Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Invaders Must Die

Our new game, "Invaders Must Die", is live today.

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Launched to promote the new Prodigy album ( Details here ), it was developed in close conjunction with team MouseBreaker, ipcmedia and the band themselves.
Originally to be hosted on mousebreaker.com it's also going to be positioned on it's sister sites, including nuts.co.uk and nme.com as part of pimping the new cd ( Out on 23rd of Feb. I've got the album artwork including the track listing here, but that's it, no sneak peeks of any of the other tracks. Can't have it all ).

I think it's fair to say I'll never get a better soundtrack to use for a Flash game, and that it's very surreal cutting up a Prodigy track and been allowed to do it without a care about copyright.

With a very tight turnaround, an idea already in place and the band gigging in Oz has made for an interesting project, and there will be a post mortem about it soon, but for now, let us just enjoy the moment.

Squize.

This week [ They must die ]

Our highest profile to date release is coming along and due for launch this coming week.

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Talk about a screen shot not giving much away.

Squize.

Whose the daddy ?

Slowly but surely getting closer to the deadlines for the current projects. That's not really a time to worry, as it means they'll be done soon.

To everyone I owe an email too, sorry, I do love you, I just can't show it right now.

Just to give the blog a slight shot in the arm, I found an article which you guys may find interesting.

In-Depth: Biggest 10 Browser-Based Game Sites Ranked

A few surprises for me there, I thought some of the portals listed would have been higher up. There's an insane amount of traffic and therefore ad revenue being generated by those 10.

There's an interesting nod of the head to the newer browser plug-ins ( Such as Unity3D, which is coming to Windows at last, and StoneTrip, not to mention QuakeLive , which although "closed", is still bringing quality 3D to the web within a community ) at the end of the article,
"It also means that we will probably start to see a shift in the monetization model," he predicts. "This will be hugely underscored by 2008 technology developments allowing full-blown immersive 3D in the browser."
The future is more than papervision and Away ? Possibly. Hopefully. I think there will be a lot of smaller micro studios with existing 3D pipelines who will be looking at browser based content a lot more now, as an alternative to XNA and WiiWare ( And iPhone ), all of which are either already really saturated, or heading that way.
It won't be long before mochi, google and gameJacket ads are in more than Flash, and perhaps that's the Flash killer app that everyone has been glancing over their shoulder looking for all this time. It won't be silverlight, or Unity or any other plug-in, it'll be mochi-ads and gameJacket. If you can make money from Flash and make the same amount from something done in Unity, which are you as a game developer going to want to play with the most ?

Yeah, me too.

Squize.

Dot-Reloaded

Just a short one to say that our good friends over at dot-invasion have recently re-designed their site, and although the last version of dot-invasion was a site of true beauty, the latest update of dot-invasion is even nicer.

If you are looking to outsource art for your project we really can recommend dot-invasion, they are our 3rd party artists of choice.

( Too subtle ? )

Squize.

What's cooking in our kitchen ?

I thought it was an idea to show we're not both dead by posting about what we're working on as a stop gap between proper posts.

We got sign off for a new project today, one that I mentioned in a comment recently about being the best IP we've had to work with yet. Although I don't think I can mention what it is until tomorrow, so ignore that for now.

Next up, a new game for the NFL rush site... ah, NDA, k you'll have to wait and see ( And register to play, joy ).

With re-working X, which was my second ever complete Flash game, the irony isn't lost on me that I'm reskinning MJ-12 ( Space Invaders clone, here's another reskin of it ), my first ever complete Flash game. This is for a big boy Dreamworks movie, although this has been outsourced to us with the caveat that we can't pimp it as our own project, or even mention we had anything to do with it really ( I imagine a lot of game devs reading that will just baulk at the idea. I know a lot of people hate sponsors posting their games to portals such as newgrounds and would much rather do it themselves, so to do a game and get no credit at all ? Well, it's not great, but sometimes it happens. If it was something I was really proud of I've got to be honest it would hurt, but a reskin of a game from 2003 which has already made it's money ? I can live with that. Not great, but it's part and parcel of what we do, like handing over the source to clients. If you work as a whore sometimes you have to swallow things you don't want to ).
So, nothing to report there either, and never will be.

