Indie Games Part 3: Honey Bee

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Today I’m introducing to you a new, fun puzzle game called Honey Bee. The cute game is made by Pelangi games and once again, an interview with the game’s creator will be attached to the end of this article. I love puzzle games but I’m a bit picky about them, so when I say that Honey Bee is really worth trying out, you know it’s got to be true! The music in the game is definitely a big bonus when it comes to relaxing, it really is quite soothing.

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Honey Bee is a fun, simple and relaxing puzzle game. Here’s why:
• Fun: Because ‘Honey Bee’ will offer you an enjoyable, yet entertaining challenge to simply pass the time or exercise your puzzle-solving mind.
• Simple: Combine, combine, combine, that’s all there is to it! It’s an easy learning curve, the short tutorial will quickly get you started.
• Relaxing: Play ‘Honey Bee’ at your own pace. There’s no end goal to aim for or a count-down timer to race against! Just chill-out and enjoy the music.

Features:
• Combine tiles of the same kind together to form bigger tiles.
• Unlock features to help you advance.
• Expand the board as you level up.
• Compete with friends for the highest score.
• Post your highest scores to the leader board.

How far can you go? Play on your holiday. Play on your commute. Play while lounging around. Play for free now! No in-app purchases required. At all! We really mean it!


 

Here is the promised interview with Alan:

1) Where did you get the idea for your game, and how did you start?

It happened when I was searching for a game that I could play to past the time during the boring bits of going away on holiday. You know, like whilst sitting in an airport lounge in eager anticipation of a relaxing long haul flight, or waiting for my Wife on the other end of the duty free shopping zone. By serendipity I came across a puzzle game called Big Maker, which filled this space quite nicely. Most gamers would liken the game mechanics of Honey Bee with the very popular 2048 puzzle games, but the closest relation is actually the relatively little known Big Maker game. The game had a wide audience appeal but there were little things that I felt could be improved to enhance the overall experience. I thought no further of it and allowed the ideas to incubate in my head. Fast forward a few months later and I found myself downloading Unity, almost subconsciously and proceeded to go through the tutorials. Just as I was getting a reasonable grasp of Unity and felt empowered enough to build a game of my own, I discovered that my initial game idea of a MOBA management simulator had already been done and was already in early access. My heart sunk in this revelation as I had invested lots of time to get to the point where I was finally able to build this game. In hind-sight this was a blessing in disguise as the scope and resources required for a management style simulation game would have made for a rough introduction to game development. That very same night, I revisited the Big Maker ideas I had parked away all those months ago and said to myself, “Why not?”. Why not remake the game with a fresh look-and-feel and bring my own innovations to the mix. I quickly built a minimum viable product of what was to become Honey Bee, tested its playability and was determined to bring the prototype up to polish and launched on the Google Play store.

2) What were your expectations for the game? Was it everything you had hoped for?

Honey Bee had shown lots of promise during its development and I knew I had something special when my Wife was hooked on playing early versions of it. On more than one occasion, I had to pry her away from playing on my dev tablet just so that I could play-test it myself! Since then, I had the aim to design Honey Bee for her in mind, and reasoned that if she enjoyed it then her friends will likely enjoy playing it too. However, most level-headed people would know that for a game without a marketing budget and from an unknown developer would have required the help of a minor miracle for it to become a overnight success. So from very early on I set my expectations to what would be reasonable and realistic. Since launch, the game has received a gradual uptake in players and it is my hope that these players would enjoy the game enough to share with their friends and gain some momentum. Amusingly, there is already an emergence of competitiveness for the highest score between players of the same social circle, but maybe that’s just me *laughs*

3) What was the hardest part in making your game? How about the most fun part?

