Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

2009 in words and pictures

It's that time of year again, and for the first time in 3 years of doing it I'm actually getting it done on New Years eve rather than the 1st. I'd like to say it's a sign of our new found pro-activeness, but in reality I'm out on the beer tomorrow so it's best to get it done today.

Ready ? K, let's go.

Jan:

Our second birthday and tons of work. Some of the games we did in 2008 actually came out in this month, and it's a bit of a muddled mess as the projects we were working on are behind a registration, so we didn't actually know when they went live, so a bit of guess work here.

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Sarge's Bowling Barrel. A project we did with Brandissimo. If you ever have to do a game with 10 pin bowling scoring, don't. On paper it's straight forward, in real life it's a massive ball ache to try and code. The graphics are lovely as supplied by Brandissimo, and the speech sounds great. As a game it's a bit throwaway, just pleasant quick fun.


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Racing to School. Another Brandissimo game for the NFLRush site ( Hence the lack of links ). A simplistic Pole Position-esque style racer. The movement and the collisions were really nice, I'm more than happy with them. The hardest part of the project was the rubber banding, it's a really really tricky thing to do well. Quite a nice end result though, fun little job.

Aside from this, cronusX was still called X and under development. And that was the first month of the year.

Feb:

Another busy busy month. I think until the end of March I was working on 3 projects at once constantly, which is so nasty.

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Invaders Must Die. Our highest profile release to date. When we landed this gig I was doing cartwheels, it's The Prodigy man, bands don't get much cooler. I think we did a really good job considering ( Post mortem if you want to see what "considering" actually means ) and having our game on the NME website and hearing the band were playing it after getting off stage in Australia and that they "Love it" almost cancels out all the other shit that's happened this year. This is why I make games, to get to do cool projects like this.

This month also saw us buy our way into the 4K comp and hopefully into developers hearts. February also saw me post a rant about all the "Make Flash games, you'll earn more money than you can actually count" articles that seemed to come out in a big wave, we jumped on the twitter bandwagon and Olli showed some lovely rendering action.

March:

After the highs of Feb, comes the lows of March.

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Save our Dumb Planet. I really dislike blogs where everything is made out to be all rosy. In real life you have blips, and we've had more than our fair share this year. I think just sharing the highs and glossing over the lows is just bull shitting the reader, and that's something we've never tried to do. We love you all far too much. Love in a brotherly way that is, not in a penetration sense.

So keeping that in mind, this was one of the worst projects I've ever had to work on, with the single worst meeting I've ever had. In any job. Ever. Early in March this game was canceled, the client weren't happy with the progress and the direction we were taking it in. It's there prerogative, there's no bad blood here, but it's the first time I've had a project fail on me, and the first time I've not really connected with a client.

A real kick up the arse. Apparently I don't walk on water, and this project hammered that home. Paid for my mac book pro though, so always a silver lining.

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On a better note, the 4k comp was finished up, with our entry, Bovis Abyssus released to the world ( And to be honest I'm really proud of that little 4k shooter ). An excellently run comp and one we were really proud to have sponsored.

X was code complete this month and Olli showed off some screens from a certain game, which like Dumb Planet, will never see the light of day.

And just to finish the month off in style I split up with my girl...

April:

...spent the month mainly licking my wounds.

This month didn't see anything new come out. I did ( With hindsight ) a quite hate filled post about putting ads on adver-games, and how it sickens me so much. Olli was a productive bunny this month and had a lot of time with Unity3D, the highlight being a very helpful post about all things GUI.

May:

A funny kind of limbo where we were just doing things with nothing to really show or write about. It turns out one game finally went live,

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Blitz Bots Alley. Another game for Brandissimo. This one just seemed to go wrong, it was meant to be a reskin of Sarge bowling, but due to the changes in the gameplay, which was fairly flawed and something we didn't notice until well into development, it was pretty much a total re-write. A low budget and a complete lack of motivation from me lead this to being drawn out and although we salvaged something ok at the end of it, it missed the mark and was just painful to work on. I burnt some bridges with this project, which I regret.

June:

A month that saw me get another year older, and where we spoke more about other peoples things rather than our own, including a great interview with our mate Chris about iPhone development.

Olli got all random level generation on our asses.

We also posted our first article about mtx. Was it only really June that we started hearing about coins and the like ? It seems like they've been around for ages due to the sheer amount of words which have been  devoted to them.

This month also saw GameJacket close ( There's got to be some lame pun involving zips and closing, but nothings coming to me. Just make your own up ).

July:

This is more like it, back on track again.

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AQI Zoneout. I got to work with the sexy basement.tv gang and our mate ickydime on this bad boy. A nice original puzzler, which would make a good iPhone game. It was slightly odd because I left the project before it was gold due to timing issues, which makes it feel slightly empty for me, you need the money shot, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out and had fun doing it ( Once I got over my fear of breaking the basements svn ).

