Goodbye Nexus City

Happy new year everyone! I’ve used that guitar cover of The Ecstasy of Gold above as a placeholder song in various big projects over the years that haven’t worked out. It seemed fitting to share it here.

Near the end of 2012, I made the very difficult decision to abandon Nexus City (and it’s spinoff game, Selma’s Story).

For those of you with no idea what Nexus City is – it’s an RPG I was collaborating on with the writer Jonas Kyratzes. Originally a very small game, over time it grew completely out of control – at this point, Jonas and I have worked on it on and off for over two years. However, that doesn’t really paint an accurate picture – I haven’t worked on Nexus City itself since 2011, and I only worked on the spinoff game, Selma’s Story, for two months last year.

That said, even though it’s not a project I’m actively spending much of my time on, Nexus City has weighed heavily on my mind.

I’ve been thinking of Nexus City as “the thing I’m working on” since 2010. As a result, for a long time now, I’ve felt like I wasn’t really in control of what I can work on. Promising games would come along, and I’d stop myself from getting too deep into them, because I had to finish Nexus City first. Everything became a big ordered list of what I could work on and when, how long I could spend on it. It’s only when a project like Super Hexagon came along, and forced itself on me – became too much to ignore, that I was able to turn that part of my head off. And I could do it, but even then I constantly had that pressure – when this is done, I need to get back to Nexus City.

I don’t think that’s creatively healthy.

Nexus City is an amazing world with an amazing story, and there were times when I was completely obsessed with it – but the momentum is long gone now, and at this point I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I need to move on to other things.

So, what’s next for this year? Right now – for the moment, I think I may just take some time off. I feel like I haven’t really done that in some time – it’s just been one project after another pretty much as long as I remember. After that? I don’t really know! I have a clean slate again for the first time in a very long time, and I’m very excited about that.


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.


Interview with Jonas Kyratzes on Mattchat

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If you’ve been reading my site any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about Nexus City, an RPG I’ve been making with Jonas Kyratzes. It started as a little jam game for an RPGDX competition over a year ago, but has since turned into something quite a lot bigger.

It occurs to me, though, that I’ve said very little about with Nexus City actually is. Mostly, when I do talk about it here, I tend to post screenshots and vague promises of how many more weeks I reckon it’s gonna take to finish it. (Probably another week or two, at least, I reckon.)

You also might not know that much about Jonas Kyratzes, my collaborator on Nexus City – I’ve posted about some of his recent games here – The Infinite Ocean, Alphaland, The Book of Living Magic – but he’s made a lot more than just that. He’s also the creator of the hilarious Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge, and the fascinating Phenomenon 32. And a bunch of other cool stuff. Gregory Weir recently referred to him as “unsung“, which is putting it very mildly, as far as I’m concerned.

The reason I’m bring this up is that Jonas just finished a fantastic series of video interviews on Mattchat. In these, he talks at length about his many wonderful and criminally underappreciated games, and about his new projects, including his mysterious Troll Game, Catroidvania, and Nexus City. I’m embedded all three parts here, and strongly recommend checking them out!


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.


The Book of Living Magic

Just thought I’d mention that Jonas released a new game a couple of days ago, The Book of Living Magic. It’s a very short game, set in the same universe as The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge. It’s funny and personal and surprising and beautiful, and I think you guys will like it a lot.

Unlike some of his other flash games, this is a game that really demands your full attention, right from the start – but don’t be put off by that! Grab a cup of tea and get comfortable – I think it’s his best flash game to date.

The Book of Living Magic


Coming soon: Alphaland

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I took a little time away from my current project last week to help Jonas with a little coding work on his new game, Alphaland. It’s an incredibly cool, clever little game, and I’m extremely happy to have been able to help with it in any way. Keep it an eye out; it’ll be released as soon as Jonas finds a sponsor!


Catching up

Sorry I haven’t updated much lately, I’ve been incredibly busy this year. Here’s a quick update on what’s been going on:

Games of 2010 writeups:

So much for that whole writeup thing – there’s a lot I wanted to say about the games I really enjoyed last year, but I always forget just how time consuming it is for me to write up blog posts like that. I’m probably just going to make one more post with the full list of 30 games. There’s only really one game left that I wanted to do a proper write up of anyway, which I was planning to leave till last.

Nexus City

Nexus City is going really well – the game’s engine is now more or less finished, the first area of the game is playable (minus battles) – it’s really starting to come together. Sadly though, I’ve had to put it on hold for a little while. It’s not easy to step away from a project that was just starting to pick up momentum, but I’ve got other games to make with deadlines approaching (more about that in a sec), and unfortunately I just don’t have time to do everything 🙁

Thankfully Jonas also has lots of other things to keep him busy right now, so it’s not a huge deal for us both to take a break from this for a while.

We’ve talked a little about maybe making some sort of short MiniRPG set in this world as a prequel; it would just be a 20 minute short story or something like that, rather than the huge RPG experience that Nexus City has become. This would be in addition to making Nexus City, of course.

I just really can’t wait to share this world with everyone! Finishing Nexus City (or whatever we end up calling it) is my main priority for this year.

Super Top Secret Game

My actual current project right now is something I haven’t posted about yet, and can’t post about for another little while because I’m making it for an event. This is the game I’m currently spending all my time on. I’m really excited about it too – as soon as I can talk about it, I will!

Dancing RPG

So the other game I worked on at TIGJam was an RPG with Jasper Byrne – it’s a game about challenging people to dance offs, and learning what it really means to be a dancer. There’s quite a lot here already, but it’s far from finished – with everything that’s going on right now I dunno when we’re going to get around to being able to finish it. Hopefully things will slow down for both of us in a while and we can set aside a week or so to make it happen.

Other Games:

Somewhere along the way I spent a bit of time working on a few other games as well. The one in the screenshot above is another game I’m really excited about making, but right now I dunno where I’m gonna find the time to work on it. It’s actually hugely frustrating to have so many things I want to work on and not being able to.

As well as this, there’s the shooter from last year, another little game I worked on at the jam, and at some point this year I wanna revisit Big Hero.


I’m heading to the IGF in a couple of weeks! Last year was incredible, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to San Francisco for another week. Haven’t really planned anything in particular this time, but I’ll be at the summit and some of the parties, and probably jamming at noisebridge for a bit too.


Nexus City Fridays, 17th Dec

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Still fiddling with these textboxes. They’re not quite right yet, but they’re getting better!

Sadly I haven’t actually done that much work on Nexus City this week, since I wasted quite a bit of time on my (now scrapped) jam game from the other weekend. Hoping I can salvage some of that stuff for a quick KOTM minigame on Saturday.

Ludum Dare is this weekend! As usual, we’re having a meetup here in Cambridge – why not come along, if you’re in the area?