Slam to the Jam

Haven’t posted much here lately. Sorry about that! I recently moved to Cambridge, and with preparing to move and settling in I haven’t really done a whole lot of work in the last few weeks. However, I’ve gotten some momentum on a new project since I arrived, so I should have something to share soon 🙂

Last weekend I went to a small jam hosted by Honeyslug‘s Ricky Haggett in London, and made two games – one is a two player shooter, which is shaping up nicely, and which I’ll probably post in a day or two once I’ve tweaked a few things and tested it out on other people. And the other is probably not worth playing, heh.

There are a whole bunch of different jams happening this summer that I’m planning to go to:

Ludum Dare 17 is this weekend, and a couple of people are getting together in CB2 Bistro, Cambridge to work on our games together. Please come along if you’re in the area and would like to take part!

TIGJam:UK 3 is also taking place in CB2 Bistro, on the 4th-6th June! More details this thread on TIGSource. Tickets will be announced soon, I think.

World of Love is an indie conference being organised by David Hayward of Pixel Lab, who also organises the Indie Arcade at the Eurogamer Expo. It’s being held at Channel 4, London, at the end of June. I’m going (in fact, I’ve agreed to talk at it, probably about Game Jams), and I’m currently in the process of finding a venue to hold a weekend jam immediately after it. I’ll post more info about this shortly! You can find out about the event here, if you’d like to go:

BIGJam 2, sequel to the amazing BIGJam is scheduled for August in St. Oberholz, Berlin. Really looking forward to this. In fact, I think I’ll try to break my record from last year.

Finally, a few of us in Cambridge are starting a weekly meetup in CB2 Bistro, every Tuesday! I’ll post a little about this once it starts to take some shape.



I’m back from the IGF! Er, actually, I’ve been back for ages. I’m still recovering.

Photo by Tembac, Left to Right: Daniel Benmergui, Martin Jonasson, me, Michael Todd, Erin Robinson, Pablo Weremczuk, and Petri Purho.

I’ve mentioned before on this site about feeling isolated from the rest of the indie community by living out here in Ireland – and after the IGF finalists were announced in January I really felt like I had no right going to this thing. Thankfully, I eventually realised how silly that was and went anyway. It was an amazing week. To finally meet so many people that have inspired me to do what I’m doing, that I’d only ever talked to online before, was incredible.

Unfortunately with it being so crazy there were a lot of other people that I was only able to have a very brief icebreaking chat with, or didn’t meet at all, but hopefully I can make up for that next year!

Near the end of the week I made a couple of short throwaway games, at the Glorious GDC Gameboree 2010 in a Hilton Hotel close to where I was staying, and at Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco. My games aren’t very good, but this one is possibly worth playing:

It’s inspired by a game I played at the amazing Gamma IV party.

The other two: this game, which is based on a random page from a random book, and this, which is a game of skill for four players!


Eurogamer Expo 2009

Last weekend, I was at the Eurogamer Expo in London, showing VVVVVV publicly for the first time! There’s a photo of big bearded me getting very worked up. It was pretty exciting stuff!

The show itself was a really amazing experience – I’d never been to a games expo before, let alone demo something at one. I met up with some really great people and played some brilliant games (the line up was phenomenal). A number of people at the event have written up summaries that you should check out – David Hayward, Mike Rose, Mike Nowak, and Rob Fearon (who I was gutted not to have met!).

This is the first time I got to see the game being played live, so I spent most of my time there hovering around and taking notes, chatting to the people who tried it out. While I’d gotten some feedback on the individual levels as I made them, it was really helpful to actually see where people where getting stuck, or lost, or overly frustrated. (though I have to admit I got a kind of sadistic pleasure when people got stuck in the really hard parts or decided to go for a shiny trinket!) I’ve gotten a lot of notes for little things to fix.

I couldn’t be happier with how the game was received. There were some people who didn’t really go for it at all, and that’s fine – I had one or two people pick up the controller and just give up at the first sign of any challenge. There’s no way I could make the game work for them without ruining it for everyone else.

But a few people really, really got into it. I expected with the whole setup of the event that players would give up when things started to get hard, but that didn’t happen at all. I had more than a few groups decide to tackle the hardest level right away, die dozens and dozens of times in the same room but persevere, pass the controller around and give each other suggestions on how to get past each bit. If anything, the hardest rooms really seemed to go down the best.

I’ve been getting back to work on VVVVVV this week at a less rushed pace. Should have more info soon!



Woah! I’m more than a little shocked at the response my last post got! I thought maybe, if I was lucky, I might get enough to send maybe one of the games to the IGF and I’d have to make a tough decision – I wasn’t prepared for this sort of support. I’m humbled 🙂

It’s only been a day and I’ve already got enough to submit both games and then some – in fact, with the amount that people have chipped in I’ll actually be able to do things like, you know, pay my rent next month and pay my heating bill. I don’t know what say! To everyone who helped, thank you, so much!

I’ll leave the link up in the sidebar for now – the same bonuses are still available to anyone who donates, though it’s no longer an urgent matter. 🙂

I hope to submit Don’t Look Back this weekend when I get a chance to write up the entry form, and VVVVVV next week just before I go to London (which will be the last chance I get to work on it before the deadline).



VVVVVV is debuting in Leeds next week, so I’m crunching to get it ready in time! There were a lot of unexpected complications with my non-linear approach, but I think it’ll be worth all the extra work, in the end, when it’s finally done. It could be a very long time before I tackle something as big as this again, so I’m not going to rush it. You know what they say about the last 10%.

