Animal Raceway

Animal Raceway is another collaboration with artist RobotJAM. Pick your animal and train them up so that they can compete with the other animals in their league. Progress through the leagues to try and win the premier league.

This one’s all about the training mini-games and upgrading your stats. The actual race part is a simulation and is entirely dependent on your statistics. There’s a bit of strategy involved in picking which race to run in as well as you get a choice of two. Make sure you pick the race that will best match your strengths.

The main difficulty in making this game was coming up with the mini-games and making sure that they were all fairly evenly balanced. Then setting the difficulty of the other competitors and maintaining a challenge as you progress to new leagues was another important consideration. I think on reflection we did a reasonable job of the difficulty and balance although early feedback does suggest that perhaps some of the mini-games aren’t so balanced (it seems that some players find reactions and speed games easier than others). But I still don’t think that that really detracts from the game too much and actually I think it’s pretty fun to play.

The music in the game was done by Brian Holmes and I hope you’ll agree that he did a fantastic job.

P.s. Stay tuned for Blow Things Up 2! Should be going live next Thursday.

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Hambo

Another new game! Golden Robot and Hambo ended up being released almost at the same time (just because we had to wait on our sponsor before releasing Golden Robot).

The idea for Hambo came to me pretty randomly while watching TV. People often ask how I get my ideas so I’ll explain what happened with this one. I’d been thinking about doing a physics type game for a while but wasn’t too sure which direction to go in. Two adverts actually inspired this one. Firstly there was an advert for a bank which showed a load of cute little piggy banks running around and then the next advert was a Ferrero Rocher ad where an arrow was fired at a pile of chocolates sending them flying. Almost instantly my subconscious offered up ‘Pig Rambo’ and I knew straight away that I was onto a winner!

RobotJAM did the art once again (and came up with the genius name of ‘Hambo’ for the game). He had a clear vision of how he wanted the game to look before starting, opting for a cute style which suits the game nicely.

We worked pretty quickly on this one, going from idea to full game in about two weeks. The box2d physics engine made all the physics side of things nice and easy and Playtomic handled the level sharing so the majority of the work was in building the level editor (and making it simple enough for anyone to use) and then designing the levels.

We both made a bunch of levels (and my brother George made a couple as well) and then we weeded out the ones that we felt weren’t as good and arranged them into some sort of order.

I’m optimistic about how this game will go down. Initial statistics certainly look very promising (it did a pretty huge 385,000 plays yesterday). It’s rare that I’ll still enjoy a game after testing it over and over but this one I’m still coming back to. It’s great seeing what other people are coming up with in the user levels so be sure to make some yourself!

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February 27th, 2011 Games Tags: , , , , , , , 21 Comments

The Legend of the Golden Robot

This game actually started development before Toxers but I didn’t get involved in the project until later. RobotJAM had started the game himself but it was too big a project for one person really so I stepped in to help out.

The basic idea of the game is an RPG where you play as an Indiana Jones style treasure hunter, Indigo Steve. The gameplay consists of fighting enemies and digging up treasures using a similar system to the classic minesweeper game. There’s also an inn where you can play mini-games, a shop where you can buy better gear, and a levelling up system so that you can improve your stats.

Fighting is turn based and we tried to keep it simple while still maintaining an element of strategy. To mix things up a bit we put some ‘special items’ in that can only be found by digging them up which have different effects. We also put some buddies in which are little animals that fight for you, giving you a bonus effect. Buddies can be found fighting for mini bosses so you have to defeat them before they will join your cause.

The Golden Robot will join your side if you can find him and is the only way to defeat the evil wizard. He has been dismantled and is buried in five pieces.

I hope you enjoy playing!

Update:
If you want to find out more about how we made Golden Robot then there’s a lovely article all about it here.

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February 26th, 2011 Games Tags: , , , , , 25 Comments

Spitfire: 1940

With the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain last year came a flurry of programs on TV honouring the heroic deeds of those that fought to defend their country. It was inspiring stuff so inevitably I felt the need to make a game on the subject.

There are already plenty of games where you fly around shooting planes down so we opted for a different approach in Spitfire: 1940, choosing instead to put the player in charge of the whole operation involved in defending Britain. We thought we could do a good job of it but were never 100% certain that it would make for a fun game and there was a lot of tweaking to be done before we were happy with it. In the end though I feel that it turned out pretty well and I have enjoyed playing it myself so I hope others will too.

It’s one of the more serious games that I have made with robotJAM (artist on many of my games) and a departure from our usual tendency to add humour to our games. We felt that this deserved a certain level of respect and with that in mind did plenty of research around the subject and tried to base the statistics for the planes based on how they performed in real life.
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January 24th, 2011 Games 23 Comments

Blow Things Up!

Another new game out! That’s three within about a week of each other. Obviously they haven’t only taken me a few days to make they’ve all just been sitting waiting for sponsors and release dates to come along.

Blow Things Up is my first attempt at using box2d, a physics engine that handles all the collisions and physics simulation in the game. It’s a fantastic tool that is very versatile and can be used for any number of game ideas.