My adorable Toddler clutching her favourite Peppa Pig puppet book doing everything she can including disconnecting my laptop power cable to get me to read to her for the 7th iteration…that morning. All the while trying to debug a mind-bending recursive function for my game-over checker. But seriously, I think effective time management and having the right work life balance can be tricky at times. Working in a hectic home environment with lots of distractions is something I had to adapt to very quickly. Often times though, these distractions away from the computer screen were in themselves productive, as it allowed me to mull over a programming problem I was trying to solve, or brainstorm over the design of a feature I was working on. Integrating 3rd party plug-ins can also be frustrating. Despite them being open-source, I felt little or no control over them without spending a large amount of time understanding the code more intimately. I guess I preferred working on my own mess rather than other peoples. Not naming names *smiles*. The weekly Friday afternoon music hour was a time we set aside to wind down the week and find the backing soundtrack to Honey Bee by streaming through dozens of songs. I knew I had a hit if my toddler was happily dancing to a song, and those made for very fun times. She’s a very silly dancer, such is the pejorative of any toddler really. It was also fun watching my ordinarily nonchalant wife put in solid sessions of Honey Bee and her frequent outbursts as she made gaming mistakes. I knew at that point she was fully engrossed and wasn’t even thinking about it as a game that I was making, but rather just a game she was entirely engaged in. That was pretty funny to witness in a strangely perverted way.

4) Is making games a hobby, or do you want to earn your living with it? 

I guess for now it’s a hobby foremost, unless it somehow is able to substitute a stable job with a steady income on which my young family and I depend on. On the other hand, the immense satisfaction of being able to handcraft an idea into existence is a rarity, and I suppose if I was able to turn it into a living it would become the ideal dream lifestyle. If I’m fortunate enough perhaps one day it might happen.

5) Do you have any other game projects at the moment?

There are plans for a an iOS port of Honey Bee and a possible make-over of the artwork if Honey Bee finds some success. In the meantime, there’s still a long list of work to be done so that’s going to keep me busy for a little while longer. I do have a bunch of game ideas that I’ve been scribbling away on and plan to bring to life once Honey Bee is completely done. My wife suggested that I make a game called ‘Happy wife, happy life’, but when I prompted her on details she couldn’t give any beyond the games title.

6) Anything you’d like to say to people who dream of making games?

Just go for it! The trend for games development has become more accessible to a wider group of people with game engines like Unity, and the wide array of open source software allows you to comfortably create assets of your own. It is truly a collaborators paradise we are living in and I think the time has been ripe for sometime now for indie developers to showcase some pretty cool stuff with very little start-up capital. With such a rich plethora of resources available on the internet, we are spoiled for choice and many of the obstacles that once was are now removed with game publication made increasingly easier. If you have the passion and perseverance and If your dream keeps you awake at night, it deserves to be brought into reality.


Honey Bee is downloadable from Google Play Store, just click this link! or search: Honey Bee puzzle game. You can also follow PelangiGames on Twitter.

Play with passion!

auburn.geek

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An Interview With Gaming Legends ‘The Oliver Twins’

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It’s time for another interview on Skatronixxx.com,  this time we chat to gaming legends The Oliver Twins. Yes I used the word legends. Although you may not be familiar with thier names if you were a gamer in the 80’s or even the 90’s you’ll definately know thier work.

I approached The Oliver Twins to see if they would be interested in an interview as not only are they responsible for one of mine and my  older brothers’, favourite game series of all time ‘Dizzy‘ they also come from my neck of the woods too. So the chance to interview not only gaming legends but also local heores, was a chance that could not be passed up.

A few back and forth emails and the interview was done. Let’s find out some more about the newest members of #TeamSkatronixxx extended family and my new friends Philip and Andy Oliver.


1) How did you get into the games industry?
Andrew and I had been first been inspired to make games when our older brother bought a second hand Sinclair’s ZX81. We were 14 at the time and were fascinated at being able to control what was displayed on our family TV. We’d wanted a colour computer after this and moved on to a Dragon 32 in September of ‘82, then a BBC Micro B. In‘85 we bought an Amstrad CPC 664 and then met the Darling Brothers who were just setting up Codemasters – this was where the success really started. Within 5 years we’d written 25 Amstrad CPC games and 17 Spectrum games – 42 games! We were working an average of 16+ hours a day, 7 days a week! After this we went on to write a LOT more games!
The longer version of how we got into the games industry and our first 10 years is in the book coming out shortly from Fusion Retro Books :-
(also more info onwww.OliverTwins.com & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Twins

 

2) Perhaps one on the most famous games you created was the Dizzy series, how did this idea come about and why did you go with an egg, rather than a human?

