Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Some new games ? Champion

Only a day later than I promised, in game development terms that's still early.

The project we've been working on for Aardman digital for a while now has finally gone live. Hurray!

As a bit of history to our input, we produced 5 "grey box" prototypes for the 5 different games way back ( Before the World Cup, just to keep things topical ) and wrote up the GDD's for them, I think we had 7 days to knock them out, which was a bit of a squeeze, especially considering three of them needed box2D, which is never the most fun thing to use.

From there we picked up the "Chick 'n Spoon" and "Alien Athletics" games to build into alpha, and then a little while later took on "Baahmy Golf" ( Then called "Holing up" ).

As development progressed it became apparent that we just didn't have the time to make the 3 games, so with some reluctance we had to hand over a couple of our babies for adoption.

That left us with Alien Athletics. Want to see some in development shots ? Yeah, sure you do.



This was the first grey box build


The prototype build, with parallax and Sonic like curvy tiles


And this is what it grew up to be.

I think we could have stuck with my art, but there you go.

For those of you interested in the more techy side, the scroller worked like scaletrix, so it would pick a "Super tile" ( A 500px or so wide tile ) and then pick a connecting tile from random so in theory we'd have an infinite undulating background.
Unfortunately time didn't allow for the design of these tiles quite how we planned, so the same code is there, it just doesn't bother picking random tiles, just sequential ones.
As for slope running ( There are still some small slopes in there ) we used dirty old hitTest against a collision mask of the tile. Dirty, quick to implement and abusing the cpu slightly, but looks good and works, and that sometimes that is more than enough.

And I think that the only thing left for this post is to link to the game. It is a beautiful looking project, and I'm really proud to have been a part of it.

Play it play it play it.


PS. I'm sure there's more to share about this project, but I'm crunching like snow underfoot, so I'll probably pad this out over a couple more posts.


...does it only occur to me today that doing some sort of Flash advent calendar for the blog would be a good idea ?

I'll try and plan ahead for next year.

Sorry we've been so quiet recently, so much stuff going on. Word is a big project is going live possibly tomorrow, so expect the usual pimping ( To make up for our silence maybe a mini making of may be interesting, well, more interesting than a "Play this game please, we made it" post ).

Here's a picture of some rain that was just added to Knights Quest today, we call it "Blog filler in the absence of a proper post". Enjoy.



We're not dead ...

... just so snowed under client work that there's hardly room to breathe (or to sleep while we're at it).

So just to show that this place isn't a deserted place on the web here's a tiny text only post.

Oh. And "The Hellstrom Project" is on twitter now (and whenever there is a hint of free time I'm working at it) if you like you can follow it here:

And now, more amends ...


Say "Hi" everybody ...

Small picture post this time.

This is "Danielle" (or what she looks like atm) for the RPG'ish game I'm working on in Unity. The project isn't quite showable atm, but I promise to upload something when there is more to see (like having Danielle walking around).

She'll def get a visual overhaul for the game (and this model will be used as "Generic Femal Player") as the "real" Danielle will get a lot more "pirate" to her outfit. (The other two playable characters will be quite different, but more on that ... later)

She's modeled from a foto reference with a good set of idealizing the model and she'll need some optimizing as the whole model is using 3.6k triangles atm, though she can be reduced safely to about 2k polys.

So long and back to Unity, nGFX

Let's start all over again - or "how to handle all that weight"

Ok, the last bit of the headline was a cleverly placed quote from someone who took Mass Effect 2 way to serious, but hey it still fits.

Our little toy based Unity game has made some nice progress over the last few weeks (with just a few scattered coding session inbetween all the other  stuff that needed to be done). I'd go as far and say it is just a few 100 lines away from becoming gold (yep, in more than one way hopefully).


So the the release date is coming closer - at least that is what I thought till Friday...

And now the pretty headline kicks in. Why on earth do I want to start all over? The reason (and once I learned to handle all that weight) is quite simple:
It's a grown game, it started off easy, but then lingered it's way through some fails (talk Unity animation system and events) and a "second" floor and ended in the tab system that should showed informations as well as the ingame help.

There was quite a loud "damn fucking shit" from my side when it finally dawned on me that Unity's UI system (which, honestly is dog shit) does only handle click events and is missing the "over, out, down and up" states I've came to expect from flash. So my idea of using a rollover event on the tabs to focus the camera on an object failed badly. Before I even started to code it (the idea was to show each moving toy as a tab, then if you move the mouse over it's tab the camera would zoom in on the toy to show it in closeup - pointless but neat), plus from time to time help tabs should be added that can be ignored or read. Oh, and while I'm at it, hints to be shown on rollover for the built in level editor became quite impossible too.

Next point on the list of "things not easy to add" was "scaleability", read new decorational elements, backdrops and styles that could be bought by players so that we can earn a quid (to pay the servers for instance).

A few hours later, with a few sheets of paper used as external memory, I swallowed the bitter pill and decided to start all over again. Starting with a new map system, new "landscape" features, a more flexible decoration system, the level editor (and a way to save these levels on our severs), deciding an a service for micro transactions and, and, and ...
The tiny little game grew up, causing a lot more thought and work then I ... thought ...

