Thursday, 25 September 2014

Post-AMAZE daze


So I've been away for quite some time now. Not only online but for many of you in real life too! Here's what happened:

Jan-March 2014: Finally back on my feet! Use all spare time working on 6X Mass Production, with a full work day this was essentially a crunch mode for me time-wise

April 2014: Exhausted but finally feel confident to demo to the local community, get some great feedback and am buzzed by the whole experience! Get contacted about freelance work I could do on the side, sounds like a great opportunity!

**I would like to invite the reader to fire up this video of sad violin music while you read the next few paragraphs**

April - July 2014: Day-job work goes balls to the wall. Two major projects' deadlines collided at the same time and already pretty tired from my personal project we go into a month long crunch, which set us back on the next deadline and put us into another month long crunch, we made it through alright but this was followed by another deadline push, which given our energy levels was effectively another crunch (... and I wish I was joking)

August 2014: End up more exhausted and drained than I could ever imagine. That side contract went through a lot of initial planning but had to pull out just before I signed anything (fortunately. Going through with it would have been a big mistake, but it was still an uncomfortable situation I found myself in :/ ). Work finally eases up to a mild panic, back to 8 hour days at least! Even so, my health and many personal relationships had taken a massive strain, and I suppose it's a testament to how strong those bonds are that they didn't break during that time (I'm truly sorry about that, hope that I'll be able to make it up to you all <3 ).

September 2014: Slightly recovered, I go to the A MAZE festival...

And that's sort of were the story ends. Or rather, a new one begins. I have so many words to say about my experience at A MAZE I don't know where to start. A MAZE is a festival of games and playful media and some truly wonderful people were there, all just loving games and play in general.

Before this trip, I wasn't entirely sure making games was for me anymore, in my exhaustion that passion in me had been suffocated somewhere and I felt like I was weaving my craft with the weakest of threads, the most misshapen of needles, and a brain too numb to realise that I didn't even need those things to start with. I over-express it a touch, but it was pretty ugly thought to have hovering in my head. And I know that I probably haven't had it even that bad, I'm a very lucky person to be where I am. But that's what it's like being in a rut, you feel hard done by, which only makes things worse...

**if you decided to play the violin music, you may pause it now**

That's thankfully changed now. I got to meet my idols, and idols I didn't know I had. The sheer passion of people around me shook me out of my rut and I'm excited to make games again. I want to see people smile and laugh and be a part of creating those experiences.

It's been a tough year for me but I'm glad I'm seeing the back of it now. Thinking now it's not been such a bad year game-wise, I made these after all!

I'm excited to make games again. So to cap off this blog, here are an couple that I'm making now or want to make as a result of A MAZE:

I saw my people

A game about cultural exchange, think Eufloria for the aeshtetics and the difficulty of cultural interactions and integration for the theme. Central experiences just how draining and difficult it can be when integrating into a new culture, overcoming that challenge and the new challenges that arise when you return to the people you left, who you may not get on with anymore! We have NO idea what to do for mechanics besides but we are figuring this out as we prototype along and as we learn more about the topic. The idea belongs to @damousey and I tried to do it justice with a prototype... not that either of us really know how to pull this off, but this was a first stab

Try it out here, it's not much but any ideas are welcome!

Kick In The Door - The Actual Edition

Kick in the door was originally designed as a 3 player game (with @CoolYourJets_SA), each player having one button to 'kick'. We had foot pedals for buttons but this edition will basically add an actual physical door with 3 large buttons which the player needs to actually physically kick to “press”. Kick in the door was already quite fun with foot pedals for buttons, but I’m keen to see people destroy a real life door playing this game… so yeah I expect I’ll be building more than one of these controllers...

Tried to get a webplayer build working, I failed... miserably, so check out the showreel vid of it (at 2:33s)


This game I actually made at AMAZE with two awesome Fins (@KissaKolme and @jukiokallio) We made it in about 3 hours it had a game breaking jam bug so we couldn't show it at the festival. The game is a 2 player competitive pole climbing simulator.

Check it out here. Needs two XBOX controllers (controls are left/right bumpers to grab, analog sticks to move hands) ... also I've not actually been able to play test this since getting back from AMAZE so lemme know what you think (and if it works properly)

Burning Alien VR

A game we made in 3 hours for the Oculus workshop at A MAZE (with @CoolYourJets_SA) that we couldn’t actually test because the Oculus just wouldn’t work on my laptop *sadface* You ride on an alien dinosaur and wonder around looking at various random crystals, pillars and whatever else our modeler had time to make. The Oculus interaction is different from usual because it takes the head direction to be the direction of travel, rather than the controller direction (similar to XTODIE: Rangnerok - an awesome game that was shown at AMAZE - check it out!) the difference being that turning your head turns your dino's direction slowly, which *should* feel like a natural experience but I don’t know since we never got time to actually test it. Anyway thought the idea was fun ^_^

Bite-based game

I don't know what, and I don't know how, but I want to make a game that involves a controller you have to bite on to win. Besides the obvious hygiene issues with sharing such a controller between people I think it would be an interesting thing to try out. Seems natural to make it a zombie game where you play the zombie.

6X Mass Production

Ok this game has existed way before AMAZE, but being there has given me the push I needed to actually get this on the road again, I started this project almost 18 months ago on and off in my spare time, about 6 months ago I decided to take it beyond a prototype and show it to my local community. They loved it (or at least liked it) and I got a hell of a lot of good feedback and a very clear picture of where to take it mechanically. You read my sob story above about loosing my passion a bit but it is back and I’m keen to sink some proper time into this (but without killing myself this time). I’m making plans so if you like puzzle games like I do, keep an eye out ‘cause this is gonna be fucking awesome and I’m gonna do what I can to make it a reality.

... err the current version is undergoing a massive rewrite and is not playable at the moment, really wanting to get that running asap, but in the meantime check the showreel video for an idea of the game (at 1:05s)