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.