Legion Of The Jammed 2: Jam Harder

So, as far as announcements go, this is pretty fun.

We, the Legion Of The Jammed (Myself, Andrew Smith, Ewan Brock & Gavin Harrison) will be performing another game-jam, but this time we’re continuing on a game we’ve already started at another game-jam

Those of you familiar with us will remember that we took part in the Creative Assembly Gamejam at Rezzed Gameshow in Birmingham. We were tasked with creating a game themed around the 80s. To us, the 80s was Predator, Commando etc etc, so we set about making a fun-fast paced game. The fruits of that labour can be found >here<

Tango Fiesta was made in a staggering 8 hours. Since then, it’s had a few tweaks and some stat tracking implemented, but we’ve been trying not to work on it, so we can do another jam.

We’re going to be spending another 8 hours at Loading Bar in London, tucked away in the corner for the day. This 8 hours will be spent adding new features, extending gameplay and making it even more awesome. At the end of this 8 hours, tools will go down and be tucked away, and we start to party.

What party is that I hear you ask? Well, the launch party – We are aiming to be a lot closer to a beta launch after this 8 hours. It’s a daunting task, but we’ve found we work insanenly well together at jams, and believe we can do this.

Can I Come?

Of course you can! We will be having the latest version of Tango Fiesta running thoughout the day in the bar, with periodic updates. We want feedback during the day as well, meaning that you’ll have influence in the game direction, and any bugs/nasties that appear. We’d prefer it if you didn’t come down to the jam area and interrupt us, otherwise you may end up with some very irritated jammers (we don’t like being disturbed when we’re in the thick of it), but Andrew Smith will be floating about periodically through the day.

It’s also my birthday on friday, so the launch party is actually the Launch Party//Birthday drinks :D Come and enjoy yourself, and play some Tango Fiesta while having some splendid cocktails and drinks at Loading Bar :D

More information will be announced soon, but be sure to keep up to date by following us on twitter

http://www.twitter.com/Arndreth
http://www.twitter.com/SpiltMilkStudio
http://www.twitter.com/letsbrock
http://www.twitter.com/GHarrisonSounds

Posted in Blog, Games | Leave a comment

#GDCPlaneJam

Hello all! Currently sitting in a rather *awesome* coffee shop in San Francisco (Bread and Cocoa, Kearny & Sutter, you should come here!) writing up the plane jam :)

Plane flavoured jam? bet it tastes horrid
Pssscht, not edible jam, a gamejam! This year, myself, Byron Atkinson-Jones (@xiotex) and Will Freeman(@spadgy_OTA) setup the #GDCPlaneJam. It started as Byron challenging me to make a game, and blew up from there! We have some fantastic prizes to give away, including $500, two unity pro licences, a 1year marmalade licence and a $2500 Corona SDK licence! For more information check here: Plane Jam Info, or follow us/the hash tag on twitter.

The Thought Process

so, considering that my laptop has the battery life equivalent to a goldfish memory, I decided against doing anything digital, hence I opted to design a board game. I’ve never designed a board game before, so I was looking forward to this, had no idea what to expect!

Initial thoughts

I wanted to keep the scope of this game small, I may have had a 10 hour flight, but I didn’t want to go too big. Also wanted to keep the idea simple and fun, and to encourage strategic thinking. Originally, I was thinking along the lines of a tactical tank game (I seem to be doing this a lot recently…) but as sky fall started playing on the inflight movie system, I opted to do spies instead, especially as I thought it could be more fun and slightly slap sticky.

influences

i had a few influences for when I was coming up with the idea for the game, including Zombies (board game, of which Chris White (@RomerosSoldier) once destroyed me at), lords of water deep and Cosmic Encounter. I liked the idea of taking moves at the same time, such as actions, from cosmic encounter.

The premise
so after some watching of sky fall, and doodling on my pad, I decided upon two player synchronous board game (which later became turn based, more on that later). You each start at one end of the board, and must steal the enemy intelligence, once you have the intelligence, you have to escape back to your side of the board. If the other agent stuns you and retrieves the data, they win and you lose, if you escape with the data, you win. Simple concept, and one that would work, plus had a challenge to it.

