Sunday, 13 September 2009

*takes off and nukes the site from orbit*

If you're after an update, you'll need to go here:


Cos this site is *so* first half of '09.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Moving, just keep moving...

Right, so over the course of the next few days, you're going to see interruptions to the normal service of infrequent updates and poor sentence structure. In fact you're more likely to see this...


...as, after countless delays for other more worthwhile pursuits, I finally get round to moving us lock, stock over to the new wordpress site (until it's dead or I find something better). If I can work out a way to stop half finished pages of the new site popping up, well, I will but I'm still fairly new to this "doing something vaguely technical" lark, so the chances of you seeing something very broken (and probably containing hilarious swear words), is highly likely in the coming days.

Hopefully Friday will see it all up and running.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Talk of the town

Hello you. Continuing on from the positive vibes of last week, we're now getting some big sites commenting about us and Kahoots. If you gaze to your left, after you finish reading this otherwise you won't have a clue why you are doing it, you will find a few new links in the "Things said about us" section. Games review stalwarts such as Pocket Gamer, Kotaku and Eurogamer have features on Kahoots and PSP minis in which we feature heavily (or exclusively).

You can go and look now, I'm done with you, here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Cologne Day 3 - Pork, Press, Passes and Planes

So, the final day and the final countdown to my 9.30 minis press conference, After a late session of tweaking and listening to Everton turn over Sigma Olomouc, my pre- press conference agenda was a quick shower, final bit of packing, maybe grab a quick bit of brekkie, then head to the show with ease. Well, that was the plan...Everything went well until the final bit of packing, then panic, no show pass.

Unpack everything, can't find it, unpack small bag, nothing. Check all the side pockets, nothing. Noooooo! A further 10 minutes of frantic and fruitless packing, unpacking, throwing the bedding all over the gaff, still no pass. Absolute nightmare. I threw caution to the wind and went over on the off chance I could get in off the back of it being important enough either I or Sony could blag it. John Booth (Sony), who'd been an absolute legend throughout the entire show, sorted me out at the entrance, but it was a scary half hour, there.

With hindsight, it was probably the best thing that could've happened, I'd stopped fretting about the press conference and was now more worried about looking like I'd done a 10k run on the way to the centre. Prior to the press conference, I had quick chats with fellow devs at the presentation, Jeff Tremblay (Frima), Chris Gibbs (EA Mobile) and Ash Manif (Subatomic)before it was time to do this thing.

The presentation was a surreal experience, very informal and far better (in terms of my performance) than I expected it to be. There are things I wish I'd said differently, but really I'm pretty pleased at how I came across in the conference. I hope my work will be of benefit to the company as a whole, the guys at Sony were pretty pleased, and Jeff congratulated me as I sat down (I think he'd sussed my "rabbit in the headlights" look at the runthrough on Thursday).

Press conference done, I finally went for a wander round some of the show, took some snaps, then headed for the hotel to catch up with some work and catch up with Nat and Ricky. The minis announcement is certainly starting to have an affect, I've got two email interviews from high profile internet review sites, so the impression it has left on our company profile has been almost immediate and very significant. We'd have to spend large sums of money to get this sort of profile without the support of a publisher/platform holder and what they bring to the party.

All the gushing and name dropping in this post is shocking, it's starting to sound like a Piers Morgan article.

So finally, I got to see some show, and now so can you (though I dare say you've already seen a shed load of better taken pics on any number of gaming sites).


















Wouldn't you know it, I get home, start to unpack and what do I find...




Friday, 21 August 2009

Cologne Day 2 - Is this place twinned with Neasden?

Day 2 started with the ubiquitous bout of beer sweats and an early morning meeting, but any plans to go out and about in Cologne were rendered pointless by the looming Press conference on Friday morning, which meant I had to blast out some sharp looking powerpoint slides about us and Kahoots. Thankfully both Ricky and Nat were absolute bricks when it came to dropping everything to help me out, it was a much slicker piece of work thanks to them.
After a quick runthrough with the Sony guys and the other dev's it was back to the hotel, I'd still seen nothing of the show apart from the Sony stand, on the way back I noticed that the LaXwall Arena is actually a portal to my home, looking like an almost exact replica of a certain stadium just up the road from Brent Park Tesco.
An evening spent in the hotel bar practicing, surfing and watching German's swearing at the women's high jump produces the first signs of "Honeyslug" cropping up more and more in the games press.

You want the pictures? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE PICTURES!

















