Sunday, 27 October 2013

Creativity Conundrum

Good afternoon Dr Internet.

Normally I like to use these blog shaped therapy sessions to throw out some info on what I've been up to and discuss whatever’s on my mind. I find it cathartic; we all like to get things off our chest occasionally.  But recently things have changed, I've realised a few home truths, and it’s doing my head in.

I keep thinking up new game ideas!

Some are better than others (I’ll admit that) but they’re all at least partially original, do-able with my current knowledge, exciting to me in some way and I can’t wait to get started on them!

So where’s the problem? Let me explain…

In the last few weeks I've been working on Newgrounds and Kongregate integration for Bedlam.  Now that we’re finished with the damn thing we want to shove it in front of as many people’s noses as possible.
Even though it’s still being rolled out, in my mind it’s already old news...the next game in the pipeline has been in development for almost 10 months now and is about 80% complete.

So from here I have to finish post production on Bedlam, then complete the next game, then do the post on that, plus probably some website updates and all the socials… all of which before I can get cracking on anything new.

And in that time, (not the whole development cycle – just the last couple of weeks)… I've come up with plans for another 3 games!

Now I’m sure I’ll get faster at coding… and I'm only part time so I could chuck in a bunch more hours if I wanted to… And we could get some more guys in to help us… but even with all that (and the best will in the world), I’m never going to make all the games I want to.


There it is right there.

Big sad face :-(

So the vast majority of the games I come up with are never going to be made…  Every time I hit on (to me) a great new idea then I’m fully aware that the chances are that it’ll end up filed away in an imaginary storage warehouse in my mind, guarded by imaginary top men. Top Men.

I guess it goes with the territory of being a game developer. It takes so long to make a game compared with the amount of time needed to conceive one, it’s practically inevitable.

I don’t have any answers on this… only a pearl of wisdom: From now on, no matter how drunk I am, I’m never going to pitch an idea that I have at another game developer. It’s something I try to avoid as a rule: typically when you start gushing at people they can get pretty defensive anyway…

 But now I know another reason: When you start banging on about an interesting new game concept you’re not offending them, but you are reminding them of all the great games they have in their mind that’ll never see the light of day.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Indie game: the moment

Well internet, the last couple of days have been a bit of a roller-coaster.  As things are all tied up on Bedlam I decided that it was time to release it in to the wild and see what’s what.

To date it has been up on our website and playable for over a month but: given that we haven’t actually told anyone about it OR the website, the chances of it being actually played by anyone are practically nil.

So this brings us on to the Indie game: The movie moment referenced in the title… Anyone who’s watched the film knows the one I'm talking about: It’s the part where Super Meat Boy gets released and Tommy and Ed are glued to their monitors seeing how it goes down with gamers.

To be honest it totally swept me up! For about 2 hours after the game went up for review I was refreshing my browser every 5 minutes, reading all the comments and agonising as the rating went up and down.  And before you ask: No I didn't log on anonymously and up vote the game!

So how are we doing?  We’ll it’s been just under 3 days now and the stats are as follows:
The game’s been viewed 1657 times
It’s passed evaluation and been accepted on to the main site
We've had 4 comments – all reasonably constructive and positive
We’re hovering at a rating of just over 2 out of 5.

This may all seem pretty underwhelming to you but I'm ecstatic! The game’s getting played! WOOOOOOOO! It’s not gajillions of people, We’re not making any money off it, but we've entertained a bunch of random people around the world for a few minutes of their lives… and I find that immensely satisfying!

And as for the rating… Well I’m not to disheartened by a 2/5: After all it’s our first game, it is really limited in scope and (due to the fact I haven’t figured out the Newgrounds API yet), It hasn't got a working leader-board… which is a big point of the game.  So yeah I’ll take 2/5 for a first punt all day – It gives me a target to aim for with the next game!

Also a side note: Loving newgrounds so far!  I’d heard some pretty disparaging comments about it but so far it’s all sweetness and light.  The developer area is straight forward, the terms are really generous and pretty much all of the users who've commented have left constructive feedback :-) - I think it’s going to be a second home from now on.

Find out how it's doing now at

..just make sure you vote :-)


Thursday, 27 June 2013

It lives!


