Launching Wrestling With Emotions

Dating Sim, Team Lazerbeam, Thanks, Uncategorized, Wrestling With Emotions

 

 

Three weeks back, my punk game band Team Lazerbeam released our latest game-baby. Wrestling With Emotions, like most things we seem to make, started out as a joke. We began turning this joke into a game at a little jam in January. We soon became pretty excited about the project, feeling like, despite it’s silly origins, it really had something to say. Taking a sledgehammer to the faux-macho exterior of TV wrestling, and smashing it away to it’s real homoerotic core, we found ourselves working in a space that not only made us laugh, but left us stoked about the message we’d be getting out there. Fast forward 4 and a half months, and we were, understandably, incredibly excited to launch WWE and get that message out there.

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By “launch the game” I mean I drew a poster, and we sent messages about the release to the handful of lovely youtubers who had previously released playthroughs of our last dating simulator – Snow Cones. With no expectations, we stuck the game up on itch.io, did a tweet about it, and left it at that.

In the world of video game launches, our efforts were tiny, but for the three of us this was something of a big deal. In the past, our games landed up online, half-baked, falling apart and tacked together with digital tape. We made no big deal about the fact that Bionic Bliss, Snow Cones or Pizza Quest were out there; these games were primarily made for our own amusement. Honestly, who would give a damn about the release of a game that offers two minutes of gameplay, and three different endings that involve shoving pizza into your face? To our great surprise, those past games did resonate with people. Encouraged by the support we received, and further fueled by our enthusiasm for how WWE was coming together, we set a release date for the game, made the poster, then frantically spent the next few days “finishing” the game off.

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What followed were 2 of the most awesome weeks I’ve experienced in my brief career as a game developer.  On the day of it’s release, WWE choke-slammed our (admittedly modest) expectations through the floor and just kept going, day after day. Here are some of the lovely, unexpected things that happened in the last three weeks:

  • Killscreen (easily Team Lazerbeam’s favourite video game site) wrote a great article
  • The game was featured on the awesome experimental game platform, Warp Door
  • It landed up on Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Best Free Games Of The Week list.
  • Our existing youtube friends were amazing! People like RadiCarl rushed home and played the game on the day of it’s release.
  • CinnamonToastKen’s let’s play amassed more than 67 000 views and directed 244 users to the game’s page
  • In total, more than 50 different youtubers released playthroughways of the game.
  • Free Game Planet wrote an insightful piece on the it
  • Thanks to Free Lives and Devolver Digital, the game was played on the main Twitch channel, in the hour leading up to E3. At it’s peak this meant that more than 21 000 people were watching Ruan playing WWE. Reactions were as varied as you’d expect from 21 000 different game fans.
  • South African creative showcase between 10and5 covered the game.
  • WWE landed up on the front pages of both itch.io and gamejolt
  • 1288 people downloaded the game from itch
  • 813 got it on Gamejolt
  • 25 people chose to pay for the game on itch! To date it’s raked in a staggering $77!

 

All in, the launch of Wrestling With Emotions was like something out of a dream. We’re dumbstruck that the game has been downloaded more than 2000 times, and watched by thousands. We landed up  being featured on our favourite sites, totally without any effort from our side. We got to see some awesome youtubers return to The Lazerbeam Universe, and others experience it for the very first time. On the flip side, some new ones discovered us through WWE and even started delving back into our older titles.

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Rich, Jay and I are insanely grateful for the support people have shown us. While the game understandably weirded-out and confused some, the amazing thing has been to see how many people totally get what we’re doing. Silly and absurd as it is, this game resonated with people and that means The World to us. It’s left us really inspired to work on the game further, and have plans to release an expanded “Ultimate Edition” later this year. Past that, we’re just ultra-stoked to continue on our Lazerbeam adventure together.

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Team Lazerbeam wrestlers

Our hugest thanks to every single person who’s been a part of this amazing launch, we can’t wait to bring your more!

Team Lazerbeam you're awesome

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And on and on and on…

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I have a lot of actual, exciting, game-related news to share, but first, here’s a small explanation as to why recently there’s been so little (read: zero) recent posts on exciting, game-related news. I’ve been busy. Very, very busy.

In the space of the last three weeks, from start to finish, Cool Your Jets made:

A 1 minute trailer for a South African game studio.