If you couldn't handle pics, you're certainly not going to be able to handle a video...

video

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Cologne Day 1 - Bitte Warten, Bitter Water

First day has certainly been an interesting one. My media training stood me in good stead for the interviews and grillings from the mixed collection of press types. Obviously the announcement of the PSP minis has gained us some interest, and the question "So where are you guys based?" is now "So you guys are in Camden, yeah?", so our place in the games food chain has just moved up slightly.

I'd forgotten how tiring stand work is, and when the large booth opposite you is belting out the much overrated Calvin Harris every 10 minutes, you want to cry at first, though it gets easier as the day continues and seeing the reaction to Kahoots has really made it worthwhile. One of the real thrills I got today was watching people realise how the mechanic worked and then yes go "ah, yes. That's really good"

After a day doing stand work, I went on a Sony night out, I haven't had a Sony night out since Sony was called Psygnosis. It was very different to what I'm used to, nobody was sick down a marketing ladies top and there wasn't a narky coach driver threatening to dump us all at Cronton. Though I still managed to find someone who still calls me "Minwind" and my hotel is on a junction that looks a bit like Switch Island, so the old school wasn't too far away.

More pictures!












Tuesday, 18 August 2009

'scuse me love? This train go, to Koelnmesse?

I can't do the umlaut, otherwise it'd be AUTHENITIC! Anyway, been in Cologne for a good chunk of the day now, although my mind is still busy with the trauma of trying to buy train tickets with something larger than a €10 note, trams are worse, but let's not start on that. Two meetings so far, though they were more catch-up/hellos than serious businichatter, plus my mind was still spinning with the dual headaches of my long term inability to enjoy flying and THE NIGHTMARE OF GETTING A TRAIN WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN LOOSE CHANGE!
On a different note, Bratwurst, Fried Potato and Red Cabbage is teh win!!!!

Some actual news rather than my neuroses tomorrow in the next terrifying episode of "When Scousers Visit Cologne!!!"

Friday, 14 August 2009

A hint of Cologne

We are in a fortunate position to be able to have a presence at the Gamescom convention in Cologne in the coming week. We're going to be promoting Kahoots while we are out there, so we decided this week to have a few additions to the family to take on a European tour. You can see our attempts (with the original on the left), and our gradual work in progress from slabs of plasticine to living, breathing Kahoots below.


Nat's an excellent (and patient) teacher, though she never prepared us for how painful rolling and shaping plasticine is. It's taken me 4 hours to type this blog post with my nose!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Spare some change???

No, I'm not on the blag for cash, just a quick note to all that the promised switch from the general insolence and quirkiness of Blogger to the warmer climes is still on the cards. I'd like to migrate all the stuff here onto the new site if I can, so we can effectively abandon this place like we've done a runner after not paying the rent, or something.

Anyway, whilst you're waiting with baited breath for that particular brave new dawn, I've made some slight adjustments to the present home of all things Honeyslug.

  • There is now a new and exciting little info-burp in the top left which tells you about us, and for those who want to get in touch to tell us how awesome it would be for them to work with us, there's the long lost bizdev contact mail address.
  • With the launch of the iPhone version of Art Thief, we're now getting proper reviews for our games, so there is a new link section to game reviews. Only one there right now, but more will follow, then I'll have to have a rethink on the layout, but hopefully we might have the new site up by then.
I'd love to show you a tiny bit of our new site, but then I'd have to kill you, so here's a picture of a Kahoot on a train station instead.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Ric hits the iPhone

You can now pick up Ric Rococo: International Art Thief for the iPhone and iPod for the
princely sum of £1.79 (€2.39/$2.99). It's got all the bells and whistles of the Flash version, but this one fits nicely in your pocket.

For the iPhone version, we had the help of our developer friends Bitween, who are an Italian mobile developer with a long standing background in mobile platforms. We think they've done a great job!

You can get Ric Rococo: International Art Thief from the iTunes store here.

You can watch the gameplay video below:




Friday, 24 July 2009

It's coming soon, to an iPhone near you!

Accept no imitators, he's the original and best and he's gonna steal your time on iPhone very soon.


Ric Rococo is the Louvre, anything else is Athena posters in comparison





Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Develop checklist...

Laptop - check.
Business Cards - check.
Lots of ace games to show - check.
Oh, and pass for the show - check.

We'll be in the bar Weds and Thurs, see you there!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Kahoots is here!

The time has come for you to play:

Honeyslug’s “Kahoots”!

Check it out online today -

They’re marching in their boots!


Made from lots of things we found -

Like buttons, beads and treats.

Or things we purchased for a pound -

Like clay and card and sweets.


