A game in 1k?

I was at a talk on next years SXSW event (more on that later) when my G1 started flashing with a new message. I flipped it open to find a message on Google Talk from Peter Liepa (creator of Boulderdash). It turns out Peter’s written a new game and it’s in less than 1k. He really is an astonishing fellow. I had a quick play with it before he submitted it into the JS1K competition http://js1k.com to offer a little feedback but with only 1 byte left to play with it’s about as perfect as it can be with those constraints – to give you a rough idea the text up to this point has almost consumed 1k!

It’s really an amazing little concept and you can play it here: http://js1k.com/demo/640

Trying to write a game in 1k is a great exercise in constraint, optimisation and game mechanics – and thanks to Peter I’ve been obsessively trying to put together something for the demo competition myself. So far I’ve got a screen full of space junk (pictured above) and I’m riffing around using localised gravity to collect them together into satellites. It’s sort of like a cross between Gravity Well and Katamari only it’s in 1k.

Thanks Peter, that’s my spare time gone ;o) I’ll post mine up when it’s showable, prob a in a day or so

p.s. I’ll be catching up with Peter again next week to talk about his new projects

Marketing, episode 4: The licensing agent of a well known IP turns us down (oh noes!)

Bonjour!

This week I finally heard back from the agent of a well known bit of I.P. that I was hoping we could obtain in order to bolster the games credentials for marketing (Actually the agent replied ages ago but we had a problem with the Collision Games email server which meant I read his replies about 2 weeks late! Luckily he was very understanding, sorry DC!). As the blog title suggests, he turned down the request as they’re working with another developer so am actually quite excited to see what they produce as I love the I.P. in question (I can’t say what it is as it would give away too much just yet). In hindsight it was always a long shot without anything concrete to show them, like a prototype, on that subject I’ll get to in the next post.

This week I also spoke to a very good friend, Susan Cummings, who is VP Product Development at Paramount Digital Entertainment (Paramount Studios) about trying to use well known I.P. (as they have quite a lot 😉 and she was able to give me a good industry take on how long this sort of thing can take. A very long time as it turns out. And as we all know the terrible cliche about time and money it sounds like a large risk to introduce into this sort of project.

I’d started to come to the same conclusion myself from a more pragmatic point of view as I’ve tied up around 3 weeks of the project by exploring the I.P. route with various people. As it turns out this hasn’t cost me anything other than a bit of my time and a small delay to the project. It was worth it as I now have a good feel for the sort of inertia a license can introduce into the project. It could be the best thing for it or it could absolutely be the worst.

What I do know is that I’m systematically removing or clarifying the process I need to follow before exerting too much energy on development – this along with money is probably the most valuable commodity at this stage, perhaps even more so. There is definitely a balance to be had between thinking and doing and I believe I’m now about to cross that divide. I’ve got one final revision of the business plan to support the development (which I’ll be shopping around at this event: http://www.gamesbrief.com/2010/08/want-to-meet-investors-who-want-to-put-money-into-early-stage-games-companies/ and then it’s prototype time (the funding of which I’m currently looking around for, see recent post on the public sector things in Wales…)

As was well documented earlier into the project, the idea for the license was obviously to help with the marketing but as anyone who’s ever started and finished a project like this will know, first you can’t let something like that derail you and second you often find that the loss of something perceived as important turns out to be a catalyst for something inspired…