Another new year’s resolution

Hello everyone! IT IS THE YEAR 2012 NOW.

At the start of last year, I wrote a long post about how things changed for me in 2010. Unbelievably, 2011 went even better. Between the steam sales, the humble indie bundle, and now the recent 3DS launch, VVVVVV continues to reach heights I never imagined possible. I’m incredibly proud of its successes, and incredibly grateful for what that’s meant for me.

Since releasing VVVVVV, I’ve worked on dozens and dozens of games. I don’t know how many exactly – I’ve lost count. A lot of those games didn’t go anywhere, and that’s fine. These past two years have been very creatively valuable for me.

But I’m looking ahead now, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the sort of work I want to do in the future. This year, I want to try approaching things differently. This is my new year’s resolution:

This year, I’m not going to start any new projects.

These last two years have left me with a number of very promising, incomplete prototypes, and what I’m going to try doing this year instead is focus on finishing these.

This is huge for me! It means no more entering Ludum Dare, no more Klik of the Months, no more throwaway jam games of any kind. It’s a massive, fundamental change to how I’ve always worked. But I feel very anxious to work on something bigger this year, and I want to challenge myself.

I’ve made a short list of my favourite unfinished prototypes. If you’ve been reading my blog before this, you may have seen me talk about some of these games before – there are three “main” projects on it that are the main things I’m going to focus on, and also a handful of smaller games that I’d like to return to if I happen to have the time.

Nexus City Spinoff

Nexus City is a huge RPG that I’ve been working on on-and-off with Jonas Kyratzes since late 2010. It’s a big, scary project, so last summer, Jonas and I talked about the possibility of making this short side game, as a way to introduce both ourselves and other people to the universe of Nexus City. It’s much smaller than Nexus City itself, and very much it’s own thing.

Jonas wrote an awesome script for the game, but other things came up last summer when meant putting it to one side. I’m planning to finally start work on it very soon, and I’m hoping to have it finished before March.

Nexus City

And then of course, there’s Nexus City itself. I’ve been talking about this game for a very long time, but I’m hoping to finally make it happen this year.


This relatively recent prototype came completely out of nowhere for me. I’m excited about it because it’s not really like anything else I’ve ever worked on. The nature of this game means that it’s very suited to being chipped away at, and I expect I’ll return to it frequently as inspiration comes and goes.

In addition to those three, there are also a couple of half finished shorter games that I’d like to revisit between projects:

I feel pretty attached to this right now, probably because it’s the most recent thing I’ve worked on. It’s a very short, stupid game. It shouldn’t take long to finish up either, so I’m going to stick with it while I still have a bit of momentum on it.
Big Hero:
One of the first things I worked on after finishing VVVVVV, Big Hero is a prototype I keep meaning to come back to.
In it’s current state, this game is basically finished already. Last summer I had bigger plans for this game, but I’m not sure they’re going to come to pass anymore. In any case, I think it’s something that deserves to be finished properly, in some form.
Annihilation Game:
I worked on this briefly in 2010 – I think I only ever actually posted about it once (under its old working title “Self Destruct 2”), but it’s a game I’ve worked on a fair bit, and continue to think about. I think it has the potential to be a very interesting game, and I’m really itching to make another shooter.
Not At a Distance:
At a Distance was a very challenging project at times, and quite a lot of ideas and content ended up getting cut from the final version. Enough that there’s almost a complete game’s worth of unused ideas still floating around. I’d really like to take some of those ideas and put them together in a playable form, as a short B-Side to At a Distance.

And that’s it. That’s everything.

Of course, like all new year’s resolutions, perhaps this is doomed to fail. I can’t promise I won’t fall off the wagon next time a Klik of the Month rolls around, and maybe it’s no big deal if I do. I’m really optimistic about this year, though. If I can finish even a fraction of these games, I’ll consider it a huge success.


Old year’s resolution

I kinda fell out with my four letter word game. Very shortly after I posted about it. I think we’re reconciled now, though.

I actually stopped working on this game very shortly after that blog post. It started out as a cool concept I wanted to make playable – challenging design wise, but something that I thought had the potential to be really special. I was so, so into the idea, but then I made the stupid mistake of entering it in the IGF.

The pressure distorted the game for me. Trying to get something coherent in time for the deadline meant I started making bad decisions, and ended up with – well, something pretty traditional. A linear adventure game, with a progression of puzzles and a world that gradually opens up. Another fucking videogame. Basically exactly what I was trying to avoid. I hated it, and didn’t touch the game again until yesterday.

A couple of things happened to rekindle my interest in the project this week. The main one is that I was working on a throwaway side game, and suddenly realised that it basically was Four Letter Word. Kinda like I’d been subconsciously thinking about it all along.

Tomorrow I’m gonna start working on At a Distance again, polishing up some minor details for Wednesday’s launch. After that, I think I’ll focus on this for a while. Next year I’m planning to make a dramatic change to the way I work, so it’s good for me to get this sorta thing out of my system while I can.

(yes, that’s an actual screenshot from the game)


The Four Letter Word Thing

I’ve been working on something new ever since I got back from Indiecade. Thought it was time I talked a little about it!

