Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Dan Alexander - the other half of Team Ortis has posted a bit of an update on his blog which details some of the process involved in doing the game and involving the XAGE engine. Keep watching his blog, no doubt he'll have plenty to talk about as we build the game.

If you want to see little updates from me, I sometimes post stuff on my tumblr about the game dev process too - not big updates like I write here, but a picture and/or sentence here and there which acts as a bit of a diary.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hi there

Hey. Hello. How are you?

It's been forever since I've written a post. Sorry about that. Been pretty darn busy, you see. So what's been going on?

To start with, PISS was finished, released, put on sale and then the Summerbatch ended so you can no longer buy it, although I assume most of you knew this and had plenty of warning. If you didn't, here's a screenshot anyway of how the final game turned out. It was a lot of work getting the game done by deadline; probably the hardest time I've ever had making a game.

Getting the water to animate right left me with an actual headache :D

After that was all done I got so busy with work that I basically had no time at all to do anything game related at all and so I didn't! Then suddenly I had a three day weekend out of nowhere and so Grundislav and I made a weirdo game based on our amazing podcast which some people like (but not all of them). This one is still available, you can get it here and if you needed more convincing than that then here's a screenshot:

Everyone thinks that Auntie Gravity is peeing, but she's not! I'd never make such a disgraceful visual joke. The pee joke is elsewhere in the game!

Thirdly, and because I need to work on something that doesn't have anything to do with weeing at some point, Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games is working on the next Blackwell game, and I am doing the character animations again this time, as well as taking on the background art. We're still in early stages, but you can get a sneaky peeky at what the game will look like from the screenshot below! Buy Primordia.

A baby kangaroo is called a Joey.

 Finally, I've also been working on Ortis - a game aimed at being the first full release using Dan Alexander's XAGE. Developing a game aimed at release on several completely different platforms - Windows, XBOX 360 and Windows Phone - has meant we've had to do some rethinking of interface to make sure all of these are supported in an intuitive way. It's also early stages in this game, but the pace is picking up as my free time does the same and things are starting to look good. You can see a screenshot below.

No, Madelyn. Do not burn benches.

I'm super busy at the moment working on all this game stuff, but I'll try to not be so long between updates next time. The year has flown by - between Falling Skywards, Fragment, ^_^, PISS and Spaceman in Space I've worked on 5 games released this year, and yet somehow it hardly feels like it has been any time at all. Hope you're all doing well, and I hope to have some more cool stuff to show you soon!

Ben <3>

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Development Journal!

Hello again!

Usually I like to save my blog for longer, more essay type posts, which means I have nowhere to put little snippets of the game design process. However, I thought I'd like to do this, and so I started a little journal over here. You can see me painting this background in stages, as well as animations and all sorts of other behind the scenes stuff over there, which I guess some of you may be interested in.

You can't leave comments there, but it's not something I'm doing for feedback, just for the sake of being sentimental. You can always email/pm me if you want to chat :).

The Bundle In A Box

Hello. There is a thing called A Bundle In A Box and I purchased it and I would like to tell you why you should also purchase it while you still have time.

Ok, first things first. I know you're probably thinking "Oh man, bundles are so overdone." but that is the wrong thing to be thinking. Why? Because this isn't like other bundles. Those other bundles are just bundles. This one is in a box. Not only that, but it is a bundle about ADVENTURE GAMES and I assume you are a fan of ADVENTURE GAMES because you have come here, and those are the sorts of games I make.

I am going to tell you about some of the ADVENTURE GAMES in this bundle in this box and then you're going to see why I bought it and am telling you to buy it.

One of the games that you get is Gemini Rue. You know that game you're playing through at the moment? Stop playing it. Play Gemini Rue instead. It's better, and therefore you should be playing it instead. I would spend lots of time talking about Gemini Rue but you ought to know about it already and if you have never heard of it, just buy the Bundle In A Box and you'll know all about it.

You can also get Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! and these are both ADVENTURE GAMEs in which you get to play as a character called Ben. Ben is the best name for playing a game as, Full Throttle taught us that, and these Zombie Cow/Size Five guys paid attention, which was jolly good of them! Both games are about being English and have some amazing puzzles, at one point you get to muck about with Hitler's poop which has never been done in a game before and that's what we in the "scene" call "innovation".

There's also a thing called 1893: A World's Fair Mystery. This is not an ADVENTURE GAME, it is something called a text adventure, which is a genre of game you absolutely should not play unless you're a filthy creative type, like an artist, poet or even worse a philosopher (ugh). Ok, so I'm none of these things and have played and enjoyed text adventures but I did so in an ironic way. If you're a dirty philosopher, though, this is probably exactly the game you want to play.

Then there's The Sea Will Claim Everything. I did not know what to expect from this, it appears to be a first person game, and thus I was expecting Doom™ (I had to Google "tm symbol" to know you press Alt+0153 to make the ™ so there's something I've learned) and this is not at all like Doom™. At all. It's an ADVENTURE GAME and a bloody good one, with lots of amazing things to click on and be pleased/surprised/amused/curious/all of the above at. It has the most fun GUI of any game I've ever played and when I went to save my game and the game provided a save slot called "Nipples" I wondered why I'd never used this name for my save games ever before. I will now. Always.

