I’ve just enjoyed an epic weekend party with friends old and new, and I thought I’d share an awesome gaming moment that took place there.
We were all staying in a hostel for the weekend, with a number of small children who had very little to do during the day. I’d brought my PS3 for SingStar the night before, but my wife thoughtfully suggested I put Journey on in the communal lounge for the kids. No online features, sadly, but we thought it would be harmless fun for an hour or so.
5-year-old Ethan played it through start to finish in one sitting.
He struggled a bit with keeping the controller level, so I had to reframe the camera for him occasionally. And he asked me to take over briefly during the scary serpent sections, but bombarded me with questions throughout, which I tried to let him figure out for himself. In the background I heard a number of adults discussing the art style, mood and pacifism of the game appreciatively. But Ethan remained utterly engrossed, except to turn occasionally and tell me his interpretation of what was happening onscreen.
By the end of the game Ethan and the watching children were literally laughing aloud with glee as he sailed up the mountainside on the back of a cloth whale.
I felt wonderful just to have introduced him to the experience. ThatGameCompany should be very, very proud of what they created. It’s art like theirs that makes me proud to work in the industry.
I really need to post more often…
So…you probably noticed that our ambitious Kickstarter didn’t reach it’s target. Disappointing, but we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes. We’re looking at a number of alternative ways forward – more detail as and when…
On the plus side, LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes won a BAFTA for the Best Children’s Game…which was nice!
And I recently did another Ludum Dare game jam, producing this shallow but reasonably elegant effort: Winter’s Bane. As usual, I spent a lot of time on feel and polish, but not enough on content – nevertheless, it was thoroughly enjoyable to make. I’m working on a post-compo version incorporating some of the features that didn’t make it into the 48 hour version.
Quick update on The Lazarus Machine – next week writer/producer Steve, composer Chris and I will be interviewed by Alyssa and Kristin of Behind The Steam, a great music-oriented podcast focused on the rather diverse Steampunk scene. It was scheduled for yesterday but postponed due to flu – get well soon, Kristin!
Looking forward to that enormously, particularly since in the last few days we have managed to arrange three original tracks from Unwoman, Sunday Driver and Vernian Process. I love how approachable everyone in the Steampunk music scene is!
Remember to spread the word about The Lazarus Machine’s KickStarter campaign – we’ve had a lovely response from those who’ve seen the page – but we need to reach more people!
The KickStarter page for “The Lazarus Machine” is now live!
And so begins our drive to build an audience for the project big enough to get it made. Crowdfunding is a wonderfully democratic method of funding, and it means there are no gatekeepers, no one person holding the purse strings and making a call on whether it is worth producing. If enough people want to see it, we can proceed. Simple as that.
The challenge now is making enough people aware of it’s existence so they can make that judgement. So if you’re reading this, please take a moment to let your social networks know about our little webseries. Some of your friends may be into steampunk, or independent film. Some might just like great actors like Timothy West and Sophie Aldred. Some might be keen on unusual music – and the bands contributing to The Lazarus Machine are as varied as they come:
retro-goth Vernian Process
anachro-punks The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing
time-travelling raconteurs The Cog Is Dead
crazed chap-hopper Professor Elemental
and the indescribable The Tiger Lillies!
And some of your friends might just like something a bit different 🙂
Whatever the case, please let them know about us so they can decide whether they want to see it for themselves. Thank you!
Time for an update on our long-awaited web serial. Things are moving fast now, so I will be posting much more frequently! As a reminder, here is the test scene we shot as a proof of concept – click through to watch the video…
This was a great experience – cast and crew were wonderfully enthusiastic, the CG sets are fantastic, and we’re very happy with the results. Now it’s time to repeat the process on a grander scale to create 8 episodes of about 8 minutes each. It’s comparable to shooting a feature.
The most important news is that the project has a new title. “Winter” has been a great working title, but it doesn’t convey anything about the story. So henceforth the flagship story of the Voidships world will be…
“The Lazarus Machine”.
And we’re going to need more help. We have a KickStarter campaign poised to launch, and a lot of very exciting news to reveal, particularly if you’re a fan of great actors, steampunk music or behind-the-scenes VFX breakdowns. We have all manner of ways to keep track of our progress, and we need you to share our ramblings with anyone who likes steampunk, or independent filmmaking, or science fiction, or good drama:
Email! Go to monstrousproductions.com and sign up to the mailing list.