Level Design

So, of course, a level needed to be designed. I decided on a grid based map, to allow consistent movement, plus the symmetry lover in me was pleased (you’ll notice a lot of what I do has to be symmetrical when designing). Here’s an early mockup of the map.
20130322-123348.jpg

Keeping the area small would allow more focus on designing the mechanics of the game, and with the 3 avenues on the map, it allowed for some variation in play.

Mechanics
The way you perform actions in the game is by spending energy on an action. You start the game with a hand of actions, which range from moving again, to firing a stun gun. You are only allowed to use one action per turn, and once used, you cannot use it for the next turn (as its “recharging”). Originally there was going to be a large range of actions you could perform, but decided against it, mostly as I was going to hand make all of my cards, and didn’t want to over complicate the game.

Building the game
All of the cards are hand made and hand drawn, including a blank image area (spoiler, they don’t have images, I ran out of time), so if you want to contribute an image, come find me at GDC! It took a while, but once it was done its done. I also made a metric tonne of energy icons as well, so then you have a physical counter of your energy. Once I had all of this done, the game felt really good, even if the energy icons are fiddly. Creating the map was e toughest bit, mostly because I had to make an 11×15 grid on the page, and figuring out where the lines go took a while. Once it was done it looked sweet, and looks like this

20130322-124121.jpg

Playtesting
Through random chance, I bumped into Dan Da Rocha, and Henry Hoffman of Mudvark at the airport, and managed to convince them to test my game on the plane. I got some good feedback from them and made some alterations to the game. The final changes haven’t been tested yet, but it feels like it’ll make the game a lot better.

20130322-124401.jpg

Playing The Game
Find me during the week at GDC if you want to try it out, I’ll keep it on me at most times, also I will be at the UKIE stand at the GDC Expo on Thursday at 4pm for the judging and prizes of the Plane Jam!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Develop 30 under 30….uhm…wat?!

So I got the news last week that I got into the prestigious Develop Online 30 Under 30 – Described as

Develop’s annual talent spotlight has returned to shine a light on the young talent of today; those people on the frontlines of development who are shaping the games industry of tomorrow.

So it’s needless to say I was rather taken aback when I found out about this, and in-shock. Considering I’ve only been in the industry a little over a year (OK, well, under 1.5 years) – to get into Develop 30-under-30 is quite a mind-blowing experience for me. Thanks to everyone who nominated me!

Congratulations to everyone else who got in as well!

Full Article here: http://www.develop-online.net/features/1780/The-fourth-annual-30-Under-30

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Master Chief and Tiny Burgers

Normally speaking, 3 blogs within two weeks is extremely unheard of for me, but hey, things are gonna change around here sonny jim!

Mainly wanted to briefly talk about the Halo 4 preview event that I attended before Eurogamer. It was very very blue, as this photo will show you.

Have to say I enjoyed what I played of Halo – I played a round of multiplayer against some other OXM Readers and press [I think] – Ended up coming third on my team, even though I had the longest kill streak – harrumph.

The graphics in the game are gorgeous, very crisp and respond very well, can also handle quite a bit of oompha. Really digging some of the new features that they’ve put into the game, although a few of the things just feel like they’re trying to catch up to Call of Copy&Paste (Call of Duty) and try to make the transition between the two franchises slightly transparent, while keeping the same unique gameplay.

Now the other highlight of the evening was free-beer, weird miniature burgers and mountain dew, lovinglymodelled being eaten, by my good friend Jon Blyth [or Log as most people call him] but seriously, there were tiny burgers on cocktail sticks. How is that not awesome? After a few wines/beers and these mini-burgers, I somehow got into a conversation about locked framerates in FPS games, and how they affect the playstyle. Me? Having a civilised conversation over wine and mini-burgers with Log about FPS? I think london is starting to have an effect on me…

photo by: Matt Lees

Yes, the event lighting was that blue, that Log actually looks like a smurf of some sort. Also in tradition of these events, I managed to get a little bit of swag: Namely a lanyard and some headphones, I also had a pen, but I’ve…well..kind of lost it already, but hey, that’s what pens do, lose themselves – all the time.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Eurogamer & Lazarus

Right, before anyone says anything, yes i’m aware that there haven’t been many dev blogs up yet. Been under NDA and now that we’ve shown the game at Eurogamer, I’m all clear :D So between now and release, there are likely to be some posts, most of which will probably be me venting at an imaginary gnome, who i’ll be blaming a lot for broken code builds..