Blow things up started out with me just playing around and trying to get to grips with box2d. The original game featured a character that could shoot cannons at structures to knock them down and I was going to invent a whole bunch of different weapons that would help him achieve his goal. With that in mind I started trying to come up with a way to create realistic looking explosions using box2d but once I had a method I decided that it was so much fun just clicking to create explosions that I could make a game using just that as the core idea.

The actual method I used to create the explosions was fairly straightforward but it seems to produce good results so I decided not to delve deeper into creating a more sophisticated method. Basically all I’m doing is applying a force to the centre of an object if it is within the blast radius and the force strength is greater the nearer the object is to the blast. This does have drawbacks (the main one being that if an object is really large then the bomb might register as being too far away to affect it even though it is right next to it since it is only actually registering at the centre of the object) but I feel that it generally works well in the scope of this game.

The main difficulty in making Blow Things Up was coming up with good level designs. I made a simple level editor to help me make the levels which did the job reasonably well but I found it very tough to come up with a variety of levels that were both challenging and fun. I think the levels ended up being a bit on the easy side but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Players don’t always like to have too much of a challenge and there are at least a few levels in there that are a bit trickier than others. I wanted players to enjoy the experience of just having fun blowing things up and not getting too bogged down by levels that were too difficult. Also, to add more of a challenge for those players who want it, I added in a trophy system which will award you a trophy if you use the minimum number of bombs possible for a level.

Update: I feel that I should update this post just to say that in its 2nd day of going live this game had just under 250,000 plays, a new record for me for the most plays from a single game in one day :) That equates to almost 3 plays every second over a 24 hour period! I’m very pleased with how the release of this one is going.

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Toxers

Two games released in two days! Toxers is without a doubt my biggest and most ambitious project yet and happily that was reflected in the sponsorship deal that we managed to get for it. The bulk of the work for this game actually came when it was in its final stages. We spent a considerable amount of time bug testing and balance testing and just adding in those extra bits of polish to ensure that come release it was as good as it was ever going to be.

In Toxers you take on the role of unlikely hero Bob Steel in a post-radioactive-ice-cream-factory-explosion Metropolis city (yes, in case you hadn’t noticed we like to add the odd bit of humour into our games. Our Panda series is a good example of that). As Bob Steel you are tasked with searching through a bug infested city while seeking out survivors, completing missions and upgrading your firepower.

The actual game design came from one of Rob’s (robotJAM, the artist that I’ve worked with on several games now) friends, Cathy. She was also a huge help when it came to play-testing and spent hours painstakingly playing through the game to make sure that it was all working the way we wanted. The game’s difficulty was something that we struggled with for a while. We wanted to keep it challenging throughout to keep players interested but not so difficult that they would give up. That involved a lot of tweaking of both weapon and bug stats but hopefully we got there in the end.

The toughest enemy in the game is a huge bug called Bugzilla and he’s everything you’d expect from a final boss! Bugzilla is not easy to defeat but it is certainly possible (and can be made easier if you choose to buy premium items).

One reason for making a more ambitious project was because we wanted to trial micro-transactions properly to find out if they really are a viable revenue option for the future. Initial statistics look promising and I will be giving an update to my thoughts on micro-transactions post as soon as I feel we have enough reliable data to make a more informed decision about them.

In the meantime check out the game and have a look at the premium section to see how we’ve implemented the mochicoins micro-transaction system.

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November 13th, 2010 Games 12 Comments

Brain Waves

It’s been a while since I’ve released a game so it feels great to be getting another one out there but it’s not because I haven’t been busy! In the time since I released The Dreamerz I have in fact finished four games that are all in various stages of being released. Oddly enough Brain Waves was the last of those four to be made but it is the first to be released. Sometimes sponsorship deals can take a while to finalise and then the sponsor might want to wait to release the game. Also most sponsors seem to ask for a period of exclusivity where the game only appears on their site before it goes live. All that can mean that it can take a while for games to actually get released.

Brain Waves on the other hand went from idea to release in around two weeks which is a pretty speedy development cycle. The other games that will appear on here soon were far bigger projects and took a considerable amount of designing, creating and bug testing before they could be deemed ready for release.

As a result we (robotJAM and myself) wanted to do a much simpler project that we could finish quickly before getting stuck into the next big project (which incidentally is already under way). We drew inspiration from other simple but effective games that often involve several minigames in an attempt to make something that was fun, challenging and competitive. We had seen some other games that involved reaction/skill tests that seemed like they had potential but were generally lacking and we felt we could do better.

We put together a series of minigames that we felt would test people and bring out their competitive side. Leaderboards and facebook integration were a must for this kind of game to enable players to compete with other people around the globe as well as their friends. This is the first time I have attempted to integrate a game with facebook and (with help) it seemed very simple to set it up so that you could post a score to your facebook account (although it must be said that I didn’t play a very big part in setting that up! I have Rob and another developer he often works with, Long Animals, to thank for that).