Erm, got a meeting Friday to talk over a new project that I'm really looking forward to, but can't really chat about that yet.

We've been asked to pitch for a couple of cool projects, but obviously we can't say anything until at least we've done the GDDs ( Game Design Docs ) because we want to win the jobs.

And that's it, you're all up to speed with what we're doing now. Any questions ? Good, 'cause I can't tell you anything anyway.
And that's how to pad out a blog post where I don't actually tell you a thing. We've gone from linking to other peoples work to not talking about our own. Next week expect blank posts passed off as a witty satire on the middle East crisis, and a critique of the Bush presidency using a 1px by 1px gif.

Squize.

FHM comp, the shortlist ( And other lazy links )

Way back at the start of October we posted about the FHM game awards.

It seems the shortlist is up, and, well it's not awe inspiring to be honest.

There are some gems there, Bloons ( Not exactly bang up to date though, in spite of a steady stream of expansions ); ECaps was quite nice but far from stunning, Raccoon Racing is on there which was so good it's one of the few games we've blogged about ( Complete with typo ); Shift 3 is excellent like the rest of the series but aside from those there's no other games I really feel the urge to name check ( Doom port ? Clever, but kinda like picking Commando in FMame ).

I think the thing to take away from this list is what the audience is. It's young guys working in office swapping viral games to waste time. Tetris still rocks their world apparently ( It's a bit like Spank the monkey being on there ).

It's red carpet season right now in the Flash world too, with Jay having their awards too. Now this is more like it, the proper cream of last years games, and some very tricky choices in there ( For example the Arcade section has you pitting Dino Run against BoxHead, both a pair of beauties ).
Even if you can't be arsed to vote it's essential reading if you're a game dev, this is a collection of the current bench marks.

I can see winning an award at Jay's end of year review being up there with a Flash Forward in the next couple of years, it's a lot more grass roots and less elitist, and it's more focused on gameplay rather than branding dollars.
The Flash indy scene is growing, money is being thrown at it, it will need it's own relevant awards soon. I'd much rather see a site like Jay's, which has a real joy of playing games, pick it up than someone like Kong.

What else can I link to ? Found a beauty the other day, Xbox related rather than Flash, so please feel free to stop reading now if it's got to be actionscript or nothing.

levelmy360 is just great. "Are you having trouble leveling your X360 Gamerscore? Let us help!"
If you're that desperate to boost your gamerscore / achievements to the point that you'd rather pay someone else to have the fun for you, then this is the site for you.
They do different plans, with plan 1 being 500 gamerscore, and for a mere $39.99.

Want to hear GYW's plan 1 ?
Grab Rally-X, that'll cost you 400 ms points ( $5 ). It's a pig of a game, and a joke that it's on there ( You wouldn't play it on Mame honestly ), but it's an ultra simple 200 gs. It'll take you around 30 mins to max it out.
Next up is Doritos' Dash of Destruction. I think this may not be available in every country, but if it is get it, 'cause it's free. This isn't the best game you'll ever play, but it throws the achievements at you. The only slightly sticky one could be the multiplayer one, not 'cause there's loads of l33t Dash of Destruction boys online ready to spank your ass and tell you nasty things about "yo momma", but because it's local mp, so you'll need a 2nd joypad ( You don't need a 2nd player, just the pad plugged in ).

That's 400 gs for $5, so we've got $35.99 of our budget left.  Can you pick up a second hand copy of Gears2 for that ? Or a game in the classic range or even just discounted ? Or buy up all the XNA games on the marketplace to put some money in indy devs pockets ? Or, well anything but give it to levelmy360 basically.
I'm sure you'll get those missing 100 points in whatever game you spend the difference on.

It amazes me that you can pay someone to have fun for you. I'm thinking of launching letMeDestoryYourLiver.com where I'll just get smashed for you and you get the bragging rights ( Plan 1, quite merry, look at that girls chest a little bit too long, put my hand out infront of me when I urinate just to steady myself; going up to plan 5, wake up in my own piss with a dead stripper in the bath and not able to remember anything since last Tuesday ).

