all here at a tournament and at a convention like EVO. How has that kind of changed the way you all thinking about supporting indies, especially in the fighting games space?

Justin Woodward: Well, we started in 2012 at EVO.

Kahlief: Oh.

Justin Woodward: So we’ve been working with the Cannons early on.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: Like, we met them at…not Battle by the Bay, but what was it? NorCal Regionals.

Kahlief: Oh, wow! Yeah.

Justin Woodward: So I met Seth Killian. I met Tom Cannon. We started chatting, and we’re like, “Hey, we have this game, Super Comboman. We want to show it.” We showed it, and we met a bunch of indies. It was just, you know, it was early on.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: I mean, a little further along in the whole prestigious EVO.

Kahlief: Yep.

Justin Woodward: But it was still early on, like in a ballroom.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: And so, from there, we said, “Hey, are you guys gonna do it again? Let’s do it again.” We did it again. Sean was there. A bunch of other indie developers were there. I started organizing more.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: And that’s was kind of the– right before that was the birth of The Mix itself, and it just was perfect, because just finding, like, people who love fighting games are very technical.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: They like hardcore game content, and they could like break the shit out of your game, right? You know what I mean?

Kahlief: [laughs] You’re right.

Justin Woodward: And they’re very enthusiastic about the experience that they’re having, and they’ll be very truthful about what it is. So we, you know, as indie developers, we bond. And the fighting game community, FGC, they bond together. It’s like a very unique culture, and I feel like indies fit within that culture very, very well. But the escalation from then and today, I mean, we were…every time we had a show, they’ve been very good to us for like letting us have space, giving us more resources, allowing the developers to go to finals and that type of thing. And since it was a little rocky early on with the transition with PlayStation, you know, purchasing and the acquisition and everything, but they were like, “Hey, we want you guys to do it again,” and we made it happen. So I’m really happy. It’s a great booth, and it’s been a great experience.

Kahlief: Yeah. We’re gonna be walking around in the booth to go check out more of the games. I see some stuff here that I’ve had a chance to play and some new stuff I haven’t had a chance to touch yet, but it’s also that level of this grassroots layer [Justin: “So much, yeah”] of the indie space and especially the fighting game community that’s really built himself up over the years. How has it been that have folks who are maybe not devs but are also, you know, fighting game curious and indie curious in that way, to kind of–

Justin Woodward: Indie curious.

Kahlief: Indie curious, ’cause–

Justin Woodward: I’m using that.

Kahlief: Yeah! Who are like, yo, what’s the stuff that they are kind of like coming to and checking out when they’re seeing the booth? Are you still finding that kind of synergy is happening there as well?

Justin Woodward: Oh, it’s so good. Like, you could even see it now, like they didn’t even…a lot of these folks didn’t even know this area existed, right?

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: And so they’re coming out of pools. Their significant others are with them. Their significant others maybe, you know, rooting them on, but also kind of bored in a sense.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: And we have like multi couch multiplayer games, so they’re like, “Oh, this is cool!” And then they’ll talk to the developer who they think is a representative of the game, but no, you’re talking to the guy [Kahlief: “Yeah”] who did the art or programmed the game.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: And they’re like, “Oh, you did this?” And so there’s a lot of great back and forth, asking questions about like how the things are made, how the sausage is made.

Kahlief: I mean, that’s the part that I love too, about not only just the indie space and, again, the stuff that you’ve been doing over the years and that your team has been doing with The Mix. It’s just been…it feels like you’ve been continuing to find great ways to give so many developers and so many folks who are first timers, veterans who have decided to kind of move back to the indie space, a place to kind of learn and hone their craft and build fantastic games for everybody else. Where’s The Mix at right now in its lifespan? Where do you feel like it’s kind of landed? Where do you feel like you’re– what’s the next thing on the horizon for y’all?

Justin Woodward: I think, well, this is the 10th year anniversary of The Mix.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: So we’ve been grinding for quite a while.

Kahlief: Congratulations.

Justin Woodward: We’ve been trying a lot of different things. I think this is kind of– this may sound corny as hell and cliché, [Kahlief laughs] but it feels like it’s only in the beginning.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: Like we’ve, you know, I’m helping to run the Black Game Developer Fund.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: We started Black Voices in Gaming.

Kahlief: Yeah.

Justin Woodward: We’ve expanded to doing more broadcasts– I mean, you know, the pandemic, we had to do broadcasts, and then as we get back into in-person events, we’re more well known by indies and also by potential sponsors and partners.

Kahlief: Yeah. Yeah.

Justin Woodward: So it’s…we’re just gonna keep growing.

Kahlief: I mean, and I have to thank you again, as always. You gave me my first big shot.

Justin Woodward: Dude, I–

Kahlief: To be able to do my first big hosting gig.

Justin Woodward: You’re amazing, yeah.

Kahlief: So again, it makes all of this even more special to see you kicking it 10 years with The Mix and it growing and seeing you here at EVO. Thank you, fam, for rocking with me here.

Justin Woodward: Thanks, bro.

Kahlief: Appreciate you always. Love you, fam.

Justin Woodward: Yeah.

Kahlief: Yo, much love to the fam at The Mix! We’ll be back with more dope stuff here at EVO 2022. Peace.