A 3 minute animation about recycling in Finland.
A 3 minute, pitch video for film-makers in The US.

There was also the juggling of the beginnings and endings of various other projects over this stretch. And sandwiched between all that, I squeezed in a poster design for the next Superfriendship Arcade, a poster for the UK tour of SA band Al Bairre, the finishing of a logo design for a friend and the co-creation of a little icecream cone dating-sim. Through all this, I’ve also been chipping away at a certain psychedelic, space-horror comic-book, which, as things have played out, might have been the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on.

I’m busy.

The past three weeks have been especially extreme, but mostly it’s just in keeping with the way this year has been heading. Day after day, week after week, it just feels like there’s more and more that I have to do. Finding the time to do what I want to do becomes an ever-growing challenge. And so, it’s now May. Four months into the year, I’ve barely posted any magic up here and the sum total of my game-making endeavors for 2015 are a half-baked dating-sim and a not even half half-baked platformer about dancing bears.

I don’t want to dwell on this for to long, but this blog is after all here to document the story of me making games. Right now this is the story: Ben has no time to make games and is barely keeping his head above water. I’m grateful as hell for all the work, and I do love my day job. But at the same time, it breaks my heart that I’m left with so little time to do the best thing I can imagine using my hands and brains for; making games.

This post isn’t me complaining, or acting defeated. The bottom line is only this; it’s tough trying to follow your dreams. Regardless of what kind of dreams these are, most anyone that does follow their’s will tell you the same. Right now, the only way I can make little bits of time for games is at the expense of sleep, or hanging out with Anja and that really sucks. So it goes.

I hope that not to long from now this story will be different. It’d be amazing if I just got to dedicate one solid day a week to making things for people to play. I hope that’s what my story will be in the not too distant future. For now, I’ll keep fighting to find the time, loosing out on sleep, scribbling messy sprite sheets and pushing on and on and on…

MGSA CT MAR 2015 Meet

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This past week I have the pleasure of attending another MGSA meetup. After announcing the meetup, the community received the sad news that we’d need to find a new home, with our old venue of City Varsity no longer available to us. Luckily a great Plan B was easy to devise as we relocated to Miao, already the Wednesday night home of Cape Town maker-gang, The Modern Alchemists.

With the amount of time I seem to to be spending in Miao, I should consider remaining this blog “No magic, Just Miao”. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more excellent space to be frequenting, and the unique venue was a great new home for The Make Games meetup. Quite a change from the serious environment we were used to at City Varsity, the playful venue found itself over-run by game devs. We were possibly a little too spread out for my liking (for future nights setting up more consolidated seating could be good), but past that I thought our new home was an awesome one.

Nic gets things going with Community News. Our touring friends are welcomed back from GDC. Nic provides some much needed clarity on the troubling policy document that the Film and Publication Board published. Then there’s a bit of MGSA housekeeping to do before Nic hands over to the night’s first speaker.

Next month Formula D‘s Marco Rosa will next month be flying to New York to speak at the Annual Games for Change Festival. With the awesome work he and Formula D have been doing, we really couldn’t ask for a better person to be representing South Africa in this setting.

Still formulating his speech for the festival, Marco takes the opportunity to chat to the rest of the community about games for change in South Africa, if people have any suggestions for points he should bring up or messages they’d like to see carried across. I find this subject one of the most fascinating aspects of the potential games hold. I’m personally coming into game design with some quite ambitious long-term plans for making The World a better place through games. After he gets back from the festival, I’d love to see Marco give a report back on the event, what he landed up speaking about, and what he learned from others.

Next up Retro Epic’s Megan takes the stage. Observant readers would note this is the third meetup in a row where the studio has had something to share. It really seems they’re one of the most constantly busy and driven collectives within the community.

This month Megan is showing off the completed trailer for their upcoming iOS puzzler, A Day In The Woods. As I mentioned in last month’s post, this game looks beautiful and I’m dead keen to try it out. With the title launching this Thursday, I’ll be able to do that very soon!


As the last feature of the evening, Peter of Made With Monster Love steps up. I wrote previously about our involvement in the duo launching a Kickstarter campaign for Cadence. Sadly, despite mountains of hard work by Peter and Rodain, amazing support from the local community and great buy in from some publications, the campaign was not a success.

