When I heard word that Phil Hassey (the creator of Galcon) was planning a crazy houseboat trip to a giant lake in the middle of the desert for indie game developers, it didn’t take me too long to decide that I wanted to be a part of it! Continue reading
It’s time for my year end summary! Yeah, I know we’re half way through February but what can I say? I guess I haven’t been doing a great job at keeping folks up to date on what I’ve been working on. I am aiming to get back on the blogging horse (is that a thing?) in 2013, but I better start off with reviewing what has transpired already: Continue reading
I recently got my banjo repaired and have been playing it again. I had taken a break of about 8 months from playing it though and it is interesting how much music has sort of queued up in me that is now trying to escape. I’m back to playing with a bunch of regular folks around my area which has been fun as well as learning a whole bunch of new tunes. I play claw hammer style banjo primarily because I love the kinetic feel, control, and tempo you can achieve.
Continuing with my recent drawing streak I decided to pay tribute to my love of banjo by setting up a nice still life in my family room with my banjo and case. I drew for two hours and captured a screenshot automatically every 5 seconds to create a time lapse video. The music playing with the video is an old classic piece called Arkansas Traveler. Enjoy!
Sitting here on the first day of 2011 I found it rewarding to revisit what I was able to accomplish this past year. A year is such a long time that I often forget all the projects that I’ve worked on. As the year winds down I tend to find myself wishing that I had managed to finish more games so I was happy to discover that I had published more titles than I thought!
Robot Reaction was one of my Flash games from 2009 that I completely rewrote to work with the Flash CS5 Beta program. I was able to use the iPhone Packager for CS5 to get my first game into the Apple App Store. It was a great learning experience in old school optimization techniques like bitmap blitting as well as a sobering business look at how hard it can be to make any money in the App Store vs the Flash business space I was familiar with.
While I was out at the Flash Gaming Summit and the Game Developers Conference I got to meet up with the fine folks over at the Kongregate office in San Francisco to hatch out plans for an advergame for Cheetos and Frito Lay. It was my first foray into contract advergame work and I had a great time working to create this game. It was based off of my Orange You Glad game that people at Cheetos had spotted over on Kongregate and wanted me to create a custom version with the Cheetos theme.
Feeling a lot of inspiration after my return from the Indie Gaming Summit at the Game Developers Conference I wanted to get more involved in some of the online game competitions that were run monthly over at the Experimental Gameplay Project. Contentric was created in a week for the EGP theme of You Only Have 10 Seconds and I was quite happy with the result. I was even more pleased when Armor Games decided to sponsor it!
Next on my hit list was the desire to finally participate in one of the competitions over at the TIGSource forums. There was a new month long competition being run with the theme of A Game By It’s Cover that had a fascinating concept to me. We were to pick a fake game cartridge whose art inspired us to think up an actual game based on the fake art. For The Twin was what I managed to come up with by using this case art. Besides creating a lot of creepy cute art and backgrounds for the game I also composed seven faux chiptune loops in Reason for the game that came out quite well. The game ended up being sponsored by Spil Games and was played over one million times in the first month alone–a new milestone for me!
The last game I published in 2010 was initially created for the 18th Ludum Dare 48hr game competition theme of Enemies as Weapons and polished up for the Experimental Gameplay Project theme of Zero Buttons. I went with a retro look and classic arcade gameplay for this challenging avoider collector mouse skills game. I then spent the month of October working on a final version of the game for the Ludum Dare October Challenge to sell a game in a month. Newgrounds ended up sponsoring AVOIDAL and I got to create a bunch of medal achievements that were pretty fun to try and win.
I also found it insightful to take a look at all the games I worked on yet did not manage to publish for one reason or another. Many of these games are still on my todo list for 2011 and will see the light of day eventually. Digging through my directories I discovered that I had worked on a total of 12 games this year while only publishing 5. I’m not sure if that is good or bad but it is worth keeping on eye on since I do believe in trying to finish games in order to get the most experience and value from them.
I had attempted to learn an early version of Flash Punk and I found it to be a really great Flash game framework. My efforts stalled out though with this untitled retro dodge game and I still have to learn the newest version.