We’d created the platform game Super Robin Hood in September ’86, our first game for Codemasters and it was a massive success. We moved onto Ghost Hunters, where the player controlled a human running around a haunted mansion shooting ghosts. However, it was very difficult to get any personality into the sprite – since the volume of screen space he occupied and the resolution of the screen, meant we had to squeeze it within 24×32 pixels with a choice of just 3 colours, it really didn’t give us any room for an expressive character. So whilst developing it we played around with a large face, which meant little room for a body or limbs. So we designed the body into the head and dispensed with limbs, leaving only red gloves and boots which occupied less space. As we tidied him up, so he became egg shaped. We didn’t use him in Ghost Hunters obviously, and instead designed a whole new magical fantasy World for him to exist in. He got called Dizzy because we decided that rather than do a regular jump he would spin, a feature derived from a rotate command within our sprite package (Panda Sprites) we’d developed a year before and was used in all our games for speeding up development. We used to aim to complete each game in around a month.

 

3) You were also the brains behind Interactive Studios that later became Blitz Games Studios, one of the UK largest game producers for over 20 years, how did this come about?

In the early 90’s, we set up an office and started hiring talented, enthusiastic game developers. We created a productive environment, designing original games and for cashflow stability sought development contracts, like the GhostBusters 2 contract we’d done previously for Activision, for games based on major brands, movies & toys. By the end of the 90’s we had over 100 staff and renamed to Blitz Games Studios, by the end of 00’s we had over 230 staff!
There are so many games, about 60, a lot more if you multiple by the number of different versions we did of each, so it’s hard to select a few examples, but here are a few highlights: Glover, Chicken Run, Frogger 2, Fusion Frenzy, Dead to Rights 2, Pac-Man World 3, Karaoke Revolution, Spongebob, Puss in Boots and Epic Mickey 2.You can see them ALL here… http://www.blitzgames.com/archive + http://www.blitzgames.com/ (here’s a list …

 

4) Can you tell us a little bit about Radiant Worlds?

The technology and games market shifted widely as the world changed to digital distribution and adopted smart phones for casual games, so in late 2013 we set up a new company, Radiant Worlds, focused on delivering one constantly evolving awesome game called SkySaga. It has just over 100 people working on it and is in Alpha testing right now, with many features being constantly added. It is easily the most exciting game we have ever worked on. Find out more at http://www.SkySaga.com

 

5) Do you have any thoughts on the rise of indie developers and do you think this is a good thing for the games industry?

Digital distribution and great tools/engines have lowered the barrier to entry for developers across the globe. It’s exciting, but challenging. It’s easier to reach a massive global audience, but it’s easier for everyone else too. So the challenge is creating a great game that will get noticed and making sure the business side adds up well. It’s no good developing a great game and ignoring the finances. For game players, it’s amazing! There has never been so much choice, such amazing diversity and so many awesome experiences.

 

6) It seems like gaming is going back to the late 80’s with the return of virtual reality headsets, do you think this is a good thing for the games industry and how would you compare the virtual reality headsets from the 1980’s to those that are coming out today?

The ultimate aim of the game developer is to make incredibly immersive games, making players feel like they are really there. The dream of the holodeck may have started in the 80’s, but the technology wasn’t there to support it. Now the technology is getting a lot closer and you can have incredible experiences that do feel superior to simply watching a game on a monitor or TV screen. There’s still a long way to go, but the path now is very clear and we’ll see a lot of activity in this area over the next few years. It’s the biggest growth area of the games industry and will drive technology to exciting new places.