Peter gives a pretty long talk about the whole thing. How they prepared for it and how things played out. It’s pretty heartbreaking that a game as beautiful and special as Cadence couldn’t gather the attention it needed to reach the goals set on The Kickstarter. That said, it’s amazing to see how Peter’s turning that around into a positive, providing the community with a priceless insight into running a Kickstarter campaign. (If anyone’s interested, bits of the talk have been rehashed and discussed on the Cadence thread on the forum.)

Peter ends the talk with a tweet that launches the next step. Pulling out his phone while he speaks, he unveils that Made With Monster Love will be launching a new campaign, The World’s first Noodle Starter.

As you might guess from the above image, I was in on the plan, contributing some art for the campaign. Designed as a way to still harness the support shown during the Kickstarter campaign, The Noodle Starter allows fans to pre-order the game right now, gain access to the beta and help Peter and Rodain not starve to death as they finish Cadence. I see it as rolling with the punches in the coolest way possible and I’m so very proud of the guys for bouncing straight back into the fight.

Click here to show them your support!

After Peter steps down, the social bit of the night starts. I get to play a bit more of the Alien Infestation campaign of Broforce. It’s great. There are lols.

IMG_5812Then someone asks about my cats and I remember that Earthling had been away from home all day. I check my phone and discover he didn’t come home for dinner, so I’m now all panicked. I try racing home, but have a few pressing conversations to conduct. One is about a mega exciting future Cool Your Jets projects. The other is all Super Friendship Arcade. Both great chats, but I’m constantly worried about the missing feline. I race home to discover a familiar pair of faces on my couch. And with that, all is well in Kittenville.

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Super-interdisciplinary-friends at Miao!

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Things have been quite calm on the Super Friendship Arcade front of late. In part, this has been the result of the party’s founders (Peter and Richard) traveling the world to promote their respective games (Broforce and Cadence) at a bunch of events across The States (GDC, PAX East, SXSW Interactive). The guys returned to Cape Town last weekend and we made some very last minute plans to magic up an SFA Jam, this time focusing on getting as many different sorts of people there as possible. The concept of the first Super Interdisciplinary Jam was born.

I set to work on chopping up photos of cherry blossoms, a tiger, office morale stock photography and kittens in leather jackets. Richard got in touch with  our favourite venue, the awesomeness palace known as Miao, to see if they could host us. And so, in the space of a few hours, the jam suddenly had a poster and a home.

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Fast forward to Saturday morning, and I’m very happily walking through Miao’s front door. The venue’s been an awesome home-base for the weekly Modern Alchemist meet ups, and was a wonderful home to the previous SFA jam. Anja, Dan and I arrive to find Richard had already befriended the handful of people who arrived early. I start to set up my workstation. Our friend Mhlaks arrives, commissioned to document the day, and from  here, things become a bit of a blur.

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Looking back on the day, bouncing between making things and meeting people, I’m mostly just left with lots of warm fuzzy feelings and very few concrete memories. The turn out grows by the hour, with people tapping in and out.

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Past Richard, Peter and I, we’ve only got a handful of old Super Friends in attendance. This leaves the vast majority of people in the category of new faces  – and what excellent faces they were! I’m also really stoked to have my long-term, but-never-see-you-enough friends (hi Leigh, Egbert, Dean, Daniel!) from outside the MGSA gang there.  I don’t even get to meet everyone, but we’ve managed to entice a small army of people into getting together and making things.

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Between welcoming all these new Super Friends, Richard and I try get some work done on Bear Party. This is a 4 player platformer about a ball full of bears smashing it’s way through people’s lives. We’ve designed the game for use on Quadrabutt, and while we don’t manage to get the game running on the cabinet on the day, the progress refuels my excitement for what it will be.

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Meanwhile, Dan is modeling 3D whales. The other Ben (not me) is working on a platformer of his own. Jason’s making musics.

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Egbert’s melting brains with his light drawing magics.

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Mhlaks is bouncing between drawing and photographing the fun.

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Nanna is working on her not-yet-announced new comic.

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Dean and Daniel are finishing off a song for their not-yet-announced new band.

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Jeanne is making lines for her awesome Lunimaries 2015 playing-card-based project.

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Ryan, our youngest super friend, spends the jam building a voxel-based world.