Twitter! Follow @Voidships or @adaddinsane or @Qixotl.
Google+! Join The Lazarus Machine community.
In fact…check out the G+ community right now for our first casting reveal!
Wow, nine months without posting a thing. Epic downtime. It has been a busy year what with LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO City and preparations for the steampunk webseries I’m shooting. More on that shortly, plenty of filmmaking news to come!
I did manage another Ludum Dare weekend in the run-up to Christmas – that game is a stealth-’em-up called Infidel. I’m still too ambitious in these weekend challenges but at least this time I stayed focused on mechanics and gameplay over art. It’s all good practice.
The Christmas holiday was a wonderful break, and I forgot how spending the day at work takes it out of you. Particularly as we’re now on the final stretch of LEGO Batman 2. I’ve had no energy left for side projects at all.
However, there are a couple of game jams coming up, which I’m excited about. I’m hoping to have cleared the bulk of my TT work by then so I can spare a couple of weekends.
The MolyJam is a semi-serious event based on the wild imaginings of spoof twitter account @PeterMolydeux, but surprisingly many of his deliberately pretentious pie-in-the-sky game concepts could actually work. I love the idea of starting with a joke tweet that was intended to be ridiculous and unachievable, and making it work. I have picked my source tweet, but I’ll write about that later.
Soon after that, it’s time for the epic Ludum Dare 23. We could easily break 1000 entries this time! My only plan for this event is to craft a player experience to begin with, rather than the vacuous but pretty efforts I’ve made before. I shall also start collating my game jam efforts here for posterity.
Throughout April it’s also this year’s ScriptFrenzy, which I’m beginning to think of as a game jam for screenwriters. I won’t be participating this year, as I have too little spare time, but my Voidships partner Steve Turnbull has some interesting plans.
When the dust has settled on that lot, it’ll be time to kick our steampunk web series into high gear. But that warrants a post of it’s own. Stay tuned…
I have been neglecting this blog again – happens when things get busy at work (or outside work!).
It has been a very eventful December. Ludum Dare 22 generated nearly 900 games in a weekend, but due to some technical problems and a healthy dose of repeating my previous mistakes, I didn’t quite finish mine. Play “Lonely Island” here.
Then Unity released a beta build that exports to Flash’s new Stage3D, and announced a game jam…with prizes. Shame they announced it just before Xmas when everyone’s busy. I mulled it over until new year before settling on a steampunk space dogfighting game set in the Voidships universe. It made sense to use the contest as motivation to produce something that could generate a bit of an audience for our fledgling IP. It was a late start, but with some invaluable model work from an artist friend (Thank you, Liam!) I managed to cobble together something that’s very rough but fun nonetheless.
I’ve called it Voidships: Pilot Error.
My other game projects are temporarily on hold while Liam and I give it a proper polish ready for people to play in earnest.
One hour is a bit tight, but at least it’s all over quickly one way or another. Here’s what I managed within the deadline…and here’s what I intended it to be, which took an extra 3 hours.
I love these short events. You’d think more time would be beneficial, but it’s harder to sustain an hour or two every night for a week or month than to commit to one hour or even a whole weekend in one go. I wonder if I can break down my more ambitious side projects into bite-size chunks like that…
Sigh. After being ill this weekend I’ve decided to abort the October Challenge – rather than rush out a substandard game, I’ll take my time and finish it to a quality I’m happy with. This is definitely the right decision – while tweaking the anims in Blender I realised I need to re-rig the main character so stop his IK knees skewing sideways. If I’m not extremely careful, this may mean re-animating the handful of anims I’d already done. With a week to go, I didn’t need to be redoing work. But in the long term, it’ll mean better and more animations. I’ll have some free time over christmas, so new year would be an excellent alternative target deadline!
However, in the short term – Ludum Dare have come up with ANOTHER game dev challenge that I can’t resist: The ZERO Hours Challenge!
It takes place during the hour when the clocks go back. This appeals enormously to the Faction Paradox fan in me.
Seriously though, the extreme time limit will force participants to focus on a simple design that works – the challenge is more about spending the intervening week imagining a game simple enough to implement in one hour, but still fun. It’s interesting that with modern game dev tools, classics like Pong, Breakout, Joust, or PacMan could all be cloned easily in that time. But coming up with something so simple and original is going to be much harder than actually implementing it…