Kahoots are friendly sofa dwellers,

Who walk twixt To and Fro.

Help them thwart the Cardborg fellas -

Swap blocks to make them go.


Exit doors, they’re just the thing -

To send them on their way!

Just listen to the Pegbeast sing -

He’ll teach you how to play.


A brand new game for everyone!

Solve puzzles, make safe routes.

50 levels of mind bending fun -

Click here - Save the Kahoots!



Avoid the yellow snow, little fella!



Tuesday, 16 June 2009

'ving Reigns

Irving Nurdler is a great big nerd, he likes nerdy things such as D20's, FPS's, LAN parties, posters of Gillian Anderson circa 1998 and most of all, he likes collecting autographs from the stars of the cinema world. With it being awards time in Hollywood, Irving has travelled to Tinseltown to pick up as many autographs as he can from the famous celeb-hangout, Hotel Splendide, for what he hopes will be night of autograph hunting he'll never forget.

Things quickly take a turn for the unusual, the entrance to the hotel should be thronged by baying pap's and fellow autograph hunters by now, but there's not a soul in sight, and the same story in the foyer, the 'ding' of the reception bell echoing around a seemingly empty hotel.

"No wonder there's been no news about the awards, this place is dead..."

Ever the opportunist, Irving decides to investigate the rooms hoping to doorstep some unsuspecting A-listers for their autographs, and quickly gets far more than just autographs to hunt.

Welcome, Irving Nurdler, to Hollywood Ghoulevard...


Thursday, 11 June 2009

We Am One!

Yep, on the 11th June 2008, a small group of developers with a wallet full of redundancy cash and a pocket full of dreams officially incorporated as Honeyslug Limited. Twelve months on, we have our own office, business cards, blog (hiya!), and the small matter of four games out in the wild. The next 12 months will see the new site up and running, along with the release of more flash based fun (not least the final arrival of Kahoots), My Pet Dino on PC and our move into development on other games platforms. All done to the soundtrack of BBC 6Music, unless George Lamb is on.

Setting up a company was the simple part, drumming up business (and resulting cash) to make that company's existence worthwhile has been (and will continue to be) hard work, but given we've made it to the important first birthday with work steadily rolling in, we must be doing something right!

Happy birthday to us!

There's a cake next to it with 'N1' on it.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I Am Dino, Hear Me Roar!

We've not mentioned My Pet Dinosaur for some time now, largely because it's been finished for a bit (so we're going through the whole post-dev business of getting a PEGI rating, box artwork, min spec-ing, etc that stuff you'd normally shunt onto a publisher) and we're busy with tons of other stuff. So perhaps it is as good a time as any for a quick burst of update on that front.


My Pet Dinosaur is a virtual pet game where, you raise a Dinosaur from hatchling to something akin to the size of the Cloverfield monster, except without the statue vandalism, people killing and the entire force of the US military firing shots at you. No, our dinosaurs are nice dinosaurs, all they require is feeding, cleaning, a toy to chase, maybe having a massive dump from time to time and a natty Afro wig and shades combo (natch).


As your dino ages, it discovers new locations to play in and learns new skills which it can improve them over time, he can also have competitions and races against his 4 new dino friends. As I hinted before, you can kit out your dinosaur with different types of headgear and glasses, some of them improve your dinos skills, others just make them look good.


My Pet Dinosaur will, in all likelihood, hit the stores in the summer, so keep 'em peeled. Here's some new screen shots below.





Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pixel Hail#1 - We're On Display in Brighton!

You know how I love to over elaborate pre-amble for these blog postings, well I'm prepared to make an exception here...

Brighton Fishing Museum:

22nd - 24th May
Pixel Hail #1: The Art of Videogames
An exhibition of art from, and inspired by, videogames


For three days, the annex of Brighton's Fishing Museum will be taken over by a multimedia exhibition of art from, and inspired by, videogames. Award winning videogames artists will exhibit, alongside artists who's lives are meshed in someway with the world's largest entertainment industry: videogames.


Private view: the Friday night opening event will play host to the UK and Brighton's games luminaries as well as artists and members of the press. A mobile phone auction on the evening will give away an exclusive one-off piece of game art, with all proceeds going to charity. The following two days will be a public exhibition with a special kids' cosplay event on the Saturday afternoon outside the Fishing Museum.
Attendees from AtomFire, Double Six, HoneySlug, Creative Assembly, BBC, Habbo/Sulake, Scary Beasties, SEGA, SCEE... and more.


