Gang BeastsGames

StatusEarly AccessRoleNetworking and VR EngineerDate2016-06-01

Boneloaf's indie classic

Working up in the North of England at Coatsink was a great experience, and quite the counterpoint to my time in China. The team and I had the pleasure of bringing Gang Beasts online, and allowing players to get closer to the action than ever before with VR integration.

Snip Snip SnookerGames

StatusAbandonedRoleDesigner/DeveloperDate2016-04-18

Bite-sized action/puzzler

A rushed but fun Ludum Dare experiment with mobile game design, Snip-Snip was designed to be played in short sessions with touch input. The aesthetic evolved with the mechanics, but would not ultimately coaselse to something satisfying. Nevertheless the refractive ideas opened other avenues of investigation.

Tea For VaderGames

StatusCompletedRoleDeveloperDate2016-01-31

Brew Tea-em-up

A joke that became a jam game, Tea for Vader tasks you with making the perfect brew for the dark lord. We used the jam-status to justify packing the game with Star Wars references and absurdities; from a barshop sextet to Paul Crabb’s increasingly anxious teaboy-cum-sadist’s Tamagotchi.

Tell ThemGames

StatusAbandonedRoleDesigner/DeveloperDate2015-12-14

Two player branching narrative

A one day jam for LD34, the concept was around a branching narrative game (something I would usually avoid) played by two players, each taking turns to choose the next branch. ‘Truth’ acts as a counterpoint mechanic to this, as the choice made will necessarily be the truth or a lie. This leads to a definitive characterisation that is nevertheless mutable by the amount to which they lie, much like we in our ordinary lives are the same person day to day but may behave differently due to context.

The Synctory tool was modded and put to use here as a simple narrative branching writing application, although with networking, design and actual writing I couldn’t finish it in the day.

CocketeersGames

StatusAbandonedRoleDesigner/DeveloperDate2015-09-05

Joust, but ruder

The product of a self-organised, farewell-Beijing jam for Sam Green, Tobias Baumann, Dan Arnold-Mist and myself, the game takes mechanics from Beepee, applies a local-multiplayer mindset, dresses it in the grotesque and puts a bold pun on top.

Although the project itself was abandoned due to the practicalities of global separation, much of the technical work informed patterns in the Ent2D framework, and flying mechanic is something I’ll want to use in the near future.

The Last Little MonsterGames

StatusPlayable SketchRoleDeveloper/DesignerDate2015-08-24

Procedural 2D roguelike

My submission for LD33, the theme was ‘You Are the Monster’.

Certainly the product of ‘biting off more than I could chew’, the project nevertheless allowed me my first ditherings with procedural generation, and while the core game loop was under-designed I had great fun working on the game feel via animations, sound and tweenings.

A full post-mortem on this game can be found here.

Ember ConflictGames

StatusCompletedRoleCo-DeveloperDate2015-08-01

Touch-based Real Time Tactics

The Ember Conflict was the two year project of Substantial Games, my home in Beijing. Our CTO YJ Park changed the way I thought about coding, being something like a tech version of Shigeru Miyamoto; if ever you are settled into thinking one idea is best, Park could be relied on to show you how many things you hadn’t considered.

People were constantly impressed with how great our game looked; testament to the skill of Daniel Arnold-Mist and his team (artist Diego Candia and animator Kenneth Greenblatt) as well as Pin Wang’s modern UI designs. Although we gained many hardcore fans we did not achieve the traction necessary for ‘escape velocity’ and went our separate ways in 2015. Having now moved back to Europe I have been picketing everyone to move West ever since.

ProhibitionGames

StatusOn hiatusRoleDeveloper/DesignerDate2015-06-07

Location-based drinking game

Live games are to video games as theatre is to film; it only lasts for a finite time with a finite audience but hell is it electrifying.

I used my birthday to galvanise friends to form teams and participate in a day of drinking, running and strategy, and for me worrying the wheels might come off at any point. Fortunately Meteor proved a stable and flexible platform to build the game on, with no hiccups as teams ran riot over the hutongs of Beijing using mobile devices to check in. There were some superb plays over the two and a half hour play session and the winning team got to choose my new haircut: an inverse mohawk.

