PAC-MAN is back, and this time he`s brought his friends


PAC-MAN is back, and this time he`s brought his friends
The Independent Games Development Magazine
Issue Three, Summer 2014
PAC-MAN is back,
and this time
he's brought his
RoboPanda: two
games artists
give us their
interpretations of a
new games brief
Tempest Sky: a
result of XD Studios
Monday game jam
Online Gaming
Save the sheep from a horde of wolves by building a fence around
them, in this increasingly difficult new puzzler from McPeppergames
we are
Hello and welcome to IND13 (Indie), the magazine
sound effect artistry to retro arcades – we’ll take a
that champions independent game development.
look at anything that grabs our interest.
Maybe you’re a developer, or a hardcore gamer,
We’re a small core team of just six members – so
or someone new to the concept of indie games
we’re always looking for new angles and fresh
wanting to learn more – we’ve got something for
writing. If you think you’ve got something that’ll
you all.
make indie game developers step away from their
consoles for a few minutes, get in touch by emailing
Just like the games we love, we’re independent:
us at [email protected]
this means no editorial agenda except good, solid
reporting on all aspects of indie gaming. From
veteran developers to crowdfunding campaigns,
Who we are...
IND13 is a games magazine dedicated to independent games
development. The team is made up of voluntary contributors
from different areas of independent games development.
placements in the magazine.
We also give pro bono ad placements to the companies the team
work for, in exchange for our time spent contributing to the
magazine and to keep our employers happy.
We’ve created a magazine which discusses topics we think
are important to, and cater to the fans of, independent games
We hope you enjoyed the magazine and please do get in touch
with questions and comments.
Our aim is to create interesting news, reviews and articles, all
focusing on independent games development. The nucleus
of our team is based in the UK but we hope to have a team
stretching the globe. We aim to have independent gaming news
from the UK, US, Europe and Asia, but also from all other gaming
The team behind IND13 are all volunteers, and we are giving up
our time because we are passionate about independent games
development. The content of the magazine will be made up
of articles created by the IND13 team but also by voluntary
contributors from the games industry.
The Team:
Richard Hoffmann Editor-in-Chief
Harry Cole Publisher
Lee Smith Creative Director
Rokas Butkus Art Editor
Sophie Rossetti Copy Editor
Twitter: @official_Ind13
Advertising is available in the magazine, at this time all proceeds
will go into the development and stability of IND13’s production.
Paying for advertising will also mean we can cover paying
clients’ titles with editorial as well as with traditional advertising
For editorial enquires: [email protected]
For advertising enquires: [email protected]
Pac-Man is back
Pages 20 - 23
Regional Report:
Pages 32 - 34
Tempest Sky Review
Page 48
Online Gaming
Pages 62 - 63
The RoboPanda Art
Pages 64 - 67
Q&A with the IND13 team
Regional Report: UK Piracy
Page 6
What the IND13 team think is the future
of gaming as they see it
Pages 44 - 45
We report on how online piracy is being
deciminalised in the UK
LizzE – And the Light of Dreams
XD Studios Game Jams
Pages 8 - 11
A look at LizzE with Daniel Wiedemann,
the founder of the one-man indie game
studio Fiery Things
Pages 46 - 47
XD Studios explain the thinking about
their unique Monday game jams...
Tempest Sky Review
Pages 12 - 19
A husband and wife two-man indie game
and publishing studio
Page 48
A review of Tempest Sky, a result of an XD
Studios game jam
London GameCraft 2014
Pac-Man is Back!
Pages 20 - 23
And this time he has brought his friends
for a new launch in October
Pages 50 - 51
We spent some time at the London
GameCraft 2014 game jam
Meerkatz Challenge
Games of Glory
Pages 24 - 27
A new and innovative MOBA crossover
Pages 52 - 55
We talk to Travian Games about their
game studio and about Meerkatz
Challenge in particular
Games of Glory Review
Page 28
We get up close and personal with Games
of Glory
Life on Mars on a Stick
E3 Expo
Pages 56 - 57
What is life like as a small indie start-up?
We catch up with Martyn Bramall from
Mars on a Stick to find out
Pages 30 - 31
Richard Hoffman shares his pictures from
his gaming event travels
Experience permadeath with
Regional Report: Argentina
Pages 32 - 34
A look into life of Nastycloud, a games
studio in Buenos Aires
Pages 58 - 60
We talk to Happa Games, the makers of
Ascendant, a new and unforgiving beat
'em up.
Online Gaming Tricksters
Piracy Special
Pages 36 - 43
We look at the problems facing online
piracy for small studios, and what can be
done about the problem
Pages 62 - 63
Ophelia investigates the online gaming
sites, and their paid membership schemes
The RoboPanda art challenge
Pages 28 - 31
We challenged two games artists to give
us their interpretations of a new games
brief which we invented
Q&A with the ind13 team
What do you see as
the future of gaming?
Ferro: Robot on the Run).
I believe the future of gaming will consist of all gamers linked to a
mainframe, whereby they will interact at a hub, then, similar to star trek
With the mobile market becoming increasingly popular it is easy to focus
go into a VR chamber to play their game. I think their will be very little to
on that but there is excitement also in the console market, with the Oculus
compair gaming to as its all gonna be VR.. I'm not sure if I'm making sense
Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus showing massive potential and the
here. Gaming will be socialising and visa versa.
release of both highly anticipated.
So, even when your not gaming, your still in a VR environment
I think it is hard to predict where we will be, gaming rise, in ten years time.
Ten years ago, though, I am sure most people would have mentioned VR as
a possibility and something that surely would have be realised by now, and
When I think about the future of gaming, I see multiple directions it will go.
it seems that we are almost there.
One being social gaming, targeted by companies like Nintendo (Wii U and
Mii and Everyone 64) who focus on simple fun games that you can all play
I think gaming has taken many forms and it is now just part of the fabric of
around 1 TV with your friends and family. Possibly more in the direction of
society. VR will be huge for PC gaming and console. I see mobile becoming
board games, given their second screen ideas.
the staple of all types of gamers, children, adults, male and female. I
think communication is now a huge part of gaming and as connectivity
Then I see the film 'Gamer' unfolding, where your whole room turns into a
increases, this will be a major factor in gaming.
command centre of virtual reality wonder and you are taken into a world of
hardcore gaming and adventures with full body immersion.
Also, we are becoming a world completely based on data and this will be
reflected in new games that master this data in magical and exciting ways.
Finally I think outdoor gaming will kick off. Like laser tag or geo-caching,
but so much cooler with awesome augmented reality, changing the
familiar environment around you into a mega playground of adventures.
With having looked into VR development for quite a while now, and being
one of the first to have bought the first iteration of the Oculus Rift's
development kit (way before Facebook got its hands on it), I can claim that
Over the last few years gaming has gone in directions and into areas that
virtual reality is quite easily the future of gaming. With the technology
were probably not foreseen. Most notably with the rise of smartphones
having come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and with
and games that are capturing the non-gamers market, such as Candy
Sony's Project Morpheus having joined the race, it is certainly going to be
Crush, the housewife's (or husbands) favourite.
an interesting virtual journey into reality.
So where next?
Having used the Morpheus too, it certainly feels more of a finished product
than the Oculus Rift, although Morepheus's 90-degree field of vision does
Well hopefully I think we will see a rise in the quality of the games and less
lose out to Oculus's 110 degrees... but this is hardly noticeable, and is likely
cheap clones and cash-ins. We are over saturated with games that lack
to change come the final product. Having played space simulator Eve:
imagination (see the amount of Temple Run type games there are in the
Valkyrie on Morpheus and Strike Suit Zero on the rift, the games are looking
stores), and the good ones don't get seen (see Ludobit's hugely addictive
really great, so it is all about who gets those right on launch.
Bundle Mania
Indie Games for Charity
Get cool games in a bundle and support charities in needs.
Road Rush 66
Man Alive
Drive down the Route 66!
Quirky & immortal
platform fun!
Julian Campbell
Get your Game
Bundle now!
Support a selected Charity
to make a difference for
kids and teenagers!
Scan QR Code to go straight
to the site!
@Indie Game developers: Contact us if you
want to get your games on future bundles!
Fiery Things
Daniel Wiedemann
Daniel is the founder of the one-man indie game studio FIERY THINGS.
Recently he started doing PhD research on the interrelationship of game
design and new generation interface tech in digital games.
...and the thing between
gameplay and technology
How fast a game can morph from a to-the-point experience to an interface technology demo and the important relationship between
game play and interaction methods.
I created “LizzE – And the Light of Dreams” as my final Master
project ( It is a 3D hack and slay game, which
adapts its experience to the users performance and tries to
immerse him in its fantastic storyline. The player is able to switch
between the two main characters at all times. Furthermore to its
singleplayer mode the game features also a multiplayer cooperation
mode over two game instances.
The storyline of the game includes a little orphan girl called Lizze
(short for Elizabeth), with a yet unknown background history
and an almost psychopathic habit for knifes. The second playable
protagonist is a beast called Ezzil.
Ezzil (spells “Lizze” backwards) from the beast world was send out
by Bethara, an old mighty sorceress and ruler of this parallel world.
Like many others, he was ordered to collect the Light of Dreams,
a magical kind of energy source, which gets fueled with varying
powers by dreaming humans. Harvesting the Light of Dreams is
the reason why humans sometimes cannot remember what they
have been dreaming.
Though this time as Ezzil feels the immense power of Lizze’s Light of
Dreams, he refuses to collect the light. Bethara gets so furious about
this, that she casts a mighty spell on him. But the spell has a side
effect. Lizze gets sucked into the world in between and somehow
merged with Ezzil into one being. Confused about what happened,
the two try to rip themselves apart from each other, but the magical
bond is just too strong. As they have no other choice, they decide to
work together, to find a way to split themselves again.
That’s were their journey begins, which will lead them through
creepy adventures and terrifying battles.
Bethara is not amused... maybe because she feels there isa yet
unknown connection between her and Lizze...
From a technological point of view the game was planned to
be playable on desktop computer platforms and the iPad. This
was only possible via different input modes, which included the
keyboard, a common game controller, the Leap Motion controller
and touch/tilting on the iPad.
Fiery Things
“ seems questionable that
just porting an existing game
to an I/O technology like the
Oculus Rift will create a good
gaming experience...”
Fiery Things
To manage these very different input technologies I created an
abstraction layer to the game, which included all possible actions
the player could perform (e.g. movement, character switch, meleeand special attacks). On top of that I created different software
interfaces for the different input modes, which would be feeding
the abstraction layer. As a programmer this seemed to be a really
good way to implement all the different modes while not needing
to redevelop the wheel for each one of them and to some degree
this worked alright.
Through using Unity3D as the development environment,
compatibility for keyboard and game controllers or joysticks was
already given.
To implement the Leap Motion controller I created a kind of
emulated game controller. The user was able to use his left hand
to control movement (via position and rotation of the hand) and
the character switch (via a stop sign gesture). With the index finger
of his right hand the user could perform horizontal, vertical and
diagonal swipes and a circle gesture to perform the different possible
attacks. Even though it was theoretically possible to control the
game like this, tests showed that users had only very little control
and were mostly uncomfortable with this mode compared to the
more conventional ones.
Another problem was that players experienced fatigue in their arms
very quickly. By only having a limited amount of time till the hand
in of this project I introduced an optional mild auto aim feature
and a sensitivity configuration slider for the Leap mode. This helped
quite a lot to play the game, though some problems still persisted till
the end. For example during tests I verbally told users to rest their
elbows on the table while holding their hands over the device, to
decrease muscle fatigue.
Though I had a graphical sheet explaining the rather complex
motion sensed interactions, in hindsight an interactive tutorial
sequence, guiding the user through the different actions step by step,
would have been needed. But more importantly a really reliable way
of controlling the game, maybe via using more automation and less
direct input, might have solved a lot of issues.
On the iPad the challenge was similar, but there were already some
solutions to various interaction aspects shown by other games. To
control the movement of the character the user could use a touch
analogue stick or optionally device tilting. This worked rather
well after just a small amount of adaption time. Even though, to
get a simple thing as the touch analogue stick working really well
(which I am not claiming to have entirely accomplished) is a very
time consuming task.