You can also get The Shivah, and let me tell you about this: I have a copy of The Shivah on cd on my shelf of games. On actual cd. That means it is a real game! The whole entire world knows about The Shivah by now, so I will assume you've already played it and if you haven't why are you still reading this go and get it and play it.

Lastly there is Metal Dead, which is an ADVENTURE GAME made in AGS like my games, but unlike mine it is at the enormous 600 tall 800 wide size, which is a resolution from The Future*. It's an ADVENTURE GAME about zombies and heavy metal, and these are three things I like more than most things. The time I've spent with it has been good quality gaming time, and I want you to have some good quality gaming time as well. Please, do yourself a favour. Play Metal Dead. You, too, can have good quality gaming time.

Wait, I've been talking so long about all these amazing games that you forgot what this is all about!? The Bundle In A Box, of course! Go and buy it now! It costs less than Final Fantasy X and is so much better.


*I assume. I've never been to the future, but I am certain there are games at this resolution there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

PISS Developer Diary: Character Design

Some time ago I had a discussion about the speculative biology of Dougal Dixon with esteemed AGSer Creed Malay which really got me thinking about the function of characters in a game environment.

Dixon's work focuses on humans adapting themselves to suit certain conditions, and before it becomes totally unbelieveable is quite an evocative, inspiring work. It got me thinking about the way we adapt to our conditions, and I've been trying to apply this a little in my character designs. Each NPC in a game has a story, a set of circumstances they exist in, and I feel that their design should absolutely reflect this. Outfits should be adapted to the tasks the characters are most commonly engaged in to help further their character.

For example, the second character here works in a mortuary. I thought it would be nice to have a system where instead of using gloves, he relies on long strips of rag tied to his belt to wipe his hands on as he works. The green skinned character is a mercenary guard, and thus I wanted him to look intimidating and confident, hence the lack of a shirt. The character on the far right is homeless, hence the simple rags she wears.

These are quite fantasy inspired shapes, I've never seen people dressed like this down the street, but they're also simple exaggerations of normal outfits. I feel this helps define a character's personality more clearly, as well as making them interesting to look at. When I draw a character for a game, I usually try to adhere to 3 main things: It should match the style of the scenery but also be instantly identifiable from it, should have a unique appearance that distinguishes it from the other characters, and should be simple enough in style that it can be animated reasonably. I feel that in PISS I have stuck to these, while also using each character's circumstances to define their design, and thus I am quite pleased with the results.

Friday, May 11, 2012

PISS Developer Diary: Setting the Scene

For me, a huge part of creating a game is doing the scenery - building the image of the world, as it were. It's not only satisfying to create the look of your world, it's also important to focus on functionality of the scene too. Backgrounds that look great but are impractical are pointless, so there's a lot to think about in terms of what the player will need to interact with, whether exits are able to be found, walkable areas and the like.

For PISS, I really want to create an interesting, exotic world. I want it to be familiar and yet also quite alien - you should be able to recognize a building as a building and a tree as a tree, but it shouldn't look exactly like the buildings or trees that we see every day.

I'm thinking a lot about colour palettes, light sources and the form of things in order to achieve this. Instead of a blue sky, mine is green with yellowish clouds. Rather than choosing to have yellow lights as I usually do, I've gone with bright blue ones.

It's something I've really pushed - putting interesting things in each scene. I want you to look at the backgrounds. I want to build a world that you as a player want to explore and discover things about. For me, I love it when I see a scene from a game that captures my attention and makes me think "I want to go there". Make the visual elements of a scene - beyond composition, colour and functionality - interesting. Make lights, banners, statues, doors, plants and buildings that will make people interested.

A common thing when talking about decorating a house is the concept of a "conversation piece". For me, a game scene should have these. In PISS I want every scene to have at least one unusual element, one of these conversation pieces. Far beyond a stage on which to put your puzzles and story, a background is a piece of your world, and is so much more than a container for your characters and puzzles!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Desk

After looking at my poor old desk today and realizing it really needs a new paintjob, I also realized that I haven't given it a new coat of paint since I first got it and painted it... which was something like 7 years ago :D.

I also realized that every single game I've ever made has been at this rickety old desk, which I found for free and have used as a PC table ever since. I had to glue the top back down earlier this year, and it's a messy, shaky old thing, but it's been a faithful desk through a number of PCs and lord knows how many hours spent at it.

I've sometimes thought of buying myself a decent desk, but always come back to the fact that this would cost money and I already have a desk, so for now I stick with the old faithful. If you look carefully (at the admittedly terrible quality picture) you can even see the semi-infamous sweets tin over there on the far right where it lives.

This is where all my games have been made, and the way things are going, is probably where my games will be made still for the next few years to come!