About me

It was Christmas 1984, I was 9 and received my first ever computer, an Acorn Electron.  The first time I ran a game on it I was so excited and unaware the effect that moment would have on my future.  I just knew I wanted to be involved in making games.

I’ve been creating video game art professionally for 17 years on titles such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved and DmC and really love it.  This work has always been for larger development teams with lots of talented people working together to make something great.

In May 2012 I started reading ‘C for dummies’ by Dan Gookin.  I liked the way it was written and ended up re-reading it a few times until the information started to stick.  This learning process for me was wonderful,  developing new things daily, taking larger and larger steps.

Around the same time I got the free version of Unity and started playing around with its scripting features, solving simple problems using the knowledge I’d gained from from Dan’s C book.  I found Unity’s on-line manual excellent and if you can’t find what you need or struggle to understand something there is always the Unity community which is amazing!

There have been many, many games that have inspired me.  A couple that stood out for me when I was younger were Superior Software’s ‘Thrust’ and ‘Zarch’.  The games were mechanically simple but required a lot of skill to play in order to control the craft, once I had gotten the hang of it there was a lovely flow and feel to the gameplay.

I felt inspired to try and replicate the feel of ‘Thrust’.  Before long I had a little cube flying around and it felt great, that motivated me to take another step with it, so I added some platforms where the little cube spaceship could land and refuel.  The cube spaceship wasn’t the best shape because when spinning around it was easy to forget which was was up, so I put a sphere on it to mark the top.  It looked like a little character, so I added cylinder arms to it.  It looked like a robot.  This extremely simple character and the way he flew around empty scenes felt great to me,  I enjoyed just moving him around.  The game evolved on it’s own,  every time I completed a task and would play-test a new level or mechanic something else would just present itself, ‘what if I added this’, or ‘moved the camera like that’.  It’s difficult to explain the excitement this process gave me, all I can say is that it was wonderfully addictive.

From that simple test I ended up taking the next year and a half adding worlds for him to explore.  This process inadvertently taught me something very important that I will follow for everything I make in the future.  If the gameplay feels great up front with no art, sound, particles, basically ‘no frills’,  then it’s only going to feel better at the end when you’ve added all those things.  Don’t be in a rush to add all the pretty bits in too early.  When you have a nice grey box template of the entire game the art and sound just drop in easily.

My first game ‘Rocket Robo’ will be available within the coming week.  It’s easily been one of the hardest and most fulfilling things I’ve ever tried to do.  Having a full-time job, using weekends and holidays to work on my game requires an understanding and supportive family.  I can’t thank my wife and daughter enough for their constant help and encouragement.

If you get to try ‘Rocket Robo’  I truly hope you enjoy it.  Please mail me and let me know your thoughts.


28 thoughts on “About me

  1. Well done, “Rocket Robo” looks great !
    Congratulations on the “official” launch – hope it sells in it’s millions (when we’ll look forward to a ride in your private jet :-) )

  2. I’m 63 years old and absolutely love your game, brings back so many happy memories of the type of game I used to play, easy to pick up and easy to play
    A refreshing change to mindless violence seen in so many games these days…
    Wishing you all the best for the future…

    • Hi Steve, I really enjoyed reading your post, thank you for taking the time to write it. It gives me a buzz when I hear things like this.

      Many thanks and all the best,

  3. Hi

    I started out with the Acorn Electron too, probably around the same time as you! I love to code and make games. Your graphical ability gives Rocket Robo a distinct edge over my stuff though.

    Good luck – hope it’s as successful as it deserves to be. :-)

    • Thanks for the message Michael. Someone showed me a video of Exile on you-tube running on the BBC Micro, I remember that it didn’t run on the Electron because it didn’t have enough RAM :) Is nice thinking about the games from all the way back. Remember ‘Citadel’ ?

  4. I’m on the same trajectory as you it seems. Unity looks like the best tool chain for me as well. Best of luck. I will be purchasing Rocket Robo for my son.

    • Hey John, That awesome! I hope your son enjoys it.

      Much luck with your adventures in Unity. Let me know if you release something, I’d love to check it out.