Hi Fives all round!

At last dear internet, we’ve got something new to show you!

It seems like ages since we’ve released anything new:  I’ve hated having to write dev update after dev update banging on about how swimmingly it’s all going without being able to show you guys anything tangible to back it up...  Well it turns out that we weren’t slacking after all!

Here’s what we’ve been up to…

New game – Bedlam!

Yes we’ve talked about it before – but now you can go play it!

Well what are you waiting for? Head over to right now and give it a bash… go on, I’ll wait…

Back so soon? Ok well let me talk about it a bit then.

Students of this blog will of course be aware that we’ve already talked about this game quite a bit during its’ development, so I won’t go over anything that’s been previously announced. Instead I want to talk a bit about the latest developments.

In the last few weeks the game’s really come together.  First off Mungy’s completely redone all the backgrounds and a lot of the other assets.  I think the new art style looks awesome and is a real step up from the previous versions, so well done there munginold!

Also we’ve completely reworked the score system and how infected patients react when they’re not cured.  These mechanics feel a lot more solid than the previous arbitrary lives system that we had in place.  It also fits in with the overall plan for the game now as you lose a grip on the game you also become infected and lose your mind!

The final big late addition was sound.  Mostly we begged it from around the internet but unsurprisingly there aren’t any sound libraries out there which cover effects for quaintly insane Victorian mental patients! Therefore we grabbed up some beers and recorded them ourselves.  This was of course hilarious – it’s hard to gurgle and shout the word Bedlam over and over again with a straight face!  We eventually got through it though – judge the results for yourselves in the game!

Our shiny new website is live!

Awww ain’t it pretty

Go have a look: We have a kick ass new design and a bunch of extra content for you guys to enjoy!

Well there you go, welcome to the new home of Caper! Why don’t you settle in, create an account and join our community?  Right now you’ll be able to play our games, log high scores and join in the discussions on the forum. In future we’re going to add a bunch of extra features to it like being able to brag to your mates when you beat their score, detailed gameplay stats and a bunch of other cool stuff.

So why not join up now and buckle up for an awesome ride!

What next?

Well there are still a few things we need to tidy up with both the game and the site first off.  Also we have launched it all but we haven’t actually told anyone about it yet – so when the rough edges are sufficiently smooth we’ll start advertising and hopefully drum up some traffic.

After that the good news is that you shouldn’t have to wait all that long until the next game comes along.  It’s already about 75% built!

It is, in fact, built on top of the engine we developed for Bedlam.  Although we've enhanced it a great deal and twisted the mechanics to make it in to something that looks, and plays, very different!

Look out for future blog posts on that subject and everything else we’re up to.  But in the meantime why are you still here? Get over to our website and start playing our games!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Please take a seat, we have much to discuss

Hellooo there internet me old chum!

Want to know what we’ve been up to? Well here are the deets!

Well we’ve been working hard in three areas…

1. Bedlam!

Mungy’s been hard at work in the art cave.  He’s created a bunch of assets for the intro sequence and the other cut scenes as well tarting up the game in general.  He’s come on a lot during the development of this game and so I guess it was inevitable that his earlier work wouldn’t match up to the par he’s working to now.  He’s pretty much finished this now and the end result should be a more coherent look to the game.

Here are some screens of his recent work:

Adam’s also been getting stuck in to the sound.  We've worked up a brief and an asset list that’ll meet the requirements and feel of the game so he’s working through that to pull it all together.  I have to say, I have no idea what music should go with a game set in a Victorian mental institution, so good luck there Ad! – It’ll be fascinating to see what he comes up with.

I expect both will have completed their bits & bobs in the next week or so.  Then it’s just a simple case of putting all their good work in to the game and we should be ready to rock!

2. Website!

As I’m waiting on the others to get their stuff done for bedlam I've been using the free time to crack on with the website.  We really want to be more than just a portal for the games – instead we’re shooting for a nice friendly community portal.  Somewhere where you guys can hang out, interact with us and talk gaming as well as play our games. So far I’ve implemented the following:

A forum
Facebook integration
Twitter feeds
Blogs – so you’ll be able to read this whilst playing!
User system
News feed
Stat tracking / leaderboards – so you’ll be able to brag to your mates!