As a designer I also wanted to create a GUI that was not
completely cluttering the screen, so I tried to compress the
various possible actions onto as little GUI elements as possible.
This might let the game look more focused on the actual 3D
scenery but on the other hand increased the adaptation time
of users. To preform the different attacks for example, I didn’t
want to use touch buttons, as with four different attacks, again
the screen would have been cluttered very quickly. So I used
swipes and the double tap to perform these actions and visually
indicated them with particle traces. This might look rather nice
when performing the swipe over a certain distance, but in reality
users wanted to hold the device steady in both of their hands, so
I very much decreased the minimum distance for a gesture, that
users could perform with a thumb while still having a proper
grip with both hands around the iPad.
In general it seems questionable to try to pack all these different
input modes into one game, while having the exact same amount
of control over its actions. To some of the readers this might seem
obvious, but it is exceedingly important to make the interactions
just right. They should be as specialized to the game as possible
or even better the gameplay instead should be hand crafted to the
reliable actions an input technology can offer and like that create
an enjoyable gaming experience.
A very similar aspect of handling interface technologies became
apparent once I tried to include stereoscopic viewing into the
desktop version of LizzE. First of all, if this was not planned up
In game screenshots
Fiery Things
front, you very likely need to rethink and rebuild all of the 2D
GUI and menu elements of your game. But more importantly,
again it seems questionable that just porting an existing game to
an I/O technology like the Oculus Rift will create a good gaming
feeling of directly acting as the character and the corresponding
focus suddenly splits into two separate entities. You still give orders
to the character, but by being able to rotate the camera view you
feel much more like a detached god-like entity. This raises a lot of
gameplay possibilities, but also a lot of issues on the other hand.
The simpler technology of “just” stereoscopic viewing via a 3D TV
or projector was almost easily implemented and worked out really
well, but using a head mounted display like the Rift raises totally
different issues but also possibilities.
The big virtual reality problem of nausea for example, needs to be
handled very delicately, as users are unlikely to continue playing
a game that makes them sick. Though this area still seems to hold
a lot of groundwork to be done, the gaming industry and myself
seem to think that VR will have its break through this time, if it
did not already happen.
Though obvious problems, for example with performance (as the
game basically needs to be rendered twice) can be handled with
conventional approaches, it is again the question if it would not
be better to implement the technology also on the gameplay level.
Especially in a third person game, being able to control the virtual
camera with your own head, which before looked at the character
only, immediately creates a completely different perception. The
Concluding, I think we have an exciting future of new generation
interface controlled games ahead of us, but we need to carefully
construct them around their technology’s advantages and try
to avoid their disadvantages, to create truly amazing gaming
experiences. «
LizzE on the
Oculus Rift
Playing LizzE with the
Leap Motion controller
Daniela Mach
A husband and
wife two-man
*just like Imangi only
without the huge success
of Temple Run
Could you tell us your name/names and your role/s at
I first want to let you know McPeppergames is an independent
mobile games startup. The company was founded by me and my
husband Chris Noeth. My name is Daniela Mach and before
McPeppergames I’ve worked as an educator. So McPeppergames
started as a husband and wife two-man team, just like Imangi only
without the huge success of Temple Run. Ha ha!
My role in the company moved from development to marketing,
PR, freelancer communication and office work. I’m still coding a
little bit and doing some art but this is now mainly the part of my
husband Chris who has studied Computer Science and has worked
as a Lead Artist and Art Director in the game and comic industry
for the last 15 years.
What are your game development career histories? How did
you get into games development?
I started working on mobile apps for kids in 2012 after Chris told
me to look into coding. I always had the plan to publish some
books for children and as I started to make this plans become
reality Chris pushed me in the direction to look into digital
publishing and all the new possibilities the new mobile devices
created. So my plan was to publish a children’s book digitally.
You have to know I started my career as an educator and wasn’t a
tech person before 2012. After looking into the new possibilities
using new technology to create something creative for kids I was
intrigued and fascinated by the idea to reach so many people by
using the App Store as a launch platform. While learning to code I
switched from doing the children’s book to programming a puzzle
app for kids named ‘Amazing Animal Puzzle’ because of all the
great interactive features you can use. This app was released in May
2012 and the starting point for my game developer career.
In May 2013 Chris quit his job in the game industry
and together we founded our own mobile game
developer studio McPeppergames in April 2013.
And what does McPeppergames do now? Can you
tell us about SheepOrama and how it differs from
previous titles?
With my first apps aimed for kids McPeppergames started
Publishing apps for kids gave us a small portfolio which made it
easier for us as an independent studio to work on
bigger game projects. We started developing a lot of
prototypes, including a very ambitious tower defense
game. The prototype of this game was really nice to
play and had a lot of potential but with our kind of
manpower at this time we realized it would take us at
least 6 to 8 months to finish the project. That’s why we
pulled the plug and started to work on other projects
instead. It was to risky to spend so much time working
on just one title.
Our first game which is aimed for kids and adults
alike is ‘SheepOrama’, a flock-protecting puzzler
where you have to draw a fence around sheep to
save them from wolves. What sounds very easy
will become an increasing strategic challenge from
level to level. The game can be played in different
modes, so it is appealing to casual players and
hardcore puzzle fans alike. Our goal with this game
was to use a very simple, easy to understand game play and
combine it with beautiful graphics and addictive, challenging
How does the dynamic of the team work, what is your creative
Chris has a total different background. He is one of those
computer kids of the eighties who grew up with a Commodore
C64 and an Amiga computer. He programmed his first game ‘The
Thing’ for a Commodore C128 in 1986 which later was published
in a Commodore magazine in 1989. His interests always included
computers and entertainment art, so later he studied Computer
Science and worked as a Comic Book Artist and Game Artist. As
a Comic Book Artist he is known for his work on US-Comics like
‘Tales From The Crypt’ and the comic sequel to the classic Ray
Harryhausen monster movie ‘It Came From Beneath The Sea’.
Because we are a wife and husband core team we are not the
typical team a startup normally is built with and that’s why we
have developed our own dynamics regarding game development.
In the beginning we worked as a two-man team with Chris
working full-time and me part-time. We now are working with a
lot of freelancers on new games, so we can optimize our
workflow by concentrating on the important stuff first.
Because we are still a small studio all decisions are made
by ourselves. So the typical process for developing our
games starts with a brainstorming of game ideas.
While studying Computer Science Chris worked for a small game
developer studio in Germany developing 2D and 3D art for PC
games. After getting his diploma he worked as a Lead Artist for
the German developer ‘Handygames’ on over thirty mobile games,
including their successful ‘Townsmen’ series. He later became a
partner at ‘Rough-Sea-Games’ working on a browsergame for the
German company ‘Gameforge’. From there he moved to German
developer ‘Flaregames’ where he was involved with the creation of
a lot of mobile games. The most known title he has been involved
with is the successful mobile game ‘Royal Revolt’.
We talk about ideas all the time and the things that
stand out from the list are the ones we look into a little
deeper. We compare the ideas to the actual market and if
we agree this game idea has a chance to reach and excite enough
people we develop it further which in most cases is the time we
start working on a first prototype after doing a quick design
document. When the prototype is finished we are doing tests
to see if we’ve reached all the goals we wanted to reach and to
see if the game is as much fun to play we thought it should be.
If a prototype get’s the green light we are starting to create the
the final design document and then start developing final graphic
assets and create a clean coded version of the game.
What is the ethos of the team, what sort of games to you strive
to create?
Our first priority here at McPeppergames is to create great
high quality mobile games you can enjoy with your family
and friends. We started with games for kids and will continue
creating games for both kids and adults alike, always keeping an
eye on a great game experience and quality.
We are listening to feedback from our players. With
‘SheepOrama’ for example we first released a version where the
player couldn’t move from a solved puzzle directly to the next one.
He had to choose from the level menu which level he wanted
to play first. We thought this would give players the chance to
decide to move to higher levels more quickly, but in the end it was
more important for the majority of players to move directly to the
next lower levels of the same category and after realizing this we
instantly did an update where players can do this.
before. People just love their apps and especially games. What
makes mobile games so exciting is you can play them everywhere,
from waiting of the bus, traveling with the train, in bed or while
using the toilet. With players being online all the time people
are able to buy games from wherever they are which also is an
important point for mobile development.
As a business person you have to think about what mobile really
means. What does it mean? It means you can access everything
every time everywhere! And that means you have people using
their mobile devices to pay for stuff. So in the end it means you
have people, playing your games on their new wallets. T
his is something we didn’t have some years ago and it’s very
exciting for developers. You don’t need a publisher anymore and
everyone who likes your game can buy it instantly from wherever
he is. That’s what makes mobile a trend which will continue into
the far future I think.
We just have finished update 2.0 for ‘SheepOrama’ where we’ve
included a lot of new features and suggestions from the people
playing so far. And it really is a much better game now. Always
listen to players! This really helps a lot pushing the quality up.
Regarding game genres we are open for everything. Of course
we both have our favorite game genres but we try to keep an
open mind, so we can develop the games nearly
everyone loves to play. We also try to stay away
from doing something the big companies already
have done. Staying away from big publisher titles
is important for independent studios I think,
because the big names have a lot of financial power
to push their games to the top.
The power small studios have instead is to develop
innovative fun to play games. You can’t ‘fight’ the big
names out there. You will always loose. This is no David
against Goliath... it’s more like a sheep trying to fight a
lion. We always try to add something new and different
to our games. We care about good usability, great graphics
and gameplay. We don’t want to just copy existing games, instead
we are looking for niches to fill and creating games which are easy
to understand and fun to play.
You build games for mobile, is this a trend in
development that you see continuing into the future?
I can’t look into the future and the tech biz is changing
every day, but regarding mobile games I think we can be
sure this is a trend which will reach it’s peak in the next two
to three years. What comes next? I don’t know. But mobile
games are happening now and they will not disappear in
the years to come. With HTML 5 everyone was sure mobile apps
will disappear very fast. Instead we now have more apps like ever
“Publishing apps for kids
gave us a small portfolio
which made it easier for us
as an independent studio
to work on bigger game
What advice would you give to aspiring games makers, in
Europe and Germany?
I only can talk about mobile games. When starting with mobile
app development you should be aware there is no ‘Gold rush’ in
mobile. I know I just talked about people using their wallets to
play and we all have heard the insane success stories of games, like
‘Angry Birds’ or the German game ‘Tiny Wings’ from developer
Andreas Illiger. This kind of success is very rare. It is still possible,
as ‘Flappy Bird’ has proven, but when looking into this kind of
success story you can see this success was based on 99% luck.
‘Flappy Bird’ became successful because a very well known
video blogger talked about the game online. ‘Tiny Wings’ only
because Toucharcade talked about it. You can’t influence this kind
of success. Those stories are the reason there is a flood of new
developers just looking to make a quick buck and the App Stores
are swamped with bad games or clones of easy to create ones, like
we can see with all the ‘2048’ clones right now. Everybody and his
grandma are trying to hit the jackpot by creating apps today.
This kind of hobby developers don’t look at the big picture, which
is to see app development as a business like every other business.
You should only put your best products in the store and aiming
for a longtime success. Otherwise it is more likely to win the
lottery. So if your goal is to make bad games and make big money
with them better buy a lottery ticked instead.
games for the whole family, like some quiz- and brain-twister
games. I can’t get into details yet, but this kind of games is what
we will do next. Our new game is named “Kitty Day” and it
should be out when this interview gets published.
What do you see as the future of development for your studio?
Our main goal, besides creating high-quality games, is to make
McPeppergames a worldwide known name, respected for it’s highquality and fun to play mobile games for both kids and adults
To reach this goal we are very interested in working and
collaborating with people like ourselves, who love games and who
want to create quality games.
McPeppergames just made it’s first baby steps as an independent
developer and now it’s time to start walking, making some first
jumps and hopefully fly as a well known name someday. «
Everyone who is interested in looking at our games, working with us,
or doing some biz together can contact us via our
If you don’t have any experience with creating games at all and you
want to work in games you should consider doing an internship
at a game developer studio first. This is the fastest way to learn
about all the things that are important for creating a game from
start to finish. BTW: McPeppergames just has started to work
with interns. It really is a great experience for both the interns
and us.
What is coming in the future from McPeppergames?