Come down and you can see some stuff from our games and possibly chat to Richard, Natalie or myself.

http://www.brightonfishingmuseum.org.uk/whatson.html

Monday, 11 May 2009

Ric Rococo: International Art Thief - Out Today!

Ric Rococo is finally ready to take on the world of international art theivery! Control Ric through 10 different galleries, stealing everything from old masters to modern impressionists whilst using your stealth and skill to avoid the gaze of surveillance cameras, or being captured by security guards. Ric is aided by his long suffering girlfriend and accomplice, Nancy, who will hover from the Rocococopter to salvage your ill-gotten gains.

You can find Ric Rococo: International Art Thief across the Spil network of websites right now which are worldwide. Cos we're Brits, like, we're going to point you in the direction of http://www.mygames.co.uk/game/Art-Thief.html

We hope you enjoy it!





Thursday, 7 May 2009

Migrant Workforce

Well, we're in the process of migrating our site and this blog over to a more integrated solution, which has proved a baptism of fire for me. Ricky's been on at me for a while to try and sort it, and it has only been in the last week that I've had a chance to do owt. Up until a week ago, my exploits into the wonderful world of html/xml were limited to cut and paste jobs on here and taking ages to get my head round LUA scripting. So it's been a fairly encouraging experience that I've managed to get the site up and running and looking something akin to a proper site in less than a week. 

Some advice I was given early doors on html editing was to hit the forums, and true enough 90% of the questions I've had I can get answers to pretty quickly on them. Other stuff I've battled without answers and there is very little that has defeated me so far. To be honest, it's been a pretty enjoyable experience (albeit punctuated with a number of expletives) and a nice little break from creative accounting and spoiling people's fun saying "Yes, that'd be really cool but we have no time/money/programmer/etc..."

With a fair wind, our new site should be up within the next week or so, then you'll be able to contact me on it to ask me what all the fuss was about.

P.S. Look out for a substantially less mundane update early next week, small developer fanboys!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Kahoots - The final push


We're heading into the final stretch of work on Kahoots, with some tweaks and changes to the look, new backgrounds and a shiny new title screen.

New Cardborg. New Danger.

So out goes the Peg Beast, though he'll be loitering around the tutorial screens, and in comes the nemesis of the Kahoot, the Cardborg.


We're chucking in some achievements for the player with Nat getting herself in best punning mode for the titles of the achievements.


Ricky and Nat have been working to finalise GUI elements, which has involved more plasticine and also Nat holding small objects up against the screen to check they won't be too obtrusive to the game itself.


Perhaps you'd like to see some game screen shots, hmm?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Old Big 'ead is Back

No, we haven't made a football game based on Brian Clough's 44 days in charge at Leeds United, apart from anything else, there's very little unpredicability in how the game would conclude, instead we celebrate the arrival of Balloon Headed Boy on the iPhone and iPod Touch.


Balloon Headed Boy is supposed to be celebrating his birthday, with all his friends in Balloon Town, when a terrible storm scatters his balloon friends to all corners of the kingdom and dumps a load of no-good, hat-wearing frogs in their place. Faced with the prospect of the most rubbish birthday ever, he begins an adventure across 34 levels to rescue his friends.





Balloon Headed Boy (or BHB as he's known to his friends and those who can't be arsed typing his full name again) is a 2D platform game in which you navigate the titular boy rescuing balloon friends and avoiding hazards such as spikes, rising water and frogs wearing sombreros (!), however, BHB can't jump, so how does he get up to those hard to reach, nay, seemingly inaccessible platforms? Well, he can pick up Farty Flowers which help him inflate his head so he can glide gently upwards, but inflating his head also allows him to break through certain things. Some blocks are unstable and if dropped on by deflating BHB's head while hovering over them, he lands with a bump and dislodges the block to access other areas. Also, his friend the Helicat can be freed from its icy prison to push BHB up into seemingly closed off locations.

Here comes the science bit...Balloon Headed Boy has a long and rich heritage, originally a mobile Java game, he's made the transition to PC downloadable format, Flash and now iPhone. Many of the challenges faced making a game for iPhone are down to user interface, the biggest USP of the iPhone, it's lovely touchscreen and accelerometer (the tilt thing, non-tech types!), can also present their own unique challenges when transferring from more traditional button based control systems. Even when settling on a control system that works, you still have to bear in mind that the larger that control area is, the more it will obscure on-screen goings on. We worked closely with our colleagues at publisher Gimme5games.com to develop the control system which makes most sense, exploits the unique interface opportunities of the iPhone and impacts on screen real-estate as little as possible.

