Before I disappear into my usual ramblings, like how WordPress seems entirely different, and probably better, somehow, I should get the important stuff out of the way first. Brawsome’s next game is Warp Frontier, and the first trailer is up on the tube.
Okay, but, whaaaat!? I thought you were dead. I hear you say. Well, there’s some truth to that, and let’s face it, is anyone really alive? Find out, in Warp Frontier!
Before I lose the other 20% of you, let’s size this baby up. It’s got a cool 6-8 hours of gameplay, with nearly 30 characters, fully voiced, which equates to about 4,000 lines of dialogue. Inbuilt hint system, in addition to the character’s inner monologue, and robot companion. There are about 50 scenes to explore, and key choices that lead to several different outcomes, ranging from the loss of thousands of souls, to still being able to see your kids. The game is predominantly voiced by Australians, something that’s uncommon for most point and click adentures, in addition there are actors from New Zealand, the US, UK and Serbia. If I’m going to work with everyone remotely, may as well get people that are the real deal.
Warp Frontier is so many things, including the most personal game I’ve made, the most of my own money I’ve spent, and the most time I’ve spent. The personal aspect is that of feeling like an Australian story told as a sci-fi game. The setting is humanity’s newest extrasolar colony – Cetus, a small isolated planet on the edge of civilization, a Frontier, if you will. The people of Cetus are mostly rural, and come from many different cultures, but come together around a quintessentially Cetan identity. The lead, Vince, is a man possibly past his greatest achievements, likely on the verge of a mid-life crisis, whose life has been steered by forces outside of his control, finding himself stuck doing something he is good at, rather than something he enjoys. He is haunted by the loss of his first wife, and friends during the Cetan war, 10 years prior, and feels like he has failed them, with an added sprinkling of survivor’s guilt, but in the midst of this, he still has a job to do, and to be there for his kids, while staying away from the bottle that constantly threatens to make everything a little easier and harder at the same time.
Warp Frontier is influenced by media I was consuming at the time of writing and thereafter, including Ray Kurzweils prophesizing of a singularity, and The Expanse and Altered Carbon series. With thoughts of singularity weighing heavily on my mind I started to explore what might happen after a singularity, what if humanity decides to pull the plug and revert to a potential post Artificial Intelligence dark age? The game is set in 2215, a couple of hundred years after such a singularity when General Artificial Intelligence has been outlawed, as well as replication devices. With the advent of Warp travel, humanity has fractured into factions that derive their identity more from their planetary origin, rather than their original earth culture, which circles back on this idea of an Australian identity. The Expanse series really spoke to me as one of the more grounded sci-fi realities, it really felt as if we could look into the future and see something very similar, it also made me consider how humans grow apart with generations growing up off Earth. Altered Carbon explores living forever, and the body merely as a vessel barely tied to our identity.
Oh, that’s right, short blog entries are hard. I promise when I have more time I’ll write a shorter entry. Or maybe you’d prefer to consume me talking for an hour once a week, like I seem to consume all my media. Look forward to this social media neanderthal figuring it out over the coming months!
Been back in Australia since about August, after finishing up on Apple’s first AR app – Measure. You’ll find it in the iOS 12 update, if you’re so inclined to keep up with the latest Apple devices and succumb to the relentless calls to updates. C’mon, do it for the new emoji’s.
Before turning up at Apple I had moved to the Lumberyard team within Amazon Game Studios. Lumberyard is Amazon’s game engine based off the CryEngine. It’s like Unreal or Unity, except you probably haven’t heard of it. To remember it just think of how popular starting a lumber yard in the Amazon would be. I joined that team not because I particularly like making tools, but because they had a Lead VR Systems developer position, and after trying out some early Vive demos I really wanted to spend more time in virtual worlds.
Now, when I planned on coming back I was going to take at least a year off to work on a space adventure I started developing about 5 years ago (actually, the idea from Jolly Rover started about 5 years before I developed it too!), but my old friends at PlayFirst, now Glu Mobile, had a really nice contract offer that could potentially allow me to take more than a year to develop a new game, so I’ve decided to hunker down and save some money and dedicate about 20 hours a week to the space adventure, in addition to the 40 hour contract. The nice thing about working from home is I save around 15 hours a week travel time. In the last few months though I decided to accelerate my saving by taking on another contract in those 20 hours to develop an eBook reader using React.