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Frank’s actively blowing my mind, playing around with feeding elements back and forth between Unity 3D and an excellent piece of VJ Software called Resolume.

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I didn’t get to meet  Caitlin, or find out what she was working on, but we spent part of the jam listening to a record of instrumental songs she made with her friends and it was rad.

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Shaun was studying quadrabutt and drawing up plans for a MK 2.

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Leigh’s was creating illustrations for a children’s book.

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All too soon we need to wrap things up. Richard ropes some jammers into playing a bit of Spaghetti Stand-off and on that fun note we start to pack things in.

We high-five our ways out of Miao, with a bunch of fun work finished and new friends made.

The gang is currently making plans for the next Super Friendship Arcade, so watch this space for details!

*pics by Mhlanguli Gcobo and Nanna

SFA: Super Interdisciplinary Jam!

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Good news everyone! Tomorrow some Super Friends are congregating at Miao for a day of making things of all different kinds!

While you can be sure there will be some of the usual working on games and custom hardware, we’re encouraging anyone to come through and work on anything. Our dream is to see the SFA community grow into a mega-diverse beast. We want to pull together a really wide variety of people, focusing a broad spectrum of creative talents into making all sorts of things to make people happy. In that spirit, we’re proud to announce the first “Super Interdisciplinary Jam”!

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We’re encouraging people to come by and work on anything. It doesn’t need to be game related, or even be something that could tie into our nights at all. Mostly, we just want to see people coming together to share in the joy of making things!

If you have any interest in making just about anything, we’d really love to see you there tomorrow! To help us reach people beyond our own groups of friends, please invite others and spread the love. We’d really love to see a lot of new faces at this event and rope in as many new Super Friends as possible! SFA-Jam-poster

MGSA CT Feb 2015 meetup

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The last Wednesday of February sees Jaysong and I heading through to City Varsity for the monthly Make Games SA Cape Town meetup. Once there, we’re reunited with some friends. There is pizza. Robbie becomes the king of pizzadom, combining 4 kinds of pizza into a monstrous Frankenstein slice.

At first things look quite subdued, but by the time we’re ushered into the hall, the place is full of friendly faces. There are nametags, but not quite enough. Being the last 3 people to enter the hall, Jayson, Rodain and I each find ourselves each as a man with no name.
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Nic is back and leading proceedings. Various comments about impending babydom make me wonder if we’ll see him next month, but for now he’s here, giving us the rundown of community news. Over the month Kickstarter campaigns have launched for two local games (Albert and Otto and, the previously blogged about Cadence). Other exciting news is that a small army of local devs will soon be on their way to San Francisco for GDC!
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Raxter gets up to say a bit of a farewell to the community, as he and Beth will soon be leaving Cape Town for Berlin. Personally (while being very stoked stoked for the two of them) I find it very sad to see them go. Raxter’s one of the most enthusiastic, friendly members of the community and a great dev to boot. It was thanks to Raxter and these great qualities that I got to see my first original game concept, Kick In The Door, realised. Not knowing each other at all, Rax and I teamed up on the game and the local multiplayer stomp and smash turned out to be one of the proudest moments in my brief career in game design. The two of us are planning to keep producing sequels to the game and I know he’ll only be a mouse click away, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking to see Raxter saying his goodbyes.
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Next up, Super Massive Crate Dash gets fired up with a bunch of players jumping in to show off the progress on the game. Originating as a January GGJ entry, the game has grown considerably over the past month. There are now multiple levels, each with their own set of rules. In one level you can reverse gravity, in another, jumping spawns little wings that give you some lift. It’s a great twist to a great core concept and the new artwork for these additions is fantastic. People seem stoked and make a bunch of awesome suggestions (ghosts!).

Bernard gets up to show off his latest creation. He’s built a tool that allows for the telling of tiny pixelated stories. Personally I’m mega excited about what he’s started and where he’s coming from in putting it together. With the current working title of “Anything” the game incorporates a tool for creating and animating sprites for characters and background tiles. Then there’s the scripting of actions, what your creations do and say in your world and how they interact with each other. With this framework, users can create little stories that play out in any way they could imagine. The best part is that whatever people make becomes a part of the whole game. If I make a little yoda sprite, anyone after me will be able to use him. The same applies for animations, background tiles, actions and dialog.
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Bernard’s clearly incredibly passionate about the possibilities of what he’s set in motion. Once the game is out there for the rest of the community to play around with (edit: the alpha is here!) this thing could really snowball. It could become a beautiful, unique amalgamation of ideas from a bunch of people. The idea is super ambitious and, admittedly, still very much a work in progress, but I’m massively excited to see someone creating something that’s not only about playing with narrative, but centers around harnessing the magic that comes from drawing people together creatively. As such, “Anything” is very much my kinda thing.