…or something like that.

Now that brief preface is done, I want to talk about this past week, more inparticular, Eurogamer Expo in London Earl’s Court. We were lucky enough to be selected as one of the 3 iOS games in the Indie Games Arcade at Eurogamer Expo [albeit we weren't mentioned on the site, humbug], so a couple of sleepless nights in preparation later, I shipped off to laaaaaaandiiiiiiiin taaaaaarn [Yes, that's how us non-londoners say london] to prepare for the expo, and was greeted by an evacuated earl’s court due to a suspicious package. Needless to say, I quickly assumed it was just Hideo Kojima wandering around in a box, metal gear style.

So, day one of the expo arrived, and, as anyone else who’s first time it is exhibiting at an expo with a footfall of 50,000 people, I was bricking it, big-time. Needless to say, people came to the stand and played Lazarus, and actually enjoyed playing the game – I was expecting a bunch of meh’s and i’m bored‘s, but people genuinely enjoyed the game, and it was that moment when I realised all my hard-work had paid off.

Then I remembered Lazarus is still only in Alpha, and people are already asking if they can buy the game.

seriously, my mind, blown, like, kaboom, pachoooooooo. little bits strewn across the expo floor. And then mr Lewie Procter goes and says this, and this, and this about Lazarus

There were some amazing games in the Indie Games Area as well, notably sokobond, a.bastard (I somehow beat George at the iPad version), Isochronous, The Room [our expo buddies], proteus, baribaraball, don’t starve, buddha finger and others. An amazing group of people, and can’t thank them enough for making my first expo as an exhibitor amazing.

So a few interviews later over the 4 days, lots of people playing the game, an amazing time was had. Until some **** stole my iPad from the booth. Although a hunt then ensued throughout the arena, which also involved myself and a couple of other devs checking every bin in the expo, nothing was found :(

I want to thank the following for a fantastic week, and in no particular order, here goes! [Yes, all these people had an impact one way or another on my time in london :) ]. Also a big shout out to anyone else I’ve forgotten, there sure are a lot of you! If your name isn’t there, it doesn’t mean I’m not grateful.

Sarah Wellock
David Fullick
Everyone from Utopian World of Sandwiches [big hugs to you all]
Andrew J Smith
David Hayward
Dan Griffiths
Richard Gwilliam
Ian Cook
Tommy Thompson
Minsi Chen
Tom Bramwell
Rupert Loman
Tom Champion
Ed Key
Tim Mehmet
George Buckenham
Robin Clarke
Alan Hazeldon
Marie Foulsten
Terry Cavanagh
Anna Marsh
Andy Esser
Becca Roberts
Nick Gregory
That security guy I got kind of chatty with at 8am each morning
Jon Blyth
Daniel Scales
Hollie Bennett
Andy Payne
Samuel Maycock
Henry Tobitt
Ella Romanos
Simon Barratt
Rami Ismail
Scott Mackintosh
Dan Pearce
Nick Lange
The guys from FinalBossFight
Alistair Aitcheson
Simon Roth
Nele Steenput
The guys from introversion
Everyone who brought me a steady stream of mountain dew shots

 

Work on Lazarus is still resuming even with the iPad theft, though it does mean that I can’t play Super Hexagon at all, which is really rubbish.

So long and thanks for all the fish Eurogamer Expo! You’ve been amazing. <3

 

Posted in Blog, Games | Leave a comment

Say that one more time, I dare you, I double dare you!

I seem to have this tendency to say ‘i’m going to start regularly blogging again’, then guess what, I don’t. So this time, i’m steering extremely clear of saying those words in a non quoted way, then that should mean I start blogging more right? Bollocks.

The site has had a lick of paint remover applied to it in large scales, mostly because I was tired of the old layout, and wanted something clean and simple for the site. Especially if I’m going to regularly start blog… I’ll stop myself there.

Stick around for some tea and biscuits, and maybe some cake if you’re lucky. I’ll be updating the site a bit more and looking to put up some dev diaries for stuff I’m working on at the moment.