That you can discuss.
We have more ideas for games than we ever could
finish in our lifetimes. That’s the fun part, but also the
frustrating part of this job. You always have to look
which of those game-ideas are the ones who will
appeal to the most players and you have to think
about monetizing the games in ways which aren’t
offending but will bring in enough money to keep
your company alive.
One wrong decision can be the end for your
company if you are independent and don’t have an
With our next games we want to get away from
creating games for kids. The time for puzzle apps in
the app stores is over. Instead we started working on
The Retro Computer Museum in Leicestershire, UK
The Retro Computer Museum is a registered charity dedicated to the benefit
of the public for the preservation, display and public experience of computer and
console systems from the 1960's onwards. Our charity registration no. is 1146912.
Our main focus is on systems that were in use in the home and schools rather than big
computer systems and mainframes of early computer development. We have systems ranging
from the early Pong consoles through to the Sega and Nintendo console
wars and the home computers of the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64s and Amigas.
Our aim is to provide Retro Gaming and Computing events. We also offer
educational visit / tours for Year 6 students upwards - these visits comprise of a talk
about the history and the massive rise and fall of home computing mixed in with hands
on use of the very early 8 bit systems and eventually up to the ‘newer’ 32 bit systems.
We can tailor these visits to suit the individual needs of your school - these can be held
at your school or at our HQ in Leicester - please do get in touch with your exact requirements.
We also offer Retro Gaming Birthday Parties for any age group - young or old!
The Retro Computer Museum has held many Retro Gaming events of its own
to date, including partnership events with Snibston Discovery Museum.
The Museum has also made appearances at the 2010 Vintage Computer Festival
at Bletchley Park, at Abbey Pumping Station Hobbies and Pastimes Day,
at BBC Radio Leicester for the Sparks Childrens Charity, at the 2010 EuroCon event
with a line up of British Computers, at Revival 2013 hosting part of the gaming area,
at the Silicon Dreams event hosting a small part of the gaming area and more recently
at the fantastic SuperByte Festival in Manchester where we hosted the gaming area.
The Retro Computer Museum relies mainly on donations from its
members and visitors. We have had over 200 systems donated as part of
our collection, along with numerous books, software titles, peripherals,
magazines and brochures etc.
We appreciate any and all donations, no matter how small. We also accept
broken machines and peripherals as these can be used to repair existing systems.
Please contact us if you feel you have something we may be interested in.
Retro Computer Museum
Unit S1, Troon Way Business Centre,
Humberstone Lane, Leicester LE4 9HA
07519 816 283 E: [email protected]
What are the benefits of
being an indie and what
are the draw backs?
Being an indie is very rewarding because
you can do projects you decided to do and
not because someone else is telling you
to work on his game ideas. That’s what
independent means and what makes it
so exciting for ourselves. And there are
other factors, like you have to relocate
with your family a lot of times to work in
One example from ourselves: Chris had
to commute to his last job for three total
days a week which meant he wasn’t able
to see his family for three complete days
every week. Because he worked for a new
startup and we just moved in a new home
we decided this is what makes sense,
before moving with the whole family
again and see the new startup not reach
it’s goals. So we thought we would do
this for about a year and then we all move
to the city the company was.
ut as things turned out Chris had to
commute for 2 years and there wasn’t a
time in the end where we all could move
safely to the new city. What really was
the worst part of this: Our kids couldn’t
see his father during that time.
It really was a huge commitment from
Chris to the company he has worked
for. Of course he has worked on a lot
of cool mobile games during that time,
which was great experience for him,
but all those games were not based on
his ideas and a lot of this games never
got published which had nothing to
do with his work but instead of wrong
management decisions or not thoughtthrough gameplay experience for players.
Chris has spend months working on
titles which got cancelled. And that’s
something he really got angry about in
the end. Investing time and energy in
projects which never see the light of day
and all under this circumstances can be
depressing somehow.
The time he has worked apart from the
family is something we all don’t miss.
this dream become real. It isn’t easy but
doing the things you love outweighs
all the negative things coming with it.
You can be your own boss, but it’s a lot
of work. And you don’t now it you will
succeed but that shouldn’t stop you from
trying. Otherwise you never will know.
Regarding creativity and control nothing
outdoes being an indie. But being an
indie also means to be responsible for
success and every aspect of creating the
games. You can’t lay back for a second
and have to work twice as hard compared
to working as an employee for another
With and independent studio you also
have to make the right decisions because
you don’t have huge amounts of money
from investors and you can’t say: “Hey, if
these first three games are flops we can
still work on the next five titles to create
a hit.”. Your games have to be successful
from day one.
You not only have to think about creating
the games, but you also have things to
think about like insurance, health care,
tax and more. And as a small team
you also have to do the market
research and all the things
you don’t have to think
about when working
for someone else.
The day only has
24 hours, and
to be honest,
most times
this is not
an indie,
and start
to make
PAC-MAN™ and the Ghostly Adventures 2
Harry Cole
Co-Founder and Publisher of IND13, who runs his
own PR agency specializing in the gaming sector.
PAC-MAN is back...
and this time he has
brought his friends...
Pac-Man and his friends return to defend Pacopolis with new worlds, new characters and new power-ups.
For those of us of a certain age Pac-Man will always have a warm,
fuzzy and nostalgic place in our gaming hearts. From the the sheer
amount of hours that were spent pouring our ten pence pieces into
arcade machines, to spending every waking hour wanting to play it
on the old Atari (being cruelly made to stop playing to do boring
things like homework and to go to bed). It was the game that
really defined a generation. Yes, we also had Space Invaders to play
but you could easily argue that Pac-Man was the worlds first true
gaming character.
And despite those heady days of the early eighties being a long
time ago now, Pac-Man has never really left us. There have been
various ports of the original game on various devices over the
years, and his longetivity has spanned generations due to the
immense playability factor.
Even today children, who have been bought up in a disposable
gaming era, still like the pill shaped yellow guy and have taken a
lot of pleasure in playing the orginal games. Then recently came
the animated series, “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” which
started to move Pac-Man further back into the big league again.
Now things have been going so well that Bandai Namco Games
UK have announced that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
2 is going to be released this year on the Xbox, PlayStation 3,
Nintendo Will U, and the 3DS. Basically, Pac-Man is back, and
this time he has brought his friends with him.
As in the animated series, it is set in Pacopolis, with the main
characters being Pac (obviously), Spiral and Cylindria as they
defend PacWorld from the ghoulish army of Lord Betrayus.
You will be able to explore the lands of PacWorld far beyond the
bustling streets of Pacopolis and the Netherworld through the
depths of the ocean floor and into space.
Although this is a more 3D adverture game than the orginal (times
have changed...) in lots of ways it is still the same. Just updated
for 2014. You still have to defeat the havoc-causing ghosts, and in
order to do that Pac will need to do what he does best… EAT!
Chomping down on the various Power Berries will give Pac a
much needed boost to fight back against his enemies, although
now there are many types of Power Berries from the Tree of Life.
Pac will be able to transform into different versions of himself,
such as Fire Pac and Ice Pac and even an epic and gigantic
PacZilla. You will also be able to pilot some of the vehicles seen
in the show including the Lemon Rocket and Pacerchini. To add
a little bit more to the mix though, you will also be able to take
control of Cylindria and Spiral in special fast-paced on-rails levels.
Right, so has that got you sutibly excited? Yep, thought so, because
it had the very same effect on us, which is why we managed to
catch-up with Lee Kirton, who is the Director of Marketing & PR
for Bandai Namco Games, for an exclusive interview.
PAC-MAN™ and the Ghostly Adventures 2
PAC-MAN™ and the Ghostly Adventures 2
Can you tell our readers about the latest Pac Man games and
what they bring to the table?
We are continuously bringing new PAC-MAN experiences to
many different consoles, iOS/Android etc and PAC-MAN and
the Ghostly Adventures is a brand new series which separates itself
from the classic grid based ‘original PAC-MAN’ and focuses on a
cool rebirth for a new generation of kids and parents who have the
nostalgia for the character.
The game was released on 3DS, WiiU, PS3 and Xbox 360 at the
beginning of the year following the launch of the TV series, toys
and other merchandise. We have PAC-MAN and the Ghostly
Adventures 2 coming later in the year to continue this growth. It’s
a fun platform adventure that follows the TV series, the characters
and includes fantastic multiplayer action.
What’s the “Pac is Back” campaign all about, there was some
real “stand-out” creative ideas executed?
“PAC IS BACK” is generally just making a statement to those
that have grown up with PAC-MAN since 1980. Ultimately to
kids he’s not ‘back’ as they may have just been introduced to him.
The cool thing is that PAC-MAN has a 94% brand awareness rate
worldwide and has won many Guinness World Records due to his
success. He is the world’s most popular character, he is an icon and
in the 80’s he pretty much dominated that era.
We worked on a lot of creative execution that followed the TV
series and the fun, colourful and good natured theme of the show.
PAC-MAN and his friends are a team, it’s all about friendship,
working together and battling evil and we wanted to
create a fun campaign that touched on the
nostalgia of where PAC-MAN came from,
Lee Kirton, Director of Marketing
& PR for Bandai Namco Games
the fun he’s had over the last 34 years, and also showcase some
of the brilliant things that general fans have done around the
We put together a very fun PR and marketing campaign to
introduce PAC-MAN to a younger generation, we created a
dance troupe who flash mobbed to ‘Do the Pac-Man’ around the
UK, hosted world record stunts in conjunction with Channel 5’s
The Gadget Show, hijacked SEGA’s building in Chiswick and
projected PAC-MAN late at night, hosted fun events and generally
created some brilliant features in national press.
What’s it like to be working with a piece of gaming history?
Personally I am very proud to be working with PAC-MAN. I was
given trust by some of PAC-MAN’s closest creators and I feel
proud to be associated with history as well as be part of creating
history with world record stunts and stand out campaigns with a
brilliant team in the UK. It’s epic.
What are your memories of playing Pac Man? When and where
did you first play it?
I played PAC-MAN for the first time in a video store near where
I lived. I was born in 1977, so played it for the first
time very young and I was hooked… I am
pretty good and some of the things
I’ve learnt over the years are quite
important. The A-I of Inky, Blinky,
Pinky and Clyde are very different
PAC-MAN™ and the Ghostly Adventures 2
and the way they move and their strategy needs to be learnt. Did
you know Clyde (orange one) is a bit stupid?
What’s coming up in the future for the Pac Man series?
PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures will continue and it’s
growing as a separate license alongside the ‘classic PAC’ which
we still work with. There is a lots of fun stuff to come and we
are going to have some fun growing this funny and brilliant
animation, range of toys and games. You will see a lot more in the
future around this.
Will Namco be bringing back any of their other gaming
We have many legends and IP which we continue to work on.
PAC-MAN is our main character and mascot for our company,
however we have many classic Namco licenses such as ‘Ace
Combat’, ‘Tekken’, Soul Calibur’, Ridge Racer’ etc and we
continue to work on all of our IP and introduce something
Can we borrow the Pac Man suit?
You can, but it smells a bit. «
Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2
is out in October
Channel 5’s The
Gadget Show, and the
Pac-Man projection
on Sega’s offices.
“PAC-MAN and the Ghostly
Adventures’ has seen a strong
launch in the UK and we are
pleased to bring the sequel to the
new generation of kids and deliver
a game that’s incredibly fun to play
for all the family...”
Games of Glory
Anders “Asseraj” Larsson
Anders is a entrepreneur with 15 years of experience from starting and
managing companies. At Lightbulb Crew, he keeps the vision in constant
focus, and deals with all the stuff that others don’t do.
Games of Glory
The reason that we started the studio was
that it was felt there were still so many
ways to improve the game experience,
despite there being so many great games
out there. I found Sacha, my co-founder,
as I was looking for someone who shared
the same ideas.
aspects into the core game play. Games
of Glory is exactly like that: a game with
core game play that emphasizes skill, but
where the focus on clubs and a persistent
universe gives lots of opportunity for
meaningful social interactions that become
key to the experience of the game.
Johan, our CTO, and Sacha, had already
worked together in Sweden and started
talking in 1997 about starting a video
game company. Better late than never!