That’ll probably be about it for version 1.  We’ll get it out there and then use it as a foundation to build more features on going forward.

As a side note: Web development is what I do in my day job – Therefore I’m finding it really boring! Don’t get me wrong: I’m chuffed with the way it’s taking shape and I think it’ll be awesome when it’s done… but it’s just not the same as making stuff that blows other stuff up!

3. Polishing up the back catalogue:

No, this isn’t a euphemism… go wash your mouth out.
I need to go through all the old games to get tem working with the website, so while I’m at it I’m also enhancing them a bit as I go.  I’ve just finished CardBastard (still the best game name ever!) and it’s been a fun exercise to do.

I’ve added in a bunch of new art assets for the tiles. So now they’re all made out of characters / art from our games rather than being 30% sketches and 30% dodgy facebook images.
I’ve changed the music and sound effects.  It’s now using some tracks that Adam wrote a while back – good to get some of his stuff in to one of our games!
Some tweaks to how it plays and fixed a few bugs – mostly boring stuff though so I won’t bang on about it here.

Next I’m going to focus on D-Day Minesweeper (add sounds & music / then do some tidying up) – and then on through the rest of the games til I’ve done the lot.

Getting ready for launch!

So that’s what we’re up to, so what’s next?  Well if we time it right then we should get all the above done at roughly the same time… this is not a coincidence!

So far we haven’t publicised anything we’ve made, apart from a select group of friends who’ve been helping us with our testing we’ve mostly been keeping it under our hats.

So we wanted to do a big launch to kickstart this project in to life.  With the new website and a couple of extra games we feel that we’ll finally have enough content to make it worthy of your time.

Therefore in the near future our baby will finally be born! There will be fanfares! Parties! Celebrity guest endorsements! – well actually none of that… but we will be plastering ourselves all over the internet like shameless whores to try to get some traffic to the site.

To be honest its kinda scary! I’ve got no idea how people will react, or if anyone will even bother showing up… fingers crossed!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

How to become a programming god!

What up internet?

Today I want to talk to you about a difficulty curve: not the one that you experience when playing games – but the slope that I'm climbing learning how to make the bloody things!

If you've played our games so far then you may have noticed a thing: every released game is a little bigger and more complex than the last… and they've all got something new about them that the others do not.  This is deliberate!

What I'm trying to say is that this is one of those rare occasions in my life where I'm actually following a plan! In each project I'm setting myself a new challenge or two, with the idea being that I’ll expand my knowledge of games programming a little each time and also add a few new tricks to my toolbox.

So what I thought I’d do with this post is lay out where I think I am with it all and also what I’m thinking of tackling in the future… and why!

The story so far…

Here’s what I’ve conquered so far (on top of learning how to deal with general Flash BS):
  • Basic game AI & logic
  • Cut scenes / movie clips
  • Sprites / animation
  • Sound controls
  • Faking 3d & depth

There’s a bunch of other stuff you need to know to get to this point, but I’m already an experienced programmer so most of it wasn’t new to me… I won’t bother boring you with the details!

So that’s where I am, here’s where I’m headed..

Next steps on the path to enlightenment:

As well as official collaborative project with the other guys I’m also going to keep cracking on with personal learning projects.  From where I am I have a rough roadmap that I want to follow.  Each of these games will teach me a new thing that I want to learn and hopefully let me grow a little as a game developer.  Here’s the list of projects I’ve got in mind – and what I think I’ll get out of it:

  •      A bullethell game  – Dealing with a player avatar on screen
  •      Top down racer – direct twitch input
  •      A platformer – It kinda covers all the skills I’ll have under my belt at that
  •        An adventure game – Mungy wants to remake dizzy...
  •      A multiplayer game – duh multiplayer
  •       A Roguelike – It’s a great way of providing a lot of content efficiently
  •     New platform / something in 3D - dunno
If I get this far then it’ll probably time to move on from Flash…

Along with these I also want to dick around with the following features in my games:

  •        Doing an android game
  •           Integrated leader boards, achievements & player stats
  •           Facebook game
  •        Getting on a game portal like newgrounds / kongregate etc.
  •           Making a game that works with a game pad

So I’m probably going to mash up these two lists and see what comes out J

Anyway that’s the plan, let’s see how it all works out…

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What Up G?