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment

Marketweeting our way into the future

So, I realise it’s actually been a while since I last posted a blog post, or any form of update to this website. Well, never fear, because super-post is here! I really wish I had a phone-box I could run into and change into an envelope costume now, so that I could run around pretending to be a blog…..maybe I should lay off the cheese before bedtime…

So, a lot has happened since my last blog post, which is roughly a month and a half ago now. I’ll promise I’ll try to be more regular in the future, been busy with work and well, been in Canada for two weeks as well, so I guess I can’t complain at that bit :)

The lowdown of the past month or so!

COR3 HD was released onto the iOS marketplace, and is currently waiting for the update to be reviewed and unleashed onto the community. Coming with the update is some tweaked colours, added a rule for the level editor (level has to be completed in preview before you can share it) and a fix for the tilt on some devices.

We released our XBLIG title, “20 Games to play with your mates”, into the community. So far it’s been doing very well, reviews are starting to come in on it, it seems to be hitting 70%+ on average (at a guess), and we’ve had some impressive stats in the first week of sales, which we’re very happy about :D

I’ve been to Canada! Vancouver more precisely, to visit my brother and to have a well deserved holiday :) Also popped down to Seattle for a couple of nights, and met up with Cory Schmitz for some sushi and beer. Good times were had. Went snowboarding, ate a LOT of chicken wings and met some awesome people…including David Hasselhoff! Yes, the Hoff himself, was staying in the same hotel as me, actually on the floor below me. Managed to get a photo with him, which was properly awesome.

I’ve started a new project with Andrew Smith from Spilt Milk Studios – A new title that I can’t really talk about at the moment, but I can happily say that I’m working with him on the title, and that it is currently being developed in UDK. Some more info should be available soon when we’ve done more development on it, and are prepared to announce the IP. So keep your ears to the ground, and listen to the rumbling of awesome news, hopefully in a few weeks!

And now for the biggie. Yes, there is something that is super-duper-awesome, which makes me want to find another phonebox an…no, no, NO I’m not going to turn into another super-hero. You see, phone boxes get kind of cramped, and to be honest I’ve no idea how people can manage to quickly get changed in them, and also, where do they store their non-superhero clothes? Nevertheless, I shall super-contin continue

I Recently (and by recently, I mean two days ago) delivered a talk at TIGA’s 2nd Smartphone and Tablet Conference. If you don’t know who TIGA are and are in the UK Games Industry…SHAME ON YOU, go educate yourself, seriously, these guys are absolutely fantastic and done some great things for our industry. The talk was titled “From Student to Startup: More than a gap year” – And if you hadn’t put two and two together already, the main picture is myself actually talking at the conference on friday. If you figured it out, next time we meet I’ll give you a pat on the head, and maybe a cookie, if I have any on me.
The talk went well, and I’m basing that on the feedback and response I got from other attendees afterwards. I thought I’d fluffed it, lost interest of the crowd, or managed to send them into a downward spiral of depression somehow. Maybe that’s the side-effects of writing a super-post, or the realisation that quickly changing clothes in a phonebox just isn’t possible. The feedback I got was amazing, mindblowingly awesome, and especially from some of the people it came from. People were actually finding me to talk to me, and praising what we’ve managed to achieve and offering help in one way or another. It was a weird and amazing feeling, so I was kind of flabbergasted. I’ve gained a lot of support, as has IndieSkies, and we’ve proven that even students with no previous industry experience or funding, can still become successful and release a number of titles in such a little time as 9 months. Hopefully there will be some write-ups of the day coming soon, so when they do, I’ll link to them.

Overall I met some fantastic people, and I especially want to thank Alistair Aitcheson and Nisha Valand. Thanks to them I was able to be invited to talk, and if either of you are reading this, next time we meet, there’s some drinks with your names on it, from my wallet :) (Maybe even some chips as well, location dependent)

I’ve probably rambled a bit somewhere. I somehow managed to get the super-hero, or super-post, as the underlying theme of this post. Which looking back I’m wondering how I came across it, but hey, I ran with it.  Please keep an eye out on what we’re doing, there are some links below to people I’ve mentioned, and stuff you should definitely check out. If you ever see me in the street, or at a conference (I’ll be at Launch Conference: Meet the games press this wednesday, which my grandma is somehow adamant that I’m doing a talk at, even though I’m not), or somewhere, feel free to say Hi, I won’t bite. Unless part of your body turns into Nandos, then you may have to restrain me.

Adios for now, and until next time!