And that's it, have a good w/end, hopefully there will be time to actually talk about what I'm doing next week instead of just talking about what other people are doing.

Squize.

And our present is where exactly, and don't say lost in the post

We're not ones for double posting here, single posting is more than enough effort, but just a quick mention that we're two years old today, so happy birthday to us.

We've got the club booked, there's money behind the bar and we're waiting here for you to come down and join the party, just remember to bring your invite with you or you won't be allowed in ( To be fair, nGFX arranged the venue for the night, sorted out sponsors for the drink and got a great deal on security, he just left me in charge of sending out the invites ).

Squize.

2008 in words and pictures

It's time for our annual review of what we've managed to achieve over the previous 12 months, so bring that hangover and stale mince pie with you as we go back in time and space...

Jan:

This saw our first birthday, and Olli experimenting with web servers and the Wii. Quiet month, I'm putting it down to hangovers.

Feb:

The most loved up month of the year saw what has got to be one of the most camp games ever,

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Loved Up, a rainbow islands inspired platformer. Turned around in a really short time scale ( It's development can be followed here ).
"Critically" ( Read: By boys who write teh shizzle lolz ) panned, it went on to do pretty huge traffic as soon as it made it to to the girl orientated sites.
Not a great game, but much better than it's feedback would indicate.

March:

Olli kept us up to date with what could well be his longest development ever ( Still going ! ), and in terms of work, we had the following:

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Golden Balls. Completed the year before in under 2 weeks, someone else had finished off the server side intergration ( I'd finished the Flash before the external company that does the clever secure stuff had even looked at the spec I think ) and added some more eye candy and a couple of graphical hic-cups.
A simple bread and butter project that pays the bills.

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Professor Sauernoggin and the Landfill of Doom! My baby. So much love went into this game. Marmotte over delivered on the art by a huge amount, and for that I'll always love him.
A game to be proud of, just a real pity the client seemed not to understand the value of it ( As of right now, it's had a mere 41,979 hits. It's totally buried on the clients site, you can't even get to it from the front-page. I sent them two html pages to sit it on, and they used the holder page from the client area we'd set up, not even deleting the text, just setting it to black. Honestly, take two seconds to look at the source of that page. Quite a kick in the bollocks after putting so much love into this game ).
An enjoyable development, as much down to the people who worked on it as the game itself, just marred slightly by the lack of promotion and the drawn out sign off phase ( It was ready long before Loved-Up, which used the same engine, but came out a month later ).

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Chimbo's Quest is an old one to finish this busy month off with. I'm not sure how much more needs writing about this here, I guess if you're interested and didn't catch them first time around, the player stats post is quite a good place to find out more info.

April:

The 1st saw me go a little bit too far down the sick boy path, something I'll learn from for this year. Some general development posts about Orbs ( Still in development ! ) and Law of the West.
After March's mental release schedule we were due a break, so only two games this month,

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MJ-1912 is a really old reskin of my first ever complete Flash game ( MJ-12 ). I recently sold the source of this to a mate, and made more than I have with the gameJacket ad revenue from it.
I like it as it's a slightly hammy feel to what is at heart a pretty solid Space Invaders clone, it's just that Space Invaders isn't that great a game in itself anymore.

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Brain Voyage / Brain Benders. A port of the Edios DS game which I did whilst under contract at gimme5.
The good ? First as3 project, nice to do lots of mini-games again ( That really seems to be my thing ), the presentation is really good ( I love being able to do really really accurate ports, another one of my on buttons ) and the face book version was a nice touch ( And seeing Jon Hare had played it ).
The bad ? The games themselves were pretty piss poor. Also my biggest issue with it was the ad at the start. If you're doing an adver-game, don't be cheap enough to drop a fucking mochi-ad in there. I know Edios were having cash flow problems at the time, but honestly, that $5 isn't going to make much difference aside from making you look cheap. Very cheap.

And that was April.

May:

Just the one release this month, but it was a big personal project,

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The Law of the West, Olli's homage to the old classic "West Bank". In development for ages, Olli finally got it released only for us to suffer one set back after another with it ( It being hacked to high heaven was one low point ).
In terms of a game, it's pretty good, the presentation is great and it's done ok-ish traffic without ever really taking off and becoming a huge hit.