We're happy with the solution and we're sure you're itching to part with a meagre £2.39 to find out. If you want to have a try out before you commit to parting with £2.39 (or 4 Greenbacks for our North American fans), there's a fully playable Flash version on BalloonHeadedBoy.com as well as links to the appstore where there is also a Balloon Headed Boy Lite containing a selection of levels you can download and play for FREE on the iPhone. 

Come on! 34 levels for £2.39! That's *grabs calculator* 7p (or 11cents) per level. Get yourselves over to the Balloon Headed Boy Page where not only can you buy the iPhone game, you can buy BHB themed t-shirts, mugs and such like or download free stuff to adorn your myspace page. Bargains all over the shop!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A Useful Flash Extension

I'm not intending to make a habit of technical posts which are only tangentially on the subject of video games. However, when I come across something which is likely to be of use to other developers, it seems worth linking it up.

I've been pulling in a large number of bitmaps into flash recently (in fact importing them from Photoshop psds). I'm scaling the objects in my game, so I need to set the properties of each bitmap to 'allow smoothing', so they anti-alias as they scale (i.e. they scale smoothly rather than going all pixellated).

Quite unhelpfully, the Flash GUI doesn't allow the Properties of multiple library objects to be set at once. And even more unhelpfully, it defaults all Bitmap Properties to 'don't allow smoothing'. This means I would have spent the whole of friday afternoon going left click.. right click.. left click.. left click.. left click.. grind teeth.. repeat..

.. if it wasn't for this lovely Extension which allows you to select a folder, and recursively set the properties of all bitmaps below it with just a couple of clicks.

So thanks Devon O. Wolfgang! You just saved me HOURS of toil!

Okay, your normal exciting game development news service may resume...

/shuffles off..

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Keep Ahead - Share and Enjoy

We're delighted to announce that Keep Ahead is now available to play at Gimme5games.com. To briefly recap what the game is about, you control two explorers called Ivor and Yora through 50 different levels, but because of a voodoo curse, you share a single head between the two bodies. Along the way you will meet a number of hazards which you will need to avoid including head stealing Monkeys, Zombees and Man-eating plants. You must use the ability to swap the head between the two bodies so that Ivor and Yora can collect all the hidden totems on the 50 levels. Only once you have done that will you be able to recover your other head.



Gwizz Editor Screen. You can tell I'm not a designer.
Keep Ahead is also the first game to provide you, dear gamer, with the ability to create your own levels through Gimme5's ace new Gwizz editor. Once you register with Gimme5games you can access Gwizz from the main menu of Keep Ahead and from there it is a simple process of placing items on your blank level canvas, then testing it works how you want it to.



That's not all though, once you have made levels and are happy with them, they are unleashed into the wilds of the Gimme5games community so they can marvel at your level design genius. Perhaps you'll be the next Will Wright, Matthew Smith or Nat Marco!


Head on over to http://www.gimme5games.com/index.jsp?id=keepahead to see what all the fuss is about.




Friday, 6 March 2009

Someone Made A Game About Us!

Nat's folks just returned from a big mad holiday in the States and brought this back.

In 1982, unless she's lost, or works on reception, she should not be there!
This game runs on a TISSUE OF LIES

It's a Tycoon game about two blokes and a girl setting up a games development studio, so it's like someone has created our lives in electronic form! Then sadly, you check out the box and it all goes very wrong, here's a few inaccuracies.

  • The year is 1982? Okay then, apart from that humungous monitor, that image is all wrong. CD's, suits that didn't have enormous shoulder pads, blokes who didn't look like Roy Wood from Wizard and the concept of women in the games industry are all the stuff of fiction! Plus, that monitor is only accurate if the screen is about 7 inches and green.
  • Unless that bar chart is an ACTUAL representation of the typical game difficulty curve of your average C64/Spectrum/Dragon 32 game, it has no place in an early 80's dev studio.
  • The desks should be covered in boxes from Wimpy, Starburger and Chippy wrappers. Having spent my formative gaming years wandering down to Bug Byte's offices in the centre of Liverpool to buy our games direct from them, I know what an early 80's dev studio looks/smells like.
  • Game developers studios were not in offices like that in the 80's. They were abandoned warehouses and bedrooms. Normally tramps and muggers were outside.
  • Ricky and I were still in little school in 1982, Nat wasn't even born.
  • None of us dress like that, though the glasses on the coder looking guy are quite similar to Ricky's. Even then, contemporary frames like that were not about in 1982.

Even TRON was closer to reality than this...

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Head-Swapping Pet Dinosaurs From The Jungle!

