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:


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


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.

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!