Afraid of my own shadow

The other day I did something brave/stupid/insane/awesome/terrible/insertadjectivehere. I quit my job.

I’m still working as I have a contractual 3 month ‘lame duck’ period, which means by the new year I’ll be fully independent… and that scares the mother loving fuck out of me.

I’ve saved all my spare money for the past two years working at my day job, and I estimate I can survive for about a year on the savings, taking into account I might have to invest money on some things like possible trips to things like GDC and hopefully I’ll get a chance to go to the next TigJamUK! Also I really need a laptop. I get small amounts of income from my iOS game Hyper Snake, but it doesn’t put much of a dent into my rent payments.

So I’m still mixed up in how I feel about this, if I succeed in my adventure I’ll be living a dream, if I fail… Then everything I thought I could achieve falls through, and my dream becomes an unobtainable fantasy. This is why I am most afraid, I’m afraid of failing.

I’m a bit of a pessimist, so I tend to focus on the negatives. The positive side of this is that I’ll be able to focus entirely on Chroma, meaning I can hopefully make it a great game, and if I can pull my shit together and worry less, I’ll have the best time making it.

In other news, I’ve submitted Chroma to the IGF. Fingers crossed that it gets some coverage as a result, we’ll see. Again, pessimistic. People who’ve seen it lately or have been following development have been super supportive and wished me luck, and I appreciate that to a phenomenal degree – really inspires me to do the best I can and helps me push past some of the rough bits.

Just thought I’d write something to vent my thoughts at this strange time in my life.

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Duality

Duality – the state or quality of being two or in two parts.

Thought I’d write a little something to

A) Throw up some updates on Chroma, how it’s coming along and what kind of role it’s taking in my life
B) Note some of the themes of the game and some random design facts I will be applying
C) MISCELLANEOUS BRAIN FARTING

So I have now been off work (the day job) on holiday (making games) for one week, and I can safely say when the second week is over and I have to go back I will be a sad panda. It’s been good, and I’ve made a lot of progress so far – fingers crossed for more. It’s been a bit of a battle, because a lot of the stuff I’ve been doing has been pretty nasty and/or complex to code so I had to push through some walls to get stuff done, not much fun design stuff happening. I wish I could have got more done so far but I underestimate how long things will take and give myself a hard time when I’m being slow or lazy.

Anyway, I have now got a FULL intro working to the point where you get your power and the game gets going. It isn’t totally finished yet, there’s a bit in the middle that I think will be pretty rad but also a total bitch to code so at the moment it’s half there… TODO.

The picture above (which is 1920×1200 if anyone deems it worthy of a place on a desktop) shows part of the intro phase, loss of character only occurs for a very small amount of time for ‘cut scene-ness’ but I’ll get to that in a second. The picture portrays a key theme the game will have, light and shadow, yin and yang, 2 parts of the same entity in harmony, working together to overcome obstacles. The game is inherently dark, in lighting and in tone (if that actually makes sense), it’s pretty much a metaphor of itself.

Here’s a few key design things the game will follow:

No Music
Lot’s of sound from different objects in the world and ambient noise, but no music.

No Text
Pet peeve – text in games. If I wanted to read a story I’d buy a book, I want to play a game; a game is the BEST medium to tell a story through – there’s no need for streams of writing to deliver chunks of story. There’s a really cool sense of mystery and imagination in older games like Sonic on the genesis/megadrive where you knew the jist of what was going on and then you filled in the blanks with your imagination – now THAT was cool. I might take this no text thing a step further (maybe too far) in not having any text in game at all – no title, no options text (if I can pull that off) just imagery and intuition. The title is just a handle so it can be found outside of the game, within the confines of the game it’s not really relevant.

Let me play, please
I’m not a fan of cut scenes. I don’t like losing control of the character, which is why I’m keeping that to an absolute minimum. So far, I think you lose control for around a maximum of 10 seconds, and it won’t be too much more in the full game hopefully – just on specific collection points.

Anyway there’s a wall of text and a half, hope some of that was interesting to someone. Even if not at least I vomited some thoughts out of my brain so I can re-read it later and check whether I’m sane.

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Telepaint OSX

What a battle. Almost threw my Mac out of a window several times because it decided to be very temperamental about building, failing at random parts sometimes for obscure reasons. I couldn’t get the feature of changing screen resolutions in properly – specifically flipping from full screen to windowed, but I don’t have the time (or patience) to keep debugging it at the moment so here it is!

Download from the Telepaint page: here

Hope you Mac owners enjoy! :)

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Stuff and things.