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cronusX. My baby. I'm so proud of this game, it's everything a GYW game should be. It was really nice to be able to work with Olli directly on a game, and I really enjoyed posting every build as we went, that's something I'll def. do again ( I can't link to the WIP builds, as our dog shit cheap host that was used just for games got hacked, and the hosting company just gave up after that. I guess they didn't bother with the backups they said they did, and it was just easier to fold and keep everyones money. Cheers for that ).
In terms of traffic it's proved to be a disappointment, but let's save covering that for the post mortem.

Aug:

A quiet month really. First pics of Ionic were posted, cronusX went viral and I got all moody about things ( Which I'm not even going to bother linking to ).

We were busy, just sometimes there's nothing to say about it.

Sept:

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Via was Olli's sweet word game. It's not out yet as we're still looking at the best option for it, but it will see the light of day in the coming year.

The rest of the month was mainly talking about things that were coming soon, or "pointless filler posts" as they're known in the trade.

Oct:



Destroy All Cars. A box2D powered crash'em up made with our mate Elliot who I used to work with at gimme5games. Just to show what I know, I'm far from being a lover of this game, and it's our biggest hit by a long way. I think it was in the top 3 games on the Spil sites in it's first month, knocking out 4.6 million hits, and it's since been sold to Addicting and MouseBreaker, and will be on Miniclip in the new year.
It's great to have a big fat hit ( It's weird 'cause it just got slated on Kong, and although front paged on NG, critically it was panned ), just be nice to have one with a game I have more of an emotional investment in ( That's a very polite way of saying I'm not overly happy with it isn't it ? ).

Nov:

Basically words about Ionic, and a beta launch. That's it, move along now to the most wonderful time of the year...

Dec:

Ionic went gold and is now in bidding limbo.

And that's it, our year. Only our 2nd year and the most difficult by far, I think it shows how lucky we were on year 1. Our output was down, both in terms of actual games written and overall quality, which has made us look at a lot of things and it's not going to happen next year. There were big projects running in the background, like the National Geographic one, which haven't seen been launched this year, so that'll give me something to write about 365 days from now.

I'd just like to take the chance to thank you all for sticking with us, without you all out there we'd just be writing this for ourselves, and that's just a mental thing to do.

Happy New Yeah my beauties.

Squize.

Comments (8) -

  • ickydime

    12/31/2009 3:07:52 PM |

    Enjoyed the writeup... including the good, bad, and the ugly.  From what I have gaged in my small social sphere, you are not alone, the number of projects and size of projects have been down this year across the board.  2010 looks much more promising.

    Thanks for the kind words.  Working with you on Zoneout was one of the better projects for me as well... especially since you didn't bust up our svn ;).   If work picks up next year, as it should, expect to hear from us.  And we'll plan the timeline better next time to ensure you can have your 'money shot'. ;)

    Happy New Year!


  • MichaelJW

    12/31/2009 5:11:16 PM |

    Happy New Year!

  • Squize

    12/31/2009 6:20:34 PM |

    Hey Mark. Yeah I think every producer this year has wanted more than the usual pound of flesh, it's felt like budgets are down and expectations are up. Compared to industry at large we've not had it too bad though, our industry has always been pretty demanding, I think we've all just had to work harder to earn the same money as we have in the past.

    Hopefully '10 will see the start of a change around.

    Mark & Michael, Happy New Year to you both, hope you have a good one.

  • Ranoka

    1/1/2010 4:38:55 PM |

    That's a very honest reflection of your 2009, I know a lot of people would want to appear 'professional' and not admit to their failures publicly.

    Thanks for sharing, it's a good eye opener to me that being independent isn't always rosy. The most important thing is that you survived the year, and no undoubtedly you learnt from it.

    I hope to release some Flash games of my own this year (it's my main goal for 2010), but will do it as a hobby rather than try to make a living from it.

    Happy New Year, and may it be a good one for you both!

  • Squize

    1/2/2010 9:22:14 PM |

    Thanks Ranoka. I think it's vital that the blog is a place where we can drop our "professional" persona and just be honest as it's a peer read blog. People can spot hype and spin a mile off and as this is a blog aimed at other developers there's really no point.

    Also if we think we've done something good we want to be able to say so, which means that if we've done something which is shit then we need to say so too. If we're ever less than open and honest then I think the blog would fall down, I can't criticise things that I think are wrong if we're not willing to put our hands up when we've done something wrong.

    Good luck with your own games mate, once the first one is complete the rest will be easier, and Happy New Year to you too.

  • charlie

    1/3/2010 10:59:59 AM |

    Happy New Year!

    I enjoyed reading about your year; it's always interesting to know what people get up to, and it made me reflect about my 2009 which was 'pretty fair' work wise...

    I'm also hoping that 2010 will be a little better - maybe I'll keep a more detailed log of work (and how it's gone) so I can do my own write up next year :)

    Charlie

  • Squize

    1/4/2010 1:11:05 AM |

    Hey mate.

    I think it's a good thing to do, it's an eye opener for me going back through the blog seeing what we were up to. It's an easy way to remind yourself of your hits and misses, which is how we learn.

  • Barry White

    1/5/2010 9:41:59 AM |

    Nice write up :P - I'd forgotten about some of the other posts you linked to & loved reading them again. Happy New Year to you!

    Barry

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