Games of Glory essentially is a MOBAcrossover set in a persistent science-fiction
universe, which we give the players the
opportunity to participate in, and create
their own environment as well.
Being located a few hours away by
flight is mostly problematic from a
communications perspective. However
it just means it is even more important
to communicate well. Fortunately there
are now lots of different software that
support this, from Skype to Slack to for
communication to bug-reporting and
sprint-planning tools.
On the positive side, it has forced us to be
even more organized in communicating
around bugs, sprint stories etc. We have
also made sure that we meet up physically
from time to time. I personally spend lots
of time on the phone with Sweden, and go
there regularly as well.
The reason for us starting this is that we
want to make games for the mid-core
gamers, that also brings in various social
E-sport as an integral part of the game.
We call it a MOBA-crossover because it is
a true mix of genres: controls à la Hack &
Slash with different exchangeable weapons
à la shooters in the arena setting with
unique Clones à la MOBAs. And this in a persistent social world à la
The Games of Glory are the gladiator
games of the galactic empire the Synarchy,
ruled by the seemingly all-powerful
Through the matches in the arena power
and influence are gained by the winners,
and the factions they support. You come
to the arena to gain fame and fortune as a
controller of Clones.
Players can choose to support a faction or
not, and can join and create clubs and take
on different roles like star player, coach
Witb the artwork we are really proud
ourselves of where we have ended up, and
truth be told it was an iterative process.
We started out wanting to work with more
realistic images (think Mass-effect) as we
wanted to create stories that feel real.
In the end the need to identify a Clone
in a split second in the arena made us
gravitate towards more exaggerated shapes
of western comics. Now we find ourselves
somewhere in between, and it is a spot we
really like!
Central of what we do as developers is our
community of players. I am personally as
active as I can in our forums to discuss
reasons behind design decisions and learn
as much as possible from people active in
our friends and family Alpha.
We aim to gradually expand the Alpha
as we become closer to the full game
We aim to move into a closed beta stage
towards the end of the summer. As to an
open beta time-line it is really up to when
we and the community feel we are ready.
Right now we want to have as many
people as possible participate in our
forums, and gradually move them into the
There are benefits and drawbacks of being
an indie developer and they are really
two sides of the same coin: 1) the lack of
funding forces us to expose our project
quicker to the community much quicker
than a project in a large company.
That is risky as we still have an ample
supply of bugs and unfinished features,
but great as we get feedback on the core
game-play that we have developed.
We have the liberty to set our own goals
which makes us able to work in a very
collaborative way. Most aspects of the
game have been developed based on
feedback from the whole team. We think
this is a huge asset, but at the same time
we have to create everything from scratch.
However, first and foremost is that
we want to be able to create great and
rewarding game experiences. With
Games of Glory we want to create a game
that lives for a long time, and lets the
community discover and shape the stories
of the Synarchy. We are looking forward to
seeing how the game world will develop…
That is incredibly exciting! «
“We have the liberty to set our own goals which makes us
able to work in a very collaborative way. Most aspects of
the game have been developed based on feedback from the
whole team...”
Games of Glory
Gary Mee
Gary, amongst other things, is a avid gamer, and is never happier
then when tyring out a new game from an indie studio...
Games of Glory review
Games of Glory is a MOBA-crossover, inspired by different
video game genres. It borrows its fundamentals from MOBAs
and integrates the faster action controls and the flexibility in
weapons choice of shooters. The persistent universe and social
aspects are inspired by MMOs, and the opportunities for clone
customization are drawn from hack & slash games.
It takes place in a science-fiction universe, full of different
species, planets and factions, with the player taking the role of
a Controller of Clones, battling for the influence of his political
faction or club. Based on the wins or losses in the arena, the
universe will evolve and the balance of power will change The
game is changing the established rhythm of MOBAs as well
as some of the basic notions of game play. Innovations like
the elimination of auto-attacks with weapons, new types of
mechanics like “white damage”, faster movement, and more put
the player in the midst of a frenetic battle environment.
Carry, Scout, Assassin, Support. Each team elects a captain who
suggests tactics in real time, and organises the team around
the different objectives in the game. During each match, each
player has the choice of which weapons to choose and how they
will evolve. Each Clone has numerous exchangeable pieces of
equipment which change its appearance, so the player can create
a unique style. With different types of uniforms, team specific
skins, and many other alternatives the player can create his own
original Clone.
Through their careers, players who play well and behave in
a positive manner gain fame and privileges as well as a real
influence on the future of the game. Games of Glory wants to
develop the positive social aspects of team
play to create a truly rewarding
game experience. «
Games of Glory is above all a game to be played in teams, built
on collaboration between players. Each team has Clones that
complement each other with their skills. Clones have similar
functions to those in classes traditional in existing MOBAs: Tank,
Games of Glory
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other
games), and the Creative Director of IND13.
Life inside an
A regional look into life in a games studio in Buenos Aires
Although it seems like the majority of games that we
play either emerge from the US and the UK, that is
very far from the truth. Rovio, for instance, are from
Sweden, and the Lightbulb Crew (featured on page
xxx) are based in France. Ok that is still European,
so what about games from South America? Can’t
think of any? Well maybe that is about to change.
people as you can and learn from them.”
Nastycloud, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are
out to show that their part of the world are actively
making the games that we want to play.
“The benefit is that you’re free to do want you want,
nobody is asking you to do something but yourself.
You own your decisions and actions. The drawback
is usually that is hard to self-fund. We’re trying to
get contracting work to sustain our own work, but
it’s hard.”
When we spoke to Guido Villaverde from
Nastycloud about life in a studio in South America,
he said that “South America is not easy, so be
prepared to fight and be disappointed.”
However, “the good part is that there is still a lot to
do down here. There is a lot of people here that is
consuming north-based culture and that will feel
connected to something more local.” he added.
It’s obvious that there are different difficulties faced
but some things are the same: “work hard to be
good at what you do. Study a lot and compare
yourself to that guy/team that is making what you
want to make. Also get in touch with as many
And thats the point I suppose really. No matter
where in the world you are based in this global age,
the essentials are universal. The effort is the same,
the tools are the same, and so are the pros and cons
of being an indie developer.
Nastycloud are not a big studio, with their team
consisting of just five core members. Each working
together to make the games that they love, and hope
that you will love too.
They have just two programmers, Juan Figueroa
(Pravus) and Francisco Tufró, one artist in Juan
Novelletto, Rodrigo Caro is their musician and
Guido Villaverde is the actual game designer.
The studio was started in the normal way, in the
sense that some people came together with a love
"We believe that to make a living in games you don’t have
to sell your soul to what business analysts say is the next
big thing in gaming, we’d rather stay true to ourselves and
make experiences that we believe in..."
of games and a desire to get their ideas made. This was Juan
Novelletto and Guido Villaverde while they were studying game
art and game design respectively.
being shared and having regular games jams to come up with ideas
and to just have fun really...
They didn’t have much then apart from some ideas and concepts
about videogames which they made into a website, but that was
soon to change when back in 2011 they released their first game
called “Unlucky Gnome”.
A vertical scroll game, which consists of beating waves of enemies
using a stormy cloud and its thunders which constantly followed
the main character (an Unlucky Gnome!). The game had a good
impact and made it onto (IND13 wasn’t
around then).
The following year at the Argentina Squarenix American Contest
they presented a sequel of the game called “Nubarrón: the
adventure of an Unlucky Gnome”, which consisted of a platform
game with 21 levels and a final boss.
After that they started to get more noticed, “our studio started
to have a name in the local game industry. We grew up to five
members, and started to make our living working for other
companies, but always focusing on our own IPs” Guido says.
“And after working on a few prototypes, we are finally in the
process of going full time on our projects, and shiping our games
to PlayStation.”
But what is the aim for Nastycloud? Is it simply to jump on the
gaming gravy train and make as much money as possible before
the bubble bursts? Not that most games studios make that much
money you understand. You do get the occasional flukey hit such
as Flappy Bird but the majority are holding down other jobs to
pay the bills whilst attempting to keep their studios afloat. For
Nastycloud, it is more than that as their “goal is to create games
that become meaningful experiences for our players. This may
sound recurrent, but we mostly try to make those games we would
love to play and still don’t exist.”
They even go as far to say that games are another “form of human
culture, and are not only mere entertainment. We are part of a
generation that grew up with games, and we all have an artistic
and cultural background in our team, so making games is, for us, a
natural way to express ourselves.”
Whilst almost sounding idealistic it is actually quite refreshing to hear,
and actually not that uncommon in the indie games industry. There
seems to be less of the fast-buck mentality as the people striving to
work in it are driven by passion not riches. “We believe that to make
a living in games you don’t have to sell your soul to what business
analysts say is the next big thing in gaming, we’d rather stay true to
ourselves and make experiences that we believe in.”
Their process of developing the games is similar too, with ideas
“We are still a very young company, and we haven’t settled on a
particular creative process. The games we are developing right now
came from ideas and prototypes made by different members in
the team. Based on those prototypes we start brainstorming and
prototyping new ideas. GDDs are shared documents, and every
member makes contributions, comments and corrections. We also
arrange game jams for a particular game, and dedicate three or
four days in a row to come up with concise pieces of functionality
(levels, mechanics, etc.)...”
“An important part of our process is to improve our abilities as
developers and artists, so we have two days a week for knowledge
transfer, investigation and experimentation. And this takes a big
part in our creative process, given that we are not only improving
as professionals we are also increasing our intellectual resources.
Creativity is about how you combine things you know in novel
ways, the more you know the more you can imagine. Besides this
we’re advocates for agile methodologies. We work in an iterative
and incremental way.”
However they are unusual in the indie game world as they don’t
develop for the mobile market as such. Not because they don’t
believe in it, but because “the kind of games that move us are
usually not mobile. We are in an era where things are moving
faster than we can predict. Facebook games were thought to be the
next big thing and they proved not to be. Mobile, on the other
hand, is here to stay, but not necessarily in the same way we see
and use it today. What you can be really sure is that as a developer
you need to be at the top of the wave, because things move fast
and if you can’t adapt you’ll be left behind.”
They are currently hard at work, and keeping themselves extremely
busy, working on three new prototypes. That sounds like a lot of
plates to spin for just a five man team, but Guildo assures us that
they are “focusing on Nubarron, the adventures of an unlucky
gnome... it’s a puzzle-platformer game based on a novel mechanic
that has the player interacting with a stormy cloud that throws
lightnings on the character. We’re revamping the game, since there
was a previous incarnation of it, created using Construct 2, but it
had many flaws and we thought it would be great to apply all the
new team’s expertise and create a new redefined experience.
This new incarnation of Nubarron is going to be way more
deep and interesting, we are exploring new paths with the cloud
mechanic, and also focusing more on a more profound story.
We want it to be a challenging game in which you have to be
patient and precise. Its going to have a powerful and polished
aesthetic with some retro components tuned up by using current
techniques.” «
To find out more about Nastycloud and their games,
go to
Making Work Play
Game Piracy
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other games),
and the Creative Director of IND13.
The problem is not the problem..
The problem is your attitude
about the problem...
Game Piracy
Game Piracy
“It is piracy, not overt online music stores, which is our main
competitor” Steve Jobs once claimed when talking about Apple’s
iTunes market. Music piracy was the hot topic of conversation
for many a year, in the days before online streaming services such
as Spotify arguably made it pointless to torrent your favourite
Metallica albums.
Film piracy, also, has long been a thorn in the side of the rich
Hollywood moguls. From the days of watching a barely visable
and shakey cinema copy of ET on VHS (or Betamax), to now
when you can download any movie that you want in less time
than it takes to pop to the shops to get the popcorn, tub of Ben &
Jerry’s and family sized bottle of Diet Cola, before settling down to
yet another Hollywood remake/cash-in/Marvel comic blockbuster.
Books? Yep, it is also not too difficult to download the tomes of
JK Rowling for you to upload to your tablet or Kindle, and enjoy
reading about the wizarding advertures of young Harry and co
while relaxing on a Mediterranean beach burning your skin to a
crispy tinder in an effort to sex yourself up.
So essentially, in most industries, those pesky pirates are riding the
waves of the digital seas and sharing the hard work of others to
those who choose not to pay for the privilege.