  5. Hi there

    I am also very interested in developing games and apps, but i havo no programming skills. As i read through the comments i realised that this was your first game. I would like to ask if you have anything useful for newbs like me ;) some kind of beginners guide. I am really interested in this, but i dont know where to start. I would appreciate it if you would help me out. And good luck with your game :)

    • Hello there Mr Z.
      It will take time and a lot of patience. I used Unity for Rocket ROBO and you can get your own copy for free here : http://unity3d.com/unity/download

      There are plenty of game engines to mess around with, some people are making great games in game maker for example :
      Hotline Miami and the original Spelunky were made in this.

      There are ‘many’ tutorials online for free, it just takes time to absorb it all. I’d buy a ‘dummies’ book to start as they are easy to get into and teach the basic principles. Once you get a basic understanding you can apply it to other programs much more easily. The unity community is extremely good. They have examples on their site to follow. Use a notebook to write down anything that you find useful so you can refer to it later.

      I used a free online program called ‘trello’ to manage all my work.

      Just remember it takes a while to get good at something so don’t feel let down if it doesn’t work out straight away. I always remember this when I’m learning new things : http://www.wisdomgroup.com/blog/10000-hours-of-practice/

      Good luck to you!

  6. I remember the good old days of the Electron – believe it or not I still have mine and it still works…however I am lacking one of the tape drive things. Some great memories and games – Elite is still an all time classic…

    • I’m toying around with a idea inspired by Elite for possibly a follow up game :) So many ideas though, not sure what I’ll do next, once all this is out of the way. Hope you are well Mark!

  7. Hi!umm…I must say I like your Game,I have not played so fun a game for a long time even though I like iOS game and play it every day.I think you are a talent game maker,you can be better in the future.umm…at last…I must say I’m a chinese gamer,very young gamer(compare with you),This is my first time leaving a message in this way,it must be a lucky.

  8. I enjoyed the game a lot, thanks for making it! Very fluid controls and I like the art style. I just wish the environments were a little more varied and a few more types of enemies would be neat as well.

    • Thanks Jake, It’s a little difficult to compete with the big studios who can offer lots of variety in their games because of the number of staff they have, I am trying though :) Hopefully you like the new levels when they come out.

      Thank you for mailing

  9. I am really inspired by your story and your game. I’ve purchased it and am thoroughly enjoying it. I can relate to alot of what you mentioned and found your journey and story has given me the ‘oomph’ to begin my own tentative foray in the game development. Im going to try out the unreal engine 4 thats just come out and see how things go. ‘Small steps’ Many thanks again for fantastic game enjoying it immensely.

    • Awesome to hear! Definitely push to do it if you have the motivation. It’s truly is really hard but the satisfaction you gain from all the little successes you achieve in your travels is well worth it. Good luck my friend!

  10. Hi, im an old schoolfriend of Martin Rowley, who pointed me in the direction of your game. I think its a lovely game, great value, and well…..just a nice happy game. Love the soundtrack too. Im looking at getting into coding for a living. Is this your full time job now, or a hobby?

    • Hi Stuart, Hope Martin is well, it’s been a long time since we spoke! Thanks for mailing, I’m still working as a Lead artist for a games company which I really enjoy. Rocket Robo is a project I did in my spare time. I haven’t made a jump to full indie…. yet. It may happen, I think I’d like to make another game and see how that goes.

  11. Hi Aaron, our severely autistic 10 year old son is in love with your beautiful game and we are so very proud that he is now up to level 54 ! All by himself ! I am keeping a close eye to see if you ever make another game.
    Thank you,

    • It’s been a long time since I booted up my mac, and I found your message. Really wonderful to hear. So glad he likes it, fantastic progress too, please tell him I said he’s doing amazingly well :)

  12. My kids love your game. The story, concept, character, and complexity. My middle son used to take your character to fly into space and then back inside the cube. Wonderful manipulations of dimensions, space and obstacles.
    Is it possible to get an updated app version? And are there any other games that you have personally developed and released?
    Wish there were many more as enjoyable this game!

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