So, I submitted two games to the IGF this year. One was At a Distance, which I’ve talked about plenty already here.

The other is something new that’s simply listed on the IGF site as “(Four Letter Word)“. Why they’ve listed it that way, I’m not sure – it was the filename of the build I sent, but it’s not the game’s title. I actually submitted it as “____”, but that’s not the game’s title either – just the best ASCII approximation I could manage.

This is the game’s actual title:

Since the entire game is in a made up alien language, it didn’t make sense to me to give it a english title. Also, frankly, once you’ve called a game “VVVVVV”, it gets pretty hard to top yourself.

____ is something I’ve been working on in this form since the last Ludum Dare (when I was calling it “Nyxgame”), but I’ve been thinking about it for much longer than that – the game is basically a mash up of a lot of small ideas I’ve had in the last couple of years that suddenly came together for me in a really exciting way. And it plays a bit like that too – it’s a combination of a bunch of different interconnected systems that do unexpected things, but in a logically cohesive way.

On the flight home from Indiecade, I found myself with a spark of inspiration, and suddenly realised how it all fit together. Despite barely having anything playable at the time, I entered it in the IGF because I wanted to force myself to do something with the idea. It was an impulsive, snap decision, one which was probably pretty bloody stupid. Honestly, I don’t really expect this to get anywhere in the IGF (my hopes are pinned on At a Distance). ___ is intentionally inaccessible, ugly, almost unplayable really. And worse than that, the build I’ve submitted to the IGF is so early in development that it isn’t nearly as inaccessible, ugly or unplayable as I want it to be.

As it happens though, entering it in the IGF actually had exactly the effect on me I hoped it would. Rather than this just being another game I never got around to making when the inspiration hit, I’ve been crunching on this for the last few weeks, and it’s finally at a state where you can sorta see what I’m going for. It’s still a good bit short of playing anything like the game I’ve got in my head, but it’s getting there. I’m excited about it. I’m going keep working on it, keep updating the IGF build, and find out where the hell it ends up.


A quick update

Been a while since I’ve actually talked about what all I’m working on! Well, here’s a quick update on my main projects right now:


So, my main focus right now, of course, is VVVVVV. Simon and I are planning two patches – the first, which will be out very soon, should fix almost all the issues that have cropped up with the new C++ version of the game (i.e. the fullscreen-auto bug, the time trial bug, etc). It might also add some basic features to the player levels that don’t break backwards compatibility with the bundle version – like mapping, for example.

Some time after that, then, we’re planning a second patch, which will add loads of stuff to the editor that I didn’t have time to add originally! This will include almost everything that the main VVVVVV levels can do – like teleporter networks, scrolling levels, and advanced scripting.

I’ve also been working on some new levels of my own…

Nexus City

Nexus City is a very big RPG that I’ve been making on-and-off with Jonas Kyratzes for quite some time now. A few months back we decided to make a short side story set in the Nexus City universe, as an introduction of sorts to this very big game we’re making.

Nexus City is a very important project to me – in some ways it feels like the game I got into making games to make.

At a Distance

A few months ago, I made a game for NYU Game Center‘s 2nd No Quarter exhibition, called At a Distance.

After the exhibition, I decided to take some time away from it to decide where exactly I wanted to go with it – and I’m still thinking about that – but I have arrived at one decision, at least. At a Distance isn’t finished yet.

Just to be clear, I’m not planning to expand it or make it something bigger – in fact, I think I’ll end up cutting a lot from what’s already a very short game. What I want to do is improve what’s currently there – there a lot of details in the game that I’m not happy with yet, things that I’m able to see more clearly now that I’ve had a little distance from it.

Untitled Isothingy

I haven’t forgotten about this one!

This Isothingy (which I should really come up with a proper title for) is a short side project I started just after finishing At a Distance, and in it’s current form, is basically complete. I wasn’t completely happy with it, though, so I decided to expand the concept a little and add a bit more to it – and now it’s become something I think is a much better game. I’ve teamed up with Christine Love, who’s writing a very fitting story for the game, and Flashygoodness, who’s making some amazing music for it.

Unfortunately, with everything else I’m working on, I’ve had to put this to one side for now. Hoping to revisit it in a couple of months, though. It’s the most complete incomplete game I’m working on right now, if that makes any sense.

Untitled Nyxgame

This little thing is just a side project I’m doing for fun this week. Either I’ll have it finished by Sunday, or I’ll scrap it completely.


Nyxgame Day 3

Felt a little jammed out today, so I didn’t get quite so much done on my new project – but one thing I did manage to do was to sit down and plan it all out from start to finish. There’s more left to do than I thought there was, but IT SHOULDN’T TAKE TOO MUCH LONGER I TOTALLY PROMISE THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT


Untitled Nyxgame

Not even trying to do this as a Ludum Dare game anymore. I don’t care, I’m finishing this one properly – I can’t bear to scrap yet another project right now! This year I feel like I’ve just been working on one big project after another, so taking a week out to work on something small like this is doing me a lot of good. Can’t believe I hadn’t posted a minigame since February!

I’m excited about how this one is shaping up. It’s ended up being very informed by another old abandoned project of mine called Myosotis, which is a game I never expected to revisit.

Shouldn’t take much longer.