That’s the name of our new iPhone MMORPG which will be coming out very soon! Obviously not, like, we’re just doing a bit of a roundup of couple of titles we’ve recently concluded (hopefully) or have in current development...

Keep Ahead

            Ivor and Yora are two explorers, they have got lost in the jungle (they’re not very good explorers) and have fallen foul of a curse which means they only have one head between them to share. You have to help navigate them through 50 levels over four different locations, collecting the totems as you go (which help break the curse).

The lack of mutually exclusive heads means that you can only control one explorer at a time, and you have to swap the head between the two bodies to change control between the explorers.  Along the way, there are natural obstacles and terrible enemies to avoid, man-eating plants will eat the explorers (shocker!), lava will spread across the jungle and absorb everything in its way. Shrunken heads will home in on a headless body and take control of it if they reach it, zombee’s will shadow the explorers movements and try to trap and devour either explorer. Worst of all, mischievous monkeys will chase you and try to steal your head, which means you have to follow them around; headless, trying to rescue your head back from them. 

You’d think that would be enough for these unfortunate explorers to contend with, yeah? WRONG! There are a number of cursed areas which, when stepped on, will affect the behaviour/mobility of the explorer, although there are cures to hunt out within the levels, but it all means recovering Ivor and Yora’s other head is not going to be easy!

Keep Ahead sees the visual stylings of our third art conduit, Jerry Carpenter. We’ve worked with Jerry since the early Morpheme days, and like us he’s took the brave step to stride out on his own as Magnetic Boots. You can check some of his stuff out at his link (along with the links of the rest of our conduits) at the bottom of the sidebar, he also has some top stuff which he coded in Flash himself on the Gimme5Games website.

When you’re done with all that, check out the game picture slideshow below, and don’t forget to check back here soon for information on when and where you’ll be able to play Keep Ahead!



 

My Pet Dinosaur

            Dinosaurs are nothing if they’re not versatile.  When they’re not bothering Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern, they’re coloured purple and singing songs to infants and buddying up with presenters of cashbox-lucky dip based gameshows. Would such versatility translate into being a good pet? Well, My Pet Dinosaur allows you to put that to the test. Look after your prehistoric pet by washing, feeding and stroking it. You can dress them up and go for walkies. Take good care of it and it’ll be an epic friend forever!

My Pet Dinosaur is in the early stages of development right now, so we’re keeping the best stuff under wraps for later, but we have some concept art below for your eyes to look at.


Rex Running
Bronty Walking












Saturday, 14 February 2009

Raid Galleries. Steal Paintings. Make Millions!






If you’re like me, then you’re an incomprehensible scouse idiot with a penchant for “hilarious” t-shirt slogans and, more importantly, you think the work of Mark Rothko is complete bobbins*, but then art is about emotions (in this case, anger) and, importantly, how much money you can get someone to part with for a piece of work.

In the event I ever found myself turning over some art gallery, I’d be stealing the lead off the roof rather than “Light Red Over Black”, but when you realise one of Rothko’s emperors new clothes pictures went for a jaw-dropping $73m in 2007, even I start to think again about pinching it.

A person without such a sniffy attitude towards art and robbery is the anti-hero of our new game, Ric Rococo: International Art Thief. You control our light fingered friend through a series of art galleries, pinching old masters and more contemporary pieces, all the time having to avoid guards and other surveillance, before handing them to your girlfriend, Nancy, who is suspended outside the window from your trusty RococoCopter.



One of the impressive things about this game’s development is the time it took for all the code, art and design to come together from the initial high concept. Fleshing out of the concept and the visual style was a couple of days and once we had that nailed, the level design, full art, music and coding all came together quickly, followed by a short testing phase. In terms of total man effort, the game took around 20 man-days, but the coming together of the project as a whole to the stage it is at now took around 7 man-days from the initial draft.






Once again, Ricky’s brother does a bang up job with the music, tipping a nod to the works of Ennio Morricone in the process. The excellent artwork is done by another of our art conduits Adam Schofield, and amongst the influences he has used is the fantastically cheesy 60’s film “Danger: Diabolik!” (for which Morricone did the music) about a master thief stealing off the Italian government and living in a palatial apartment surrounded by his ill-gotten gains. Other visual style references include the Pink Panther cartoons and that cartoon style from the 60’s of using simple flat characters and larger physical space.


* Just my opinion, like, not those of Nat and Ricky, who wander off into rambling guff about "brush strokes" and "all about scale".


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How to Capture a Kahoot!