Anyway, enough waffling, I hope you enjoy playing and competing in Brain Waves! Make sure you post some scores to facebook. I look forward to seeing what kind of impact that might have on the viral spread of the game.

P.S. Stay tuned for my new releases which will be updated soon. Toxers is my biggest game so far in all respects and will hopefully be going up tomorrow.

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November 11th, 2010 Games Tags: , , , 11 Comments

The Dreamerz

The Dreamerz is another collaboration with my artist friend robotJAM. It’s another point-and-click game but there’s not a Panda in sight this time. The concept for this game was actually dreamed up (see what I did there) before we made Panda’s BIGGER Adventure. I came across a game that I really liked, The Blue Beanie, and got in touch with its creator, asking if she’d like to do a collaboration.

I put together an idea for a game that I thought would go well with her style of art. Unfortunately it didn’t work out because she was unable to commit enough time to the project but I didn’t want to just ditch it completely because I really liked the concept of the game. I considered attempting to do the art myself but luckily I decided to see if Rob wanted to get on board first. He did a far better job than I ever could have done on the art and helped shape the game into what it is now.

I think we got the formula near enough spot on with this one with a lot people saying that they thought it was the perfect length and difficulty for a Flash game which is always nice to hear. It’s not too challenging but there is enough of a challenge to keep it engaging throughout and the puzzles are all (more or less) logical. We were also lucky enough to get a great sound designer, Reade McCardell, to work on the game. He put together all the sounds which add a lot of atmosphere to the planets. Check out his band here: Fresh Cut Salads.

It has been the highest rated game I’ve made to date, getting scores over 4 stars on Kongregate and Newgrounds, a really great result. It was also reviewed very favourably by JayIsGames, a site that reviews Flash games and that has reviewed several of my games in the past.

But it’s the great comments that players leave that make the business of making Flash games so rewarding. Several players likened the game to Myst and Samorost which was just fantastic since those are great games.

There were of course a few negative comments (you can’t please everyone!), most of them being about the fact that the sound puzzle was too challenging. That was probably the bit that I was least confident about before release since I was worried that people would find it tricky but I still like it and am glad that it stayed in the game.

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Panda’s BIGGER Adventure

The second half of Panda’s BIG Adventure sees our favourite back-talking Panda catapulted forward in time to a future where Elvis, the true owner of the time-machine, is being held captive in a robot prison. Ok so the plot gets a little ridiculous in this one but it’s all good fun.

This part of the game wraps up the adventure and features 5 new time zones; the future prison, Leonardo Da Vinci’s pad, Al Copop’s secret moonshine production facility, a World War II trench and the not so wild west. As an extra bonus, for the first time ever you get a glimpse of Panda’s swanky HQ when you face up against the final terminator-pirate boss.

We’ve enjoyed making the Panda games a lot, especially coming up with crazy plots and weaving the film references into the games, but we’ve decided to hang up our Panda shaped hats (for the immediate future at any rate). As much as we enjoy the genre we want to branch out into other areas and make different kinds of games.

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September 23rd, 2010 Games Tags: , , , , 5 Comments

GearCopter

This game was made as a challenge to see if I could make a game in a single day. Several other developers were doing the same thing at the time and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Long game projects can take some of the fun out of developing after a while so it was refreshing to be making something that I could take from concept to completion in about 10 hours.

The gameplay is understandably simple but it’s actually a game that I enjoyed playing during testing, trying to get better at it and improve on my score. Writing that made me want to check if I still held the high score. As it turns out I didn’t, but it didn’t take me too long to set one again!

I probably wouldn’t have been able to make this in 10 hours if I hadn’t had some of the artwork already lying around from other unfinished projects. It was a fun challenge though and makes me think I should do it again some time although it’s not particularly rewarding releasing a game that is below par in terms of the standard of the average Flash game these days.

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September 23rd, 2010 Games Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

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Bad Eggs Online 2

Bad Eggs Online 2

Escape To Hell

Escape To Hell

The Ninth Realm

Falling Elephants

Falling Elephants

Super Villainy

Super Villainy

Hambo 2

Hambo 2

Ninja Bear

Ninja Bear

Bad Eggs Online

Bad Eggs Online

Battle Beavers

Battle Beavers

Synapsis 2

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The Adventures of Red

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Blow Things Up! 2

Blow Things Up! 2

Animal Raceway

Animal Raceway

Hambo

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Legend of the Golden Robot

Spitfire: 1940

Spitfire: 1940

Blow Things Up!

Blow Things Up!

Toxers

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Brain Waves

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The Dreamerz

Panda's BIGGER Adventure

Panda's BIGGER Adventure

GearCopter

GearCopter

Popopop 2

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Panda's BIG Adventure

Panda's BIG Adventure

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Planet Basher

Orbit

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Panda: Tactical Sniper 2

Panda: Tactical Sniper 2

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Panda: Tactical Sniper

Panda: Tactical Sniper

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Salmon Survival

Pondskater

Pondskater