 

7) Talking of retro games making a comeback, I saw that the handheld Spectrum console on Kickstarter is progressing, could we expect to see any of your games featured and have you considered the possibility of releasing an emulator so we could see your previous games on the new platform?

There is a nostalgic value to playing the retro games and it’s fun to be at the heart of it. You can play a lot of our games from the 80’s in a browser at http://yolkfolk.com/playdizzy and I’m sure any devices supporting emulation of 8 and 16 bit games will support our games just fine!

 

8) You come from the same area as myself and went to the same school as fellow Skatronixxx writer Deadpool_1984 and amongst others Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden. How hard do you think it is for rural people to get noticed and do you think they need to move to bigger cities to progress their ideas?

It’s true we grew up in Trowbridge going to Clarendon School. We’d say that the advantage of a digital world is that when you’re online it doesn’t matter where you live! You have access to all the same information and access to the same market place as those that live in London, New York or Los Angeles. The opportunities are there, but so too are the challenges of rising above the competition. There will be winners, and with the games industry being so massive, the rewards can be huge… as Notch, author of Minercraft, can demonstrate.

 

9) What can we expect to see from you in the remaining months of 2016 going forward into 2017?

The answer from now on will always be SkySaga! We will just keep adding and adding, keeping it ahead of its competition and making it the best game possible and for the largest audience possible.

 

10) Tell our readers one fun fact about yourself

We may have been the best-selling authors on the Spectrum, but we didn’t program on a Spectrum! We didn’ t know how to use its quirky keyboard and never played any games on a Spectrum, except ours when testing them.

 

11) Finally what advice would you have for upcoming games developers?

Never be shy! Work hard, be ambitious and push yourself, creatively and technically and shoot for the stars.

 You can follow The Oliver Twins at the following sites –
Or visit thier official website here
Check out some images from the Oliver Twins greatest games below:-

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Indie Games Part 1 FutureKat SuperPark

Today I am introducing to you a new game article series featuring different indie games and their makers! The idea is to make you familiar with smaller game developers and their products that are made with love! Here is the very first part just for you.

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This is what you can expect from FutureKat SuperPark, that is hopefully coming out this august: In FutureKat SuperPark, you’ll meet all sorts of Anthropomorphic Space Freaks, collect Trinkets that reveal their secrets, and even though you are expressly forbidden from petting the FutureKats, you might come to find that breaking the rules is kinda fun… This VR Jogger for Google Cardboard and iOS has a simple control scheme – you’re given a single Action Button and you walk in place to move around and explore – and a psych-pop soundtrack written by a small slew of musicians from around the globe. Pierce International, Unlimited’s radical new experience will hold a revered spot on your home screen and in your heart, and since it’s on the most inexpensive VR platform EVER, you won’t have to break the bank before you can begin blowing your friends’ minds with FutureKat SuperPark!

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Now that you know what the upcoming game is all about, here’s a delightful interview with the developer, R. Travis Pierce, who really surprised me with his witty and informative answers. My favourite parts were the second and last question, hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I did!

1) Where did you get the idea for your game, and how did you start?
-The whole journey of FutureKat SuperPark started when my buddy Daniel Huffman (who I’m very excited we’ll have on the soundtrack as New Fumes) posted this picture on Instagram of a vision he’d had where these giant, fat, hairless blobs that evolved from our cats we have today, sit around and ignore all these people who’ve come to feed them in this park. I thought that was fun and I’d been animating a bunch of strange, spastic blurbs at the time. So I called up my buddy Jordan (Vargas – also on the soundtrack with our friend Devin Wahl, together as Eureeka), and his cat’s already really fat. We’re gonna recreate this idea in a little 15 second animation that we can post online for fun, but then I get down to it – and I’d just gotten my Google Cardboard in the mail – and I’m thinkin’ “Man, this would be a really fun VR trip toy…” So I started playing around, and it just kept getting more and more out of hand. Now there’s a hedge maze and a fountain ghost (whose design is based on this drawing by Zac Cox – Flaming Lips prop master supreme and the real life ghost of Frank Zappa), the cats are these giant alien demigods, there’s this backstory going on about corporate war and freaks mistaken for activists, activists mistaken for terrorists… and the player – by the end of it – might just end up getting thrust into the middle of this whole thing all because you decided to spend the day at this park that some greedy space-tycoon-turned-politician built. It’s whacky, but so far the response has been really great.
2) What are your expectations for the game?

