Like all great enterprises, it started with one man’s dream.
One man’s dream to create and publish his own game.
That man, of course, was… well, it wasn’t me; it was industry legend Simon Byron.
Just over a year ago, during one of our occasional pub catch-ups, Simon showed me his near-finished version of Up, Down, Left, Right (available now on the App and Play Stores, folks!). The talented bugger had learnt GameMaker from scratch and created the game on his commutes in and out of work – and it was good. In fact, it was so good I nearly spilt my pint – and we all know how jealously I guard my lager.
I was both impressed and envious (though not quite as much as when Gary Whitta told me he WAS WRITING A FLINKIN’ STAR WARS MOVIE). I’d been using GameMaker for years to create prototypes for games I was working on professionally but had never ‘flown solo’ – how could I, I reasoned: I was too busy either working, looking for work, or wrangling the mad cats that are my twin girls.
Then a few months later Simon showed me his new project, Bang Man! (also available now in all good app stores). It was another great little game, clever and polished – and the prod I needed to stop making excuses. Sure, finding time to work on it wouldn’t be easy but, by Grabthar’s hammer, I was going to do it!
But precisely what I was going to do was another matter entirely. Right from the off I knew I wanted it to be something you could play with just your thumb, the sort of thing you could noodle with on a packed tube train. For a while I’d also been mentally toying with the idea of a particle in orbit around an atom nucleus – I had some loose concept about moving electrons between atoms to make them combine, or something, but it never really gelled into anything even remotely resembling a game.
For a while this concept mutated into Atomic Soccer – sort of like chill-out room fave Fussball but with rows of atoms instead of flickable wooden fussballers, and you’d pass the electron from atom to atom with taps and flicks in an attempt to score goals. I sort of liked the idea but as I worked on a prototype the complexities of coding it began to put the fear in me – I’m competent in GameMaker but no genius. I realised that, like Simon, I needed to keep the idea simple and manageable.
That’s when a certain little bee called Buzzy flew into my life… But that’s a story for another blog.