If you would like to run your own version of the game, or are interested in helping develop the platform please get in touch!

Avenging My Gran, the Famed BotanistGames

StatusCompletedRoleDeveloper DesignerDate2015-05-02

Short puzzlescript puzzler

Made in 48 hours for LD32 (theme ‘An Unconventional Weapon’), this was a great opportunity to get my hands dirty with Stephen Lavelle’s Puzzlescript engine. The syntax is great fun to figure out, itself resembling a puzzle game. The limitations of the engine are liberating, but also allow the designer no slight-of-hand tricks to draw attention away from unengaging gameplay. A good puzzlescript game is a good game, period.

I had tried to avoid any story at all, having experimented greatly in the previous two Ludum Dares. However I found it impossible to avoid entirely, opting for a short introduction that provides some sense of motivation for your avatar. And why ‘Gran’? ‘Gran’ is funny, right?

This also marked my first game in a while to feature an actual colour palette. At the time I remember being very unsatisfied with it, but looking back it has a dreary yet colourful demeanour that suits the theme quite nicely.

πramidGames

StatusPlayable SketchRoleDeveloper / Co-DesignerDate2015-04-20

Puzzle Platformer with simple touch controls

A collaboration with Mika Karkinen for Pi Jam 2014. I met Mika at Global Game Jam Bangkok 2015 where his team swooped both the audience and critics prizes. Mika has the ability to invoke a sense of fun without ever overloading an art style with complexity; he’s also incredibly fast and an incredibly affable guy!

We spent a while thinking about the theme of the game- should it be abstract (we considered having the pi symbol as the player’s avatar) or based somehow on the history of the concept? We ended up choosing the later and setting it in a Pi-ramid (drum sting please). It added a certain sense of mystery and wonder which the number certainly deserves!

I was quite proud of how we managed to use Pi as the core mechanic of the game, and build physics based puzzles on top of it. As a short five minute experience it certainly doesn’t lag, although I’d be curious to see how much further the concepts could be taken, seeing as we’d reached a limit by deadline.

Delicate ThreadGames

StatusCompletedRoleCo-Writer/Co-Designer/DeveloperDate2015-02-23

Narrative driven infinite-runner

Probably my favourite project so far, Delicate Thread was my collaboration with artist Kat Trautmann and featured voice talent from James Laver, Warisa Neranartkomol and Chris Wegoda.

Made for JamForLeelah, it builds on some of the ideas from Alex Takes a Test and commits fully to a story of a child coming to terms with their identity. Working with Kat was an absolute pleasure; due to our opposite timezones I would usually wake to some awesome thing Kat had made that would fill my day with motivation. Our collaborations on the scripts, drawing on our own histories, made the game very personal and filled the narrative with a charge.

Thankfully, unlike Alex Takes a Test the experiment was a success. The infinite runner mechanics merged with the narrative and sound design to create an emotion thrill-ride that manages to convey the internal without patronising or lecturing.

Cavern ConmenGames

StatusPlayable SketchRoleCo-Developer/Co-DesignerDate2015-01-31

Multiplayer bluff game over local network

DoX (Tahir Vico), Nipiton (Wongsuparatkul) and I met at Global Game Jam Bangkok and spent a good amount of time discussing what we wanted to make before settling into grunt mode. Working surrounded by tens of teams all beavering away was pretty motivating, and seeing the projects during the presentations was enticing and humbling to say the least. Great ideas and technical feats were in abundance.

Through our design iterations we managed to settle on a social game that other people could drop in and out of. The game uses linguistic communication between players as its core mechanic, and the local network to sync the game state between devices. Players cannot see what is around them, rather they must trust what their opponent tells them. The effect was something like the popular party game Mafia/Werewolf, with relationships mutating over individual games.

The biggest issue with the game was how it communicated its own mechanics- one of the pictures above shows me stuggling to explain the concept to the judges. As a party game it should be instantly grok-able, but unfortunatley we ran out of time before figuring out how to achieve this.