So, I haven’t had much time for a lot of things lately, including updating this blog. But I am making progress towards having another proper go at developing a new adventure. Will hopefully have something more to share in 2019!
First! MacGuffin’s Curse is on sale, for 50% off, for first time in what’s got to be over a year. I try not to have the game on sale too often, but when Steam told me about the Lunar New Year sale it seemed like a pretty good fit for a werewolf game.
Yes, it’s been a while since I posted here; we’re getting on 3 years now. You’re probably expecting I’m retired and lying on a beach somewhere soaking up all those sweet Jolly Rover and MacGuffin’s Curse royalties. Well, not quite (at all). Let’s catch up.
In early 2013, before my last blog post, I parted ways with the Coles and Hero-U. I sincerely wish the Coles the best of luck. I can’t wait to play Hero-U when it comes out.
After that I spent most of 2013 and 2014 contracting, saving for the next game, which I hoped to fund myself. I worked on some cool stuff, like porting Ron Gilbert’sScurvy Scallywags from iOS to Android, and porting PlayFirst’s iOS engine to Android, which opened up a lot of back catalogue porting work there. I was working on an engine migration for the latest Diner Dash game when I read that Amazon was making games, and they were hiring a bunch of really awesome people. I went to their jobs page and found they were looking for a Senior Gameplay Engineer, I applied and was hired in about three weeks. This was in May 2014, but I didn’t get to the Seattle office (yes America, I am in you!) until October, because my wife was pregnant with our third and we wanted him to be born in Australia.
Amazon was offering big company stability with the opportunity to work on an original game. I had visions of what it might have been like to get hired on early at LucasArts back in the 80s. It sounded like Amazon really was committed to the experiment of putting awesome people together to see what they would produce. I’m learning a lot at Amazon, there are some scary talented people here who’ve worked on awesome titles (Thief, Half Life, Portal, Dune 2). I’m like a kid in a game dev candy store.
The reason I went indie in the first place was that I didn’t have the ability in Melbourne, Australia to get decent paid work on original games, and many studios weren’t that stable (about two years after I left Krome Melbourne to go indie they closed). My game credits until starting Brawsome were all licensed titles, which was pretty fun at first. Emerald City Confidential with Dave Gilbert and PlayFirst was the first original game I worked on before Jolly Rover, nearly 6 years after joining the industry.
I should never have been indie, really. I had built a life that required a greater income than being indie could support, wife, mortgage, kids, etc. The kind of life where maybe not making money for a few years wasn’t an option. But in spite of reality I had a blind drive to work on something original I could care about. In the 6 years I was “Brawsome” I estimate about 18 months of that was spent working on indie stuff, and the rest was spent making ends meet with contracting. I only ever had one contiguous 3 month period where I was working on Jolly Rover full time (bliss!), the rest was contracting 20-40 hours a week.
That’s not to say I won’t do it again. There is nothing as exhilarating as full creative freedom, and ownership of what you’re building. But when I do, I would really like to come at it from a more stable financial position, and when all my kids sleep through the night, where I can enjoy giving the time I would really like to spend making it work creatively and financially.
Looks like Ben and I will be going to the inaugural PAX Australia. On account of MacGuffin’s Curse being selected to be in the Australian Indie Showcase.
This will be Brawsome’s 3rd PAX, 2nd time exhibiting at PAX, and 1st time exhibiting in Australia. It’s a little weird, exhibiting so close to home. Normally when going to a conference such as this I have to travel for about 24 hours, instead of say… 1 hour. I’m sure many people coming from overseas are looking forward to PAX Australia, I’m looking forward to hearing how they find the trip over. 24 hours of travel is… well, 24 hours of travel. If you’re coming from overseas, make sure you give yourself a few days to recover!
I’m personally hoping to bump into Ron Gilbert, and Mike or Jerry. I wonder who they get excited about bumping into? I love chatting with the indie developers at these things too, and they’re always a favorite with the crowds. You’d be well advised to make time to check out the indie booths and talk to the cool devs there. Of all the games conferences/festivals you can go to, indies seem to have the best run at PAX.