Character SketchesI’ve finally finished all the remaining design issues in Kahoots so now I can finally post something! There would’ve been more goodies in the game but...well let’s just say they didn’t last long enough... Anyway, enough talk about sweets (for now) and more about design and animation.

We knew we wanted to use claymation for the characters in Kahoots and, after much debate, finally settled on buttons, sweets (uh oh..that refrain didn’t last long!) and other random items for level graphics as they made for a more interesting aesthetic. After drawing some simple character designs, we chose the one we liked best, after which, I made the model. I started by making a basic wire frame skeleton for the inside of the model. This allows you to pose them far more easily than if they were solid plasticine, it also gives you an excuse to use glue guns! I used polystyrene in the frame to pad out areas without the need for tons of plasticine, which would be heavy and more difficult to work with. Once the frame was made, I sculpted my design over the top using white plasticine, that way we could manipulate the colours in Photoshop once the animationMORE character sketches had be done.

The Cardborg was made in a similar manner, although his wire frame was covered in plasticine and tinfoil. My advice now that I’ve experimented in animating something that’s covered in tinfoil is...don’t do it!! Absolute nightmare as the tinfoil ripped every time I moved its arm or leg! The Cardborg also has a cardboard box head and I made a selection of cardboard eyes and mouths for us to stick onto the box and decide what combinations worked best.

When the characters were complete, I set about animating them. I used a webcam, desk lamp and made a mini red screen area so the characters could be keyed out after animating. I used a program called MonkeyJam to take single frame shots of the models (http://www.giantscreamingrobotmonkeys.com/monkeyjam/). All you need to do is position the model in the frame, ensure its lit well and capture the image. Then move the model a little bit and take another picture...then move it again and yes..you’ve guessed it, take another pic! Repeat the process until you have all the frames you need, which you can then put together into what should hopefully be a full animation cycle. I animated all the basic actions needed for the game, a walk cycle, falling, smashing boxes etc. All of the separate frames are shown in a previous posting; below I’ve included a walk cycle of the Kahoot as I captured him and how he appears in the game.

video

Friday, 30 January 2009

Bless You, Morpheme.

We rarely do heartfelt sentiment here at Honeyslug, but we are unable to let the passing of Morpheme into history once and for all go without mention – it has played a huge part in where we are today, and the redundancy of the final 4 staff including remaining founder Matt Spall this week has been a real shame, because it finally means the end of a company which nutured a great deal of talented people over the last decade or so, wherever possible giving them the freedom to experiment, work on things until they were ready, and in many cases the space to figure out what kind of job they even wanted to be doing anyway.

More recently, Matt and the remaining team (as well as a number of ex-staff) have been hugely supportive of us - we may never have got off the ground had we not had their advice and support (and work).

I’ve led something of a nomadic existence in the games industry, and Morpheme (in all its forms) was my home for just under 7 years - that’s the second longest job I’ve had. It was Ricky’s home for 9 years (his only full time job) and Nat’s for over 3 - you don’t stay in one place too long if it’s “just a job”, and these people were not just our colleagues, many are our friends too. Now as the remaining staff move onto pastures new, we wish them every success as they did with us not so long ago. For a final time, the Morpheme roll call (in alphabetical order) was:

Ronald Batty, Justin Buck, Jeremy Carpenter, Robin Clarke, Elliot Curtis, Zane Desir, Jonathan Fisher, Andrew Fitter, Daniel Fordham, Chancal Gill, Ricky Haggett, William Hanson, Lee Higgins, Jonathan Hughes, Stephen Hughes, Mark Inman, Ben Jessell, Davina Lee, Joanne Low, Peter Lumby, Natalie Marco, Paul O’Sullivan, Lucy Reed, Dr. Steven Shipton, Matthew Spall, Frank Sun, Paul Welton, Christopher White, Julian Wolter, Haralambos Xiouros.

For a more eloquent and well structured review of its history, you should read the excellent City State site written by Rob Clarke: http://citystate.co.uk/archives/morpheme-1999-2008



Morpheme

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

It's Games Development, Jim...

Look, Ricky, you can't keep singing soprano, it sounds stupid. ...but not as we know it. We're approaching the tail end of the development of "Kahoots" and I promised a bit of an update as to what the game involved, but quite frankly that's all going to wait until the end. At this precise moment we have the games dev equivalent of Noel and Liam (that's Ricky and his brother Rob) penning lyrics for the tutorial songs (that's right, songs. Not text and carefully scripted level design, songs. Take that, well utilised and respected gaming traditions). Today has been one of those mad days where not only have we been insanely busy trying to chuck everything in, but cos of the home made style of the game, the stuff we've done has been very bizarre. I've spent a period of the afternoon cropping images of fridge magnet letters, and helping Nat sort out capturing images of cotton wool balls.