Today is 5 days since I released Telepaint and it’s just passed 1000 downloads which is pretty cool – thanks to everyone that’s played. It’s strange how it’s difficult to even market a free game; I sent off a few emails to some sites (indiegames.com, IGM.com etc ) and some of them covered it which I’m really thankful for – there’s no point making games if no one knows they exist and so no one plays them!

If anyone reads this and has feedback about that game, I’d love to hear it. People tell me about bugs or that they liked it, but I’ve not had much critical feedback. I’ve had a few suggestions from some people and on the indiegames.com article which is cool and gave me something to think about – good ideas too.

Aside from this, back to work on Chroma after fixing bugs in the game engine whilst working on Telepaint which is cool. Experimenting with some things at the moment but I need to get cracking – damn day job gets in the way of game development which makes me a sad panda. IGF deadline is looming and I hope to enter Chroma, IF I can get the starting area into a decent state; it will be a massive challenge, but no doubt a rewarding one. Booked 2 weeks off work to go all out on it which starts in ~3 weeks.

Summary: I’m back working on Chroma and if you have comments about Telepaint or anything please get in touch. Cheers!

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TELEPAINT

So I just released a small game, Telepaint for Windows (working on the OSX version now) which you can download and play from HERE.

The game was originally made in a weekend for the Manchester Maker Faire, where we used 6 GIANT buttons for the controls. Since then, I’d been meaning to add a few more levels, tidy some stuff and release it as a small free game adjusted for keyboard use rather than stamping on giant buttons. However, my engine was subject to some bugs which caused it to not render on slightly older cards, but recently I fixed that (good news for Chroma there too!) and now the games out to play! :)

It’s a short puzzle/action game, try it out and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

In other news, LUDUM DARE IS TOMORROW! That came round fast, excitement is me. Off to the Manchester Game Jam once again, fun shall be had (as well as shit loads of red bull) and need to get my laptop set up for developing on again, not used my Mac in aaaaggges; but when it’s set up and running my code I can also build Telepaint (and Chroma) on Mac!

What a busy and productive week it’s been.

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lolflash

So I did a shit load of work on Chroma then for funsies I downloaded flashdevelop and flashpunk and gave it a whirl.

I’ve always wanted to give flash a go since all the cool kids seem to use it, and I want to have something fast, easy and portable to use for jamming. So I made a quick game while learning stuff – lonely man’s pong (1 player).

Space/r to reset, WASD/arrows to move.

First Ever Flash Game

Flash is pretty easy going, nice change for a bit of fun.

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In the Wake of the Snake

So I recently made my first commercial game Hyper Snake on iOS free for 48 hours. It was unranked anywhere because apple decided to take a big shit on me that day but still, totally not bitter. Here are some post sale figures.

During the sale I got a total of >58k free downloads. About 32k people are currently on the leader boards, so some of the downloaders either haven’t played it still after downloading, are only playing it offline, or instantly deleted it without playing online.

Post-sale, here are the stats:

Initial jump up was nice, expected a jump from publicity. After that it tailed off (as expected) then suddenly I got reviewed by a Russian site (iphones.ru) and for a few days Russia was my favourite country. The game got up to the top 100 paid apps which was cool to see. These figures started to fall again and now I’m not really making any waves on rankings any more but that’s fine. The whole point of the sale was to increase visibility and get people passing along recommendations for it through word of mouth (if they enjoyed it of course!).

It’s been fun to see all this happening and still blows my mind to think thousands of people have played a game I made, I like that a lot. If the game brings me in a but of cash each month that’d be great but I’m not expecting much. For what has been basically, a big learning exercise, I’m pretty happy with how everything’s turned out. A bonus of all of this was that the game has returned 90% positive feedback which I’m really happy with. Average ratings across the board are around 4.5/5 stars.

So making it free for 48 hours got me an influx of players, a little bit more cash in the end, and a lot more visibility. My sales before this event were around 3 a week, so it was totally worth it. If you’re in a similar situation, I’d recommend giving it a go. Just make sure to send out press releases and try and get it organised in advance to maximise the waves you make as you make the dive.

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Level Ed #screenshotsaturday

A shot from my level editor. The editor is completely obscure and unintuitive, every key is macroed to something, sometimes even I forget what stuff does. But it does the job.

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Cards with my name on

So I’ve always wanted to get my own ‘business cards’, some colourful shiz with my name on seemed appealing to me – so I bought some! Using the excuse of having the GameDevNorth meet coming up soon plus usual pub shenanigans with the MCR Indies and another MCRGameJam just around the corner. Seemed like a good time to get involved.

Got them from moo (uk.moo.com), the minicard type. Decent quality, got the chance to be artsy-farsty designing them which was fun.

FEAST YOUR EYES MAN:

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Chroma Video 2

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