Super-Interesting-Links That couldn’t change into costumes in the super-hero phonebox in time

COR3 HD on the iOS Marketplace: http://bit.ly/HFhHO2
20 Games on the Xbox Marketplace: http://bit.ly/H8mEwd
TIGA: http://bit.ly/H7Een0
Alistair Aitcheson: http://bit.ly/HLCkTX
Spilt Milk Studios: http://bit.ly/H5HBKT
A Phonebox: http://bit.ly/HeLIit

 

 

Posted in Blog, Games | Leave a comment

Who turned on the lights?

Waaagh, my eyes! The lights have been turned on! Oh, wait, it’s just the site becoming active again!

I’ve had quite a hectic past month or so, and everytime I kept going to do something on the website, I got sidetracked, either with work, falling asleep at my desk,chasing gnomes, or blowing stuff up in Battlefield 3. Admittedly, I realised I needed to get my site back up and running, so, here it is, all fresh eyed and bushy tailed, ready for your viewing pleasure. I will be adding more content to the site in the next few weeks, and will also be tweaking the design about a bit, just a few things to change around/play with.

So, I guess it’s that time to play ‘lets guess what Andrew has been doing all this time his lights have been turned off!’. Well, I’d love to know that as well, so let’s find that piece of paper I managed to miraculously write onto in the dark, and attempt to carbon-rub the contents onto this screen.

  • Demo’d at GameCity6
    So, yeah, big one! We managed to get a stand at GameCity6 in Nottingham last October. October?! Yes, the bulb has been faulty for that long, Can’t seem to get the right maintenance guys anymore. So, we managed to drum up a lot of interest for our games, as this was essentially a pre-release play. Got lots of great feedback, and met some great people!
  • GameCity Prize
    I wasn’t nominated for anything, but I did manage to get into the exclusive Invite-Only GameCity Prize night in Nottingham. Before I knew it I was rubbing shoulders with some of the big-names in the industry. Eric Chahi, Dino Patti, Richard Lemarchand, Cory Schmitz and Phil Fish to name but a few. It was a fantastic evening, met some great people, and discovered that I’m a pretty good dancer when I’m drunk.
  • indieVisibility
    This happened in December 2011, the last event of 2011, and it didn’t disappoint. Dan Marshall [of Size Five Games] hosted an Indie Awards evening in London [Waterloo to be precise, next to that famous graffiti tunnel]. Lots of awards and a lot of people were there! Again, met some great people and partied hard, until we went to another bar, and I had to cough up £7.50 for a drink. Then I ran out of money and sadfaced.
  • Global Game Jam
    My friend [Ryan Simpson aka TheCodeTroll] and I took part in the global game jam. Admittedly it was just the two of us, but we tried our best. We [being two programmers] foolishly decided to try and create all the art for our game as well, as we knew how we wanted it to look, and didn’t want to scrounge images from the internet. Sadly, this ate into programming time, and we weren’t able to fully complete the game, though we are looking to carry on developing it at some point in the future, so it’s not all bad.
  • Bit of Alright
    This was an interesting one, as we were ‘exhibiting’. I say exhibiting, we were actually running a live spy-game during the day, whilst other talks and presentations were going on in the Battersea Arts Centre. It was a great day with some great talks, and we managed to get a lot of interest in our spy game, but sadly it died down after an hour or two. I wasn’t expecting it to be a runaway success, it was the first social game we’d designed, and I certainly learnt a lot from running it that day.

So, that’s a rough round up and elaboration of what was on my crumpled piece of paper. Never realised I could write so clearly in the dark, might have to try it agai…wait, no, I’m not taking down the site just for the sake of a future blog post.

There are some exciting, and not so exciting times awaiting me in the future. Some of which I can’t talk about, such as the project I’m working on with Andrew Smith [Spilt Milk Studios]. Well, I suppose I can say I’m working on it…and that it’s in UDK, but no more, not even cake will tempt more information. Not so exciting times are, well, having to go back to Uni for my final year and finish my dissertation. If I had a choice I’d stay in the industry and have a magical gnome grant me my degree, but alas, we don’t have magical gnomes yet, so it can’t be done.

I can’t think of anything else to say right now, so, toodlepip and tally ho, until the next blog post!

Posted in Blog, Games | Leave a comment