June:

Aside from making it to 36 without anything too bad happening to me, June also saw a couple more releases.

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Phantom Mansion. Looking back over the blog it seems that the last one ( "Black" ) was finished this month. I think I must have done 4 last year then, and reached the point of not even blogging about their releases.
If truth be known, a really fucking horrible project, one I was only too glad to see the back of. Huge fan base though, which is weird. PMII is out now, some cheeky sod copied the format and posted on FGL. Matt at gimme5 saw it, knew I'd rather wake up next to my mum than ever do another PM game, so got this guy on board to do the next 6/8 games. There's a moral there somewhere, not sure what though.


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Big Bod Says
. Tiny little game, which somehow stretched to taking 9 days in total. There was no GDD for this, and I had a 15 min chat with Ricky the designer of it before getting to work. Couple of days in and it turns out I'd got the wrong end of the stick, so I basically re-wrote it one morning, only to discover that was wrong, and finally nailed it in the afternoon. So in effect 3 different games in 3 days, and then 6 days to finish off the love.
Kinda fun, and the speech is just a different class.


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Law of the West pinball. This was done much earlier in the year as I wanted to learn how Box2D worked and pinball seemed the obvious choice. Unfortunatly at the time Box2D didn't support bullets in as3, so the ball would quite happily fly through objects at high speed.
When v2 came out I was finally able to finish this bad boy off, and to whore it around for sponsorship. It was offered the vast sum of $300, which would include the source code, although wouldn't be exclusive ( Too kind ), so we just dropped it into gameJacket.
In terms of the game itself, I really really like this one. It's one of the few games I've done I can actually just switch off and enjoy playing. For a lot of other people it really missed the mark, and has failed to do the traffic we would have liked.
The maim positive to come from this is that it's been included in 8Bit rockets new Retro Hall of Fame, which is really cool, although I have had to send Jeff and Steve lots of photos of me in the bath for it to be included.

In June I also posted how I do a preloader in as3 / Flex, which seems to be our most hit page here.

July:

We did things, and we wrote about them, but we didn't release anything new to play, so let's skip this month and move on to...


Aug:

...much the same as July.

Sept:

Just more words. Come on, we were productive for the first couple of months of the year.

Oct:

And back on form. Where did this month take us ? No, not roughly from behind, but on a mixed voyage...

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Son Of Sico. An Air front-end for our simple little action script mangler.
We've had fuck all feedback about this, nothing. Also 1 reply when I sent the GYW Encryption package out to friends, so as far as we're concerned either people don't give a shit about their stuff being hacked, or they just don't want us to help them from preventing it.
Either way both projects are internal only now, life's too short to try and give things to the community when they don't want them ( Check me out being all bitter on New Years day ).

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Operation Cortex: My entry into this years 48 hour FlashKit comp. It didn't win. I've linked to the post rather than the game, as the source code is also available there.
I liked this game, and it was pleasing to be able to do a 100% complete game in something like 12 hours, it makes me feel like the sponsorship kids who always say things like "Well I earned $16 an hour from my game which is more than I earn working after school, and it only took me 5 hours to make".
I think this game may re-surface somewhere else, with a lot more love and a bit more depth.


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651 Announce. Released on 20th October, which numbers fans, is exactly 651 days from when GYW came into being, way back on the 9th Jan 2007.
I'm so proud and pleased with this. It is just pointless eye-candy, but all the best eye-candy is pointless. If you've not seen it, it's a collection of demo effects all done in real time.
The blog posts in Oct. cover how a lot of these effects were created if you're at all interested.

Nov:

This saw more words ( Including my "Help me" words when it came to giving up smoking, plus a death of sorts in the family ( The 360 went to console heaven ) ) but no more toys, so let's move along to what is apparently the most wonderful time of the year,

Dec:

To finish off the year, a release each.

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Gameball Maize Maze. Our first project with Brandissimo, a creepy iso game with a really rich art style.
It's development was covered in an almost diary like form back in September with the last update being this one.
Again I'm happy with this one, it's development took longer than I'd hoped, but the extra time spent on it was an investment as to cut it too short would have been to really rip the guts out of the game. On the downside, you have to register to play it, hence the link there going to the blog post rather than directly to the game.