There have been various attempts to curb the internet’s version of
Cap’n Jack and his motley crew, some more successful than others,
but piracy has never been truly eliminated and, I suspect, it never
will be. I, myself, have been prone to bouts of piracy. By that I
don’t mean that on occasion I dress up in big boots, wig, silly hat,
and a stick on beard whist waving a plastic cutlass shouting choice
phrases such as “Avast! She be bilged on her anchor...”.
From recording, onto cassette the indie top 20 countdown from
the radio on a Sunday afternoon, to torrenting old albums that I
used to own but I have long since lost (with the excuse that I didn’t
want to pay for them twice, and as I had bought it once, it wasn’t
really piracy was it?). Hell, I have even downloaded the odd film
from time to time.
57 percent of UK game
developers stated that,
yes piracy is a problem for
their business.
It’s easy, and I don’t get to go to the cinema as much as I like.
Again, I do have an excuse for this, although it might not be a
terribly good one. The excuse being that the films that I have
downloaded are generally films that I would never have paid to
see at the cinema or would have bought on DVD, so therefore
the film makers are not actually losing out on any money really. I
know, as excuses go it is a pretty flimsy one.
Just to clarify, though, so as to exonerate myself ever so slighty, I
do enjoy family trips to the cinema to watch whatever ingenious
Pixar movie happens to be out at the time. Normally in the VIP
seats, so that I can pay that little extra and attempt to rid myself of
guilt (and, of course, for that little extra comfort and leg room that
it affords...). I also pay for a lot of TV channels, including film
channels, which I generally don’t watch.
I also buy boxsets of films that I have seen and love, so that I
can enjoy them at my leisure, even though I could just as easily
download them for free.
See, things that I really want to watch or see I will quite happily
pay for, as we all should. After all a lot of time, creativity, money,
effort and, erm, marketing budgets have gone into getting these
‘products’ to you, so the shakermakers should of course be
rewarded and reimbursed, at least.
I have Spotify Premium; I have paid thousands into the pockets
of bands through going to gigs; I have bought hundreds upon
hundreds of albums in my time. I see those lists of the top 100
albums that you should have owned etc and quite often I have
owned the majority of them.
And crucially, to get to the crux of this article, I have never pirated
a game. Ever. Not one.
Why? Well, I suppose the first reason is that it has always
been more difficult to really. Not for any moral reason. Unlike
downloading a few Prodigy remix tracks, there are all sorts of
technical aspects that you have to face if you want to download a
game for your XBox or Playstation.
Secondly, I don’t own a PC, I have a Mac, and even game pirates
have, historically, ignored the Mac game market. Ok, you can
still get the odd cracked copy of Civilization, but it is quicker and
easier to just pay the few quid and buy it. Especially with Steam
making life so much easier.
But then there is that young upstart of the gaming world, l’enfant
terrible, the mobile gaming market...
You see, especially with Android devices, it is just so easy to
download a game and install it on your phone or tablet. There
are many sites and apps available from which to download the
.apk files, with 4Shared being one of the most prominent, along
with the old traditional torrent sites of course. This is despite the
fact that so many of them are free anyway? Or, if not free exactly
(which is a rather loose term in the free-to-play age) then only
Game Piracy
Devoid Studios
Have you personally been affected by game piracy?
Not yet. But I hope when our game hits the web pirates will take
notice and spread it around like wild fire. On second thought it
will be DRM free so players will do that too I guess :)
income because it was pirated we still ‘win’. If the players like the
game they will support us if not we will have less hate mail to
deal with.
On what platforms is piracy worst? Mobile (iOS, Android) or
I suppose PC’s still have the monopoly on that front. However,
seeing how the mobile market is expanding I wouldn’t be
surprised if Android takes the lead soon, iOS is probably a bit less
prone to piracy but not by much from what I heard.
Do you think major studios can do more to help the indies in
relation to piracy?
I think that the studios should stop wasting money on piracy
prevention. Piracy cannot be stopped or even deterred. Is it possible to stamp it out, or is it something that you just
have to live with?
Best way to deal with the issue of loosing potential income from
digital media, in my opinion, for big and small companies is to
embrace the times we live in and come up with better (different?)
distribution methods. Our team chose to go DRM free because if
our product reaches the target audience and we loose potential
Do you think pirates are aware that when they steal from small
companies (as opposed to majors) they are hurting the indie
I’m certain they do. It’s not easy being an indie but then again we
are also a lot more flexible. Perhaps the best way for us ‘survive’
this plague is to evolve.
Game Piracy
costing the price of a pint of beer.
According to a survey of game developers in the UK by Tiga, the
trade association representing the UK’s games industry, 57 percent
stated that, yes piracy is a problem for their business. However,
and this is the interesting bit, only 10 percent of the developers
stated that stricter enforcement against piracy was the best option
in dealing with the problem, while 87 percent stated that creating
new business models was the best option.
Some of the stats that came out of this survey, which is from last
year, are interesting, such as 73% disagreeing with people who are
sharing or downloading games having their internet connection
bottlenecked and/or completely cut off for repeat offenders. With
40% of Tiga’s members stating that it is education that is key, that
you more you reach out to the players to inform them that what
they are doing is hurting the games business, the less likely they are
to download.
I honestly don’t really believe that to be true, although it is a nice
idea, as unfortunately most people have a siloed approach to life.
Just as we imagine that most in the music business are multimillionaire rockstars flying around the world snorting the finest
white lines off the chests of a collection of supermodels, on their
private jet piloted by Bruce Dickinson, and every actor or actress
lives the Brangelina lifestyle of Hollywood royalty, with a village of
adopted children and their nannies skipping joyfully around them,
then we do, too, imagine that all game developers live a cherished
life too.
They all work in large colourful buildings full of people going
from the massage room to the M&Ms palour on their patented
hover boards, with Arcade Fire livening up the entertainment every
evening in the private bar, and a life where ideas are discussed,
buttons are pressed, and a game gets produced almost by the
power of thought (and fast processors).
Of course, the truth is far from that. Just as most musicians are
struggling to be able to afford their copy of NME each week,
and most actors are just one EastEnders extra’s appearance away
from bankruptcy, most game developers, artists and designers are
struggling financially. Ok so it might not exactly be the life of
McPepper Games
Until a few weeks ago we didn’t have any problems
with piracy.
Unfortunately this has changed with the release
of our new game “SheepOrama”. The game is
for players of all ages and we did send out some
promo codes in advance before the official release
and those codes then somehow were used to
spread a free downloadable version of the game.
Analytics have shown the game is downloaded in
the thousands in china without any payment.
I don’t know if major studios can do more to help
the indies in relation to piracy. This is a problem the
major studios have to deal with and indies have
to deal with. I can’t think off anything the major
studios could help indies with. We are developing
for iOS and Android, so maybe there are options for
PC games.
Piracy is a problem we have encountered in a lot
of mediums for many years and it’s something you
can’t stop. So you have to deal with it.
As a developer you should think about how you
are monetizing your games because paid iOS or
Android games which get stolen by pirates can
really mean your end. Some months ago you were
on the safe side by using in-app purchases in your
games. But I think this is something which already
can be manipulated also. Maybe ads in games are
the answer.
A major studio maybe can deal with piracy
somehow, but piracy often means the end for
indies. The big problem with piracy is that the
people who are downloading the stolen products
are not aware they are hurting the indie studios
and developers with their actions.
Pirates and downloaders should be aware they will
help destroying innovative indie game studios with
their actions. Indie developers will stop working on
innovative games because of the piracy risks. Is it
really to much to pay 99 cent for a cool new indie
iOS or Android game? One day we all will wake up,
go to the app store and can only choose between
“Clash Of Clans” and “Temple Run”. Is this what
pirates want? Wake up pirates... you are destroying
a good thing here.
Game Piracy
Oliver, but the Artful Dodgers of this world are not helping them
either. Quite often they have a ‘day job’ to pay the bills while they
work on their games in the evenings or at the weekends, which
incidently is what we at IND13 do with our magazine and website.
If they do manage to get a studio together and put a few games
out, there really isn’t much money made as the market is somewhat
over saturated at the moment with sub-standard, ‘quick buck’
clones of other games. You know, those one’s that normally have
‘flappy’ in the title.
Then, of course, there are the pirates and the growing reluctance
to pay for games. So a new way to put games out is needed, new
business models needed to be designed, just so that we can keep
the small indie studios from going under and depriving us of
original game ideas.
“UK developers are taking the initiative to deal with the issue of
piracy and are looking for new ways of delivering content and
communicating directly with their consumers.”
This is where the games market has moved quicker to curb piracy
than either the music or film industries did. Both those industries
immediately took the hardline on pirates, issuing lawsuits and
shutting down websites. Taking people to court seemed to be
the only method they knew, not evolution of their services and
delivery models. Even Metallica, the anti-establiment metal/garage
band, took Napster to court in the year 2000 seeking a minimum
of $10 million in damages.
At first the industries refused to move with the digital age and
pursue new ways to share their wares, which they eventually did
first with iTunes, and then with streaming services such as Pandora
and Spotify for music and the likes of NetFlix for films.
Dr Richard Wilson, the Chief Executive of Tiga, said that “many
games businesses continue to find that the most effective response
to the problem of piracy is to adopt new business models, such as
subscription based services and free-to-play games.”
The game industry, though, is full of ‘out of the box’ thinkers and,
by it’s very nature, is always evolving. And it had to, as it isn’t only
the small companies or games that get hit.
Game Piracy
The makers of Football Manager, SI Games, reported that there
most recent version for Android devices was being pirated 10
times for every legal sale. According to stats on the Google Play
store, the game has been purchased between 100,000 and 500,000
That’s at least 1,000,000 illegal copies being played, which is
staggering (more importantly, due to the addictive nature of the
game, that is a hell of a lot of broken relationships too...).
So we have now had a huge shift away from the paid titles, and
more towards to the free-to-play model. Game companies are now
attempting to make their money from in-app purchases instead,
as they attempt to curb the effects of piracy and have a profitable
business instead of having to disband their studio and go back to a
corporate 9-5 lifestyle.
The ‘freemium’ games are extremely popular with titles such as
MMO World of Tanks earning million dollar revenues per month,
and the makers of games such as Candy Crush and Farm Heroes
letting people play for free, quite happily, knowing that even if half
the players purchased extras and upgrades through the game, then
they will have earned a profit far greater than having charged a few
pound for the game originally., who are the *ahem* kings of this model, actually had
three of the top ten grossing games on all major platforms earlier
this year. Those platforms being the Apple App Store, Google Play
Store and Facebook. Yes, Facebook (sigh).
Ok, so there are problems with this model too, with many a
non-tech savvy parent being hit with large bills due to their game
playing offspring purchasing things in their name, and some
companies making games almost unplayable unless you purchase
essential extras. However, at least it isn’t tackling the pirates
with an iron fist, trying to enforce its rules in an outdated and
draconian way, it is trying to push the industry forward in other
ways, making it not worth your time in illegally downloading the
latest title on top of the Google Play Store lists.
That is until, however, the pirates simply shift from pirated games
to cracked in-app purchase systems. «
Is it possible to stamp it out, or is it something that you just
have to live with?
It’s something you have to embrace.
On what platforms is piracy worst? Mobile (iOS, Android) or
Probably on PC and Android, since you can install third party
content without hacking the devices.
Have you personally been affected by game piracy?
Yes, but in a good way. You know, things now a days turned more
into exposure that closeness, and piracy is a term totally so tied
to closeness. We don’t believe folks that pirate our games would
buy them anyways, so we’re cool with that. We trust that people
that find value in what we do will go and buy the thing if they
have the money.
Also piracy aids with exposure as well, so, again, we’re cool with it.
Do you think major studios can do more to help the indies in
relation to piracy?
We think nothing has to be done with piracy, but switching the a
subscription-based model ( like PlayStation Plus) is a good thing.
Pay what you want is another. See how much money is spent in
Humble Bundle for example! It’s just a matter of paradigm shift.
Do you think pirates are aware that when they steal from small
companies (as opposed to majors) they are hurting the indie
That’s a big supposition, we’d need the stats for that affirmation,
and if we embrace an open culture piracy loses its sense. Pirates
are highly meritocratic folks, when you have a community that
is based on openness and based on merit you don’t need to steal
anything. Take a look at the open source community, crackers
have no place in that community, since security holes are quickly
found because of the openness of the code, and reporting or
fixing them increases your position in the community.