Retro Epic‘s Megan takes to the stage to show off the trailer for their upcoming mobile title, A Day In The Woods. I’m very impressed by how pretty the game is, comprised of “carved” characters and objects that look more like something you’d find in a board game than on your tablet. I’m pretty intrigued by the gameplay as well, which involves shuffling pieces around a board with the goal of getting Red to her grannies cabin. The rest of the community seems really stoked as well, providing a bunch of feedback on the video’s progress.
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Next up Rodain and I head up to show off the trailer for Cadence’s recently launched kickstarter. It’s a nice feeling to see it projected onto the big screen, and I’m pretty proud of our little team for pulling this thing together. People proceed to be super nice about the trailer. After a grueling final two weeks on the project, it’s incredibly heart warming and encouraging to get such kind praise from other members of the community.
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In the night’s last item of business, Danny and Marc give us a preview of the talk they’ll be delivering shortly at GDC. The speech is still being figured out, but all the pieces of an awesome talk on open development are here. Both Danny and Marc are such engaging speakers, I’d honestly be happy to listen to them talking about anything, but it’s really great getting a bit more insight into the years they’ve spent developing Desktop Dungeons. They take it in turns, bouncing off each other, tick-tocking between reading their progress or just talking to the community. I’m left feeling like this is just one more reason to regret not being able to go to GDC.
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With that everyone starts filing out. I don’t even make it out the door before I’ve high-fived Bernard and start chatting about what he just showed the room. He gives me a bit more of an insight into how Anything works and we chat about the possibilities of his creation. I discover it actually started out as a god game and grew into this narrative tool.

Outside, people are playing games that have been shown. I try get my hands on something to play, but find myself instead in Perseverence Tavern, my hands wrapped around a beer. I guess that’ll do.

The next stretch of the night is just great; bouncing around ideas, catching up with friends, making some new ones and generally having a good time. Raxter and I start talking about the genesis of a games; the difference that arise when something is started with exsisting creative goals versus purely mechanical ones. It’s a pretty intriguing subject, and something I’d love to explore over a blog post or two in the future.

Ultimately, I’m still feeling pretty exhausted after the Cadence Kickstarter marathon. We say our goodbyes and our party hits the road, looking forward to being reunited with our brethren again, this time, next month.

Cadence Kickstarter is live!

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I’ve been a pretty crappy blogger over the past month. My last proper post was on the January MGSA meetup. February’s meetup is tomorrow already; I’m looking at a solid month with only a single real blog post written over it.  Why did this happen? I blame Cadence.

This isn’t entirely true; it’s been a crazy busy time for Cool Your Jet’s, with a bunch of cool projects on the go. But that said, nothing has been as demanding or time intensive as Cadence. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, Cadence is an upcoming musical puzzle game from Cape Town studio, Made With Monster Love. The first time I saw this game, I freaked right out. Cadence combines so many of my loves in one, truly unique package. I was swept away by the game’s look and feel, a  gorgeous, meditative  creation, really the kind of game I dream of finding. Then there was the fact that Cadence revolved around creating and shaping music; allowing players to lay down and control music in a 3D environment, like nothing before it. And it was puzzle game! And it’s actually also a synthesizer! And it came from South Africa! There’s so much to like here, I could really go on and on, but in short, the impact of Cadence just blew me away.

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Understandably, I was over the moon when Cool Your Jets were commissioned by Made With Monster Love to assist with Cadence. We were asked to help make a video for the a Kickstarter campaign, to see the game expanded on and released. After a good year and a half of independent development, Cadence is looking phenomenal. But with ambitions as grand as creating something that reinvents how people engage with music, the team are raising funds and establishing a community to take things to the next level. Matt, Jason and I were understandably really stoked to help them make this a reality.