If you’re coming by the booth, we’ll have “Macca G” (Australian for “MacGuffin’s Curse”, probably) on display, and likely be throwing out free copies of the game at random. Anything else you’d like to see while we’re there? Buttons? Magnets? T-shirts? Red mutton chops? Would YOU buy merch with a werewolf on it? Maybe a pirate dog? Let me know, I’d be very interested to find out!
If you’re coming here for the first time, or the first time in a while. Hey, how’s it going? I suppose I’d better mention again that I’m working with the legendary Quest for Glory creators on a new project Hero-U. OMG! Right? Well, technically no-one’s working on anything yet, that’s why YOU have to go to the kickstarter page and become a backer for some truly awesome rewards!
You’re already a backer!? Well, aren’t you awesome! You’re in for a treat! While Corey, Lori and I aren’t making another Quest for Glory game, we’re making something much better! A NEW game that has all the awesome of Quest for Glory. It’s an adventure game, with RPG elements, much like Quest for Glory, but told from a top-down perspective, with conversation closeups, branching story, inventory, complex relationships, rivalries, combat, quests, STATS, STUFF! Even if you don’t end up backing the project, do check out the kickstarter page for a the lowdown on what it’s all about. Going to the page is FREE!
But heeeyyyy, I hear you wail, where’s the Halloween part of this post? Maybe THIS will explain things…
No? Well, okay, that’s pretty understandable. The image above was commissioned by Ben in his excitement over a big event coming up. You may notice MacGuffin’s Curse’s Judy and Lucas in an impossible crossover with Dave Gilbert’s Rosa Blackwell and Joey from his Blackwell series of games. This was created to be a nice bit of promotion surrounding MacGuffin’s Curse’s FIRST EVER BUNDLE! The Indie Royale Halloween Bundle!
Jolly Rover didn’t do too badly in the last Indie Royale Bundle earlier in the year, in fact, it was in the highest grossing Indie Royale bundle of all time! So when they approached me about putting MacGuffin’s Curse in their Halloween Bundle, I thought that sounded delicious. Like a pumpkin and maple syrup cupcake.
We were initially going to bundle with one of Dave’s Blackwell games, hence the top-notch piece you see above by artist Matt Cummings, but due to the ever-changing nature of these Bundles there’s no guarantees on who you’ll be sharing it with until it actually launches, and Dave’s game was put into an earlier bundle, much to Ben’s displeasure (i’m sugar coating here, much like the sugar coating on that pumpkin and maple syrup cupcake!). I can assure you though, that even though the lineup changes, we’re always sharing the space with awesome titles.
Since PAX I’ve been talking to all these cool indie devs about possibly bundling together, because Steam has gone Greenlight on that process too. Everything is outsourced now. Power to the people! (Don’t be mad Steam, you know I love you!). So I was going to do a bundle around now anyway, and when Indie Royale approached me about doing it I thought that would be a pretty good idea. They have some pretty strong marketing backing their bundles, and actively support it with a lot more time than I ever could. Their mailing list is also a lot bigger than mine. And they’re better dancers. So I’m hoping this is a good one. If you’d like to pick it up with a bunch of other awesome indie games you might never have heard of (but are probably awesome) go check it out! And if you see Ben, give him a hug and tell him you like the crossover piece, or he won’t be doing nice things for you ever again!
You may remember Corey and Lori from their work on the beloved Quest for Glory series, from Sierra back in the 90’s, unless of course you were born after that, in which case you’re making me feel old, go away! If you haven’t checked it out though, I highly recommend picking it up from GOG, it’s a steal at only $9.99! Though take my advice and substitute the second one with AGDI’s amazing VGA Remake.
Alas though, Corey and Lori only own Quest for Glory in their hearts, which means they’re not able to continue the series, at least not without a lot of legal wrangling. But that doesn’t mean they can’t stop creating games with their unique touch, which brings us to their new RPG-Adventure Hero-U.
Now, you might be wondering where Brawsome fits in in all this. Well, I’ve been sending the Cole’s copies of my games since I released Jolly Rover in 2010. I send copies of my games to all my heroes, and sometimes I even get a reply! Corey and Lori were one such pair of heroes that got back to me and we’ve been chatting sporadically about this and that ever since. The sticking point in all these grand plans though is funding, but earlier in the year Tim Schafer showed the way to a new path of funding via kickstarter, and suddenly these dreams had a chance at crossing over into the physical realm. A true resurrection of the spirit of gaming!