The crackers of the Microsoft era now collaborate in open source
software to create better software. I think something similar
needs to happen in the gaming world. Probably pay what you
want or subscriptions is the way to go. Only time will tell.
Game Piracy
Have you personally been affected by game piracy?
The only way we have been affected by piracy (as far as we can
tell) is having to prepare our games for it (by using encryption,
etc). With Wreck’em I worried about sending out apk’s to the
press incase they got leaked to a piracy site. We have since
changed our tack, we no longer worry about piracy any more
than we need to. Pirates can usually reverse engineer a game
no matter how much you try and stop them, so if it’s going
to happen it’s going to happen. We now just think of it free
advertising. We make free games so people who use a pirated
version of our game for the free currency were never going to
become paying customers anyway.
we would want to inflict on our players, unless we had a much
bigger game that stood to lose a LOT from piracy.
On what platforms is piracy worst? Mobile (iOS, Android) or
I am not really equipped to answer this question as I am only a
PC game consumer not a PC game developer. I would guess PC
however, because those games cost more to buy on average, so
when they get ripped off it’s a much bigger loss to the developer.
Do you think major studios can do more to help the indies in
relation to piracy?
I don’t think the major studios can do too much to help us indies
with regards to piracy (short of lending us their legal teams...
Is it possible to stamp it out, or is it something that you just
have to live with?
I think we could stamp it out if we threw enough money at it,
but I don’t think many indies can afford that. It also seems that
at the moment the most effective anti-piracy techniques come
at a cost to the honest user. Making our games ‘online only’ and
adding super annoying verification processes are not something
Do you think pirates are aware that when they steal from small
companies (as opposed to majors) they are hurting the indie
I think Pirates both know and don’t care. As a gamer, if I like a
(free) game I always make a purchase to support the studio. I
have recently done this while playing Magicka Wizard Wars (PC),
Combat Monsters (Android) and Angry Birds Epic (Android). There
are a lot of players who do not think like this however, some
players even start to think they are entitled to get games for
free. A lot of people now complain on Google Play reviews about
ANY form of monetisation. I think piracy is just the next step on
from this, a sense of entitlement to have something for nothing.
I am not sure how you combat that. Even if we informed pirates
that it hurts indies and much as major companies, I don’t think
they would care. Besides, piracy is never acceptable even if the
game is from a major company, stealing is stealing.
Game Piracy in the UK
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other
games), and the Creative Director of IND13.
Game piracy
decriminalised in UK
Shortly before IND13 went to press, the British Government decriminalised online piracy
In a rather unexpected move, the British government has
decided to decriminalise online video game, music and movie
piracy, scrapping fuller punishment plans after branding them
Officials will still work to close and stem funding to file-sharing
sites, but the news appears to mean that the British authorities
have abandoned legal enforcement of online media piracy.
Although this may seem an obvious move for some in the industry,
it is not something that most would expect the British government
(not known for it’s forward looking, radical thinking…) to do.
Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning
letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are
ignored no further action will be taken. Although this might seem
rather pointless, most in the industry believe that education and
not an iron fist is needed most. After all, legal routes to end piracy
in the creative industries have not enjoyed much success so far.
The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme
(VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British
politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK’s biggest
providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to
VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said
VCAP was about “persuading the persuadable, such as parents who
do not know what is going on with their net connection.”
He added: “VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s
about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make
the right choice.”
Considering that, according to a study from Ofcom, almost a
quarter of all downloads in the UK are of pirated content this is
quite an important decision.
Essentially this amounts to around 1.5 billion downloads of media
that infringes copyright, though obviously some types of media
attract more illegal downloads than others, with games by no
means being anywhere near the most popular.
That particular title goes to films (with a third of all movie
downloads infringing copyright) whilst software was most
frequently downloaded legally (only one in ten downloads
infringed copyright).
The research, which was conducted by Kantar Media on behalf
of Ofcom, also showed that more than half of all internet users
(58 per cent) downloaded or streamed at least one item of illegal
content during the year. This means that if over half of us have
downloaded illegally, then we all know, personally, quite a lot of
Despite this, pirating content was still defined as a “minority
activity” with a small number of users accounting for the majority
of downloads. Just two per cent of internet users account for three
quarters (74 per cent) of all downloads.
Game Piracy in the UK
However, the research also showed that those who pirate content
were likely to spend more money on legal downloads. Over a three
month period piraters spent £26 compared to £16 from those who
refrained from infringing copyright.
This is an interesting argument which has been raised for many
years, with some debating that the industries are not actually
losing out as most are downloading films/music/games etc that
they would never have paid for anyway (so there is no lost revenue
there), and that that pirates are the ones most likely to pay for
content that they see value in.
The research also noted that those who downloaded a lot of
content illegally were likely to justify this by saying they had
already spent enough on content, and that legal downloads were
too expensive (something that I have mentioned in the previous
How? Well there was a contest that awarded its three winners
early access to the game and, lo and behold, somehow a cracked
copy was distributed through various pesky torrent sites. Not, of
course, that we are laying the unproven blame directly at those
competition winners of course
“To anybody who got MC5 already, shame on you! We are making
games for you and all you can do is pirate them”. Weber said,
and also went on to declare that he would instantly ban anyone
discovered with an illicit version.
They are now taking steps to disable the illegal copies of Modern
Combat 5, and are fully engaged in, ahem, modern combat against
the hackers and pirates in cyberspace.
However of those that regularly pirated content one in five said
they would stop if they received a warning letter from their ISP
with a quarter saying they would stop if they thought they might
be sued. But now that the letters will essentially be meaningness,
apart from an excercise in education, will downloaders really cease
to get hold of a copy of the latest Modern Combat game from the
many torrent sites out there?
In a strange twist of fate, though, when this was announced
Gameloft community manager Florian Weber was taking to
Facebook to wage a war on game pirates.
Why? Well when Gameloft released their first-person shooter
Modern Combat 5, thousands of people had already played it.
You could argue, though, that Gameloft’s lofty stance is somewhat
ironic, considering that it has pretty much made it’s name being
"inspired by" the games of others. Including the fact that Modern
Combat 5 is basically a mobile clone of the Call of Duty games…
So it seems that if game makers do indeed want to take the good
fight directly to the pesky downloaders, they are going to have to
do so without the long arm of British law behind them. They are
going to have to invent new means to outfox the foxs and continue
to outthink the hackers and sharers. However, they should be
aware that every new technology gets hacked eventually. «
XD Studios
Jamie Kavanagh
Jamie is XD’s Director and resident Game Designer.
XD Studios is a new, UK based independent games studio.
It’s not just another
Manic Monday...
XD Studios explain the thinking about their unique Monday game jams...
We specialise in creating fun and innovative games for mobile and
PC. We also do something a bit unique… We do internal game
jams. Now, that in itself isn’t unique. Lots of game developers
do it. Insomniac does it, Bethesda does it, and Double Fine are
famous for doing it. What makes us a bit different is we do it a
lot. We do a Game Jam every single Monday in fact. Sometimes
the games might take one Monday, sometimes they will take two.
Our aim is to produce two games every month, and have them
launched on their target platforms. This process has become a
very important factor for our fledgling studio, as it gives everyone
on the team a creative voice, and the chance to have their ideas
produced and released.
Every Monday we arrive at the office early, pitch a few ideas, pick
one, and make a game. First off we write a short 1-2 page game
design document, which breaks the whole game up into sections,
including mechanics, art, sound, UI etc. Each game is also created
with a specific goal in mind, it could be something that we haven’t
done before, or something we could use some practice with.
For example, we may decide that this week’s game must feature
touch controls, or utilise a mobile accelerometer. Our day is then
divided into six, two hour sprints, where each member of the team
takes a piece of the game design document, whether it be a game
feature, or art assets, and they go and work on that aspect of the
game. We coordinate who is working on what and when, to try
and avoid any overlap or slowdown in production. When you are
working to such a tight schedule, every minute counts and these
self-imposed deadlines really help us, as a team, to understand our
own capabilities. This gives us a massively condensed version of
games production, which allows us to identify problems within
our working pipeline and make steps toward fixing it.
Manic Mondays are built around 3 key pillars, Community,
Critique and Challenge, with each being as important as the
last. We want to build a strong, lasting community, we want to
encourage critique and discussion from within the community,
and, of course, we want to challenge ourselves to make the best
games we can. Each Manic Monday game will be released for free
across our chosen platform. We don’t want to charge for them,
as we feel that the benefits of offering these games for free far
XD Studios
Tempest Sky is
available for free
on iOS and Android.
outweigh the benefits of asking for money for them. We look at
Manic Mondays as a team sport, and it really feels that way. It
allows us to approach the start of the week with a massive level of
excitement and enthusiasm, which sets the whole studio up for a
good weeks work. It allows us to make more games, and the more
we make, the better we make them. Well, that’s the theory anyway.
Another benefit of Manic Mondays is that it allows us to take risks
and make mistakes, mistakes that we couldn’t afford to make with
a longer term project. It allows us to experiment with art styles,
with our user experience, and with mechanics, some of which
won’t always work out. But that’s the beauty of game jams; whilst
it restricts you in some ways, it gives you an incredible amount of
freedom in others, and for a small start-up studio like ours, having
that kind of freedom is invaluable. The hours are tough, and there
is a lot of pressure to produce work throughout the day, but the
rewards make it worthwhile.
Poppin’ Pirates is
available for free
on iOS, Android and
Obviously this kind of super intense and uber-agile
development doesn’t suit everyone, and it wouldn’t work as
well for remote studios, but it is an incredible feeling to be
publishing a game that you only started working on 13 or
14 hours beforehand.
So far we have produced 2 manic Monday titles, the
first being Tempest Sky, which is an old-school side
scrolling shooting game, where the player takes control
of man-kinds finest space fighter to defend against wave
after wave of alien ship. The second game is Poppin’
Pirates, a fun physics based game where the player has to
sink marauding pirate ships with their cannon before the
enemy reaches them. «
Tempest Sky
Gary Mee
Gary, amongst other things, is a avid gamer, and is never happier
then when tyring out a new game from an indie studio...
Tempest Sky Review
Tempest Sky is one of the games that XD
Studios created in their Monday Game
Jams. The idea behind these Game Jams
is to create two games a month (ideally)
and then release them onto the market
for free. This gives XD Studios the freedom
to experiement with different types of
games, artwork, and game controls, with
the freedom of someone who isn’t after
perfection for a corporate client, say.
They enjoy making these games, and
actively encourage feedback from the
gaming community at large, so as to
constantly improve. With this is mind I
decided to review Tempest Sky, the first
of the games that they have released.
It is a fully accomplished and fun-to-play
old style arcade shooter. The graphics
are nicely designed with the look of a
dystopian future on a faraway planet.
First things first, the game play is simple
in essence but very challenging. You
control Tempest Sky, a craft that moves
from left to right, shooting the alien ships
as they fly at you in waves, whilst also
watching out for the buildings above
and below you. You can fire a laser canon
to destroy your dastardly foes, or use
the Chrono Shield, which is the most
effective. It is quite satisfying to basically
headbutt spaceships, but it does has a life
force which drains away as you use it
so you have to use it sparingly.
Being an old school gamer myself, and
still having very fond memories of the
Grandaddy of all shoot-em-up’s, R-Type, I
was always going to be naturally drawn to
the game... and I wasn’t disappointed.
The soundtrack wouldn’t
sound too out of place at
an industrial rave, which
fits the graphics nicely.
The biggest compliment that I can pay
it is that it really doesn’t look or play like
something created in just a couple of
days. When you combine the gameplay,
the graphics, the soundtrack and game
effects, you would naturally assume that
Tempest Sky took a lot more crafting. It’s a
very playable game in which you can quite
easily lose an hour or so while immersing
yourself in it. I would highly recommend a
download, especially as it is available for
free on iOS and Android.
PAC-MAN™ and the Ghostly Adventures 2
London Gamecraft 2014
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other
games), and the Creative Director of IND13.
Gamecraft 2014
There's nothing like a good Saturday game jam...