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The process of crafting a short video to try to concisely sum up something as expansive as Cadence was one of the most tough challenges we’ve taken on since forming Cool Your Jets. It’s been a grueling couple of weeks getting here, but right now, typing this at 5:40 AM, waiting for our baby to upload the Kickstarter page that goes live in a matter of hours, I’m feeling pretty on top of The World. I’m really proud of what we’ve put together, but past that, just absurdly excited to be able to help bring this brilliant game to light.

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So, without any further ado, let me direct you to The Cadence Kickstarter! If you’re able to, please consider helping this incredibly special creation blossom into the wonder I know it will be. Tell your friends, spread the love and join us in bringing The World one of the most exciting games South Africa has ever produced!

My favourite moment of 2014

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Heads up: this is a cop out post. Cool Your Jets has been keeping me crazy busy. This has left me with zero time to write about all the magic I’m dying to blog about. However, I realised that I’d already written a bunch of words about some of this magic. I’ll be recycling those words now.

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Last year, my friends from Another Day sent me a set of questions. They sent the same set to another 29 people across South Africa, and over the course of a few weeks, released all the replies as a series called “30 people on 2014”. Each participant looked back on the year, commenting on movies and songs that had stood out to them, what they looked forward to in the year to come and what their favourite moments of the year had been.

My reflections on the year were (predictably) way, way, way more lengthy than anyone else’s. When asked about my favourite moment of the year, I got especially carried away and had to try really hard to reduce my enthusiasm down to a few paragraphs worth. Here’s what I had to say on the subject:
Your Best Moment of 2014:

While this fact is largely secret to much of South Africa, our country is home to this pretty phenomenal community of independent game developers. I discovered this in the most fantastic way possible on the 21st of February. Heading through to The Pit for an event called “Super Friendship Arcade – The Prototype”, I was unknowingly setting off to have my universe turned inside out. In the aftermath, this night would land up shifting the trajectory of my 2014.

The arcade was focused on local multiplayer games, presented with an aggressively all-inclusive attitude. That night the SFA transformed The Pit from a cold, indoor skatepark into some kind of flashing, bleeping, high-fiving utopia. In my 30 years on this planet, I’d not seen anything like it. I danced around a skatebowl, jousting with strangers. I stood alongside four other people as we worked together on piloting a rocket around with our feet. I got my first taste of the SA indie-sensation known as Broforce. I had the time of my life.

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That night I got home and dropped by the event page and must have said something along the lines of “this was the best night ever” and one of the organisers was like “thanks man, this is our gang and we make awesome stuff and you should hang out with us and make awesome stuff.” And that was that. The last nudge I needed into diving headfirst into game development, an adventure that, in a matter of months, has been one of the greatest of my life. And one that’s only starting.

For me, it’s not every year that a night like that first Super Friendship Arcade comes along. I’d mark my first exposure to The Secret Party in early 2005 as the last time I had that feeling of “I can’t believe this is happening and I’m here in this moment and nothing is going to be the same after this”. The knock-on effect of that night was that I’d start DJing, creating visuals, designing posters and throwing parties before the year was up.

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Since that first SFA, I’ve worked with friends, completing five weird little games. Along with my new friends I combined this game world with the band scene I’ve been in for so many years. I’ve stood and watched as strangers have high-fived in reaction to something that’s come into this world from out of my head. It’s been righteous. It’s just the beginning and I owe it all to one Friday night in February 2014.

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– You can read my entire 2014 article over at Another Day.

MGSA Meetup Jan 2015

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Last Wednesday, on what was possibly the hottest day of the year, I dropped by the first MGSA meeting of 2015.

The Make Games SA community was brought to my attention shortly after I stumbled into the first Super Friendship Arcade in February last year. Since then, I’ve gotten involved in the community’s forums as well as befriended and worked with a great selection of community members. Considering this, it felt odd that last Wednesday marked my first proper community meetup. Unfortunately the nights clash with a kung fu class I have, so breaking away is tricky. In March last year, I caught the tail end of a meetup where I awkwardly stood around for a while, too intimidated to talk to anyone. My girlfriend suggested I go home, make things, and come back to the community with a few small projects under my belt, so I wouldn’t feel like such a n00b.