My browser start page is this – a countdown to the IGF submission deadline. Right now 12 days, 6 hours, 16 minutes and 55 seconds remain. So I figured it was about time I submitted something! I’ve thought about it a bit and decided that I’d like to submit two games – Don’t Look Back and VVVVVV. There’s just one problem; I don’t have the money.

I don’t talk about this a lot, so there’s a good chance a lot of people reading this don’t actually know what my working situation is. I actually make games full time – and full time as in, well, all the time; all day, every day. I quit my job two years ago and I’ve been trying to find some way to balance making the games I wanna make and being able to afford doing it since. My savings from work are long gone, and I got a loan about a year ago which has since run out.

So this is reality: very soon I will have to stop making games full time and start dealing with my debts.

My original plan with VVVVVV was to look for a sponsorship, but it’s grown too big for that to really be realistic. In any case, I find it hard to imagine it with a sponsor’s logo on the front, surrounded by ads. So recently I’ve decided that I want to try something else – I’m going to sell VVVVVV as shareware. It’s a big, scary decision to make, but it’s pretty much the only shot I have at this point at continuing to do what I love into the future! 🙂

I’ve love to know what you think about this. Please let me know! I haven’t really thought this through yet and I don’t really know how I’m going to do it…

A more immediate problem is that I really want to enter these games into the IGF, but can’t afford to! So I’m asking for your help! If you’d like to see me or my games in the IGF, please contribute.

The submission fee is $95 per game! Any contribution is appreciated, but as suggested by some friends here are a few kickstarter style targets to motivate you!

If you donate $10, I’ll send you a copy of VVVVVV once it’s finished. You can think of this as a preorder!

If you donate $20, you’ll get a copy of VVVVVV when it’s done and access to the beta when it’s ready at the start of November (if you like!).

Finally, if you donate $30 or more, you get all the above and I’ll credit you as a patron in the game.

(While donations are still welcome, preorders are no longer available. Thanks for the support! 3rd Jan)
(Beta access and the patron’s list are no longer available. 7th Dec)

Of course, any help at all is appreciated! I’ve never, ever asked for donations before.

Thanks for reading down this far. This was a really hard post for me to write.


A small announcement

I’m not quite sure how to bring this up, but I figure I should probably say something sooner rather than later. Annabelle and I were aiming to submit a demo of Ciellus to the IGF; we’re no longer doing that. We’ve done a serious amount of work on it over the last two months; particularly over the last couple of weeks, but Ciellus is quite a big project – making this deadline was always something of a long shot. The game’s just too big, too complex for us to have enough ready by this Saturday.

In addition, we’re putting it on hold for a little while. I’ve been working full time, incessantly on this for the last couple of weeks and I’m kinda burnt out, so I’m actually kinda looking forward to the change. Working on a big project is hard 🙁 I’d really rather be working on lots of little concept driven games… In fact, I’ve decided to spend this time away from it on rapid prototyping.

My first goal is to sit down and finally learn how to use flash, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. I started on Sunday evening and things are going quite well; I probably already know enough to make a little shooter or something like that. Right now I’m trying to work out how to translate concepts like map tiles from the way I’m used to doing things into the way things work in flash…

I should also be a lot more open about my projects from now on, so expect this blog to be a bit busier!



After the dust settles on this IGF thing, I’m taking a few days and heading to London for TIGJam:UK to work on something new, have fun and meet a few indie devs from the London scene! Ideally I’m hoping for the same outcome as Haowan:

I want to make some crappy game that makes us all laugh while we make it and then makes us laugh again when we play it. And makes us laugh while we think it up.

Any indie devs from england out there reading this? Any interest in coming along? I believe there’s still time to get a ticket! 🙂


An early preview

It’s been strange not updating the blog properly this year – I used to update so often with all sorts of nonsense about what I’m doing, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance. And it’s gotten that everytime I mean to post something I’ve got so much to catch up on that I never get around to it.

Well, it’s a new month, so I’m going to put an end to that pattern. Starting with some details on my current “big” project. I don’t have a title yet, so for now I’m just calling it “Untitled Puzzle Game”. I’ve been working on it since the start of the year. Actually, it’s something I’ve wanted to make for a lot longer than that – it’s based on something I tried to make in secondary school back when I was programming loads of Qbasic minigames.

I apologise for being so secretive about it – usually I post pretty much every WIP screenshot I can hack together, but this time I want to get it further along before I start talking about it properly. This is probably the biggest project I’ve ever taken on that has a realistic chance of being completed, though, so it may be a while longer before I have much to say in detail about it.

Nevertheless, I’ve put together a little video which shows the mouse driven control system I’m using and some of the basic concepts in the game so far. But keep in mind that this is a *very* early version – all of the graphics are placeholders and nothing here is final yet! Let me know what you think in the comments!

I should have more concrete info in a few days.


The Hunt, again

So, that’s the end of that – my little offline experiment didn’t seem to have much of a point, so now I’m back online.

Here’s a little something I’ve been looking at over the last few days: my old GBA game, The Hunt. (If you haven’t already played it, you can get it at that link. You’ll need a GBA emulator or a flash card to play it.)

I’ve thought about sitting down and porting it to the DS, but I can’t justify the time involved to do it – which is a bit annoying, since if I was working nine to five somewhere I could set whatever timetable I liked for myself. But I guess there have to be some drawbacks to being self employed 🙂

My new game is a puzzle/adventure game that is starting to take shape, and with any luck should be released before I run out of money (which, at the moment, is March/April or thereabouts!). Hopefully I’ll have something to show very soon. This is something I’ve wanted to work on for years, but I won’t really know if it’s going to work until I implement it. I have a feeling I’m on to something, though 🙂