I attended the London GameCraft at Skills Matter. The idea was
to watch various developers, artists and sound engineers meet up
with like-minded gaming souls, swap ideas and expertise, and
build a game. In just under 8 hours.
From the early start it was encouraging to see so many attend on a
Saturday morning, before 8:30, all eager to spend the day working
on what they love doing; making and playing games.
The premise is quite simple. Walk in with your laptop and
equipment, have a chat, form a group with one or two others and
then you are given a theme. This year the theme was ‘composable’.
Essentially, any game where various bits can come together (Lego
was one example used).
it is not too easy and not too hard. Allowing smooth and steady
progress with challenge. You have to collect pots of different colour
paints to create blocks in the level, which allow you to collect the
coins and then progress to the next level. A real old fashioned
platformer, which is a lot of fun.
For the top three games though, which are all excellent, we can do
the countdown…
At Number Three: Super Sheep Shape Shifter, from Tom Flynn
and a team of 5
At Number Two: ColorTanks, from Max Sims, in a team of one.
In the number one spot, we have: Speed Freq from Sujan
McGlynn. Again, in a team of just one. Sujan describes it as “an
evasion tunnel flier with audiovisual elements” and went on to say
that it “was the most popular voted game of the day which was
definitely a surprise!”
It was quite interesting to watch not only the concentration
that these groups of developers had, but also the fun and the
camaraderie that developed within and between the groups.
Of course everyone would like to win the votes for best game (or
even second or third) but there was no real rivalry. They were here
to make contacts and share knowledge as much as anything.
Back to the games, though, and there are some real good ones.
Especially when you think about the small amount of time they
had to produce them.
It is tricky, and gets your pulse racing a little bit as you try to just
get a few milliseconds further in the game. I can certainly see why
it won, with it’s Tetris style pieces racing at you with some speed.
Ultimately though, it is about the experience. For once it is the
taking part that matters, and not winning. «
My personal favourite of the games created there is Composablez,
which is a platform game where you play as “disgruntled man
in beret” and must collect “ze american dollars” to buy more
reality paint. It is a fun game that gets the skill level just right, as
To find out more about Skills Matter visit
To find out more about GameCraft visit
London Gamecraft 2014
Photography by Damien Mee
Meerkatz Challenge
Harry Cole
Co-Founder and Publisher of IND13, who runs his
own PR agency specializing in the gaming sector.
Meerkatz Challenge...
Simples? Not quite...
Meerkatz Challenge is a new puzzle platformer for iOS that features familiar yet challenging gameplay.
We talk to Travian Games GmbH about their game studio and about Meerkatz Challenge in particular.
What are your game development career histories? How did you
get into games development?
Vera Frisch, Game Director of Meerkatz Challenge, started her
career in the games industry in 2008 as an Online Marketing
Manager for Free-to-Play online games. In 2009, she moved into
Game Producing and became the producer for several external
social and browser-game projects.
Vera is 33 years old and has been working for Travian Games since
2011 as Senior Producer and Game Director.
What type of games do you strive to create?
Travian usually seeks to create online franchise games that generate
long term player communities. These games are known for their
focus on planning, strategy, depth and complexity.
Meerkatz Challenge is a distinct departure from that. While it does
involve planning and strategy, it is a single player game meant to
delight less serious gamers rather than groups of online gamers
playing together.
Congratulations on an original and interesting game, what’s
the idea behind Meerkatz Challenge?
In early 2013, within Travian Games’ new games process, our
colleague Björn Brinkmann sent an idea to the Game Idea
Validations Group for a small single-player puzzle-game with the
following notes:
» Challenging puzzle elements
» Watching the cute animals is a lot of fun
» High score list and Star-System
This was the birth of Meerkatz Challenge. If you compare the
bullet points with the game we have now, one year later, you
will see that it meets these requirements. Vera, took the idea,
developed it further and pitched it to management in July 2013.
The intention was to develop a game that is fun and has a short
development timeline.
“I was exhausted spending years on projects, with more or less
success, and wished to work on something smaller with a clear
outcome”, she said.
Meerkatz Challenge looks great, how important is the look of a
We had a strong vision how the game should look. Many artists
around the world pitched their ideas for the game. Imagine the
great animated films such as the Lion King or the Legend of
Tembo, with a dash of studio Ghibli, in the shapes and color
schemes. The scenes needed a sense of depth and reduced
saturation towards the horizon.
The art of any game is critical. And, for this game, no art
element was more important than the Meerkat itself. The general
appearance of the meerkats needs to be cute and cuddly; you will
want to save as many of the little fellows as possible.
Due to the fact that on tablet the characters may be only 200
pixels tall, we needed to focus on the readability in all sizes and
on all backgrounds, bright or dark. One of the most important
decisions we made very early is we don’t want to have human
engineered tools for the meerkats: no weapons, knifes or army
Meerkatz Challenge
Meerkatz Challenge
After evaluating efforts from studios in Spain, Germany and the
United States, we received the concept we felt was ideal from a
studio in Slovakia and engaged their services for the project.
have also seen many projects fail because developers created the
game for themselves. They wanted to see their big dream live - but
nobody else did.
Everyone loves meerkats, was that the inspiration for the game?
I studied Business Administration where you learn very early on
that you have to find the right audience for your product if you
want to make money with it. If you start thinking about a game
idea, ask yourself several times; who should play the game and for
whom it will be fun in which situation?
Well, my initial pitch of the game was about turtles. When I
was thinking about the core gameplay I would watch my Greek
tortoise running against several obstacles in my flat.
Turtles are adorable and they definitely need help overcoming
larger gaps and nasty pitfalls like the foot of my kitchen table :-)
When I presented the idea to my colleagues they came up with
some reasonable points, e.g. turtles are too slow and don’t live in
groups. So we had to find another animal more suited to the game.
And if you are thinking about a game for a broad audience it is
very important to have a character everyone loves.
Who do you see as the audience for Meerkatz Challenge?
In the past I spent a lot of time at airports and have seen many
people, young and old, playing games on their iPads and iPhones,
while they were waiting for departure. With Meerkatz Challenge,
I wished to create a game which is playable for a broad audience in
situations exactly like this.
As an indie, what advice would you give to aspiring games
I think there is one important requirement every game developer
must meet - know your audience.
During the last years we have had more discussions about
platforms, monetization and what works on each. From my
experience the game idea sadly comes last. On the other hand, I
You don’t create a game for you or for a business model; you
create it for your audience. If you don’t know who should play
the game, how big the audience is and what they expect, you can’t
understand how successful you will be.
For example, Meerkatz Challenge wasn’t a standalone mobile app
from the beginning. We thought about a social cross-platform title
as well as designing it as free-to-play. At the end we nailed down
the core value of the game to these points:
» Players should have fun in short play sessions
» The game should be playable wherever and whenever the
player wants
» The fun of each level is planning ahead – no enormous time
For us, the logical result was that we can deliver this best with a paid
mobile app to casual players who are willing to pay a small amount
for the full game experience with no technical interruption like a
downtime or skill reduction to get them monetized.
Everything else is not in our hands. You cannot plan success; you
only can do your best to meet the wishes of your audience.
Meerkatz Challenge
What are the benefits of being an indie and what are the draw
I never worked for an indie but I can tell you the impression
of indie development from the perspective of a larger game
development studio. During the pre-production of Meerkatz
Challenge I stuck in several meetings with directors who where
telling me that the project is too expensive and we should be more
The stupidest thing I have heard during this time was, “an indie
can develop this project with the quarter of money in the half of
the time”. Established development studios often only see the
success stories and seldom the broken dreams.
Many indie developers I know create their games in their spare
time and do something else for a living. They only want to create
the game idea and don’t care about working long hours, the salary
or making sure they have a healthy work/life balance.
Creating the game is their passion, their spare time activity and
you do not count how much time you spend on a thing you really
want to do. But you cannot compare this with an environment
where people are employed, especially not in Germany. Work/life
balance is important here. You are not allowed to force people to
spend more hours on the project than agreed.
I think both sides have their benefits and draw backs. As an indie
nobody will tell you “put this feature in the game because I want
to have it,” but you will also have to deal with how much time you
can invest for your project if you don’t have an investor.
Luckily, at Travian Games we have the chance to create the game
we want. No director or manager is telling us how the game
should look and the Meerkatz Challenge team can act with the
freedom of an indie but in a secure employment environment.
Can you tell us about any sharp learning curves that you have
had creating games?
You cannot outsource everything - especially not the vision of
your project. With Meerkatz Challenge we were in the unlucky
position that we haven’t had important positions like a game
designer or a concept artist available within the company when we
started the project. We tried to hire them, but we couldn’t find the
right people. So we were forced to hire freelancers not located in
Munich for many of our needs. To bring everything together and
push them all to the same commitment was the most challenging
part for me.
As producer, I was used to working with external development
studios all over the world, but the team itself was a single
unit where everybody knows what to do. We haven’t had this
comfortable situation during the development and I had to deal
with totally new questions and problems. Due to this fact we are
more than proud that we have now such a delightful game.
What do you have planned for the future?
Meerkatz Challenge conquering the world! *gg*
Seriously though, we have several plans depending on how well
the game succeeds, beginning with continuous content updates,
starting immediately after we launch on July 24, until new
Meerkatz Challenge apps are created.
Travian Games as a development studio is constantly working on
new projects and game ideas which will be released in the near
future. «
"You don’t create a game for you or for a business model;
you create it for your audience. If you don’t know who
should play the game, how big the audience is and what
they expect, you can’t understand how successful you
will be."
Mars on a Stick
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other games),
and the Creative Director of IND13.
Life on Mars on a Stick
What is life like as a small indie start-up? What are the challeges that you face?
We catch up with Martyn Bramall from Mars on a Stick to find out...
We all dream of it a little. You know those moments, normally
when you are sat at work completing your next mundane tast
for a corporate client, or when meeting friends for a few drinks
and talking about the new game idea that you have had; how it is
different to anything else out there and if only you had the time
and money to really put all your energy into realising your dream.
Sometimes your friends even chip in too... “hey, yeah, well if we
set up our OWN games company, we could be rich”, says one.
“Yeah, we could be the next Rockstar, our ideas are better than
there’s anyway... they’ve sold out, tsk!” says another...
things as accessible and appealing to as many people as possible.”
Which seems reasonable, and they have a plan in place. A good
solid base on which to build which is important for any company,
whether a games studio or a running shoe manufacturer, you have
to have that initial vision on how the business is going to operate.
To do this, Mars on a Stick are going to ensure that they can
find time to establish a ‘rolling prototype’ system that will allow
them to assess new game concepts before putting them into ‘full’
As mentioned previously, everyone involved in Mars on a Stick
are extremely experienced in their fields, and they bring all this
to Mars... “I think this is largely the secret sauce to any company!
We have a large list of our own new IP and crazy ideas squirreled
away.” Martyn explains.
Some of us do it, some of us make that decidely big leap away
from gained employment and a regular steady wage into the
unstable life of the independent games studio owner. Because it
is unsteady. I could use the cliched “for every successful games
studio...” line, but I won’t. Why? Because I wouldn’t want to
dissuade you from setting up on your own; because the indie
studios are the lifeblood of the games community; because you
are the reason why this magazine exists... And because of this,
we spoke to Martyn Bramall from Mars on a Stick, a UK based
studio, about what it is like to set up on your own.
Mars on a Stick, who are essentially a collective of hugely
experienced individuals, are a little different from your average
studio in some respects, as they were formed around their love
of ‘social gaming’ ideas. After all, we live in an increasingly social
world (online at least anyway...).
“With the boom in social media platforms, the ability to
communicate with the rest of the world no matter where you are
is getting easier and easier.” Martyn explains. “We’re really excited
about this prospect and are looking at ways to best harness the
ability to connect with other people in a virtual space whilst keeping
“Working in successful and well established companies provides a
multitude of benefits. You get to meet a lot of very talented individuals
for a start! It can also be a great place to learn. Talking to people and
getting involved allows you to quickly pickup skills and understanding
across all disciplines of software development. I think we’ve all been
lucky as individual to have been able to work and contribute to such
successful products while developing our skill sets!”
