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hushlorentz avatar 1:13 PM on 02.14.2012  (server time)
And then, release.

I feel like kind of a douche writing only my third blog about something I made, but here it is anyway! It's kind of a Get To Know Me post at the same time, since I've never done one of those.

For the past 14 months, I have been working with a friend making games. We call ourselves Green Pixel and we're from the snowy (not so much this year) land of Canada. Before Green Pixel, I worked at a few other smaller studios with the biggest having around 30 people and the smallest having 6. During this time, I learned you can lose your job in a variety of different ways! The first job ended when the new department head downsized and cut a lot of us loose. The second studio went backrupt due to circumstances that were not entirely their fault. My third job was a small startup built from the ashes of the second company that I ended up leaving voluntarily as we weren't doing so well and I didn't think I had enough knowledge to turn everything around.

After the third job, I got out of the game business for a while. I went to Germany for two weeks and spent all the savings I had. When I came back, I got a job at a sandwich shop to clear my head. I also discovered Fallout 3. :D Anyway, this was a great time of catharsis but before long, I started messing around with some code again. I mostly built some simple Java tools like a tile editor and a 2D animaiton tool. Who knows when you'll need something like this? Making tools lead to dreaming about making games again and it wasn't long before I had flash installed and was trying to copy everything I loved about Mega Man.

Around this time, my friend started a webcomic, ThePocalypse, and I offered to help him with some flash games, if he wanted. He did want! So he did the art and I did the programming and we made a flash game. We released it on Newgrounds and people did not hate it, so I felt it was a success. Interestingly enough, my friend lives in Japan where his wife teaches so we didn't physically see each other the whole time we created the game. We just used stuff like MSN, svn, Google Wave (remember that one?), email, yada yada. The Internet is the most amazing tool!

With one game done, we decided why not take another step and become a small indie studio. As luck would have it, a different friend of mine was moving and couldn't take his iMac. I needed a new phone anyway, so we decided to try our hand at iOS. What to make? Games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope sure are popular... but that's not really our thing. I firmly believe if you want to succeed, you do what you love - and we love 16bit JRPGs and platformers. An RPG is huge in terms of design, programming and art and would take a really long time to make, so we went with a platformer.

One day at the subshop, I had an idea for a platformer where you reach the goal by placing all sorts of blocks that are both helpful and hazardous. We prototyped it in flash and hoped the mouse controls for placing blocks would translate well to the iPhone. When it was 75% or so, we ported it to iOS and finished it off. I'm currently finishing up the flash version and it will be released before the end of the month. I know $1.99 isn't a lot of money, but I still wanted to give people a little more than the average app. We included a level editor and the ability to share levels. This is going to work across the flash version too, so you can make a level in the flash version and play the level on the iPhone or make a level on the iPhone and play it in flash... you get the idea. Also, I'm not great at designing levels, so why should you have to suffer with only my stuff?

I think that's about it! I'm optimistic for the future, but realistic. If nothing else, it was a great experience and a lesson that you don't have to interact with someone you're working with to produce something.

Below is disgusting advertising! Feel free to stop reading now. :D

So here we are, it is release day for BlockHopper for iOS. For the soundtrack, we commissioned the excellent Starship Amazing. If you do not know them, you should check them out! They sound like a modern take on chiptunes. Music inspired by video games, but not from video games... except I guess now they're from our game, but whatever.

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