Kahoot and CardBorg in full flightTalking of our diminutive design queen, she's finally finished slaving over a hot desk lamp, animating the main character and its main enemy, the terrifying CardBorg! Hopefully once she's broke the back of the remaining design issues, she'll be able to explain on here how she's done it, but in the meantime, here's a nice picture of the character anims in full.



There's still tons of stuff to be done, the map screen, title screen and achievements still need sorting. Our Honeyslug logo, the unlockable reward and the end sequence will require trips to various locations in the capital. Then the whole thing needs the hell testing out of it to make sure it all hangs together and the dependencies on the hosting site all work fine. It's gonna be very tight indeed, especially as we have another two games in the pipeline.



As for what "Kahoots" is all about, well, you have to steer your Kahoot to the safety of the exit door by moving the floor around it (Kahoots walk perpetually or until the fall/die, obviously), certain floor has specific properties, so there's trapdoors to drop to lower areas, boing blocks to jump gaps or onto higher platforms, cannons to get fired to another location, etc. Along the way, the CardBorgs, enemy of the Kahoot, will do their best to stop your progress, though they can also come in quite useful for helping you advance through seemingly inaccessible areas.



Right, got to stop now, listening to Ricky and Rob write the song for the Peg Beast (don't ask) is about the funniest and surreal thing I've witnessed in quite some time. Here's some more pics of us feretting away this week. Also a first appearance of another art conduit Adam, whose game we will talk about next week (intrigue!)

Honeyslug, hard at work. Except for me, I'm nobbing around with a camera.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Particles

Hello blog!

So I finally got around to porting my particle engine to Actionscript 3 last week. You can see a little test swf here.





What I particularly like about my engine is that it allows behaviours to be defined in XML. Which means the code stays nice and clean (you just create an emitter, give it an XML file and start it up), but more importantly that a non-programmer can tweak particle effects to their heart's content.

To give you an idea, here is the XML for the emitters in my test - both the one attached to the mouse pointer, and the one when you click.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Pound Shop Development

We're pretty excited about our new game in development, although that statement implies that we also work on stuff that we're really not that arsed about, but what we're particularly excited about here is the home-made approach we have taken with all aspects of "Kahoots". Ricky, on top of his usual coding duties, is penning some song lyrics for the game, and working with his brother Rob to do the music and sound effects. Nat, along with designing the game levels, has reverted to her animation roots and has created a whole bunch of art assets for the game using plasticine, and animated them doing their thing (walking, jumping, whatever). Even I've taken time out from looking at our cashflow and turning white, to do some level design work and capture some pictures of things we can use for backgrounds in the game.


The cheap and cheerful approach doesn't end there, oh no. We've raided a local crafts store for beads, buttons and textiles to use as platform graphics, as well as the pantries and pound shops of Kentish Town, Camden, Edgware and Kilburn for lots of sweets to also use within the game for platforms and whatever (at the same time we also happened across Peking Duck Pringles for a quid, they're quite an experience, I can tell you). The good thing about comestibles as art assets is that you can eat them once you're done with getting them in the game, Nat's particularly partial to anything where sugar makes up 90% of the ingredients.

It's been a good laugh sourcing all this stuff, next time I'll tell you more about the game itself, for now, here's a taster for the how the game looks.




Thursday, 15 January 2009

Flora and Fawning

Here's a link to a game we're currently awaiting release of called "Flora's Fruit Farm", the video was taken a while ago, when both Nat and Ricky were still in the flushes of youth and Future Jerry hadn't got round to telling us about the perils of calling ourselves "Bubble Storm". It'll give you a little insight into how we roll, and also includes a bit of chipping in from one of our art conduits Peter Lumby.

http://www.channel4.com/4talent/feature.jsp?id=13707

Friday, 9 January 2009

Hello You!

Hello and welcome to the Honeyslug dev blog. We're a small video games developer based out of Kentish Town in London, which was formed by a team from a former Eidos studio just as the global economy went into freefall. We develop games across a number of platforms, and during the coming weeks we hope to start filling up this page with a variety of games we're currently working on (until they get signed and then disappear without explanation). Hopefully we will give you an insight into the ups and downs of all aspects of games development for a small start up studio on a tight budget, but without breaching the terms of the contracts and mutual NDA's we have in place.




Welcome along, we hope you enjoy the ride!