But what is it like stepping away from mainstream development to
start your own Indie? Away from the comfort of the wages being
zapped into your bank account every month to facing a slightly
uncertain existence (if more fulfilling...). “I’d say exciting as well
as daunting. The hope is to be able to easily pivot and shift with
development requirements, something that can prove difficult in
more conventional mainstream development.
I expect the biggest difficulty, like most start-ups, will be the
Mars on a Stick
“The biggest difficulty, like most
start-ups, will be the process of
ensuring cash flow during the early
period of our establishment...”
process of ensuring cash flow during the early period of our
establishment. After that period, we’ll need to ensure we can grow
our team to a size where we can effectively execute our strategies”.
That is pretty much the same for every indie studio, and the
challenge that they all face. It’s a matter of getting something setup, an idiology on which to base your company on. Also, to have a
clear direction on which you are going to set off on.
interface devices with everyday items such as cars etc.”
And what are they working on first? “It’s kind of a small
experimental game that will allow us to test out some of the new
systems we’re developing but also provide plenty of amusement
and fun for its players!” «
To see more of this, you can check out the images on their Facebook
“The current platforms are developing so quickly with new
opportunities arising. Being in a position where we can present
an agile development environment, we hope to be able to pivot
and adapt to the market and areas we see as ‘interest’ and ‘up and
coming.’ As an added bonus, it gives us a good base for helping
out on other projects if required due to our extensive experiences
and ability to close out titles”.
This is no “hold on, I have an idea...” start-up, Mars on a Stick
know what they are doing, which most likely comes from all
the experiences that, collectively, they bring to the table.
Why now though, why not last year, or why not next year,
what is so good about this moment that is so perfect (or
potentially at least), so ripe, that feels so ready.
Well, as Martyn eplains, there are so many new
technologies and innovations about to be unleased on
the market, that they want to be a part of it.
“The development of VR technologies. We’d certainly
like to explore the potential of things like the Oculus
and Morpheus. We’re also excited about the development
of mobile devices. With the progress of ‘super thin’ power
sources and flexible hardware, wearable devices will be
an exciting prospect along with various opportunities to
Happa Games
Harry Cole
Co-Founder and Publisher of IND13, who runs his
own PR agency specializing in the gaming sector.
permadeath with
We talk to Happa Games, the makers of Ascendant, a new and unforgiving beat 'em up.
What is the name of your studio and where are you based?
We are Hapa Games, a small indie studio working out of a garage
in Orlando.
and want to make our own games. Also, I mean, we work out of a
garage. I'd say we're pretty indie.
Who is the team made up of?
Do you consider yourselves indie?
Definitely. Everything we've done has either been on our own or
with our community that we've had to built from the ground up.
We didn't come from any big studio and none of us are famous
developers. We're a bunch of devs that met in graduate school
We started with a bunch of fellow students during our last
semester at FIEA ( When we
graduated, half of the student team we had there moved on to
other opportunities and seven of us moved into the garage to
finish up Ascendant. We have Brian Widman (programmer, co-
Happa Games
" Ascendant is an unforgiving beat 'em up where you are
a demigod attempting to usurp your rivals. It's tough as
nails but has a ton of rewards for those that are up to the
Happa Games
founder), Nick Farah (lead design, co-founder), and myself, Ben
Crocker (project manager, co-founder) along with Matt Burton
(programming), Eric Elzy (designer, sound), Anthony Fariello
(visual effects artist), and Andrew Yribarren (animation, UI). up with almost all of the ideas in Ascendant. His dedication to
creating fantastic gameplay experiences is outstanding and without
him the game wouldn't be nearly as fun as it is today.
What games and other mediums inspired you to create
In your own words, please describe Ascendant?
Ascendant is an unforgiving beat 'em up where you are a demigod
attempting to usurp your rivals. The game employs a number of
modern roguelike elements such as permadeath and randomized
items that help you progress through the game. It's tough as nails
but has a ton of rewards for those that are up to the challenge. What is the back story to the game?
The demigods of Ascendant are trying to reach the heavens to
become the ultimate deity. Whether they want to become a just
and benevolent god, or to obtain a special power, each demigod
has their own goal or motivation for wanting to ascend. Ascendant was heavily inspired by games such as Binding of Isaac
and Rogue Legacy along with a bunch of old school brawlers like
Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time, and Battletoads. All of us here
love roguelikes and grew up playing a ton of brawlers in our living
rooms and arcades and the mechanics from these games is what
pushed us forward with Ascendant. We wanted a game that had
the roguelike challenge and reward along with the brutal oneversus-many mentality of a brawler. With the art, we looked to
games like Journey and Outland to give us inspiration as well as
some shows we grew up with like Samurai Jack. Who did the art?
Who did the music?
Our good friend, Phil Stehle, was the person who created the
music for us. Phil essentially had free range to compose whatever
he thought would fit in Ascendant. We would give him a feeling
that we wanted to evoke and he would take the idea and run with
it. Obviously there were tweaks and iterations but Phil did an
incredible job with the music.
Our concept art was created by this amazing concept artist,
Ryoma Tazi. He was one of our fellow students and created really
incredible pieces early on that all of us just fell in love with. His
concepts were the basis for most art decisions during the entire
development process.
The bosses are huge, what was the thinking behind that
We wanted the bosses to be very imposing and terrifying. I mean,
who doesn't like defeating enormous bosses? «
Where did the ideas come from in creating this incredible
The idea started during our time at FIEA, the summer before we
even created Hapa Games. We knew we wanted to make a beat
'em up and we had been playing a ton of roguelikes at the time
so we decided to try our hand at combining those genres. From
those mechanics we started prototyping and everything you see in
Ascendant now is just a result of iterating and trying out different
ideas. I have to give a lot of credit to Nick Farah for coming
Meerkatz Challenge
We are a group of Producers, Directors, Photographers, Camera Operators and Artists.
We are made up of a London based core team of progressive and determined individuals, with an
international network of trusted professionals.
We have extensive experience in all areas of production with years working professionally in image and film.
Please get in touch to talk about your project.
0203 605 3806
[email protected]
Ophelia Matthews-Smith
Ophelia Matthews-Smith
A young gamer with only a few years
games experience, Ophelia approaches
the industry with a fresh new eye.
Online Gaming
There once was a girl named Ophelia. She searched the internet for thousands of online games that were not tricksters but not one
was found. She searched through girly games, boyish games, even animal games! She soon gave up after finding out that every game
invented was made to get people to waste every penny they earned.
Online gaming seems to be such a problem these days. All of
in-game advertisements to pay £50 for a one year membership.
There's thousands of online games, but they all copy each others
ideas so that none of the games these days are different.
You would just be wasting your money over and over again. It is
like constantly buying a toy when you already have lots of toys.
You forget about it!
Almost every single online game is about buying clothes and what
they don't understand is that nobody actually wants to pay a lot
of their money to buy some clothes for a year, though some games
are smart and tempt you into buying a membership.
I prefer to go for the sneaky games. I have found my way out of
temptation, so I don't feel tempted and I get lots of items. Lets
just say that if everybody outsmarted the online games, there
probably wouldn't be restrictions for non-members; and even if
there were restrictions, what company would be stupid enough to
put on lots of restrictions anyway?
Lets say I'm playing Animal Jam and I've got thousands of gems.
I will go into all the shops and buy all of the non-membership
things. Then I want to change the colour because I don't think
that pink and blue go together but it says I have to be a member.
It's exactly the same with in-app purchase. Do they want to be all
over the news too?
I start getting tempted.
I want to send a letter to my friend saying hi to him/her but I can't
because it isn't allowed on the free chat. So I ask my friend to meet
me somewhere. They meet me but it's crowded so I can't see them. I
try to call their name but I have to be a member to have free chat.
Can you see what I mean when I say they are sneaky with that?
There is a way out of the temptation though: pretend you get
everything you want. It gets boring, and if you are a member you
get everything you want so does that mean getting everything
you want on a game is boring? And what if the game just gets
so boring while your a member. So boring that you find another
game and you become a member on that.
No. They don't. So the only unanswered question here is, why
do they carry on? They know the outcome. I understand that
there will always be a membership in online games, but they have
in-game purchases which is like in-app purchases, so they can still
earn their money.
Use the scratch cards for membership! They have the scratch cards
for membership so they should use it for every game. There's the
£4.99 (£5) ones in Sainsburys so let's give them a use why don't
we, and it is cheaper than paying for a year.
Maybe if I just research it for hours or make my own game it'll
be different... A game made by somebody other than a trickster
(if you want to say I'm not a trickster) will arrive! Adios amigos; a
new game is being born every second of the day, so maybe I will
just go and play one of those. «
Ophelia Matthews-Smith
"You would just be wasting your
money over and over again. It is
like constantly buying a toy when
you already have lots of toys..."
Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a lifelong fan of Bubble Bobble (amongst other
games), and the Creative Director of IND13.
The RoboPanda
artists challenge
We challeneged two games artists, with very different styles, to come up with a character design based on a short brief that we
provided them with. RoboPanda.
Ok, so here's the deal. As well as loving games, we at IND13 are
passionate about the artwork that goes into them, and the artists
that create the masterpieces that go into the games. What's that
you say? The art isn't important, it's the way the games plays?
Well, to that I say: Holy Cow Man! Of course the art is important.
Hey, we fell in love with Mario partly because of the way the cute
little plumber looked (and, later on, his chums...). The artwork
and the character designs can make or break a game, and you can
clearly see the games which don't think that way because, well,
they and generally a bit rubbish.
A good games developer/studio puts as much love and care into
every part of its game as it can. Be that the game design, the music
and, of course, the art.
And the characterisation is key here. When you develop an infinity
with the character that you are playing that is down to the artwork
and how the artists intepret the brief thats was given to them.
So we decided to set a challenge to two professional artists that
we know and have worked with. Rokas, One of the founders of
IND13 and our Art Editor, and Junior Da Silva, who is an artist
whose work we love and have profiled before in Issue One.
We wrote a short brief, sent it to them, and just asked them to
create something and send it back to us when they were happy
with it. On the following pages you can see the absolutly amazing
results, which we were completely taken aback by. So very brilliant,
both of them, and so very different too. Infact, they are so good
that I would like to see both of the games made...
The Brief:
In a post apocalyptic future (2015) where crime is rife, the
government is corrupt, and the people are rising up against it
with only an underfunded and disillusioned police force to try
and keep the peace, one man comes up with a plan.
A plan that, hopefully, will bring some peace and stability to the
world while also providing the news media with some kick-ass
footage to entertain us all.
That man is Linwood Thoran, the Head of Animal Robotics
at London Zoo, and he comes up with a plan that is both
courageous and just a little bit mad. He saves Chui Hu-Shou, a
young female panda, from certain death after she almost dies in
a catastrophic bamboo eating competition.
He then builds her up using the latest in robotic technology,
trains her in the art of martial arts and vegetarian cooking, and
sends her out onto the streets of London to hopefully restore
some semblance of peace.
The people are optimistic although not entirely convinced, the
battle is bloody and brutal as the criminals are fighting back, but
Chui Hu-Shou and Linwood Thoran are doing all they can to bring
some sense of justice to society.
However he is being watched by the mysterious Lady Conflict,
a conniving penguin that is controlling the government like
Rokas Butkus
Rather than having a robotic panda, Rokas has
developed a mechanical suit which the panda
climbs into. The panda has some tech implants
and upgrades too, it seems, from the drawing
which I imagine can plug-in to the suit.
The suit has an array of weaponos built in, not
least to it's four arms.
It brings to mind the work of Masamune
Shirow, the legendary Manga artist who work
includes Appleseed and, most famously, Ghost
in the Shell, with the way it's spans both
western and Japanese stles of art.
Though it does have a distictive style that
belongs to Rokas alone.
Junior Da Silva
Junior has concepted a piece of artwork that
seemingly has its origins in the traditional
Japanese style of painting.
Using strong and flowing brush strokes,
Junior has depicted RoboPanda almost as
a folk story, lifted from the pages of a book
of tales that are told from generation to
With its vibrancy, bright colours and
imagination it almost reminds me of the work
of Tawaraya Sōtatsu, the early 17th century
Japanese artist and also the co-founder of the
Rimpa school of Japanese painting.
With this, the style is both modern and classic.
a fresh new design agency
creative design
| branding
digital |

Similar documents