Fast forward to last Wednesday,  and I’m heading through to meetup, squeezed into the backseat of a car packed with four game-maker friends, a selection of talent I once found too intimating to approach. I attempt to dish out in-car-high-fives to Raxter, Evan, Stu and Richard –  who sits with the Quadra-butt (see previous post) awkwardly perched on his lap. We snuggle in the scorching heat for a scenic drive to City Varsity –  which is already buzzing with people attending the meetup. As the first event of the year, everyone’s donning name tags.

Evan fires up the latest build of Broforce. I’m really excited to see the alien campaign that was recently completed for PAX. The taster is promising, but soon we are summoned to get the evening underway.
With Nic out of action, Danny’s leading proceedings.

Some great news is that Danny and Marc are speaking at GDC this year (woo!). But there is no mention that Cadence has been nominated for a Gaming Award at SXSW Interactive this year (boo!).

We head into a feedback session on the recent Global Game Jam. Apparently the Cape Town contingent of MGSA made no less than 14 games! After a few words from some of the teams involved, I am even more curious and excited to have a go at some of these offerings.

Francois takes to the stage, sharing the story of Clockwork Acorn‘s creation, their first year in business and the lesson’s learned over this time.  It’s inspiring to hear how the company came together, jammed their hearts out, re-evaluated their business model and found themselves on the other end of 2014 with a great collection of projects and prototypes beneath their collective belt.

Megan takes over, sharing the latest draft of the launch trailer of Retro Epic‘s Ginjah. Even without any sound design, it’s a great little trailer for an incredibly charming-looking game. The trailer loops on and on as Megan chats to community members who volunteer comments and suggestions.

After we escape the hall, my first instinct is to head outside to try cool down. When I head back in, the Quadra-Butt’s making its public debut and I get to join in on a few rounds of a bizzare circle-jerk game Richard has made for the cabinet. It’s weird and people are confused and amused and freaked out all at once. I catch a glimpse of someone playing Desktop Dungeons on an iPad, which is a nice sight. There’s some sort of platformer-shooter that I check out, but don’t get to play. I get to give Ginjah a spin, and become an instant fan (yet this exposure left me feeling like the trailer we had watched earlier doesn’t do justice to the insanely fun chaos contained in this game). Overall, I’m left very excited for Retro Epic and their upcoming release of the game – I think people are going to love it! Quadra-butt has been switched over to running Gung Ho Hippos, a Hungry Hippos mod I spoke about in my previous post. It’s great to see how happy it makes people.

From here I have my mind shattered, not once, but twice.

Beast Brawl is a two player augmented reality card game. Incredibly, it was put together in the space of 48 hours for Global Game Jam. I’m in total awe of the magnitude of this game:  going through the 40 card deck and seeing how they come to life through the lens of a phone, which runs a corresponding app. Getting this game done (within the timeframe they had) must have nearly killed the little team behind it, but Beast Brawl is incredible and surely well worth all the effort that went into it.

My next mind-blowing moment comes in the form of an VR experience that Raxter has been working on over his recent stay at The Free Lives house. I’m not sure what Raxter is calling this thing  but something along the lines of “Interstellar Mega-brain Trip 9000” would be apt. The Occulus Rift that the game should be running through is acting up, so I’m only half playing it, taking the game in via a normal screen. It’s still phenomenal. Endlessly intricate and utterly beautiful. The viewer is basically thrust through a never-ending stream of light and texture, passing through one little galaxy after another. For me, it’s a joy to see. A game like this doesn’t shift the goal-posts…it teleports them to a different dimension! Given that this concept has been designed for the emerging world of VR is even more of a thrill to witness.

I break away from the pixelated acid-trip and give Raxter a very well deserved atomic high-five. From there, Jem and I make our way through to Miao to join in on what’s left of the week’s Modern Alchemists meetup. I’m introduced to someone called Matt, actively working on a game that centers around a city modeled through procedural generation. More MGSA friends pull through. I have an impromptu meeting with my friend/client Ivo about a logo I’m making for his company Mexicanopiumdog. Beer is drunk. Fun is had.

At the end of the evening, Ivo gives me a lift back to my place. As I head home, I feel pretty damn stoked and greatful to be a part of a community as vibrant, active and welcoming as The Cape Town contingent of MGSA. Here’s hoping I can make the next meetup, and many more to follow!