Corey and Lori could likely approach just about any developer to work with them on a new title, but they particularly liked the look and feel of MacGuffin’s Curse, so last month we started talking about how we could make this work and they shared their plans to launch a kickstarter to fund the project on October 19.
If you’d like to stay abreast of all the latest information on the project, go on over to their facebook page and give it a like. They regularly discuss ideas for the project on there and are welcoming feedback from fans. So if you ever wanted to have input on a new Corey and Lori adventure, what are you waiting for?!
By the way, check out this podcast Chris Pope did with Corey and Lori on the Two Guys from Andromeda podcast. And if you like Sierra nostalgia, stick around on the site for more podcasts with other legends of adventure gaming.
It’s been a while since the last update, partly because the news I DO have I can’t talk about yet, and partly because I don’t have any new news I CAN talk about. Until now!
You may have deduced from the not-so-cryptic headline that Brawsome is going to be in the home of Microsoft, Starbucks and Valve for PAX this year. This will be the second time attending the overwhelming nerd love-in that is PAX, but the first time actually exhibiting. I wouldn’t say we’re in a big booth, not quite medium either, and calling it small would be too generous. Let’s just say if you were at Starbucks ordering a Short, Tall or Grande Latte, we would be the Demi size that no-one knows about, or maybe the sugar.
Nevertheless! We say we’re the smallest house in the best street. Location, location! Check out our neighbors, SEGA, EA, Sony, Nintendo. You know, the usual crowd.
Now, if you want to come to PAX to see Brawsome, well, it’s probably (definitely) WAAAY too late for that. All 60,000 or so tickets tend to sell out in a few days, several months before the expo. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put tickets on sale for the next 5 years of PAX and they sold out in a week. But if you managed to snag a ticket to PAX, or find some way to sneak in dressed as an Orc, or some Manga character I’ve never heard of, then stroll up to Booth 158 (pictured above, but not even CSI could enhance that text) and have a chat to us. We’ll likely fire a limited edition V.I.P. card at you for either Jolly Rover or MacGuffin’s Curse, containing a Humble Store code for your very own copy! Well, additional copy, you’ve already purchased it, right? We thought about selling copies there, but I’d have to pretend I was from the SEGA booth, and it was for something Sonic related (which I’ll no-doubt try anyway). We’ll also have some neat postcards to give away, and copies of the game on display for all to play.
If you can’t make it to PAX, you can still get in on the Brawsome action with the sale that will be running during the conference. On Steam, there will be a Brawsome bundle, featuring MacGuffin’s Curse and Jolly Rover for $6.99, and MacGuffin’s Curse will also be 50% off on the App and Mac App Stores.
Now, there’s some super secret information about a project Brawsome is working on with some awesome designers that have been relatively dormant for a while. The information was leaked recently, and is out there for anyone who is looking in the right place. But you’ll not find any more about it here until the time is right. There’s a little project for you.
What horrors await you in Alphonse’s Treasury? Find out in this free update for MacGuffin’s Curse, which is on sale for 50% off today only! You might have thought Alphonse was an egotistical homicidal megalomaniac before, but nothing thus far has prepared you for what you’ll find in his his inner sanctum!
Warning: Contents of the treasury update cannot be unseen!
Aside from the fact that you might need to go and watch The Ring to get a good night’s sleep again, the Treasury update also adds:
13 lovingly hand-stitched rooms with more of the MacGuffin trademark humor and puzzles
9 unique items to be fleeced for in Harvey’s shop
5 side quests
2 inventory items of polarizing awesomeness
1 achievement of questionable copyright
Loads of dialogue, including new developer commentary
This update is now available to all those who have already supported the game with their purchase, simply because we think they’re swell, and we don’t believe in stinging them for new content for a game they’ve already bought. What? You haven’t bought it yet? That’s okay, grab a DRM Free copy for PC & Mac with additional Steam key here. Or buy a copy for your BFF. They’re your BFF after all, don’t be so stingy!
iOS and Mac App Store users. We’ve crammed this update into Apple’s system, and it’s currently working it’s way through. We’re not sure when the shocking new content will be approved and pop out the other end, or come back up for changes, but when it does, you’ll know.
Oh and finally, if you like the fine Treasury art by the talented Paul Bowers, you can get your very own copy in your desired dimensions below