Either I start again, or drop it, but I do believe that (oh did I mention I'm doing an overhaul of the visuals?) it might get some fans playing it on Facebook or through our website ...

And now: Day 1 of the development diary (oh come on, I doubt I'll ever be able to write about it every time I code on it. Just that much: next time I think I'll have a quick look at MT systems for Unity right now I'm looking into UnityTokens and Dimerocker (and if you know some else don't hesitate to post a comment).


Well I'll be damned

Just a quick picture post, showing the title screen of my first personal game this year. Should be finished in a couple of days.


It's not an overly creative gameplay, but for the sake of it I wrote a minimalistic particle thingy that really makes it a glittering experience to play. Once I've got the sound in it should at least score in the mood department.


Saved from the fire

I was just chatting to a mate, and "The Game of Life" came up. Not the official one, but the copyright name infringing version we did ( I've obviously held onto the email where the client said we should use that name and that they were fine with it. I don't know if that will stop me from ending up in prison and being a bad mans boyfriend, but I'm hoping so ).

As I was digging out the link to show him I was really disappointed to find that tak are no more. I've worked with Dom on quite a few pitches, and of course GOL, and it's a real shame to see an agency that always produced great work having / choosing to close it's doors.
I consider him a mate and would work with him tomorrow, so we just want to wish everyone there luck with their future endeavors.

Obviously this blog wouldn't be this blog without a healthy streak of self interest. There are two versions of GOL, one is the final one the client got, and one is the version without all the last minute dog shit branding that we were forced to put in that made a lot of hard work look just dreadful.
We really don't know if the client version ever saw the light of day. It was one of those "We need it now!" projects that then gets sat on for months. As far as we know it was just going to be an internal release for employees only. About 10 people may have played it, we really don't know.
The good version, where we didn't have to rip out a lot of the surrounding graphics and resize it and drop a huge ugly gif banner in, was only hosted by Tak ( This is where the self interest comes into it ).

Luckily I kept a copy of the pre-de-flowered version, and we're hosting it ourselves now.

Long old story about nothing really there, I could just have easily tweeted a link.

Speak of which, Game Of Life.


The Essential Guide to Flash Games: Conspiracy?

We've been very lucky in receiving a copy of "The Essential Guide to Flash Games" to review. Whilst preparing the review we've uncovered something quite startling, almost sinister, which we need to share.

Chapter 11, "Creating an Optimized Post-Retro Game" features a game called "Blaster Mines", here's what it looks like,


Notice the liberal use of that strange looking symbol. This is where it gets weird, we checked out a random sample of games, just plucked them out of the air, and found the following.


From top left to bottom right, Adventurous Eric, Gone to the Dogs, Dream Racer 2, Billiard Blitz 3 - Nine Ball, Ionic, Quartet, Space Chaos, Ununicum, Star Fish, K-Million, Rowowor and Traffic Madness:Desktop Edition.

What does this all mean ? We believe that the 8BitRocket boys, authors of the "The Essential Guide to Flash Games", secretly run the entire Flash game scene, that their reach goes everywhere.

Want further proof ?


What kind of sick twisted mind would include us as a reference to "Other Great Web Resources" ? Clear proof they're just toying with us.

Somehow, Jeff & Steve have managed to put together a six hundred plus page definitive guide to Flash game development, a truly essential guide to modern game development in Flash which covers everything from blitting to using Mochi services, and yet at the same time have managed to take over the web.

Just by exposing this I'm in fear. If I should be discovered dead in a cupboard with a belt around my neck and my pants around my ankles, more than likely coated in semen and maybe wearing make up, you know they've got to me. That could be the only explanation.

The only way to stop this spreading further is to buy their book. Buy their book.


All new and shiny ...

Two and a half busy days have passed since I finally got into gear and did a reskin of our blog (ok and an upgrade of the blog software). The idea has been there for quite a while now (I guess the first test rendering of the header image dates back to February).

I really wanted to do this post yesterday, but there has been some trouble with uploads that needed to be fixed before (and it seemed that 2 javascripts have been placed in the wrong directory).

Now say hello to our new appearance and while you're at it spread the word and if you're a true fan download the wallpaper :)

Just click on the image for the 1280x1024 version, oh and please remind me to do other resolutions, too (I need one at 1920x1200 and a 1680x1050 one, so if you like something else, just post a comment.


What smells of lamb and loves pizza ?

We're having multiples here. Multiple reasons to be happy that is.

Most of them are to do with the World Cup, but here's one which isn't. Our first game for the very lovely people at Aardman went live mere hours ago.

Shaun's Big Lunch


It's a reskin of sorts of PhotonStorms' Quartet game. I'm really pleased with how it turned out especially due to a pretty aggressive time scale and it being our first live project with Aardman. There are usually workflow issues when working with new teams for the first time, but this was silky smooth, great work from all those guys there, and the assets are as good as you'd expect, just stunning and a joy to work with.

And isn't it nice to actually release a game rather than just talking about it. I'm hoping this is going to be the start of a fairly steady stream of new releases which we've got penciled in, next up should be Destroy More Cars, then Game'88, our swanky new Facebook game and then a couple more secret ones, not to mention a little something in Unity at last.

It's nice to have the next couple of months planned out, it really helps give us some focus and direction. Now enough from me, go and eat, eat like you've never eaten before.