I made a game in two hours for one of the crazy Glorious Trainwrecks Klik of the Month Klub #35 events called Wizards vs Ghosts which I find amusing. Creating a game in only two hours is truly mind breaking!
I”m still actively working on a final expanded version of my 2009 Ludum Dare game called Angry Caverns and a 2009 Ludum Dare game called Fleedom. I’m still developing a pixel art arcade game called Bomb Diver as well as collaborating with another game designer/artist on a ridiculous game about pooping pigeons and bicycles.
A few of the random things I am happy about from 2010 include finally getting to go to my first Game Developers Conference as well as attending the Flash Gaming Summit the Sunday before GDC. It was a truly inspiring week spent in San Francisco and I met so many awesome game developers and Flash publishers. I am really looking forward to returning again this year.
Another great milestone was getting a New Hampshire LLC for Hybrid Mind Studios so it is all official and everything.
On the competition side of things I managed to host my first Mini Ludum Dare event around the theme of Constraints which I felt had a great turnout of submitted games and was fairly well received by the community. My game Alien Flight Academy – Graduation Day was the result of that competition. A bizarre experiment in alternate keyboard controls.
As I mentioned previously I finally had a Flash game break the one million views mark. It was a simple milestone I had looked forward to finally achieving. 2010 marks my second full year releasing Flash games and it is so amazing to look back at my first Flash game TurnStyle which was released in Feb of 2009 and only ever got about 150k plays total and compare that to my more recent games that reach millions. That fact just continues to floor me. I never dreamed that I might be able to reach such a large audience with my games, art, and music! The Flash game space offers game designers an amazing distribution opportunity that I find very inspiring, humbling, and flattering all at the same time. I look forward to trying to reach more and more people as I improve my craft.
Determined to get more involved in the local game development community around Boston I started attending monthly Boston Indies meetups and the local Boston Game Loop conference. I even started up a weekly game development co-work meetup down in Cambridge, MA at Sprout for three months to help myself meet other area game developers. It’s been great getting to know so many fine people in my neck of the woods.
Along the same lines as getting involved more locally–near the end of 2010 I had the good opportunity to take part in my first team game jam too! I was at a Boston Game Jam event called Lunar Jam and I helped out primarily as the artist doing many black and white illustrations for a choose your own adventure type visual novel game called Perchance to Dream that is still in development.
I’ve managed to work with great portals like Armor Games, Big Fish Games, Newgrounds, Kongregate, King, Spil, Addicting Games and many others. Each new relationship I establish helps me to feel more comfortable that I’ll be able to continue doing independent game development full time–my childhood dream!
Looking at what I have planned for 2011 is pretty exciting to me. There are many games I’ve been working on that are nearing completion that I can’t wait to publish to see what the players think. I also want to collaborate more with other game designers, artists, musicians, and programmers. I plan to keep attending conferences like the Flash Gaming Summit and the Game Developers Conference as well as other regional and local events. I hope to keep learning new technologies, skills, and game design techniques. I look forward to building my relationships with other game developers. I have so many game ideas that the lists are growing out of control. I hope I can manage to stay focused and driven enough to get even a tenth of these new ideas out. I can’t wait to see what 2011 holds for myself as well as the other game developers out there.
Bring on the games!
Before I can really talk about what games mean to me I think it is important to provide a brief amount of background on where I am coming from on this personal subject.
I began developing a love for both drawing and programming as a young child and have spent countless enjoyable and priceless hours on those activities over the years. I caught the art bug bad in the late 70s after encountering Speed Racer on TV and the first Star Wars movie.
I filled page after page in my father’s art journals with little car race and space battle scenes. I remember him taking a lot of time showing me how to draw and even how to do flip book animations on the corners of the journal pages.
Even before we had a home computer my parents started sending me to Radio Shack computer camps at age six for programming in LOGO where I would get very familiar with that friendly drawing turtle and pen up and pen down. Then when I was about eight years old my parents got our first home computer. It was a TRS-80 but we only had it for one night–the salesman from Radio Shack called back to say they had received something better and wanted to know if my father wanted to upgrade.