Hey there internet.

We’ve been quiet for the last few weeks but do not fear! We’ve been busy!

We currently have two games in production and they’re both going great guns: ‘

Bedlam’ is the game that came out of our game jam a few weeks back. It’s a simple puzzle/reaction game based on a mental hospital (!)

We came up with the core game engine and idea at the jam itself, since then Rich has been hard at work on the art and animations. We’re now at a point where we can put it all together and see what’s what. After that Adam with the sound and a bit of general polishing and then that’s it. So it’ll still be a little while before it’s available to play but we’re getting there!

The other game in the works currently has no name… we haven’t found one snappy enough yet. Also boo-urns, I’m not going to give any details out now as it’d spoil the surprise. What I do want to say is that it’s already pretty far down the line (it’s actually closer to completion than Bedlam) and I’m getting really excited about it. We’ve added some nice mechanics and it feels really fun to play… I’m so proud!

 It’s also nice that we’re starting to develop games built from original ideas and not based example code or tired old table top games. It feels like we’ve stopped crawling and we’re starting to make our first baby steps :-)

Anyway both these games will be up in the not too distant, so keep half an eye out!

This month I have been mostly eating… 

I thought it might be nice if I start talking about what I'm playing. Here goes!

Well it’s all been about zombies! I’ve been playing through a couple of hours of The Walking Dead of an evening followed up by a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign. The combination’s awesome! – Some atmospheric scene setting and then all out gun blazing action. If only there was a way to stick the two together….

Monday, 7 January 2013


I’ve finally found a bit of time to get my shit together and finish a game!

ladies & gentlemen…

This one’s the biggest we’ve attempted so far. If you’ve played any of our earlier games then hopefully you’ll notice a step up in quality.

This was the first time we played around with things such as animations, AI, cut scenes etc.  so we’ve added a few new strings to our bow. It may not be very big or ambitious but we’re moving in the right direction… We’ve still got our training wheels on at the moment :-)

Anyway: enjoy! And check back again soon for more gaming goodness!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Lies lies lies!

Well internet, yet again I have to write a grovelling post apologising for being late!

I promised a game for you before Christmas and also we were going to hold a game jam and make yet another game and it’s now 2013 and neither of those things has happened… which technically makes me twice the liar. So what happened?

The short answer: Christmas

The long version…

Firstly there’s the Connect 4 game I’ve been working on since October: I did genuinely have it completely finished about a month ago.  Then, just before launch, I decided to get my missus to play test it...  She beat the AI 8-0 without breaking a sweat :-|

Watching that happen made me realise something:  in the single player game, difficulty is everything! 

The AI I had written was pretty simplistic and didn’t offer much of a challenge.  As a result of that she found it boring as hell despite the fact that she was winning.

So therefore, all the time I’d poured in to animations, sound & music, etc. was wasted, I mean: who gives a shit if a boring game is presented well – it’s still boring…

Since then I’ve completely gutted the AI and rebuilt it from scratch, I made it lot cleverer (in the rematch my wife couldn’t beat it once)… then realised that I’d hit the same problem from the other end (i.e. I have to let you guys win sometimes!) So now I’m concentrating on making it more dynamic.  In the end I’m hoping it’ll be dynamic so that it changes and gets harder to beat as the matches progress.

I’m not going to make any promises for release as I keep breaking them – but I’m just doing this final balancing now so let’s settle on ‘soon’

Game Jam:

Well we did indeed hold the jam and it was awesome. We spent a day locked up at Rich & Ads house working on a new project from scratch.  As well as consuming large quantities of beer and pizza we put together a rough design, art assets, a sound track and a from-scratch game engine in a single session!

So where’s the game?  Well we didn’t get enough done before ran out of time.  After much discussion we decided that we’d be better waiting until it’s coherent and playable rather than just releasing something half baked.  

The objective of the jam was always more about being a good learning experience anyway, so as far as I’m concerned I think it was a huge success!

I’ll leave you with proof of the above in the form of some pictures of the crew hard at work :-)

Happy New Year!

Adam getting his mac on:

Mungy being all artistic n' shit