Alex Takes a TestGames

StatusPlayable SketchRoleDeveloper/DesignerDate2014-12-08

Action puzzler in an abstract space

As my previous Ludum Dare game had been quite sedate in pacing, I wanted my LD31 game (theme ‘Entire Game on One Screen’) to be more action orientated, while still trying something new with the narrative. The idea was a story about the relationship between Alex and Alex’s doctor. The mechanics hinted at symptoms of social anxiety and autism but played on the player’s understanding rather than explicitly lay bare any psychological profile.

Unfortunately, this was the first jam where time management almost entirely torpedoed the project. The simple design of the puzzle and flying sequences did not automatically translate into a good game feel, and a lot of time was spent trying to make the flying section feel more anxiety inducing. In the end I’d have more more success with this in Delicate Thread.

LullabyGames

StatusCompletedRoleCo-Developer/Co-DesignerDate2014-10-01

Short horror experience

Made for Asylum Jam 2014, this was a great palate cleanser for Samuel Green, Daniel Arnold-Mist and I from our work at the day job. Tobias Baumann joined us to make a four-man team.

The development process was relatively painless, the biggest surprise was how many Let’s Plays we got in the following month. Short experiences charged with tension are perfect Let’s Play material we learnt.

The design of the game was such that restarting the game after a fail state did not significantly hamper the player, as they could progress quickly through solved puzzles. It’s a credit to Dan and Sam’s great art and sound design that we managed to pull off the twist ending without it seeming too cheap. It served as a perfect, unexpected conclusion to a game that constantly toys with the player’s expectations; how many other horror games have leveraged the true nightmare of a Windows 95 login screen?

Hello OperatorGames

StatusUnstable buildRoleDeveloper/DesignerDate2014-08-25

Narrative experiment with switching perspectives

Hello Operator marks the beginning of a habit of creating narrative experiments that shall never end (I hope). The theme of LD29 was ‘Connected Worlds’, and while I was not the only person to think of a switchboard operator the game threw everything at creating a sense of time and place to increase the sense of role-playing. Marck Thornton and Jin Chan Yum Wai rustled up some great 2D art assets, and that mumbling American is voiced by none other than Daniel Arnold-Mist.

The experimental nature came from pitting the player against their role; the job of being a switchboard operator was constantly being interrupted by the narrative (told in third person by the husband), which included the avatar’s own thoughts. The theory was to make the player empathise with the protagonist, an unhappily married woman forced into work by financial woes. However, the game rather goaded the player into hating themselves- ‘Shut up woman!’ was one of the nicer things my colleague shouted on his playthrough.

Later Sam and I would discuss the idea of role-playing in a first-person game, by which point I would have abandoned the idea entirely.

ShanghaiGames

StatusCompletedRoleDeveloper/ Co-DesignerDate2014-04-28

1940s themed action puzzler

The first of many collaborations with Samuel Green, Shanghai marks the beginning of a jam habit neither of us have been able to shake since.

The design of the game came together very quickly, starting from the idea of espionage and the flow of information through a secretive system. It was great fun inserting themed assets; the ticker tape, the Bund, and the 1940s search lights. Daniel Arnold-Mist made a last minute cameo providing the sepia map and some great art suggestions.

The game proved to be engaging, and we’ve experimented with prototypes since for a possible follow up. The issue of diversion of focus in the game (with attention continually flipping from the map to the ticker tape to the embassy stats) was easy to fix; trying to distill multiple interacting mechanics down to something simpler but just as emergent less so.

The Avoidable Adventures of Bee-PeeGames

StatusCompletedRoleDeveloper/DesignerDate2011-10-01

Allegorical platformer in a musical world

My first fully fledged ‘game’, this was a passion project over many months. Inspired by Jonathan Blow’s Braid I wanted to create a similar allegory using traditional 2D platform game mechanics. I also wanted to have a working ecosystem, and although I technically achieved both these things I’d be the first to note neither was remotely ‘juiced’, nor really squeezed at all.

The game is packed with ideas that hint at a grander meaning, although I failed to make anything less trite than a secret win condition implying that the use of oil in the game is mostly unnecessary (it is, of course, a reference to the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010).

Nevertheless the core flying mechanic (which slowly unlocks over a half hour playtime) was interesting enough to spawn an entirely different experience; the current W.I.P ‘Cockateers’.