Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Is this game Retro, Indie, or just plain weird?

After 20 years, when I got back in touch with Chris Graham, the graphics artist who worked with me on Slightly Magic and Rock Star Ate My Hamster, I knew I wanted to work on a new game with him.

A modest casual game, but hopefully with something new to offer, Cheshire's Cheese Nightmares hits the OUYA and Android today. Free on all formats, so please take a look:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

If you play only one game this lifetime...

Here's the thing. I write computer games, and yet I actively dislike 99% of all games that are produced today. You might suggest I find another profession. You might well be right.

I think there's an ancient story about a man who falls in love with a woman in his own dream. On waking, he spends the rest of his life searching for that woman, but she never even existed. This is a very similar story. For 25 years ago a game was released which showed how all other games would one day be written. A game with style, poetry, plot, songs, stars, humour, and even reason.

Deus Ex Machina was released to unprecedented reviews and acclaim. A remarkable ZX Spectrum game linked to an audio soundtrack, and loosely based on Shakespeare's seven ages of man. It was thought-provoking, challenging, utterly confusing and completely brilliant. Quite literally a game-changer. It starred Ian Dury, Jon Pertwee, Frankie Howerd, and yes, yourself. If you ever played it.

I knew that this was where it was at. I knew that finally the game was developing as a full creative art form, following film, music, literature into another world. Except, of course, it never happened. Why that is is not for me to wonder on. But here's something very special. An archival quality, remastered version of the game on Kickstarter. Plus a gleaming new version with breathtaking new graphics. Maybe the time has finally come, maybe now games can begin to stand as an entertainment form with style and creativity.

If you only back one Kickstarter this lifetime, why not make it this one?
And if you only ever play one game this lifetime...

Deus Ex Machina Kickstarter

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Slightly Magic Day!

At last and finally, Slightly Magic is back. Woohoo!

Thanks in no small part to my failed Kickstarter, which showed that there was still an interest in Slightly and his friends even after 20+ years absence, and that I probably asked for too much money.

The full game’s out now for Android, iOS, PC Mac and Linux, with OUYA to follow.
Lack of Kickstarter funding meant that it took a little longer than planned, and was a complete gamble for me. Time will tell. You can find out more at slightlymagic.uk. 

Badges, postcards and posters are also available, and you can get an instant download of the full game. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The end of formats, the return of fun...

Slightly Magic Day is a mere 11 days away, and counting down according to the official website, so here's an update on its progress. After a slight hiccup with the Linux version, I can now report that all the desktop versions are fully complete, uploaded and waiting for release on the appointed day - 7.7.14. That's PC, Mac and Linux, in case you were wondering, and quite a relief for me.

Actually, better than that - they're available for pre-order right now, so feel free to scamper along to slightlymagic.uk to find out more. By some technological wizardry, anyone who pre-orders will be able to download the game as soon as it's released. Plus there's a Physical Fun Bundle option too, which must at least be worth a snigger.

Ah, but what about the mobile versions, I hear you ask? Has the authentic 8bit graphics and original screen ratio fallen foul of the appstore guardians? Erm, well no. Both Slightly Magic and Slightly Magic Lite passed all tests with flying colours. Happy days. Just the OUYA version to go now, unless I sneak another platform past the guards.

Desktop versions have a few nice extras, including the ability to listen to all of Allister's in-game music from a single screen. And the free 'Lite' version (which contains the entire first level) should be available on all formats on 7.7.14 too.

Now I just have to order the postcards, posters and badges for the Fun-Bundle options, and one of those exhibition banner stands for the Wales Games Development Show, which I'll be appearing at on 11th July, if you happen to be around.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Slightly Magic Day: 7.7.14

Counting down to happiness...

Only now can it be told, Slightly Magic is returning on 7.7.14 on a number of formats. How many formats exactly, you may ask. At which point I mumble 'loads' and point at an imaginary distraction just over your left shoulder.

But what the heck. You've taken the trouble to come to this blog post, and it might be a little interesting, so here's where Slightly Magic really is today, and how I dare come to challenge the Fates and predict an exact launch date - that always used to be for publishers to worry about, after all.

It's just over a month to release date, and I've personally played Slightly on PC, Mac, iOS, Android and OUYA. I have complete confidence that the game runs fabulously on Linux too - I'm just not too sure exactly what that is. Hey, what is that over your shoulder, anyway?

All this, of course, doesn't guarantee that my magical friend can jump through all the hoops and dance routines necessary for successful app store releases. Matter-of-fact I wouldn't be surprised if sticking to the original screen ratios (of which there were 2) might cause some problems on certain formats. Time will tell.

But today, as we speak, even now, at this moment in time, there is at least one format ready and waiting for a final press of an on-screen 'release now' button. Other submissions will be attempted this week, but the majestic freedom and speed of the Google Play store submission process means that at least the Android version is sure to be out on 7.7.14. Unless I sleep late, of course.

And I figure that a month should be enough to get a respectable number, judged as a mean sample of all available format ratios, of versions out for Slightly Magic Day. Also, I'm itching to start work on the sequel, Slightly Spooky, and I've finally found that tin of magic beans that's been hiding in the back of my cupboard for the past 20 years. More news here soon, but I should seriously take a look over your shoulder. That just looks weird.


Friday, 23 May 2014

How I wasted a month of my life on an ancient epic...

Ah, progress. It can sometimes creep up on you. Which is what happened to me earlier this year.

Maybe I got a bit carried away with app development, maybe I got a little overexcited.

'Wouldn't it be great' I thought, 'to publish my audio book Mabinogion, the Four Branches as an app?' Yes, of course it would, and a month later I had such an app, complete with artwork by legendary US artist Howard David Johnson. It was big. 5 audio CDs worth of music, plus generous album artwork. Still, it looked and sounded great.

Then I looked at Bandcamp, the company who handle the downloads of the original audiobook. Lo and behold, they now have an app - an app to let anyone stream music from their site (including my splendid audiobook) direct to their phone or tablet. Not only that, but direct to their Sonos system too. Streaming, so no long downloads, and the utter convenience of instant delivery. Take a listen here:


Thursday, 1 May 2014

How did this even happen?

Slightly Magic has got to the point where it's being playtested within an inch of its life. What I've noticed is:
1. The touch controls on phones and tablets work pretty well, without taking up any screen estate. 
2. Allister's music is as fresh as ever, and has never sounded better. 
3. Joystick control on consoles is, erm... a joy. 

I think I've remained faithful to the original, although there are one or two extras included.

I'll be spending a few days next week recording the audio commentary, then it'll be a matter of negotiating the numerous app stores and finally plumping for a release date. I love a good plump.