-I wanna build this really fun, really weird world that people can explore, meet all these weirdos, catch a glimpse of what’s going on… I wanna set ‘em up to play the sequel I guess. Ha! But really… I’m wanting to make something I’d wanna play – that’s one of the two original goals for myself in all this – create something really fucking cool that reminds me of all the games that made me love games (Rare, Nintendo, Naughty Dog, Insomniac…) that created this whole new feeling in you and allowed you to casually make your way through a – what I look back and think of now as possibly highly drug-fueled – story. Create that world and those characters and that story, and to get it done in a timely fashion. We’ve got a lot of game developers sitting on these ideas for years and years, and I think there’s a certain point where you’ve gotta gauge the idea’s relevance. It can remain relevant for a long time after it’s released, but I think you gotta get it out there ON time. – Make it great, but don’t waste time freaking out. Hoping to wrap production by August 31 – daunting, but not impossible.

3) What was the hardest part in making your game? How about the most fun part?
-The hardest part – and I’m sure you hear this a lot – are those days where something just stops working and you spend hours and hours trying to figure out why, re-writing code, trying to fix links between your software, tweaking a model. It can be monumentally frustrating and it’s not aided by the amount of time you end up indoors just staring at that screen trying to parse math in your head, abstracting what’s happening and trying to bring it all into reality. It’s mind-boggling to me sometimes. Now, the most fun I have with this is getting to show it to friends. We’ll get a group of people together – you’ll see people jogging in place like they’re in a cartoon, looking around with their mouth wide open or this giant smile, freaking out when Hoverboard Hobo pukes on ‘em. It gets a lot of laughs and that’s really my favorite thing to see – people having a good time.

4) Is making games a hobby, or do you want to earn your living with it?

-Oh, I totally wanna earn a living with it. I wanna have a team of people earning their livings from it! That’s been my bag with pretty much anything I’ve done – music, video, animation. I think it’s fine to split your life up into different parts and say “Hey, this is my thing and I’m gonna make it for me. No one else needs to understand it and I’m not interested in getting a dime out of it,” but my thing’s always been to try to create something of value to people where they end up wanting to pay you – and the way that I’m able to do that is by making weird stuff that gets people to go “Woah!” and get them to wanna show it to their friends so they go “Woah!” too.

5) Do you have any other game projects at the moment?

-No other games currently in production. However, as soon as this game is finished I’ll immediately begin work on the next one – for which I’ve already been tossing around a few ideas. I’ll obviously still be pushing FutureKat SuperPark – the campaign won’t end for awhile – but as far as all that time spent designing and coding… it’ll have to switch over to the next thing. That’s just how my brain works.

6) Anything you’d like to say to people who dream of making games?

-Get out there and just start making things. Anything. Not just games even. I know that every source out there will tell you there’s this way… You start with a game design document, you do this, get someone else to do that, NOW you can move on to… All of that’s really helpful at giving you an idea of how others have done it – which is very important – and I read it all when I was growing up – Chris Crawford on Game Design is sitting on my nightstand – but it ceases to be useful when it hinders you from ever starting your project. Wayne Coyne would always tell me – and everyone – not to waste all that time freaking out about devising some perfect plan before executing. Just start doing things (figure out how to make a character move! up and down and sideways!) and if it’s really worth doing, all those holes have a way of filling themselves out.
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Thank you R. Travis Pierce for being a part of our new segment. We all wish you luck with your project and can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Play with passion!
auburn.geek

 

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Tallenna

Tallenna

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