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Handigo ( You'll find it sitting in the games column ). This was like the previous years Fuel Factory-Y / Model City, except this time it was Olli jumping in to fix other peoples half done code for the simple lure of cheap dirty money.
The main menu is 100% low fat gyw code, along with various bug fixes ( Esp. game 1, proof that in actual fact you can polish the odd turd now and again ).
Pays the bills, and the credits were nice, plus working for Ubi-Soft has a certain kudos to it, and by all accounts they were quite lovely.

Other blog highlight this month was the ( Still going ) development of X++ in the form of new build being uploaded straight to the server, and the fantastic Zombieland post mortem by Pany ( If you missed it before Christmas, take a read of it now, it's one of the most honest accounts of a Flash game development and aftermath you'll read anywhere ).

And that was the year that was. I'm going to avoid making any predicitions here, as to be honest, I really can't see the point. When people do them they're a mixture of the stupid ( "Nintendo to release a Wii Remote Contact lense so you can just look at objects to interact with them" ) and the obvious ( "More games players to buy more games", "Women to buy casual games more than men" ), and who checks them ? Who actually goes back to the year before and reports that the stupid ones didn't happen, but hey, you were right about the obvious ones, spot on man, wow. That's like a gift you've got.

Also another reason not to do any predicitions, is 'cause I actually checked back at what I said this time last year,
"Coming up we've got the platform game ( Which I'm really proud of. It's on par with GOL in terms of love and quality ), the continuing Phantom Mansion games, Orbs and Olli's got a great old school game that we've been commisioned to do."

The first two were done, the second ? Still in development limbo. I don't want to jinx anything by making some big stupid sweeping statement about it here.

What I would like to do to finish off though is to thank all of you for taking the time to come here and read our crappy outpourings when we make them, and to wish you all a Happy New Year and we hope you'll stick around during '09, 'cause if it all goes to plan we'll still be releasing games and still talking about them.

Squize.

Another one that got away

As a game studio, we find a percentage of job leads fall through. It's not 'cause we're bad, or too expensive, or just plain cocks. It's just the nature of the business.

Sometimes we turn work down ourselves because of numerous reasons. I don't think we're unique in any of the above, it just happens this way sometimes.

We were asked a couple of months ago if we wanted to work on one of the best IP's you could ever get to work with ( Roughly around the same time we were involved with some other great IP, the very definition of classic retro gaming, but that one fell through too ), but unfortunately for various reasons it wasn't to be.

Seems it's live ( Although I believe in beta ? ), and it goes by the name of PlaySega.

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Is this a huge game company showing it's belief in Flash gaming as the long touted future of casual gaming, or is it the desperate thrashing around of a dying giant looking for cheap way to target it's brands ? Is it even both ?

Anyway Sega understands Flash exists for more than navigation, and there is an official Sonic game in Flash ( That's the one that got away... ), so it's all got to be positive. Right ?

Squize.

GameBall Maize Maze is finally live

Our first project with Brandissimo is finally live, and sitting on the NFLRush site.

Just to caveat the excitement a little, the NFL site requires a sign up, and I'm sure it may be a subscription service ( Read: You've got to pay ) [ EDIT: Nope, its free, just needs a sign up. Sorry about that, and thanks to Andy for pointing that out ]

To compensate for this, I'm just going to post some screen shots, a couple from the intro movie, and one in-game one. Then in conjunction with the development posts ( For some joyous reason I can't look back at old posts and be logged in at the same time, which means I can't just simply give all the dev. posts a GMM category and then just refer you to the tag cloud. Cosmic. So instead, the development ran from the start of Sept '08, to the 1st Oct. Cutting edge blog technology in all it's glory ) you can use your imagination to play the game.
That's got to be better than actually playing it hasn't it ? I mean you can imagine any old mental things. For example, I'm imagining that I had the time to scroll the screen rather than just making it flick...

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And a little something in-game...

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A really enjoyable project, some great assets to work with ( I'd never have opted for that art style in a million years ), some great people to work with at Brandissimo and quite a nice little game at the end of it. All good.

Squize.